From hacker Asbos to thinking Aibos

A look back at the stories that got people talking this week

One of the biggest stories to arouse your ire this week is the plan to hit suspected hackers with that scourge of hoody-wearers everywhere — the anti-social behaviour order, or Asbo. It seems that hoodlum techies deserve extra special punishment in the eyes of the Home Office, which is intending to hit them with no mere ordinary Asbo, but a super-Asbo.

Shooting's too good for them: Some readers, such as IT Contractor Richard Pettigrew, are in favour of the proposals placing faith in the powers-that-be to act responsibly:

"Surely the police would have to obtain sufficient evidence or have good solid, beyond a doubt, probable cause to do this?" he commented. "Just in the same manner they can't enter and search a property without a warrant issued by the court, they shouldn't be able to do this without going through the due process."

The law is an ass: Others, however, don't share Richard's faith that the law can be trusted to get it right all the time and claim the proposed Serious Crime Prevention Order, which could ban suspected hackers from accessing the Internet altogether, is overkill.

"Being an ex-police officer, this is one step closer to Big Brother. A criminal isn't a criminal until they have been convicted of a criminal offence or everyone is innocent until being proven guilty. The consequence of this is that this power could be used to investigate other activities under the guise of hacking," said Dean.

Dumb and dumber: Other readers, such as technical specialist and regular ZDNet contributor Arthur B, claim that the authorities lack the basic expertise for highly technical crimes. "Powerful laws need to be executed by the right people or not become reality at all. Somehow I don't think that the police and courts will suddenly have enough means, skills, experience, tools, insight, training, etc, etc to prevent blunder after blunder (needly [sic] tucked away under the carpet of public awareness for political reasons) from taking place," he comments.

Don't make us laugh: Another topic that had you rushing for the nearest keyboard is the news that BT has been voted the best performing ISP. Some publications took this story at face value, but closer analysis by our reporters raised some questions over the report's validity, which was backed up your Talkback. "My own experience of BT is far less flattering, especially if something goes wrong. Faults go unfixed and fault reports go missing. Being such a large organisation, it is especially difficult to keep continuity through the fault logging / repair process. Hours spent on the phone to offshore call centres seem futile," commented computer engineer, John Murray.

Pull the other one: Microsoft's apparent decision to turn over a new leaf by issuing 12 voluntary principles was too much for some readers to bear, with mainframe and Sun specialist Sid Boyce probably echoing the reaction of many to the idea the Redmond giant has changed its spots.

"I have a personal and perhaps unique maxim, part of a series I call Boyceisms, "Don't tell me with words". In so many ways, words have never fulfilled their promise and consequently I don't expect the spots on Microsoft's coat to change."

March of the robots: And finally, it seems some readers can't get enough of robots. Not content with the Robot and Artificial Intelligence special reports we ran recently, some want more of our plastic pals who are fun to be with.

"Honda Robot is beyond the thinking level," said software engineer Ajay Kaher. "Congrats to all members of Honda Robot team. I just want to know, are u doing anything to make robots think? I have some ideas ....... mail me, may I help you or may you help me."