Thursday, December 30, 2010

Your data: Increasingly under attack ~ By Phil Elmore

I have explored different facets of these security issues in past Technocracy columns. The common thread among all of these articles is a single, merciless and implacable truth: You and your data are under attack from all sides and on all fronts by individuals, governmental entities and even your own fallibility.

~ Phil Elmore, in this column; emphasis my own.
When deciding which part of Phil Elmore's column to reproduce in order to provide the major essence of the column, I decided on going with the last three paragraphs. The first part of the column covers data theft, the illegal use of email accounts, and user ignorance of protecting data. But it was in the last paragraphs where Phil expounds on the threat of people - or the government - that could potentially misuse something called the Patriot App in order to help the government spy on you. I figured that it sounded Orwellian enough to get your attention!

Your data: Increasingly under attack
By Phil Elmore

December 30, 2010 ~ 1:00 am Eastern

© 2010

And what of smartphones themselves? It isn't just your own phone and the applications installed on it that must concern you. Now you have to worry about the applications on everybody else's phones, too. Earlier this month, news broke concerning the new "Patriot App" for the iPhone. Intended to "help fight terrorism," the application "taps into federal tip lines," allowing the user to "make reports, using pre-loaded forms, in any of several categories." Users can even include photographs and video with their upload. The software is obviously an extension of the "If you see something, say something" campaign designed to encourage awareness of suspicious activity. But in making snitching on your neighbors so convenient, so quick, so technologically enabled, are we creating the culture of pervasive, pernicious surveillance about which Orwell warned us?

Video provided by FoxBusinessNetwork ~ December 15, 2010

Even the application's creators acknowledge that the Patriot App could be misused by individuals hoping to harass or otherwise take revenge on others. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Bob Barr sneered that being "a snitch" used to be thought of as "cowardly and craven" (qualities with which, presumably, Barr still associates the reporting of suspicious activity). He derided the "tattletale app" as a means of "squealing on a fellow citizen" while condemning the marketing that associates the application with patriotism.

Attacks on you, your data, your reputation and your civil liberties come from all sides and at all hours. The vigilance you must maintain is, at times, wearying. Everyone from your government to common thieves to your neighbors to your own family could represent a threat. Your only choice is to persevere with your eyes open and your mind active.


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