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March 05, 2008

Shared Responsibility

It’s an attention grabbing headline, to be sure: “Did iPods Cause a Crime Wave?” And while there may be evidence to suggest that the popularity of the diminutive music players has indeed resulted in an increase in theft, there is a far more interesting angle to the story.

In this article, The Urban Institute, a Washington think tank, posits that because iPods combine three elements present in most crimes, it is responsible for a spike in robberies in 2005 and 2006. The theory goes like this: when you put a motivated perpetrator together with easy prey and a high likelihood of not getting caught, voila, you get crime. In the case of the iPod, you have a compact, valuable, device that is easily resold; easy targets, with headphones sporting the iPod’s patented “mug-me” white; and virtually no security built into the device. And, the argument goes, that’s too tempting for many would-be criminals to resist.

The institute’s suggestion? Consumers should demand more security options in their digital devices. But it opens an interesting discussion. Who should be responsible for the security of products once they leave the shelves? And what level of responsibility do consumers themselves have for the securing their devices? You can almost see the lawsuit coming: Man Sues Apple After Getting Mugged: Claims the iPod Made Him A Target.

This, of course, is absurd. The most efficient way to find the right level of shared responsibility between producer and consumer is to let the market decide. If people grow tired of having their iPods stolen, perhaps they will stop buying iPods, which would force Apple to add security to the devices. But one of the beautiful things about the iPod is how easy and effortless it is to use. Anyone can learn the interface in minutes. And when you start adding security measures to an elegant device like that, it gets inconvenient.

Perhaps that’s the lesson in all of this. For some products and services, built-in security is necessary. For example, no one buys a car without locks. You wouldn’t even consider it.  But for other products, security is downright inconvenient. I get frustrated when my bank asks me to change my online password too often. I know why they are doing it, but I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about switching banks because of it.

Consumers want security, but they don’t want the hassle of it. They want it to be easy. And companies don’t want their products and services to earn a reputation of being easily stolen. So the interests are aligned. And the responsibility is shared.

March 5, 2008 in Security and Society | Permalink


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Wow, security?? like an alarm or password? :P

lol @ “mug-me” white

Posted by: Business Loans | Jun 23, 2008 12:47:06 PM

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