Big Data, Cybersecurity & You

Posted: May 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

The problem of too much information 

Cybersecurity has been the international buzzword going into the G8 summit this week, alongside efforts to galvanize US-UK relations.  It is also the first time global Internet policy was discussed by G8 leaders according to BBC reports.  Part of dialogue for the developed digital world should acknowledge the evolution of Big Data or massive amounts of digital information collected in databases; which excludes anonymity and leads back to the identified person.

The problem is how to regard common privacy.  Big Data turns every day activities into an objectification of personal data. The data sets you create as a user of social networks and the Internet are digital byproducts which can and will be used against you.

Governments simply won’t fend off temptations to shift power over the individual to the will of the State when Big Data fanns the power of Information Society in their favor. The US Congress has introduced several bills protective of consumer digital privacy; which then led to a quid pro quo bid for surveillance controls by the Deputy Attorney General. Governments wasted no time using the Internet to target individual challengers.  This has lead to disastrous proposals and barely passable legal ventures in government.

Here are a few recent examples:  the targeting of Internet activists for brutality and jail during the Arab Spring, the reauthorization of the Patriot Act to include warrentless seizures of domestic Internet activities, UK adopting a US proposal to expand an already widely contested national identity database, and a reintroduced blacklist legislation for the US government censor Internet users.

Governments have cracked down on digital networks, like Google, Twitter and Wikileaks, who are in a role to privately protect users from politically motivated probes.  This explains the presence of bigger Internet players, like Facebook & Google, folded into the E-G8 mix.

Unfortunately, Facebook and Google are names synonymous with the sale of private information to both public and private data brokerage firms. The revenue model for most free online services includes periodic violations of user privacy.  Tech companies will often punch loopholes into user privacy agreement during online updates, capitalizing on leaks. Even the most pro-business denizens realize what goes up, must come down. If consumer privacy protections pass, it will burst the Big Data bubble; but it won’t solve the problem of Big Brother commandeering the information for individual surveillance.

So, Citizen, you are on your own.  You don’t have to be a hacker or a policy analyst to understand you are on the losing end of digital privacy protections.  For now, you can opt out of services who flagrantly disregard user privacy, use your vote to encourage privacy in 2012, stand on the 4th Amendment, and remember the door swings both ways on privacy.

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