Privacy, stop it.

SO Google has amalgamated 70 privacy policies for various free tools online into one policy.
that makes things much easier right? Been thinking about privacy, about how much info we want anywhere about us. As i was thinking about this, the UK government announced plans to be able to monitor the calls, emails, texts and website visits of everyone in the UK. Internet firms will be required to give intelligence agency GCHQ access to communications on demand, in real time.

I am very conscious of leaving a physical trail. I am aware my car is quite unnoticeable, but someone who had seen it a couple of times and knew where I liked to park could find me reasonably easily, if they thought about it.

I try and pay with cash when I can. It allows me to actually feel the money leaving my hands and makes real the amount being spend. It also means I spend less.

In physical life it’s kinda easy, yet on the Internet people actively try to find out all about you.
If you are reading my blog, My blog keeps a small record of some of your data. It then reports to me, things about
: your computer – your browser, your screen resolution, what operating system you use.
: your behaviour – how you came to my site, what you read, how long you spend here, what links you click.
: your location – where in the world you are when you read my blog, your ip address.
Thinking about it I dislike this level of information, I am uncomfortable with having it and as such I will disable that before I publish this post.

The point is if this is how much information I can have about you without trying to actively track you, how much do we give away to major companies for free? I have a reward card for several shops, at a basic level they give me “rewards” while I give them information which can be used to sell me more stuff, or perhaps be sold to other companies.

The recent story about the supermarket target in the US developing a system to observe the buying changes around when a lady was pregnant, and send appropriate vouchers, seems good work. When these arrived before the lady had told close family, well that’s a bit of an issue.

The data protection act protects us for records on computers under uk law. There is a big questions about how we engage with data being kept outwith UK law, I wonder about the amount of information that is available and how we control our own data in foreign countries. I think this new government seems at best misguided, at worst, a serious risk to the idea of security. Especially given the current process is (to my very basic understanding) similar to the process of getting a warrant to search your house.

I don’t think the Internet needs regulated. But companies do need regulated. Sharp business practice on wall street or the city of London is legislated against (or more accurately should be), it is monitored and where necessary compliance is necessitated.

I think companies virtual presences should be monitored and compliance thought where they are out of line. Facebook has 900 million users. By owning the data on Facebook, (Yes they own ‘your’ data), analyzing it, and then selling it to advertisers, Mark Zuckerberg is an 18 times billionaire.

Iain Bell in the Sunday Herld neatly sums up how i am feeling about all this in an excellently written piece.
“This begins to look like capitalism’s next phase, achieved with the willing co-operation – the uninhibited enthusiasm – of the masses while governments hitch a ride. Partly it’s conditioning: see how the queues form whenever Apple punts a new toy. Partly it’s technological drift: try to work without access to email. The largest part of it, though, is something new. It is the belief that nothing personal matters enough to be worth protecting.

Privacy is identity. In my (non-Face) book, the private person is the person you truly are. Give that away, daily and nightly – give it away to a corporation or a government, indeed – and you disappear into the collective, beloved of SF writers. We needn’t resort to fiction, though. The plain phrase “my business” sums it up. But I think I am being outvoted, and outvoted overwhelmingly.”

Don’t know, but is really sits uneasily with me.

The questions abide.