Dear Colleagues,In the "internet of things"...(what a lovely phrase), in my view, profiling is now becoming the biggest, most flexible and most powerful element of collation and collecting of data. It is also why, in my view, that it is the most dangerous for civil liberties and individual citizens rights. Not only that, but, it is growing at a tremendous pace, as the large corporations, search engines and nation states develop their collection and monitoring and surveillance strategies at an ever increasing pace and depth.
see cryptome at url: http://cryptome.org/2014/08/nctc-dti-the-intercept.pdffor an interesting article on how this development is taking place and the speed at which it is occurring, and how it is being used by government agencies in the United States of America. These developments are happening all over the world of course, including Russia and China and the UK and our European neighbours; though the USA leads the way on many fronts at the moment.
All of us, especially those of us who have been using the internet for a long time, will have an internet footprint which is not only a long one created over a period of time, but will also be quite wide, deep and...up until now abstruse and disparate. As data collection and storage facilities increases on a mass scale and new tools are developed for collating and creating a profile, many more different kinds of criteria become available to not only build up a picture on many levels about an individual, a corporate, a business or a network and their activities, but to draw in those abstruse or disparate areas from various profiles which exist merely as numbers which contain small pieces of information and turning them into a single profile of one individual or entity. "Joining up the dots...", I think was the term used by President Obama.
There are a number of problems with the creation of these profiles, from them being inaccurate in many details, to being manipulated in others, or being highly selective, without the individual concerned being able to do anything about it, even if they know about it. This can lead to people being put in exclusion lists, denied travel, credit, or even prosecuted on secret or selective evidence. Over the years people have visited thousands of websites, for the purposes of doing basic research and finding out about things, to exchanging information via newsgroups and such likes, or exploring various aspects of life on the planet, and, like most people considered those researches as their private business. Most people have explored their own particular hobby horses, interests, hobbies, and over they years, would probably not remember where they have been and what they have indulged in, on the internet.
Of course it comes as a shock to discover that all of such activities are capable of being monitored, or are being surveilled collated and stored. Yet, really it shouldn't because surveillance of various kinds has always gone on, we all watch one another, be it as families, friends, associates, colleagues, communities, ethnics, gender, competitors, adversaries, opponents, enemies,nations, states and countries. An Ambassador is but merely his/her government's eyes and ears and raporter in a foreign country...in its simplest terms. Obviously,too, there is a balance between preventing crime or protecting the security of the individual citizen and the nation from surprise attacks or criminal activities by others. It is getting this balance right that is the biggest problem, in my view...and very complicated it is too and won't be solved in my lifetime.
The development of electronic transmission methods, computers, digital and information technology for the use of the masses of people of the world, has added new dimensions of ease, cheapness and efficiency of mass storage systems and selective software collating and sifting and sorting sensitive or private data. This development has been allowed to continue without the necessary safeguards being created in parallel to prevent abuse, particularly when it comes to cybernet warfare and the introduction of specialised software which not only monitors computers, but can take over their functions completely. Combine this with the attempted secrecy by nation states try to cover up these surveillance practices, in the name of capturing stupid and computer illiterate child molestors and terrorists, and their own incompetence, or their own conspiracies to dominate or undermine their brethern at home and abroad, and the use or abuse of the courts to correct such abuses by the use of various statutes, regulations, acts of parliament, and the increasing use of secret tribunals or withholding of "secret" evidence from the public or an accused person, on the grounds of national security.
Obviously too, new technology has its good points.It is not all about "big brother". It has allowed masses of people all over the world to participate in the activities of the world around them in a way which they have never been able to do before, though there are still pockets of places where there is no national grid or electricity which allows for the use of even something as elementary as a mobile phone, television, radio, far less a computer. It has allowed our children to gain a wider and deeper education of the world around them. It has allowed the sciences to share information and develop at a much faster rate and to share those developments around the world, more cheaply and quickly. It has allowed for families to communicate with one another all over the world, instantly...and it has allowed for the development of consumer products and businesses at rates cheap enough for people to purchase them.
There are many other advantages and disadvantages, benefits and costs in the internet of things which are too numerous to mention here, but the point I am making is that the security of ones data does not rely and will never rely on technology alone, no matter how sophisticated it is, or becomes, or how clever and sophisticated we become at using it. I think what we are really looking at here, is a philosophical and political struggle throughout the world, to bring in international and universal safeguards and implement them in such a way regarding the use of technology and how it is to be put into practice, which protects the citizen as well as the state.
"It's a sma' request" as Rabbie Burns said in his poem, "To a Mouse" when it asked for its nest to be protected from the farmers plough....