Comments In The Light Of The Course Concepts
Angela Bennett like all of us, lives in the age of information. Every trace of her existence is computerized. Everything about her is encoded somewhere on a complex network of information. It’s something Angela never thought about… until the day she was deleted.
With the explosion of technological advances in the last few years, “The Net” is a story from today’s headlines. It takes place in a world in which anything, from ordering a pizza to retrieving records from half-way across the planet, can be accomplished through the vast and complicated map of phone lines and computers known as the Internet; a world in which, with the right knowledge and the right program, a good cracker can log into remote computers and alter any information they choose: flight plans, medical and criminal records, top secret government information, even someone’s identity.
Angela Bennett, is an introverted top system analyst at Cathedral Systems. She sits at her keyboard, doing all her work by phone and modem. When she needs to eat, she uses the Internet to order a pizza. As a well-paid freelancer, she spends her days working out of her home finding flaws in and debugging new programs sent to her on disc by her employer, or tracking down viruses hacked into unsuspecting systems. At nights she is “chatting” with other friends from the cyberspace on the ‘Net’. She’s quite happy with her somewhat lonely routine, until the very life she’s made for herself, her whole life, in fact is snatched away from her with the stroke of a single key. This pushes her headlong into the middle of a murderous web of corruption and conspiracy.
The only time Angela gets out of the house is when she goes on a vacation to Mexico, and even then, she has her laptop with her. However, right before heading south of the border, Angela comes into possession of a disk containing information vital to the successful criminal activity of a group of cyber-bad guys, the Praetorians. They know she has it, and will stop at nothing to get it back. Angela discovers secret information on the disk she has received only hours before she leaves for vacation. While relaxing on a Mexican beach, Angela meets a dashing fellow hacker with the style and charisma of James Bond. Unfortunately for Angela, he also has a gun, which he plans to use on her. She escapes his clutches, but by the time she gets back to the United States, she discovers that the Praetorians have used their computer know-how to change her identity
Her life then turns into a nightmare, her records are erased from existence and she is given a new identity, one with a police record. She struggles to find out why this has happened and who has it in for her, though she hasn’t a clue as to what it’s all about. All she knows is that suddenly she’s not herself any more; at least according the records stored on hard drives everywhere. And it’s only the beginning of complications, the likes of which would give anyone with even the slightest bit of paranoia nightmares. With a plot that would make Kafka proud, this is a dark, warning tale of the misuse of a technology that has quickly encompassed virtually every walk of life, yet without anyone having first harnessed the full fury of it’s potential.
A work of fiction? Of course; one could even say science’ fiction. But nowadays the technology is already in place, and anyone who wants you badly enough need look no further than a data base, a credit card bureau or the post office, and they will quickly know more about you than you know yourself. For those who would laugh at it, there’s an old saying that goes something like: Anything that can be used for’ you can also be used against’ you. At the very least it’s food for thought that could keep those with opposing views on the matter debating endlessly. Or, as in this case of this movie, it’s enough to drive the average computer hacker to the edge of madness.
The movie is an explicit instrument for presenting the ethical use of the Internet, the pros and cons of developing the information systems and how vulnerable the world become, now that everything is stored in electronic format. In the era ruled by information, the Internet can be either an instrument for knowledge but it also can be seen as a weapon of destruction, or a way to obtain ilegall beneffitts.
Conclusions drawn from the movie, in regard with the ethical/non-ethical use of the Internet:
The modern society is computerized; all the personal information are stored in a national database: picture, ID number, driving license, passport, medical and dental file, credit cards, address, and phone number. Should the information is accessed by the authorized personnel anybody can be easily identified.
PC is an instrument of education, information, communication and entertainment,
E-commerce is widespread: one can order dinner, pick travel destinations, make tickets reservations and talk to other online;
The computer is the ideal for protecting privacy;
PC can keep personal agenda and recall the appointments and deadlines;
One can easily find a date in the chat-rooms.
On the other hand, the same advantages can prove to be dangerous if people in search for illegal benefits access all these info:
PCs can create “addiction”, and turn someone into an unbalanced, unsocial person;
Should somebody has the technical mastery he can hurt someone and turn that person’s life into a nightmare, turning its world upside down, stealing his/hers identity.
The ideal date on the screen of the PC at home can be in real life a cold-blooded killer.
So, no computer security system is foolproof, and there is great power available to those who know how to tamper. In The Net, Big Brother isn’t only watching; he’s taking action as well. The Net can be seen as a cautionary tale to those who believe that complete reliance upon computers is a good thing.