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8/29/2007
08:23 AM
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Don't Say We Didn't Warn You: If a Teen Wants in, They'll Get in

My first reaction when I read about the New Jersey teenager, George Hotz, who successfully freed his iPhone from AT&T and switched it to T-Mobile's network, was "that kid has way too much time on his hands."

My first reaction when I read about the New Jersey teenager, George Hotz, who successfully freed his iPhone from AT&T and switched it to T-Mobile's network, was "that kid has way too much time on his hands."Hotz spent nearly all the waking hours of his summer vacation tinkering with the iPhone. Apparently he was determined to switch carriers because his family was on the T-Mobile network.

But then I read about the other determined teen  16-year-old Tom Wood from Melbourne, Australia, who cracked the Australian government's new $84 million internet porn filter in 30 minutes. The upgraded filter took him 40 minutes to get through.

AllThingsD's John Paczkowski took one lesson from this incident: "Nothing Will Ever Come Between a Teenage Boy and His Porn," he titles his blog post about Australian hack.

But I think the reactions of both AT&T and the Australian government are more telling. AT&T sort of shrugged, and gave the standard "we're not worried' comment. The Australian government's Senator Coonan said, "Unfortunately, no single measure can protect children from online harm and ... traditional parenting skills have never been more important." Translation: There's only so much we can do.

Even analysts commenting on the iPhone hack said AT&T doesn't have to worry since the warranty will be voided if the phone is open. (Yeah, that's why people won't do it.)

Clearly, both Hotz and Wood hacked their way to fame on a lark. Hotz got a car out of it, Wood got his 15 minutes.

But what are we to do with the fact that there doesn't seem to be any filter, any code, any security system, that someone out there  most likely someone under the age of 21  can't break? Do we shrug our shoulders and say that's life in the 21st century or do we continue to try harder?

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