In November 2007, I wrote about the Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act of 2007, its stated intent, and some possible results of the passage of such an Act. At the time, it had only passed the Senate, and was still being debated in the House.

Since then, it became the Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act of 2008, and was eventually passed as an attachment to the Former Vice President Protection Act of 2008. In its final form, the ITERAct turned out to be roughly what I expected: a largely pointless, uninteresting increase in the amount of bureaucratic red tape that applies to the legal treatment of computer related crimes, a collection of special case instructions to the courts.

The best possible outcome, as I pointed out in my previous article on the subject, might have included protections of citizens’ privacy with a federal legal recognition of the unethicality of willfully violating personal privacy regardless of the perpetrator. Instead, it reads more like a cross between redundant “hate crime” laws and grandstanding “tough on crime” three strikes legislation — the kind of legislation that may actually encourage greater crimes in cases where doing so might reduce the likelihood of getting caught.

I was reminded of this 2007 article of mine, titled What my grandmother taught me about IT security, when I received news this morning that my grandmother had passed away. Her words to me when I was young, quoted at the bottom of the article, carry the essence of the wisdom that sustains my integrity when dealing with others’ secrets. She said:

It’s not you I don’t trust with my secrets. It’s the people you’d tell.

Of course she didn’t mean me, per se. She made a point to me about keeping someone’s confidence, stressing that when one is entrusted with a secret, it is not up to me who is worthy of the trust of sharing that secret. Only the person who imparted it to me may rightly make that decision. It is a lesson I have carried with me for the rest of my life.

She also taught me to spell “refrigerator” at an age when many children aren’t even expected to be able to spell their own names. It’s funny, the things that spring to mind sometimes. Just as I’ll never forget these lessons, I’ll never forget her.