Wednesday, October 13, 2010

British Telecom's Chief Technology Officer Warns Technology Has Reached A Point Where Privacy/Intrusion Has Fundamentally Changed

this photo stolen from
"Privacy ought to be seen as a human right enforced by tighter government regulations and enforcement. European privacy laws are a good starting point in this process but don't by themselves go far enough, according to Schneier.

The chief technology officer at BT Counterpane said that part of the threat to privacy comes from governments hiring private firms to get around privacy regulations. "Data brokers are being re-purposed for government to do data mining that governments themselves wouldn't be allowed to do.""

The Register - Facebook is 'killing privacy for commercial gain'


"BT's chief security technology officer has accused the chief executives of big name tech companies such as Google and Facebook of "deliberately killing privacy" in their quest to boost profits.

Bruce Schneier branded Facebook the "worst offender", alleging that the site deliberately eroded privacy in order to successfully pursue its business model.

"We're not Facebook customers, we're Facebook's product it sells to its customers [the advertisers]," he said. "Facebook wants more users because it's in the business of advertising.""

V3 - Bruce Schneier slams Facebook for deliberately eroding privacy

"The difference now, he said, was that the falling cost of storage and processing power made it far easier to keep data such as e-mail conversations, Tweets or postings to a social network page than it was to spend the time managing and deleting the information.

The migration of human social interaction from ephemeral forms that took place face to face into data that never goes away and does not allow us to forget or leave behind our past actions was undoubtedly going to change society, he said.

"Forgetting is a very powerful social tool that helps us get by and get along," he said.

As lives are lived more and more online or via the phone it has led, said Mr Schneier, to a situation in which everyone has to be the guardian of their own privacy policy.

"That's new and fundamentally unnatural," he said.

Deciding what data we are prepared to surrender would be fine if people were given a proper choice, he said.

Unfortunately, he said, users of social networking sites or any online service were being presented with choices defined by priorities they did not choose.

The choices are filtered through the law, which is being outstripped by technological change, leaving people with only what net firms give them or can get away with.

"The social rules are being set by businesses with a profit motive," he said." [bold mine - James]

BBC - Bruce Schneier warns 'profits killing personal privacy'


Technology has changed the world when it comes to privacy. We as a global society need to look at how we treat privacy issues.

Just as the new terrible technologies of war changed the way people looked at war and how it was conducted during and after World War 1 (think chemical weapons), just as nuclear weapons changed the way major powers approach each other, so too computing power should force us to re-think way the world can treat us as individuals.

Computing technology and "expert systems" combined with ubiquitous surveillance is a new phenomenon to the human experience. We have to address it before those who control our societies go too far in controlling our lives.

Freedom is not a birthright. It is earned and fought for every day.

Think about your freedom. It is being taken away even as your read this.

Even as you read this, a computer somewhere is logging both your activity and mine. How that data is used or not used is an important question that urgently needs addressing.


Photo Credit: Treehugger - Saving Energy in Data Centers with Smart Sensors and Algorithms

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your insights, James. Yes, technology is not perfect and is constantly changing. Researchers and innovators need to be on their toes all the time to keep up and adapt to these events. It would be great news if the creators of these social media platforms could find a way to prevent or at least minimize the threat of security breach, especially when handling big data.