"Will the product(s) be used in connection with weapons of mass destruction"

Post length: 295 words, about 1 and a half minutes.

I bought a new computer today from the Dell Outlet.  My main work computer finally gave up and exploded last night just as I was switching it off (I thought I could smell something burning for a while and it just went pop as I was shutting it down), and I’d been thinking about it for a while now, so it’s not really a great leap to buy a new one (a Dell Vostro 420 LMT since you ask).

The thing which surprised me was that in the checkout process I was asked the following: “Will the product(s) be used in connection with weapons of mass destruction, i.e. nuclear applications, missile technology, or chemical or biological weapons purposes?”  Of course it won’t, and I clicked that box, but it did cross my mind to wonder what would have happened if I’d said yes.

Would it have stopped me and said I couldn’t buy it?  I’d be happy if Dell were promoting a pacifist agenda, but I suspect they supply to governments who do use them for that kind of thing so it’s not a moral issue.  It was listed under the US export agreement, so perhaps it’s a means of monitoring which countries have nuclear capabilities (perhaps this is how they found out about North Korea’s weapons programme).  Perhaps it’s simply that Dell have a specific weapons department who would have been able to manage my specialised order more effectively.

Either way, I would have thought (hoped in fact — I’d rather they didn’t use the outlet and left the great bargains for struggling artists like me!) such development programmes would have had enough in their budgets to afford to use the real Dell shop and not have to resort to buying refurbished PCs!

Posted on Tuesday 2nd June, 2009 at 7:30 pm in Obiter dicta.
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