Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Technology Blowback

Just like in arms and intelligence, using technology to defend against illicit (or annoying) behavior often has reverse consequences. The word for this in CIA and elsewhere is blowback.

The "war on teen loiterers" has just had its great example. Big news a month or two back was the touted success at a convenience store in the UK using a device called a "mosquito". More on it and the declaration of victory here. The device works basically by loudly broadcasting a sound only younger people can hear which annoys them until they find somewhere else to hang out.

Well, it took about two weeks before teens figured out "hey - if adults can't hear it, then we can use it for our own purposes". Here is an article describing where kids downloaded the MP3 to their cell phones and use it as a "silent" ring so adults don't know they are sending SMS messages. The teens calls the sound "Teen Buzz".

Think of the possibilities...
A student could put a device in his pocket and go through a whole multiple-choice exam, broadcast his/her selections to a room full of kids, all with the proctors sitting right there.

I don't condone cheating, but I love this story.

Add your own examples as to how to take advantage of Teen Buzz in comments.

[Updated 6/9/2006] Corrected spelling.

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