You're not going to like what I have to say and frankly I don't care! We have entered a time when technology has advanced us beyond our capability to make wise judgements. The most vulnerable are our kids and most who read this have their heads in the sand - not having a clue what risks our children - youth - teens - young adults face. It's a scary world and with technology kids and Jihadists have at least one thing in common - their desire for secrecy!
Get your head out of the sand and wake up. Knowing what your kids are doing and what apps they're using is critical today. If you don't, you risk being awakened by the police knocking at your door informing you of something no parent would want to hear.
The New World of Secrecy
CNN just released an article that brings front and center the challenge that faces our youth today - technology to keep in the dark the things that they want to hide. Here's the full article link.
If ISIS wants to hide something they use a simple app called Telegram. If kids want to hide something from their parents they use the same app or a host of others. And as adults - I suppose with the best of intentions - many encourage what are known as "secure messaging apps" all in the interest of defending "civil liberties" in the digital world. In other words, we somehow have the right to keep our communications private - even if that is not in our overall best interests. Maybe I'm just an ole fogey...but if you don't have anything to hide, who cares who knows?
The CNN report states:
It's "the new hot thing among jihadists," said Laith Alkhouri, director of Research at Flashpoint Global Partners. The Berlin-based startup boasts two layers of encryption and claims to be "faster and more secure" than its competitor WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook.
Users can securely message friends and send pictures and files. They can also create group chats with up to 200 members or opt for "special secret chats" where messages, photos, and videos will self-destruct.
ISIS is also using Telegram to broadcast big messages on the app's "channels," which are devoted to a variety of topics. It was on the official ISIS channel that the group said the Paris attacks would be the "first of the storm."
ISIS also used Telegram to claim responsibility for downing a Russian airplane on October 31. "A lot of people are now seeing Telegram advertised on ISIS supporter Twitter accounts," said Alkhouri. He said the official ISIS channel distributes between 10 and 20 ISIS statements and videos a day.
Some terror groups are using Telegram to fundraise. On certain jihadi-related channels, users are asked to donate and pick where their money would go. For example, users can pick out the type of weapons their money would be spent on. "You can choose whether to donate your money to an AK-47," Alkhouri said.
Because Telegram isn't yet widely known, there's less scrutiny. It launched in 2013 by brothers Nikolai and Pavel Durov, who has been dubbed "the Mark Zuckerberg of Russia."
Don't become too obsessed with ISIS here though. The concept is the foundation for such apps as Snapchat, Whatsapp, and a host of others. Jihadists use it for terror, kids use it for texting or sexting - either way, they use it so that their messages or actions can't become known to their parents or others in a position of authority.
What more do I need to know?
An article written by Harry Guinness at an organization called MakeUsOf - a group that promotes privacy - and seems to have a fear of "big brother" - shares many more apps that take the illusion of privacy that Snapchat and Whatsapp have to a new level. They feature five apps that apparently take "security" to a major new level: (1) ChatSecure + Orbot; (2) Signal / RedPhone; (3) Silent Phone; (4) Silent Text; and (5) TextSecure. The full article is featured here.
CNN states: Telegram is a reaction to what the makers of the app believe are shortcomings of other mainstream networks. "Big Internet companies like Facebook or Google have effectively hijacked the privacy discourse in the recent years," the site says.
Encryption is the key to these apps the objective of which is to hide their activities so that authorities won't know - for our youth the authority is our parents or us as readers.
Now when I was a kid
Last week I spoke to a group and shared honestly - when I was say 15 or 16 or 17 would I welcome the chance to have a picture (now called a PIC) of my girlfriends breasts? Yes! But that wasn't realistic. Technology really didn't allow it. I mean assuming she were willing (which I can bet she wasn't - she'd be afraid she'd be caught by her parents) I'd have to first take the picture with a camera with film in it (dating myself here). Then, of course, I have to get the pictures developed! Then what - the film developed at the local pharmacy has someone that works there put the pics in the envelope (hence looking at them). Now they knew my mama...so even if I risked it, I know I'd be caught and have hell to pay.
Choices have consequences and not so long ago the ability to monitor and keep our youth between the ethical lines was in balance. Parents, and those that cared in the community, had enough information to spot when someone was getting out of line and with a bit of luck, pull them back into the ethical fold before it became too late.
But that was then and this is NOW!
We're not in Kansas anymore!
It's nice to assume that our youth will make the right decisions because they know they should, but that is nonsense! When I was a kid - teen - youth (call it what you will) I made dumb stupid choices. Fortunately I had parents, aunts and uncles that got me back on track. Today the challenge is - our technology allows far more to take place than we have the capacity to monitor.
Seems that's the idea - no monitoring - but what we do in the dark will be brought to the light. I'd rather be on the front end of keeping my kids safe by knowing what they are doing and guiding them to make good decisions than I would have them - in their youthful exuberance - make dumb stupid choices that are hidden by technology.
Chuck Gallagher is a business leader, author and speaker on the subject of ethics, choices and consequences. While his client base is typically businesses, Chuck finds great pleasure in working with schools to impact, influence and empower youth to make ethical choices. Chuck can be reached at chuckgallagher.com.