We’ve all heard about the idea that if someone is on the US “No Fly” list that they should be denied access to firearms. It’s been popularly called “No Fly, No Buy!” The core of this idea is that if you’re too dangerous to fly, you’re clearly too dangerous to own a gun. Extending the logic, if you can’t legally own a gun, you can’t kill people! By doing this, we’re making it safer and better for the American People. Ignoring the obviously glaring disregard for a politically inconvenient document called the United States Constitution, it seemed like it might work. I thought about this for a while, putting dangerous people on a list, and I decided that it could indeed work! Sure, we do have to ignore some pesky constitutional rights, create some new regulatory controls, and impose some administrative burdens on the people we’re trying to protect, but what is Congress for if not to keep us safe so we can do business?
It’s not as if there isn’t a precedent for this. A really old precedent too. Those that are steeped in US history may recall the incident in the Black Hills of Dakota where the Lakota People (also referred to as the Sioux Confederacy) were chased off their land so that the gold buried in those Black Hills could be mined. The Black Hills gold rush started in 1874 and went to a peak in 1877. Some people proffer evidence that the US Government created an incident and used it to enable the relocation of the Lakota to reservations and the taking over of their land, thereby enabled the mining of the buried gold by those seeking a better life. Some people believe this was all done for the betterment of the US economy and the safety and prosperity of the American People. Although it didn’t end well for General George Armstrong Custer, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, or the Lakota People, a bunch of people made a big-ass pile of money. In today’s dollars, estimates were over $150M a year for about 5 years.
So, leaping forward to the 21st century, we’re now talking about another threat to our economy: hackers, spies, and thieves. The worst case threat: if hackers continue to undermine our information protection technology, consumers will cease to use electronic payment or electronic information exchanges. It’s already costing us zillions of dollars a year to deal with the results of our inability to stop these financial and healthcare terrorists. Between the amount of money lost to theft and fraud and the amount of money we spend trying to prevent theft and fraud, it’s a big-ass pile of money. Add to that a total and complete collapse of our digital economy and it’s clear that we MUST TAKE ACTION!
So, what is the core of my “No Fly, No Browse” solution? It’s as simple as the “No Fly, No Buy” solution: you use a list! The No Fly list! It’s there, law enforcement is already watching it, so it makes sense to start there.
The US government “partners” with industry to add to the No Fly list those people that are suspected of being financial or healthcare terrorists! The finance industry can contribute names, the health care industry can contribute names and last but not least, the US government can contribute the names of suspected hackers, spies and thieves. When you go to buy a computer, you must submit your name for a background check. If you’re on the list, you can’t buy a computer! Voila! Information security problem SOLVED! The fact that they can no longer fly is just a lucky perk. Do you want to share a plane with a potential financial or healthcare terrorist? I sure don’t!
So, you say, what about the people that already have a computer? How do we stop them Mark? Great question! Again, a simple answer! To browse, you need an Internet connection! When you sign up for an Internet connection, the provider MUST CHECK THE LIST! If your name is on the “No Fly” list, you are denied an account! This is actually great because us security geeks LOVE belt and suspender solutions! This is double good since you get checked when you buy a computer AND you get checked when you buy an Internet account.
But, those of you intrepid and determined to find a loophole will point out “WAIT!! What if I can convince a friend to lend me a computer, or better yet, convince a friend to actually buy me a computer?” Great question. In the gun world, that’s called a “straw man purchase” and it’s AGAINST THE LAW! We simply make it illegal to buy a computer for someone that can’t pass a background check!
As you can see, each and every contingency has a solution. We just need to make sure that people understand that to ensure our security, we must give up a little bit of our constitutional protections. We must put our faith in administrative and regulatory solutions that ignore the actual problem while imposing higher costs and burdens on those that are most affected by the problem. History shows that only the Government can solve this problem for us. Only the Government has the track record that proves that increased administrative burden, regulatory control, and of course, the erosion of constitutional rights can solve our problems.
Trust them. Trust the list.
No Fly, No Browse. It can work.