Thursday 10 July 2014

Down The Plughole

The Prime Minister and his Deputy poodle have told us all that more effort is needed because of problems with our security systems and the management of perceived risks.  Cameron, with his rare gift for oratory and insight talks of plugging holes to make it simple for us.

This is London now and I am told that this is real data in real time.  The purpose may only be to help promote a video game for all to play, "Watch Dogs", but it gives us all a chance to see what might be seen.  How many of the populations of many countries fully realise just how much is known and accessible to anyone with the kit and the wit to use it.

My own basic assumption is that it is possible that it is more or less all there open to view from the time when computing power became substantial enough and all that goes online became there to see and analyse.  It is not the basic information often that matters, it is the analysis and the quality of it.

Between then and now, depending on what date you think for the "then" there is a critical difference.  In the past a great deal of material depended on other people's reports, opinions and perceptions.  A good deal might be known or inferred from a person's own behaviour and words, but this gave scope for misunderstanding or deception.

Today, because of the range of sources it is possible to judge people on their own actions, words and other things.  Where they shop, what they buy, who they are in contact with and a wide range of social and working activity are all there to be looked at and examined.

For those who know how to, what to and are able to pull the information together we are all condemned, not just out of our own mouths but in much of the detail of our lives and activity.  A philosopher might have said a man is what he eats, but certainly you cannot escape the contents of your supermarket trolley or the contents of your freezer.  As for the wilder shores of social media and hasty mailing, never mind comments or casual contacts you are banged to rights from your own evidence.

In the recent long trial of newspaper people hacking around for stories "Private Eye" this week has a telling comment.  It seems that one of the innocent's claims that they were not aware of all that was going on was accepted by the jury.  But the person in question it is said regularly changed their Blackberries and other devices after only short periods of use.

It is a strange world we have where people routinely accept and use substantial amounts of data gained not only from the recent past but in real time and are subject to extensive coverage of their activities while in Parliament we are told that complex laws and the rest are needed for basic state security.

Our notions about privacy and being protected from enquiry in fact are very recent.  In the past privacy was very rarely an option for anyone.  So all our new technology is not just taking us into an unwanted future.

It could be restoring us to the past.  Now where did I put my glasses?

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