We (not me) have created a monster. That monster is passwords. Who disagrees? And, yes, of course, I know that passwords are supposed to protect us from various kinds of cyber theft. They’re a necessary evil, right?
But some of us may not feel the need of such protection, being as we have little to lose. So, incredulous as it might sound, I want to be provided an opt out choice for password protection. Let me choose whether I want to be password protected.
In the beginning of all this craziness, I created a 4 character password that I intended to use everywhere, every time. That way, I had only one password to remember. And I’ll bet that many of you did the same. But you know what happened next. Soon, more characters were required. And then your password had to include a capital letter, and a number, and a special character. A new word was invented: alphanumeric. Then your password was gauged as to its “strength”. Most recently (yesterday, in fact), I was required to come up with a 16 character password. How bizarre!
So, to repeat, I want to be offered the option of turning down password protection. Give me the freedom to assume the risk of being unprotected from cyber predators, if I so wish. Give me the opportunity to free myself from password hell, and I might even take it.
And, there is a larger issue here, which seems not to have been so far considered. It is the cost/benefit equation associated with password protection. Is it possible that the aggregate harm done to the public from the imposition of password protection (the time consumed, the money spent and the aggravation inflicted) out weighs the harm that would result from an absence of password protection? Or, more to the point, the harm that would result to those individuals who, having been given the freedom to opt out of the system, have chosen to do so. I am, in other words, suggesting that we allow the question of password protection to be governed by free market principles, where account holders are free to choose it or not. Let the results of such assumption of risk govern individual decision-making.
And, while on the subject, I see a parallel circumstance in the imposition of security screening of air travelers. An immense government security apparatus, staffed by unemployables and morons (yes, you can quote me), has been created to protect us from terrorism, but, in the process, has created another kind of terrorism. Don’t you HATE airport screening? I do. Would you assume the risk of being on that particular plane that a terrorist has targeted, to be free of airport screening? If given the choice, I might. Is it possible (here, again) that the staggering costs – in time, in money, in aggravation – of security screening out weigh the presumed benefits of such screening? If the airlines and federal government provided us with “screening-free” flights, would you consider being on one of those planes? I would definitely think about it, that’s for sure.
Just how safe do we need to be? Are we so sniveling that we require all these elaborate, expensive and exhausting safeguards? I want to be given the choice of using passwords or not, and the choice of being on a screen-free flight, or not.