Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Privacy or personal responsibility?

Privacy of your personal information seems to be almost as hot a topic in Europe as the price of gas is in the States. Much like tax on petrol in Europe seems to be the cost of doing business, anything less than identity theft seems to be acceptable here in the US.

The fact that there has been yet another lost PC, USB drive, backup tape, or whatever, with tens of thousands of records of personal information on it is worrying. Cloak and dagger stories aside, the fact that these are routinely linked to the security services or the company contracted to provide secure ID cards for every UK citizen, big brother is failing (or not, depending on who picks up that information, says the cynic in me).

I work with government agencies and financial services companies who routinely are subject to their own internal security audits and ethical hacker test scenarios. And like anything with a moving target, sometimes they miss. Fortunately I will say, I work for a company that takes this very seriously - in line maybe to preventing production data loss from a software 'glitch'.

The problem is that individuals aren't held equally responsible. Catching up on a few days of many weeks of missed blogs, I ran across this one, A true, global Big Brother case. The story here is how trackable you become when you use a Bluetooth headset, and you don't take the responsibility to understand that it being in range of some other device that can 'discover' it, means that you can effectively be tracked as you move from place to place.

Should you have to care? Probably not. But I'd hate to see another mandatory warning having to be put in the oversized headset box, when perhaps the software that helps you set this thing up could warn you of the risks that naming the device with your phone number or name makes you identifiable - your risk, choose to be stupid if you want to. Of course, the phone you are carrying with it, with the SIM card, GPS, and so on leave you pretty open anyway, just more anonymously.

Privacy, or having your movements tracked anonymously at least, could be nothing to be feared, as long as you don't put yourself in a position where the use of the tracked device could incriminate you. Being concerned about big brother is reasonable, but worrying about it may only be for those with a guilty concience.

Am I concerned about having big brother track my movements? Of course, but Google does so virtually with every online step. There is, it seems, no escape!

A post from the Improving New Account Opening blog

No comments: