For a second year now, 3-D TVs were featured at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in January. Despite their promotion at last year’s CES, 3-D TVs failed to draw many buyers. Only 3.2 million were sold around the world in 2010, according to NPD Group, a market researcher. Analysts attribute the lack of interest to the TVs’ high prices, which usually start around US $2000, and they require special glasses that can each cost $150. In addition, many people recently shelled out a lot of money to upgrade to HDTV. On top of all that, several health reports have warned that watching in three dimensions for extended periods can cause headaches, nausea, and dizziness.
Will 3-D TVs ever become popular? What would it take for you to buy one?
Responses to November’s question
BlackBerry Ban Considered for Security Concerns
Visitors to the United Arab Emirates, as well as the country’s approximately 500 000 BlackBerry subscribers, were warned they would be unable to use their device’s messaging or e-mail functions due to a scheduled ban on 11 October. The proposed ban was canceled shortly before it was to take effect. Officials had cited national security as the reason for the ban; they said they wanted the ability to monitor the communications of terrorists and other criminals, and BlackBerry’s encryption program makes it virtually impossible to do so. The UAE officials reached a deal with BlackBerry maker Research in Motion that averted the shutdown.
What do you think of such an outright ban? Would you mind having your mobile communications subject to monitoring for the sake of national security?
Where Will It End?
Freedom of speech is a core freedom that every U.S. citizen enjoys, and I do not believe the government should be allowed to monitor my communications. Although I have nothing to hide, if the government can monitor communications for national security, where does national security end? Such monitoring takes away freedom from citizens and makes the government more powerful.
Under the U.S. Constitution, government monitoring is permissible if it is court-approved. Previous administrations have bent or ignored the rule, but that is the general idea: If there is a need, it can be arranged. I don’t have a problem if the government follows that rule, even if I am monitored.
The rationale for the ban in the subject countries is much different: It is to keep citizens in check—to keep them from discussing the failures of the government and politicians. That motive is a horse of a very different color and should never be allowed in democracies.
James R. Fancher
The question is whether BlackBerry’s encryption program leaves open a back door for the U.S. and Canadian governments to monitor e-mailed communications while excluding others. If so, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have a right to be angry about being excluded from intelligence. However, if the U.S. and Canadian governments do have a way to monitor communications, it would obviously be top secret.
There’s no way for me, as an average consumer, to second-guess the intelligence communities of different nations. Having no way of knowing whether to trust BlackBerry’s security, if I truly wanted secure e-mail, I would go with an open-source program that is not widely used, and therefore not as much of a target for government intelligence agencies.
The idea of banning devices unless they can be monitored for national security is, at best, extremely disturbing and represents a slippery slope that we do not want to slide down. There are plenty of nonterrorism-related reasons to use encryption to protect data, and many ways to catch terrorists without having to stoop to such a level. Governments are using these bans primarily as an excuse to give them the power they want. And no government should have such power.
There is no reason to allow government snooping on private communications—personal or business—no matter what the excuse. If the terrorists force us to surrender our liberties, they will have won. I am reminded of a quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin: “Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.”
Mark D. Anderson
Green Valley, Ariz.
We Should Ask Ourselves
I live in a civilized country where the risk of terrorism, while not totally absent, is minimal. Therefore, my first reaction to the news that some countries want to monitor communications on the allegation of a terrorism threat is to raise some questions: Who are considered to be terrorists? What is the level of risk to civil freedom and human rights if we choose to monitor communications? Are potential terrorists not able to use other means besides mobile phones to plan their actions? Do we have enough resources to spy on everyone’s conversations? Let the people discuss these issues and decide for themselves what regulations their country should adopt.
The problem is not monitoring communications for the sake of national security. The issue is when, and if, those who monitor the traffic misuse their power for the sake of political games. For example, they could investigate people’s political leanings, nationality, race, and religious or sexual orientation. There’s always a risk that the data collected from what might be unauthorized monitoring will be used in making decisions to accept or reject someone from being appointed to leadership positions in a community. There must be a strict and clear regulatory system that would prevent any chance of misusing the data.
Novi Sad, Serbia