Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Internet Nakedness

In regard to Edward Snowden's leak of information about the capabilities and the extent of the internet surveillance that is going on without our approval, let alone knowledge, I feel stripped naked.

The argument that "if you having to hide then why be worried about the NSA having the information on your internet travels and email correspondence" does not hold water. It's like a nudist telling us all to go naked because we are all the same (within a normal distribution curve) beneath our clothes.

Yes, that's true, but I don't WANT to be naked all the time.

Have you got something to hide? YES, my dignity, my personal habits and preferences, what I would have liked to think was my private life!

As far as criminal activity is concerned, terrorism or child pron, no, I having nothing (much) to hide in my online presence, but I don't WANT government agencies or, worse, businesses having access to what I do online or who I talk to on my phone, criminal or not.

My activity involves reaching out to things in the web or on the phone network far away, outside the dark solitude of my artist's garret, into a public arena, but it's private in all other ways. It's me, it's mine, fuck off: I don't want you and your marketing people looking over my shoulder. It's creepy if nothing else.

My land-line phone calls are public in a sense as well, but if you want to tap my phone, have something concrete to suspect me about, then go get a court order or a warrant or whatever it takes. Ditto, I would like to assume, for my mobile phone use and my computer actions and interactions.


But, we all know that this creeping intrusion is inexorable. But I feel its progress into our electronic selves is as pernicious as it is inevitable.

Unfortunately for those of my cast of opinion, it is only going to become more comprehensive and much more pervasive. There is so much more information than we can comprehend currently being gathered by the Telcos as well as government agencies, and when they run their mining algorithms and the private gold of your prefernential activities is extracted, you are for sale.

The essential technology to gather and to extract useful information is there, to sell the soul of you, and Telcos are making money on it already. It's up and running now in a structurally limited way, but within a few years as the bandwidth of data gathering expands, that deluge of data will be able to deliver up such a wealth (literally, for someone) of information to "interested parties" that taking advantage of it will be overwhelmingly tempting - especially as it will be in real-time!

You know how Morgan Freeman had that huge aggregated screen in Batman The Dark Night, showing how all the phones in Gotham city were being tracked with "sonar"? That is not only on the way, it's here. Well not completely 3D and transparent, but still with an extraordinary amount of detail.

This is wrong!

Yes, indeed. To an extent anyway, this is happening now, but, says E@L's secret source in the industry, the technology currently will only allow 24 hourly updates. Currently. It's true. Every 24hrs, the location of your phone has been sold to someone. In the not too distant future however Singtel / M1 / Starhub / 3 / Optus / Verizon / Telstra / etc... will be selling crucial information of astounding detail in real-time, and making enormous amounts of money (they make enormous amounts of money on SMS's already.)

Information could be as detailed as how many iPhone users are currently shopping in Plaza Singapura: within seconds all those iPhones will be beeping with spam SMS's about the latest Spotlight savings deal, about the 50% sale at Marks & Spencer, the latest 24hr-hit CGI blockbuster in the cinema upstairs; ads targeted to their owners' previous shopping history from the database that was generated when their history of on-line shopping was sold previously.


Some of you think that this will be a good thing, of course. You don't want irrelevant spam. The businesses certainly will love it. But it is much more than those targeted ads that pop up on your web browsers.

This is exposure to a degree that a few years ago was unthinkable, unless you were watching Minority Report*. Now we know the US Government agencies have been doing this all along. As have those Telco businesses.

I feel that I am being stripped electronically naked, but I'd rather keep my internet body covered, thank you. It's not that I have things to hide, it's just that I'm shy, and I would prefer if my non-nude lifestyle choice was respected.

I should have the rights, and the freedom, to be shy, to be demure, keep my fucking clothes on.


* and now your games consoles and your TVs and your phones are responding to hand gestures... Fucking amazing.


Skippy-san said...

Well the really sad part-at least as far as the United States is concerned, is that we brought it all on ourselves. There were plenty of people warning us that these knee jerk reactions to 9-11 had very, very, harmful long term implications-and were in direct opposition to the founding principles of our Constitution.

One of the things that truly disgusts me is to see many of the same people who defended these draconian measures when Bush was in charge-are not "outraged" that an American President would continue to use authorities granted to him. WHAT ELSE DID YOU EXPECT?

And our limp dick Congress, who has the power to stop this in hour-cna't be bothered to lift a finger as they are too busy finding even more ways to screw over the average American.

History will no judge the United States kindly in the first decade of the 21'st century-and that is as it should be.

expat@large said...

What triggered this post was a night drinks with my Telco buddy, and what he said of how little we know of the huge amounts of detailed data that the Telcos routinely gather and sell to businesses, or they sell to people who sell the information within that data to businesses, once they extract it... They really can tell how many iPhones are in a particular area at a certain time, but they don't track the phone-numbers. At the moment.

The data-mining industry has suddenly become enormous and there is a heap of money to be made. No1 Son and my former flatmate are both obsessed with getting some of this.

knobby said...

Your telco buddy was being gentle with you. Either that or, being a telco guy, he is way behind the curve. Cynical view but likely true. Tracking phones in real time not only can be done today, it is being done.

knobby said...

BTW, speaking of hand gestures for TVs and game consoles, the latest I've heard is hand gestures for in-flight entertainment units. Thales showed this off at a trade show recently. All I can think is, "Why?!"

expat@large said...

Re: tracking in real-time. Yes it is being done for taxis etc, but the bandwidth for everbody all the time, is not there, he says.

Plus it is illegal. *_+

Your eyephone and all your cycling log software is keeping track anyway.

Cisco et al put out some amazingly fast stuff last year, according to another friend, but whether that will help in places like Australia where it is only the conductivity of rust that holds the entire telecommunications system together is another question.

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