Internet security

Those over the age of thirty five or forty, the generation which did not grow up with computers, always seem to assume that there is something uniquely dangerous about the Internet and that one must be fanatically cautious about what is said and done there. Somebody commenting here recently, for example, had been trawling the net and seeing what could be gleaned about me and my family. There is quite a bit, including various new items which concern my daughter.

It is not really very hard to track down people's personal details. If a news item about a child appears in the local paper, it might say perhaps, 'Mary Smith (14) of Foxes lane'. If you wanted to, you could then consult the electoral register at the local library and then you would have her exact address. Most of us wouldn't want to do this, but some weird people might. This is an example of how personal details can be uncovered without going anywhere near the Internet. One is bound to say; so what? We all know that teenage girls live in houses and flats throughout the country. Most of us see them entering their houses in our own street without giving this a second thought. If one were that keen, I suppose that it would be possible to follow teenage girls home from school and see where they lived. All these things are possible and have been done in the past, long before the Internet came into existence.

There seems to be a feeling that once a young person's whereabouts become known on the web, her house will become a magnet for stalkers, psychos, perverts and serial killers; but this seems unlikely. If I want to stalk a teenage girl, why on earth would I trawl the net for targets? As I said, they are all around us. The person who commented here about my daughter has, rather oddly, gone to the trouble of trying to identify the very house where she lives on google streetview. She thinks, or claims to think, that the knowledge that a teenage girl is living in this particular house or that might be enough to put somebody at hazard.

One can never be entirely safe from strange people and although some of them are dangerous, the vast majority are harmless and inadequate. I am guessing that the individual who went to the trouble of finding my daughter's address and then wished to peer at the house, perhaps in the hope of catching a glimpse of her, is more likely to be the Peeping Tom type than the crazed rapist. It is curious though that somebody would do this; come onto a blog about home education and then try to prove that he could find out the address and spy on the home of a young girl. I had better not tell you what my daughter's private opinion of this person is, as it might offend those readers who are unused to strong language!