Sunday, July 29, 2012

Internet Privacy, last part (for now, this is a recurrent subject)

These articles are compressed, a good discussion of these issues and subjects would need at least ten times more space to be better explained and discussed. Being this a blog, such small sample must give an idea of the many branches these topics grow.

Imagine you are at a conference or travelling on public transportation. Then, somebody starts commenting and asking lots of questions interrupting the presenter constantly.  Or one of the passengers starts misbehaving, annoying everybody. The presenters or other members of the travelling group might be tempted to call security, and perhaps that will happen, having to remove that person, forcefully.
Such scenes could be similar to when we spot a suspicious backpack left in a very public place. We will always be prompted to act and do something about it.

Now imagine there is another person in that conference or at the public transport not really calling attention, but planning something bad for the rest of the people around them. If the latter scenario is possible, then all attendees to the conference or travellers are suspects, right?

That’s one of the most invasive currents of thought behind governments and police departments to want to be watching over our shoulders what we do online. It doesn’t matter whether we are the Dalai Lama or Mother Teresa or a very simple low profile citizen of the world. Our every move would be recorded and stored indefinitely. We would lose our online privacy at the very moment such a bylaw passed as law. Forever.

With the incredible amounts of data on the Web, and such records growing exponentially day after day, in order to implement a mechanism to track and store all we do online it would need to be very good and smart systems, controlled by not just one entity for the extraction of information to be really effective. Such withdrawal of individual evidence would take place only when necessary, and there would need to be warrants and orders, similar to the physical ones, for anybody to get access to our information.
In a way we are already in that position of letting people know about us: we post pictures, type statuses and send messages to those in our circles and acquaintances lists. No less, no more.
However, if there is a leak of data of any kind, then such information we trusted only to known friends and family members might be used by criminals, probably with disastrous consequences.
Being said that, if we allow governments and police to monitor activity, that might also mean less unlawful activity due precisely to more virtual police force deployments.

Although there would be more good than bad if we put all that in the scale of a better world, the possibility that harmful activity could results from our allowing of data to be collected and analyzed, although slim, would still exist. It is that low percentage of risk that bothers us.
 Simply put, no system is perfect, and it gets worse when many hands are mixing the dough. Human error is imminent.
There you go.

Me?  I would like to see more control, but not to the point that our online surveillance becomes something like a regime. I would trust such task to the global scientific community after a carefully and planned strategy is determined, but would be very much concerned if governments get too much involvement in the planning and surveillance process.

What do you think? Are you afraid to comment on this after reading the possible consequences?

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