Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Gary McKinnon

As someone who works to combat cybercrime and cyberterrorism you may be surprised that I am very much against the extradition of Gary McKinnon. However, I am also someone with intimate knowledge of Asperger's syndrome in two members of my immediate family. As a result, I had the privilege of meeting and discussing Asperger's with the UK's foremost authority, Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen during a diagnosis some years ago. Dr. Baron-Cohen has lucidly explained the condition and the potential impact of incarceration on Gary here. I have no doubt that if he believes Gary has Asperger's then that will be the case.

The IT industry not only contains more than its fair share of people with Asperger's, it also benefits significantly from their intelligence and intense focus. If you work in IT you probably know several people with this condition, although you (and they) may not realise it. We need to try to understand them, to celebrate their positive contributions and to make allowances for some of their apparently obsessive behaviours. You may even be interested to test your own Autism-Spectrum Quotient or to support the National Autistic Society.