Monday, 11 March 2013

Full marks to midata

You have zero privacy anyway.
Get over it.
Scott McNealy, CEO Sun Microsystems
January 1999
25 years he's been a privacy campaigner. Simon Davies knows what he's talking about.

In August 2012 he issued a questionnaire to find out what practitioners around the world were talking about.

And in January this year he published his findings, Predictions for Privacy, based on 181 responses.
It looks as though 13 issues will be on the agenda in 2013. They are all explained concisely on pp.11-14 of Mr Davies's report :
  1. Mobile apps
  2. Mobile geo-location
  3. Data aggregation
  4. Online advertising
  5. Data protection reform
  6. Big Data
  7. Face recognition systems
  8. Government surveillance systems
  9. Health data for private sector us
  10. Compulsory website ownership registration and verification
  11. Ambient intelligence and the “Internet of Things”
  12. Identity architectures
  13. Export of surveillance technologies to non-democratic regimes
His report rejects the McNealy doctrine, the defeatist belief that it's all over for privacy in the modern world.

So?

So look again at the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) midata initiative. It's a false prospectus. It masquerades as a protector of privacy while ticking nearly every one of Mr Davies's 13 boxes. It's almost full marks to midata.

Re item #3 above, for example, midata asks us all to use Personal Data Stores. "Do your own data aggregation", BIS are effectively saying, "and save us the trouble".

Re item #6 above, the UK's "big data" project is headed by Professor Nigel Shadbolt. It's his job to promote the analysis of government data to improve public administration. He's also the chairman of the midata programme, where he seems to want to expose personal data in the same way. It's as though he doesn't see the distinction between public and private.

Mr Davies's respondents predict that Google and Facebook will catch most of the flak in 2013. They are the obvious latter-day pied pipers of Hamelin. midata threatens to become a similarly malign force.

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