Friday, July 27, 2012

Hyper-connected; hypo-secure?

In his 5 June 2012 New York Times blog, Quentin Hardy explores the implications of 'Big Data' on security.  Here are some excerpts, mostly from Microsoft's Danah Boyd. Danah Boyd has been thinking about if and how social media contribute to a 'culture of fear.'

“Privacy is a source of tremendous tension and anxiety in Big Data,” says Danah Boyd, a senior researcher at Microsoft Research. Speaking at a conference on Big Data at the University of California, Berkeley, she said, “It’s a general anxiety that you can’t pinpoint, this odd moment of creepiness.” She asked, Iis this moving towards a society that we want to build?”
If conventional understanding chafes at the idea that our names are mere noise, consider the challenge in Ms. Boyd’s point about the self in a highly networked society. Take personal genetic data. “If I give away data to 23andMe, I’m giving away some of my brother’s data, my mother’s data, my future kid’s data.” For that matter, “Who owns the e-mail chain between you and me?”
Privacy is not a universal or timeless quality. It is redefined by who one is talking to, or by the expectations of the larger society. In some countries, a woman’s ankle is a private matter; in some times and places, sexual orientations away from the norm are deeply private, or publicly celebrated. Privacy, Ms. Boyd notes, is not the same as security or anonymity. It is an ability to have control over one’s definition within an environment that is fully understood. Something, arguably, no one has anymore.
“Defaults around how we interact have changed,” she said. “A conversation in the hallway is private by default, public by effort. Online, our interactions become public by default, private by effort.”

Besides 'big data,' some scary possible futures enabled by connectivity include ubiquitous GPS tracking, as illustrated in Todd Humphrey's TED Talk.

And, Marc Goodman believes we have good reasons to be fearful and outlines the unintended consequences of connectivity in his TED Talk, 'A vision of the future of crime,' where open connectivity is both the problem and and solution in a technological arms race between good and evil.

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