A friend reports that one of the recent spate of evil viruses had just mailed someone else's password file to his computer. He had a quick look through, giggled, then emailed the hapless donor to warn him to change the locks.
But isn't that illegal? You're not allowed to access other people's data without their permission, and the fact that it's arrived on your desktop through foul means doesn't change that. Yet the moral imperative is clear: you have to tell the other person that they've been compromised.
I would say that obviously, nobody would prosecute under those conditions. But at least in the States, the trend seems to be to take baroque interpretations of baroque laws. I can quite see some poor person being hauled up in a corporately inspired piece of backside-covering, on the theory that bad security is fine provided nobody talks about it, admits it or takes any action to demonstrate it.
Forget my earlier call for great thinkers: it's Kafka and Orwell we need the most.
To have your say online click on TalkBack and go to the ZDNet forums.