A poster branded with the logos of The West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit and National Crime Agency warning of software found on children’s computers has raised concerns, as the software is legal and could be used for legitimate learning purposes.
Regardless of who is responsible for the poster, it does speak to a worryingly negative cultural attitude towards tech education in the UK. Associating completely legitimate software with cyber crime perpetuates a stereotype of young coders as potential hackers. If our economy is to flourish, interest in these programs should be encouraged, not discouraged. We should be welcoming and encouraging coders.
While it is easy to laugh this poster off as ignorance, there is a serious risk to young talent. At the very least, they could be disincentivised from pursuing technical skills, at a time when there is a serious deficit of coding skills in the market. At worst, discouraging them will push them to the fringes and increase the likelihood of them pursuing illicit activity.