I've been a great admirer of Tom Standage for a number of years--and highly recommend his book _The Victorian Internet_ that describes parallels between the head-in-the-ground reactions to the invention and growth of the telegraph during the mid-19th century to that of the Internet in the late 20th century.
I have to think Standage recognizes the dissonance of his remarks, but finds himself in the role of corporate spokesperson for a magazine whose editors don't quite get the irony yet.
Of course the policies of the Economist only serve to hurt the Economist. (Don't they have an SEO consultant on staff?). And to say "we aren't going to do X because everyone else does X" is bullshit. What they are really saying is "you can get quality elsewhere; our product is for the consumer who doesn't want quality."
I used to work for a company you all have heard of. (Check my LinkedIn profile if you really care which one.) Back in the day (October 1989) our Bay Area office was destroyed by an earthquake you may also have heard about. Live and backup data within the office was destroyed. The policy at the time (now policy is very different) was not to rely on any local offsite backup facility as that could just as easily be destroyed by a quake. Rather, the office had a deal with a taxi driver to come every evening after daily backups and carry around a copy in the trunk of his cab. Next night he'd be back to swap disk packs and would carry the new copy.
The office recovered from the quake using data from the disk packs in his cab.
As to Tim's post: I'm a Democrat who has supported Obama from early on (though break with him on several issues of TechDirt focus). Despite my general support, I agree with everything Tim wrote--something does not smell right here. They do need to recover those emails no matter what is on them.
As Mike pointed out, this is correlation, not causation. And it is not at all unusual that Representatives vote more or less aligned with the lobbies that support them: most all representatives and all lobbies.
The system may be broken, but there isn't anything sinister beyond that going on here.
1. In this case the IP addresses are being triangulated with significant additional information; and
2. The security expert (Neville) was careful to note that one can't say for sure the user was John Steele; rather that it was someone who had access to his accounts (several of which were accessed from the same IP address.)
I note the "Overreaction Department" tag line on the post.
The firm is taking very reasonable steps to protect their data (and their clients' data). Agreed the security risk is the employee, not the technology. But they rightly recognize that no amount of training will completely eliminate employees mistakes, especially since the scammers keep inventing new ruses.
And the firm is taking the reasonable step of mounting a new network outside their firewall to support employee access to personal accounts. So the firm isn't trying to wall off access completely during the workday, an action that would be problematic on several dimensions.
I'd say the overreaction here is on the part of our poster, not on the part of the law firm.