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.
EFF has just posted a job listing for a development director, seeking someone to "take charge of EFF's eleven-person Development Team in their efforts to raise over $13 million each year," starting late 2019 or early 2020.
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 […]
We can’t all go through life with just a pair of sneakers and flip-flops. Sometimes, you have to invest in a pair of high-quality dress shoes. However, you’ve probably discovered that high-end footwear almost always comes with eye-popping price tags. You’ve got to compromise on second-hand or just suck it up and take out a […]
We have a theory about those throw blankets that are barely big enough to cover your legs. The only people who seem to make them or use them are grandmothers, and the blankets are only that small because Nana got bored halfway through the sewing job. Look, we’re sure she means well. But if you […]
Remember when the default state of your online presence was anonymity? That’s not so clear-cut anymore, and the worst part is you may not even know who is using your data or what they’re using it for. Small wonder that so many people are choosing to surf through virtual private networks. VPNs filter web access […]