Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Is it your fault or 'theirs'?

I have just read in disbelief about a clown booked to perform in Leeds for Tesco. He has recently been prevented from getting insurance unless he stops using a bubble machine in case it drips soap on the ground and someone slips. Now he has been banned from using any balloons because 'some children may be allergic to latex'. Have you ever heard of a latex allergy from a distant balloon? Why has an allergy affecting about 2 people taking precendence over the remaing 99.99% of kids enjoying a show containing balloons? Maybe someone is allergic to the clown's face paint. I'll bet a few people have died or injured themselves laughing. Should this mean all entertainment must stop?

This post isn't about saving a clown. It is a wider issue. If people get drunk and cause trouble it is the fault of the pub for selling alcohol! There is regularly uproar about violent computer games, and more specifically recently about the setting of such violence in Manchester Cathedral. The authors claim it is just a fantasy and is not real - so its OK. Problem is now graphics and consoles are improving games are starting to look and feel much more realistic. To pass levels on games you have to keep trying, and honing your gut reactions to beat your opponents and win. After a day playing Ridge Racer I actually find myself thinking about taking corners much faster in my real car. I have decided to stop playing the game because it could put me in danger. Most other people would probably not be so sensible, and would practice in the real car so they could improve on the game. But because of this should the game be banned from the public? Is it the game author's fault for encourauging dangerous driving in a game where there are not the same consequences?

Additionally the Lords committee has recently published a good report into the future of personal safety on the internet. I like it because one of the key points they attack is current software 'license' agreements. For some reason the person who created the software is not responsible for all the flaws in the software. It is my fault for running the software! Also they suggest holding Internet Service Providers responsible for viruses etc sent from their network. I actually don't agree with this - the person responsible in my view is the one who created the virus. Any changes to make net users reliably traceable in the real world would let us nail em up!

When I buy a car do I have to sign a license? If, for example, there is a fault with all BMWs that a wheel falls off at 80mph and kills the driver would such an agreement exempt the designers from responsibility for the fault? I think the charge would be corporate manslaughter earning someone a jail term.

These issues I have mentioned are all very different issues that may seem unrelated, but my point is about who is responsible for how much? Where does a supplier's responsibility end and a consumer's responsibility start?

Can someone sell me software that exposes my credit card details to the world without me being aware and it not be their fault? Can someone sell me a program to hone my reactions to make me a more dangerous driver and claim it is my fault for using it and applying it to my real life? Can an unusual allergic reaction in one person be enough to ban all balloons from the country? Or should that person expect a clown to have balloons and avoid his show?

You know now this is composed I realise I have already written a post about this same issue. I called it Religion and racism about the racism row with Shilpa Shetty on Celeb Big Brother.

Someone in government needs to take this issue on board and establish some uniform guidance that can be applied across the board. Exactly where does a supplier's or consumer's responsibility begin and end?

Shockingly I can't begin to answer that off the top of my head. Information Technology rules are definitely too soft on supplier's. The Lords report hit that nail on the head! I also feel broadcasting rules are too hard on their supplier's. Might come back to this one.

Perhaps the answer is nowhere - both are responsible. But we need to keep the compensation lawyers on a leash! Maybe compensation laws are partly responsible for this problem?!


No comments: