Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Open vs Controlled: When Resources are Restricted

The above video depicts Bryce trying to gain access to the MDT practice rooms. The MDT (Music / Dance / Theater) rooms are controlled with codes that only MDT students are given. They are also scheduled out, weekly by hour, to specific students.

Bryce first asks Heather for the practice codes. She rejects him, explaining that they are not supposed to give the codes out. He then asks Whitney, who doesn't hesitate to not only give him a code, but let him have all of them. With the codes he tries to access one room, but is kicked out as soon as he enters, so then continues to another. Once he has been in that room a while, Rachelle lets him know that she has been assigned that room, and so asks him to leave.

This scenario is representative of what we see when resources are controlled. Relationships and inefficiencies are taken advantage of by those in need of the resource. These kinds of situations insight uprisings and revolutions, as we've seen all throughout history. However, they also promote trade and innovation when handled right.

In order to fully understand how important personal security and privacy is, it is imperative to understand today’s constant threat of Cyber War looming over our heads. James R. Clapper, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, ranks cyber crime as the No. 1 national security threat. In the last year alone, our federal government fell victim to 61,000 cyber-security breaches that exposed records dating back to 1985 ( This exposure to personal files of U.S. government employees gives enemies access to sensitive personal and financial information.

As an example, you know that moment in Criminal Minds when the FBI agents can’t enter a house because they lack a warrant? At their moment of frustration, they must abide by the law and comply to the homeowner's request for a warrant. What exactly is a warrant and how much does it protect us? According to a general Google search, a warrant is a document issued by a legal or government official authorizing the police or some other body to make an arrest, search premises, or carry out some other action relating to the administration of justice. Recently, there has been a major dispute between the FBI and Apple over a rejected request for a “warrant”. But how much access does a warrant give? And is it always justifiable in sacrificing privacy?

Both Bryce and Rachelle relate the scenario back to their individual takes on the issue of being open vs. being controlled, and relate it back to historical and current relevance.

Bryce's Take

Bryce has related the scenario to the balance of security versus privacy. The controlled resources present an opportunity in which privacy means more security but less efficiency. Here are some of his thoughts.

"I noticed that there were resources going unused, and I personally had a need to use the rooms as a performer. I took the initiative to even out the playing field by getting access to those resources. How terrible to have perfectly good practice rooms go to waste!

Once I determined what resource I wanted, I knew exactly where to look for someone who had the codes - the other practice rooms. By using public information, I was able to track down who had what I needed. This happens all the time on LinkedIn and other forms of social media. Only absolute privacy of who owned/had access to the resources would protect them completely, but that's not feasible in our society.

Once people came along to grab the rooms that belonged to them, I was happy to leave. But at least, up until that point, I was able to use the resources. Rachelle may have felt a bit uncomfortable asking me to leave, but I didn't feel like that was such an issue that I shouldn't use the room at all.

There is a level of privacy that is advantageous to society. Personal issues should be kept very secure, and nobody should have access to those. Depending on how they are stored, the government shouldn't have a right to those things either. However, when it comes to logistical and operational things, privacy should be avoided to allow resources to be shared as freely as possible.
While we should keep some information private, who owns and has access to the practice room codes is NOT one of them."

A more detailed explanation of Bryce's position can be found in his personal blog post, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Other Stuff that's None of Your Business.

Rachelle's Take

Rachelle has related the scenario to the issues of manipulation when it comes to how we present ourselves, both in real life and online. With limited information, we are more susceptible to  being manipulated into strong emotional responses. Here are some of her thoughts.

"By asking Whitney for the codes to the MDT (music dance theater) practice rooms, Bryce puts her in an awkward situation. He obviously knew where to find a student that had the codes, which meant that the MDT students make their presence in the RB known. This is similar to putting private information up on the Internet for all the see: there are people out there that know us just by what we post in the Internet. 

Whitney believed that it was her obligation to share the code information because she was asked in a friendly way, by a friendly person, and in an open environment she was comfortable in. The more time we spend on personal blogs and Facebook, we become comfortable sharing personal environment to possible predators. We most likely do it out of niceties and a feeling of personal responsibility. 

What Whitney may not understand is that Bryce did not present her with any information regarding his activities in the practice room. She allowed him to use a limited resource without knowing his intentions, or possible consequences. 

We are constantly being stimulated by emotionally charging articles, videos, and posts. This can result in impulsive actions and negative emotions that can inhibit our logical thought process. I reacted to Bryce's presence in my practice room in a kind way, but some people may not have. Other practice rooms were obviously available, but I made sure to kick him out of mine- the one resource I for sure knew I had. We often rely on these resources (Facebook pages, bias news websites that may not give full information, and YouTube clogging) that make us feel emotionally and personally protected, when instead there is a likely chance these resources can be hacked. 

Stay safe on these sites, and protect yourself from biased opinions by securing your resources, and not sharing private information. Like practice room codes."

A more detailed explanation of Rachelle's position can be found in her personal blog post, Security vs Privacy: Our Vulnerability is Just the Beginning.

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