Government surveillance and the issue of personal privacy

The whole issue of government surveillance seems to have reached a crescendo over the last few days. It makes you wonder what the whole Draft Communications Data Bill was all about if “they” can already see everything.

I don’t even know whether encrypted communications are particularly secure anymore. I thought they were but does government secretly have the capability to do really advanced tech that is not in the public domain. Quite probably. We expect it of our own side and hope that we are better than the opposition (whoever they are) – the James Bond movie Skyfall confirmed that it goes on 🙂

I don’t know what to think about the whole privacy thing anymore though. Every online platform seems to know an awful lot about us. Tesco knows the intimate details of my lifestyle from what I buy from it. Google knows absolutely everything about what I’m doing with all my waking hours.

The old joke about a bloke having an affair with his secretary after work and then rubbing snooker chalk on his collar so that his wife would think he’d been playing with his mates doesn’t work any more. She just needs to follow his movements online, or have the difficult conversation about why he switched his phone off for an hour (5mins? 🙂 ) on his way home from work1 .

The Domesday scenario here is that all this information is opened for all to see, accidentally of otherwise. Worst case is that our bank accounts could be emptied.

Aside from ferociously safeguarding your bank password details, though it seems that crooks use back door techniques for breaking into accounts these days rather than brute force password hacks, it seems to me that we need to up the profile of the whole issue of security of our own personal data.

I can’t see how we can stop people/organisations from collecting this data but if they lose it or expose it for others to see then the penalties need to be suitably robust. The world needs to fast track a move to an online security conscious culture.

1 On Sunday I nipped out to the pub for a swift one before dinner and forgot my phone. When I got home there was a text message from my wife asking which pub I was in! Nothing was mentioned though.  I did feel an element of freedom being out without the mobile phone but was also conscious that the clock in the window of acceptability was ticking away.

Published by Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of trefor.net, writer, poet, philosopherontap.com

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