Saturday 7 February 2009

Privacy International are too stupid to own a mobile phone.

Privacy International are at the centre of a storm of ill-informed self righteous indignation over Google latitude. Firstly they claim that people will have it installed and run on their phones because they have left it on the table in the pub. What? Yes, when I wander off in a public place I leave a piece of equipment worth £300 unattended! Even if someone did manage to sneak off with it they would have to get past the fact that it is a) code locked and b) encrypted. To be honest I would be worrying far more about them reading other things on my phone if someone did break into it.

The other scenarios they mention are to do with someone giving you a phone as a gift or for work with latitude running on it and you don’t notice. Are these people producing new stealth versions of phone operating systems?[1] The Google maps application that empowers latitude updates from your phone is perfectly spottable when it enters its "just keep the updates going mode". Even if they did manage that trick I suspect they would have try and persuade you to never use the Google map application yourself as it asks you every time you select exit if you want it to keep your location updated, if nothing else that might rouse suspicions.

This has also brought on the usual patronising depressing rubbish stated about the internet and privacy to the fore once more, that people are sleep walking their way to giving away all their data. Complete toss!

Firstly I only publish on the internet what I want to publish, compare and contrast how easy it is to find my email address with how difficult it is to find my phone number. I am not a simpleton. If you can see exactly where I am it is because I want you to know, if you are anyone else you only get a more approximate idea of where I am and strangely if this ever became an issue I would stop.

Secondly you wonder how many of the people going on about this have credit cards, oyster cards, gmail/yahoo/msn email accounts, loyalty cards etc. all of which give personal data to other parties.

Thirdly wouldn’t it be better to put all the effort making noise about this non-story into real liberty issues like ID Cards, the attacks on data protection in the Coroners and Justice Bill and the rise in the use of anti-terrorist powers for other purposes. These are the sort of things I expect to talk about at the Convention on Modern Liberty whereas I really don't feel there is any real need to debate latitude.

[1]I except that this is possible, but doubt anyone outside the defence industry would be likely to do this and you will almost certainly signed your life away in your contract in that situation anyway.


Anonymous said...

Hear hear. Or why they don't concentrate more on the amount of personal data you have to hand over just to make an online purchase - e.g. just forced me to tell them my gender!

Jim Barter said...

Privacy International are 'tards true.

@Chris. Hope you told them you were a girl!

One good tactic to defeat the Information Hoarders is to leave a trail of false data - make yourself a 'fuzzy' entity (nb. fuzzy - not furry). By blurring the edges of your data trail you make yourself harder to track.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.