I seem to have lost a marble. Anybody seen it?

by Guy Kewney | posted on 28 June 2006

My column for this week at the Register was about the futility of trying to make any institution secure from sexual predators, and drawing comparisons with corporate IT security.

Guy Kewney

The sexual predator bit was easy: "A fourteen-year old girl is suing MySpace for £30m after she was allegedly assaulted by a man she met on the popular teen hangout site," the column began.I then waded in with deep sarcasm: "Here's a great idea for all you harassed single-parent readers. Why not send the kids off to the pub? It's a social centre, with many intelligent, and also many interesting characters. And you can get on with some work, or sleep, or just catch up with your meditation!"

The argument was simple: the Internet, like the rest of the world, is not a safe place, and unsupervised kids are at risk. Moral: supervise them, and don't imagine that the Internet is a safe haven. Very uplifting, but some of the argument got unglued.

Where I seem to have come unstuck, is in another example I gave of futile security. The example was one I read about in a newspaper last week, and itinvolved a group of primary school children, in America.

As I recall the story, a school trip ended with two or three of the children being denied access to a part of the institution which I named as the Smithsonian, because they were perceived to be a security threat. Trouble is, I've since recycled the paper, and Google assures me that I've got at least one details wrong. Either that, or it was in a medium Google doesn't scan...

Was it NASA perhaps? or some other Government facility? I'm at a loss. I think the story makes a point which is valid, anyway, but it would be nice if I could find a verifiable source for this story, or correct it if some detail turns out to be mistaken.

So if you think you saw the story, I'd be grateful if you could get in touch!

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