Media Bytes

Jun 27, 2002

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vol. 24, no. 5

Internet spooks piggyback into computers
Sault Star, June 22

Consumers surfing the Internet and checking out all the free stuff may not realize it, but stealth programs such as spyware are being installed in their computers without their knowledge. Spyware typically monitors a user's online surfing habits or can access an individual's data by invading their PC. Some security experts are concerned that the applications could steal passwords or sensitive financial information. It all adds up to a security and privacy nightmare. Richard Smith, associate professor in the school of communication at SFU, says a whole software industry is springing up around countering spyware. But, he says, that's just a barometer for how serious the problem has become. “You pay a certain amount to get your Internet access, something to protect yourself from viruses, then something to deal with spam, and now, it ads up,” he says.

Anglicans split on same-sex blessings
Abbotsford Times, June 21

Devastation, frustration and happiness are some of the emotions being felt after the Synod of the Dioceses of New Westminster voted 63 per cent in favour of blessing gay and lesbian relationships. Richard Toews, a professor in sociology and anthropology at SFU, says the bishops' decision allows the potential for what some fear will be a deep division within the church. The Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, is said to be very disturbed and believes the move threatens the church. According to Toews, Carey regrets the divisions in the dioceses, but has not issued a disagreement to the stance. “This can only leave one wondering who now represents the spirit of Anglicanism in the Dioceses of New Westminster,” says Toews. “From all appearances, it seems that the dissenters have now found themselves dangerously isolated.”

Quebec on top of endangered river list
Globe and Mail, June 17

An environmental group has issued a scathing review of Quebec's premier and Hydro-Quebec in a report that says the province has hung its rivers out to dry in its quest to generate provincial revenue from the sale of electricity. Two Quebec waterways, the Rupert and Kipawa rivers, were tied for top spot as the country's most endangered rivers. David Boyd, an environmental lawyer and SFU professor, led a review committee as it considered nominations submitted from environmental groups across the country. “I don't think there's a single river in Canada that's beyond restoration,” Boyd says. “There's been progress in some of these rivers. It's simply a matter of doing more and doing it more quickly.”

Fear steals fun from playtime
Vancouver Sun, June 15

The great outdoors isn't so great anymore for a growing number of children who have inherited their parents' fears of a world populated by bullies, drug dealers, child molesters, murderers and dangerous traffic. Tighter curfews, risk-free playgrounds and bylaws prohibiting such pastimes as road hockey reflect such fears. Some experts are concerned these anxieties are stifling children's' ability to develop imagination and skills through adventurous play with their friends. “Not giving a child the freedom to go out and play can slow them down develop-mentally,” says SFU sociologist Ellen Gee. “They're not as mature at 20 as they would have been if they'd had more freedom.” While crime rates are actually going down, SFU criminologist Paul Brantingham adds fear is growing as stories of violent crimes and abductions get more media coverage.

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