holy_calamity writes "New Scientist reports on worries that the OLPC's BitFrost security protocols could hand a ready-made surveillance system to controlling 3rd world governments. The laptops identify themselves regularly to a server that can disable individual machines reported stolen — a system that hands a government a kill switch for every unit. BitFrost also has the potential to have machines attach a unique ID to every internet transaction, helping out anyone wanting to track net internet use. A freely available paper from a recent USENIX conference spells out the concerns." Relatedly, an anonymous reader points out a story at Slate about a study which examined the impact that free PCs had on poor students in Romania, writing that "giving the kids machines without a corresponding level of parental supervision just resulted in distractions which ultimately damaged academic performance. By contrast, allowing children access to machines in a supervised setting, say an after school program via school labs, might mitigate some of the negative effects."
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