This was on Israeli radio's "Interbeth" Internet programme last week. The mayor of Ra'anana was talking about how Ra'anana municipality was moving many services to the Internet. I was somewhat amused to hear the population of Ra'anana could now pay municipal taxes on the web, and that this was a great advance (up to now, you'd just call a number and give a clerk your details to type into the computer; NOW, you can type them in yourself and save city council the money for the clark, leaving yourself with nobody to blame for any typos).

But then I heard the really worrying news.

You can now register your child to a school (in Ra'anana) on the web. The advantages? (After all, there have to be some major advantage to make it worth your while, since this is strictly a one-time activity!)

Under the old, obsolete, outdated, 20th century method, used in the previous millenium, you actually had to go to town hall and prove you were who you said you were, that your child was indeed your ward, etc. But under the AMAZING NEW SYSTEM, available ON THE INTERNET, you don't have to undergo this physical proof. This is an advantage of the Internet, of course.

The mayor, as well as the programme's panel of "experts", saw nothing odd in this explanation. But I do. After all, there's a reason why physical proof is required to register your child for school. In English, it's called custody battles. Children are considered too important to let just anybody push them around through an inflexible bureaucracy. So we don't let parents (or other adult-sounding people) register them for school on the phone; we demand to see physical proofs. But now we have the Internet, so we needn't worry about all that old-fashioned nonsense about proofs of identity and permission.

The really scary thought is that I'm sure that if I were to complain, they'd solve the problem by using a secure server. That would still let any maniac push children around, but at least s/he'd know s/he was dealing with the municipality of Ra'anana (and not, say, the municipality of Tel Aviv, pretending to be another city!).

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