James O'Neill's Blog

August 28, 2006

DRM: is there a lesson in cricket’s PR disaster ?

Filed under: Exchange,General musings,Security and Malware — jamesone111 @ 10:43 am

I think the world of the people I’m working with at the moment, and of my previous manager too. But it wasn’t always so. Some of the people I worked with in the past showed me the that anything you say in e-mail can be used in evidence against you: I learnt the value of digital rights management the hard way.

In the roughly 20 years I’ve been working, I’ve made 2 offers to walk away from jobs. I think a legal agreement still covers one, and the other was on the second day of a job when it appeared that in taking the job I’d created a huge conflict of interest issue: it turned out to be a storm in a teacup; but it seemed for a while as if the only honorable course was to walk away.

Last week’s Cricket match between England and Pakistan ended in chaos and people blamed the umpire. Having some idea what it feels like I would have gone the Umpires’ manager (Doug Cowie) and said “You can’t really fire me. However a lot of people would rather I wasn’t here. I can’t afford to lose my income. Can we do a deal?”. He did so, by e-mail which has now come to light. Cowie forwarded the mail to his boss, the Chief Executive (wouldn’t most people ?). Both of them decided Hair’s offer was the wrong course.

As the offer could be relevant to Pakistan’s defence in the disciplinary case that will follow, the ICC’s lawyers told them to disclose the mail and they went public rather than see it leak – now the media are reporting Umpire Darrell Hair offered to quit in exchange for $500,000 (£266,000), the International Cricket Council has said. as if he were seeking a bribe. 

I’ve been wondering if Umpire Hair had used DRM on his mail would it have gone public in the same damaging way ? 

[Addendum] He is trying to put his point of view . I was thinking in the Gina Ford saga about “History is written by the winners”. Usually we mean that history is written afterwards and the losers don’t get a say. In a world dominated by PR it works the other way. Those who control the story come out on top. Any referee or umpire gets criticism: Hair can shrug that off. People have implied he is a racist and he should be able to persuade impartial observers that he isn’t. This e-mail has meant that his integrity has been called into question. No-one can endure negative press for ever.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

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