The experts in digital espionage that they are, the armed forces of the United States have a strict, no-uncertain-terms policy when it comes to PEDs (Portable Electronic Devices) on a submarine: Ain’t gonna happen!
There’s a very good reason for this: data can be stolen. And with today’s technology, it can be stolen incredibly easily—remotely even, with the bandit never exiting his computer desk. And if that data, whether lawfully or unlawfully, contained anything operational, such as the craft’s planned itinerary, deployment manifest or weapons capabilities, then lives would be put at risk, and not just military lives. Even seemingly innocuous data like location settings or selfies could, in the hands of an enemy, be enough to sink subs.
This all begs an important question: without their Kindle apps, how the hell are seamen supposed to read the newest Game of Thrones novel (whenever, if ever, it arrives)? Well, today the Department of the Navy just supplied their answer: NeRD, the Navy eReader Device.
Much like Barnes & Noble’s Nook tablet, the NeRD is a feature-thin e-reader. But unlike the Nook, the NeRD is immune to the surveillance state. Oh, the irony.
As a former service member, I can’t help but chuckle and daydream as to which government contractor won the bid to engineer such a device, and how much they were paid. I don’t mean to insinuate that the Navy’s motives are misplaced, just that the motives are often myopic. Apple-made iPads are unsafe, but Halliburton-made NeRDs are clean? I doubt it.
According to early reports, the device comes preloaded with 300 books, but no new books can be added nor old ones deleted. Also, there are only 365 NeRDs being released into circulation, which is just enough for the commanders. The enlistees will have to (figuratively) suck up if they want to get their hands on a copy.
Fans of communism will recognize all this as a blatant attempt by a heavy-handed government to control the thoughts of their subjugated by limiting supply and stifling competition. But fans of Game of Thrones? Well they should be excited, too. Many of the titles are current bestsellers. Fans of L. Ron Hubbard shouldn’t hold their breath.