Are you a bigger threat to privacy than Government or Facebook?

I recently listened to a headhunter describing how he googles applicants and trawls social network entries, bypassing any privacy settings. I would never put anything on a social network entry that I would not put in this blog, but this morning was startled to received a piece of spam addressed to a pseudonym that I have used on only one blog.

I forwarded it to the head of security of the organisation hosting the blog (a household media name) in case they believe their anonymity routines are secure. I did not know and was hesitant when I used their registration procedure before posting. Now I know they are not and will not post again.

It is said that despite the impact of the credit crunch government yet to abandon plans to spend hundreds of millions collecting communications data in order to create “social graphs” of our on-line behaviour. Meanwhile many are transitioning to social networks in the belief that it enhances anonymity. But according to a recent entry in “Light Blue Touchpaper” you can scrape up the social graphs for Facebook users from their public search data. I also recommend reading the response of the Light Blue Touchpaper to Facebook’s consultation on its user agreement. Are the others any better? And what about their search engine patterns?  

One of the founding irectors of EURIM used to say that he would never send anything across the Interent that he was not willing to shout across a room of strangers.

How right he was.

It did not stop him using it – but his usage patterns were idiosyncratic. He only e-mailed what he was happy to see leak or that of which only the target recipient could make sense – whether encrypted or not.   

The success of criminal fraternity in harvesting our personal details from websites and databases around the world is now such that, according to a recent article in the Washington Post, on-line services are now available that enable about half of the US population to be comprehensively impersonated – right through to having the billing addresses on their credit cards changed – for under $100 a time. 

I have said in previous blogs that the on-line world crossed a watershed last year.   

I was pleasantly embarrassed to be recently given a copy of some predictions I did in 1980 and will blog on this next week. I  am less embarrassed, but more depressed by those in my 2001 Leo Paper – especially the one about the collapse of trust in electronic communications before the introduction of the ability to reliably track and authenticate back to source


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