COMPUTERS, the internet, “high-tech.” I have been a fan of them all and from very early on! I had a pager in 1976.
I was on-line in 1983 when my “email address” at CompuServe was just a series of numbers. The whine of modems handshaking at 300 baud still resonates in my head.
In 1983 I had a thermal fax machine when it took 7 minutes to send one letter. And it smelled awful! In the same year I began banking on-line, and have ever since.
Along with several others at ABC Radio, I was typing my newscasts on a Radio Shack Model 100 years before the newsroom itself went on-line. I was running Windows 3.1 in 1986. I was in chat rooms before most people had heard of them. I had a Prodigy account, an AOL account, I got on MySpace a few days after it went live and later, FaceTime and Twitter. I am on Instagram and have a SnapChat account. I am not one of “those” people who is afraid of technology or who has avoided it. But now, I am ready for us go a little lower tech in some areas, for the safety of us all.
So much of what we do and how we do it involves a keyboard, a screen of some sort and an internet connection. And that is fine for routine matters, but some things are best slowed down, secured more carefully and removed from an arena that is clearly rife with the danger of dishonesty.
Ted Koppel, in his 2015 book “Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath” is clear that with so many aspects of so many power grids on-line, it’s just a matter of time before an attack will render us crippled, for months! There is so much concern about hacking. Everyday, people find their email compromised, their PCs attacked by viruses as fast as their virus protection software can catch and neuter them. Here is a site which lists “The 20 Biggest Hacking Attacks of all Time.” This will give you some sense of how broad and how expensive these incursions can be. Can we afford worse?
My biggest concern is not only the power grid and other forms of cyber crime, but the sanctity of our elections. We do NOT need to have our elections even remotely handled online. We must keep our precious votes as far away from the internet as possible, Yes, the old voting machines were clumsy and needed to be schleped around by truck, but they were immune to cyber tampering. Paper ballots, unwieldy to count, are still off-line and impervious to attacks from enemies in cyber space.
I don’t know just how much vote tampering, if any, was done in the 2016 election. But we do know that there have been foreign influences on-line among social media in a variety of ways. I am convinced that threats to our democracy have and will continue to come from overseas, via the internet.
It is imperative that local government, in concert with local Boards of Elections, make sure that as many people as possible can and do vote, that those votes count, and that they are protected from any and all attempts to tamper with them. If that means taking a few steps back to a simpler, safer time, when a not-so-automated method of voting assured the outcome of our elections was as the voters intended them, then take it off-line!