I’ve been saying for the past two decades that in the future we’ll all have a lot less privacy. It’s logical really. As networks and storage technology make it increasingly easier to access, capture and move information, it will become harder to keep secrets. The only uncertainty has always been anticipating precisely how and when the implications of all this is will unfold.
There are many dimensions to this problem, and they’re already becoming very visible. Data leakages will become more common. Intelligence services will have to operate in a more open fashion (though they’ll have vastly more scope for interception). And there will be a growing privacy backlash.
Just in the past week, for example, we’ve seen press reports of data breaches, reports of China spying on Skype messages and UK government proposals to store details of citizen communications and Internet use. We’ve also seen privacy arguments about BT’s proposal to roll out Phorm, a controversial consumer tracking system. There’s a clear trend in all of this, and we can expect it to continue.
Business and security will need to respond to the threats and opportunities presented by this. As competitors and enemies increasingly exploit the ease of gathering and mining previously private information, we will be forced to do the same. For the past ten years I’ve referred to this scenario as “spy versus spy”. It’s a paradigm shift for all stakeholders. If you can’t beat them, you have to join them.