Opinion: Computer-competency tests should be required

Should computer users be required to demonstrate a basic understanding of internet safety and responsibility before logging on? That’s the controversial question pondered in an opinion piece by PC World’s Robert X. Cringely. “As we become more dependent on the net for everything—education, the economy, social interaction—the ability to safely navigate becomes vital, in part because scammers will exploit it even more,” Cringely writes. “The biggest problem on the net today isn’t insecure software or cyber thieves; it’s stupidity. … Users are always the weakest link.” His solution: Develop an interactive quiz that comes up on screen when a new user logs on, with questions designed to test—and teach—basic internet security. Newbies would have to get three correct answers in a row before they can log on. “Think of it as a ‘computer driving test’ that could reduce malware threats and cyber scams by making users smarter,” Crinegly writes. “It really boils down to whether you believe net access is a right (like freedom of speech) or a privilege (like driving a car). In other words, are you born with it, or do you have to earn it by proving your competence? More and more, I’m leaning toward the latter. … If you need to do this before you can get on highway, why not the Infobahn?”

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