My latest Guardian column is online: "Personal data is as hot as nuclear waste," which looks at the immortality of databases -- just as it's impossible for the Internet to scourge itself of Paris Hilton's terrible genitals, it is likewise impossible that the personal information hemorrhaged by the likes of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (25 million records!) will ever go away. In the era of infinite copying, this information is like a nuclear disaster, immortal and terrible in its consequence. The only way to contain future spills is to make every person who gathers information on his neighbours pay in advance for the long-term handling and storage of that undying, toxic sludge:
If we are going to contain every heap of data plutonium for 200 years, that means that every single person who will ever be in a position to see, copy, handle, store, or manipulate that data will have to be vetted and trained every bit as carefully as the folks in the rubber suits down at the local fast-breeder reactor.
Every gram - sorry, byte - of personal information these feckless data-packrats collect on us should be as carefully accounted for as our weapons-grade radioisotopes, because once the seals have cracked, there is no going back. Once the local sandwich shop's CCTV has been violated, once the HMRC has dumped another 25 million records, once London Underground has hiccoughed up a month's worth of travelcard data, there will be no containing it.
And what's worse is that we, as a society, are asked to shoulder the cost of the long-term care of business and government's personal data stockpiles. When a database melts down, we absorb the crime, the personal misery, the chaos and terror.
ORG -- the UK Open Rights Group (disclosure: I am a co-founder and volunteers on its advisory board) is hiring a Data and Democracy Project Officer: "responsible for delivering our work on preserving democratic integrity in the digital age. This role has two main areas of focus: 1) electronic voting and 2) the use of […]
The Democrats' newly unveiled "Internet Bill of Rights" enumerates ten rights that the party says it will enshrine in law, ranging from Net Neutrality to data portability to timely notification of breaches to opt-in for data collection, the right to see the data held on you by surveillance capitalists, rights to privacy and to be […]
Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard the re-argument of Sessions v. Dimaya, a case that asks whether the administration can treat lawful immigrants to the USA (including Green Card holders like me) as though we have no Constitutional rights.
Even if you feel like AirPods are worth the price tag, you’ve got to admit there’s a certain anxiety that comes with using them. What if I lose them? What if they get wet in the rain? Or drenched in sweat? Or fall into the drink you dropped them into? Shiny tech is great, but […]
With the quick-fix appeal of video games and their own cell phones, it can be tough to keep kids focused on supposedly “educational” toys. And while it may seem counter-intuitive to fight tech with more tech, we’re all in when it comes to the Toybox 3D Printer. We’re not sure if anyone had envisioned a […]
Whether you’re an artist, designer or just organizing a photo album, photo editing software is a must. And software designers know it: Platforms like Photoshop and Lightroom have a ton of helpful features, but you’ll pay for them in spades. Luckily, there’s some competition in the photo editing arena. Right now, Skylum’s Luminar software is […]