John wrote about this back in ’03. An extension of this illiteracy includes kids who were never taught everyday thinks like how to balance a checkbook and haggle when buying a car. Perhaps it’s time for a “How to function in today’s world” class that includes a chapter on how a computer works, Internet scams, etc.

On the other hand, given kids today start on their parent’s computers at age 2, a Nigerian prince could have wiped out their piggy bank account well before starting kindergarten.

Australia’s leading criminologist thinks online scams have escalated to such a point that first-time users of computers should have to earn a licence to surf the web.

Russel Smith, principal criminologist at the Australian Institute of Criminology said the concept of a “computer drivers licence” should be taken seriously as an option for combating internet-related crime.

“There’s been some discussion in Europe about the use of what’s called a computer drivers licence – where you have a standard set of skills people should learn before they start using computers,” Dr Smith told iTnews.

“At the moment we have drivers licences for cars, and cars are very dangerous machines. Computers are also quite dangerous in the way that they can make people vulnerable to fraud.”

  1. ijsbrand says:

    There already is a European Computer Drivers’ License (ECDL). Most activities that I have been aware of done within that program are either heavily sponsored by Microsoft, or consist of using to learn the use Microsoft products, like various Office tools.

    That doesn’t have to be that bad, but nowadays the ECDL has often become mandatory in many a country, for all teachers in schools.

  2. danijel says:

    ECDL ( is a crappy company that forces itself in schools and teaches you useless junk that most kids pick up on themselves anyway. They hijacked a nice name tho…

  3. Olo Baggins of Bywater says:

    This sort of education has been a requirement in many US schools for most of a decade. Some schools follow IC3, others follow a standard developed for computer literacy for students, can’t remember the name right now.

    It’s the adults and grandma we have to worry about.

  4. Weary Reaper says:

    It looks a lot like the certification scams in North America:

    Pass our ridiculously easy test (which only costs $99.99 to take) and we will certify you as a security/fraud/auditing/programming/support/training/Microsoft/Apple/Linux expert (your choice) with a fancy diploma that costs us almost nothing to produce.

    Of course, you are then required to pay annual dues of $595 from now until forever to remain certified.

    Who certified us? Well, we just got together and decided to make a whole bundle of cash without having to work for it, so we came up with this certification scam.

  5. Rider says:

    “An extension of this illiteracy includes kids who were never taught everyday thinks”

    Rim Shot.

  6. Cursor_ says:

    Hey they don’t need a license.

    All that needs to be done is to box with all new computers a short course on how to use your computer.

    When you first boot on it starts up like the taking a tour stuff on most OS’s do. It is a 30 minute course that helps you to understand how to be a good netizen.

    And if you are an old hand at computers, then it simply asks you a series of 12 questions that anyone should know. You answer all 12 correctly and you are done. If you miss just one, you have to take the course again.

    And if you try and bypass it, it will be a nag screen every single time you start a web browser.

    Though honestly, I would rather have a mandated by law parenting class when you find out you are going have a baby. With refreshers for those people whom mistakenly believe that they must procreate enough children to plow the north 40 and the south 80!

    But hey I believe in education, unlike most Americans who think that knowledge is highly overrated and that beer and TV is all the education any human needs.


  7. Timothy Keeling says:

    My first thought was to urge everyone to make sure the people in our family knew how to be safe, but my second is:
    Anybody try to teach your wife/husband anything?

  8. chuck says:

    People don’t need a license for using a computer.
    They need common sense.
    And if they don’t have it, they should be taught it.
    Don’t give out personal information online.
    You don’t think my name is actually “Chuck” do you?

  9. ± says:

    Judging from the 11 responses I read, most people don’t ‘get’ that a browsing license is useless unless it requires a login to prove who you are. That is what this is all about. The loss of freedom to browse anonymously (assuming you’re using a proxy or you’re not anonymous anyway).

  10. soundwash says:

    the license idea is absurd.

    the industry is designing dumbed down O/S’s (for dumbed down people) which is further exasperates the problem.

    –i have clients (a few lawyers included) that have owned a computer for 5-10 years plus and they still don’t know how to even use the F’n file manager. (windows explorer)

    the first thing i do is *try* to train them in basic *housekeeping 101* to which they promptly forget and call me for issues (like a full hard drive)

    my observations is that only people who are of the type that like (and have the knowledge) to do things like change their own oil *like* to learn anything to do with the underpinnings of the tools they use.

    this is in *part*, why the Mac is experiencing a huge lift in sales.

    -its akin to a car with the hood bolted shut.

    further…i know plenty of A++ guys that dont know SQUAT about a computer.

    (they don’t learn how software interacts with the hardware)

    It’s a test, and like all tests, the bulk of people taking them just learn the answers to pass the test without ever [wanting] to learn *how to apply what they’ve learned*


    [this is the RFID argument from a different angle)

    you know what the logical conclusion of this is?

    if they make a PC license, they’ll probably install card reader on the machine so that you’ll have to swipe your ID to operate *any* computer. -thusly tracking your every move on the internet.

    (more logical, they’ll make a special ultra-secure slot for a special *mystical ultra secure chip* [ha!] because you can never have enough dongles hanging off your keychain.

    (PayPal’s football comes to mind)

    -that aspect will be sold as “putting an end to online fraud and of course, Cyberbullying.

    anyone who votes for this is a moron AND an ignoramus.

    -the only Cyberbullys are the ones making the laws.


  11. soundwash says:

    further.. since the last depression
    yielded “The Communications Act of 1934”

    -no doubt when this 2nd Greater Depression gets rolling this winter,
    no doubt their will have been (or will be) another false “9/11 style” cyber-terror attack on the internet that will eventually produce insane licensing fees or requirements who’s end result will be to make the internet accessible to only GovCorp
    approved entities.

    the internet is THE biggest threat to Big Government alive today. i’d almost guarantee that by the 2012 elections, barring some stupendously brave outrage by the American and Global peoples [that actually produces results) that the Internet of today 08/30/09 will be but a shadow of its former self by 2012 elections..


  12. Instant_Armaggedon says:

    Waste of time. They’d be better off designing a “LICENSE TO TEXT” instead.

  13. Blues says:

    What does avoiding a scam have to do with computer literacy? How do you teach a moron not to be?
    The Nigerian scam used to be perpetrated by regular snail mail, then fax, now email.
    Knowing how snail mail or faxes worked didn’t stop the dipshits from getting scammed then; knowing how a computer works won’t stop them getting scammed now.

  14. myrrlyn says:

    if we didnt have drivers licenses for cars, how many idiots texting, drunk, or stupid would be removed (forcibly or through fright) from the roads?

    since we dont have licenses to use computers, anyone who gets scammed is ON THEIR OWN. same if they get a virus. if they cant use the goddamned computer, and dont listen to the people who can, then they can just use a frigging typewriter

    im not normally a total jerk, but people who cant use computers and constantly whine at me for help PISS ME OFF. sry.

  15. Jess Hurchist says:

    “Perhaps it’s time for a “How to function in today’s world” class ”

    Perhaps a class in common sense would help

  16. Andon says:

    Olo Baggins of Bywater is right. Certification programs in schools has been around for a while. I work for a company that represents Certiport, a distributor of computer certifications. “Weary Reaper” is right that some of them are scams to get money, but there are many others (including Certiport) that are internationally recognized and validated for their exams. They are doing a lot of work in schools, around the world, to improve “digital literacy” and help people avoid scams. Read the stories of some of the recent “Champions of Digital Literacy” who did such work around the world:


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