In 1948 George Orwell’s wrote his famous novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four”, describing a terrifying vision of a future society where all citizens have been brainwashed into loyal subjects genuinely loving “Big Brother” – a dictator exercising absolute authority by keeping everybody under total surveillance.
Today Big Brother is a synonym for the violation of privacy by excessively collecting, storing and processing – often illegally – enormous amounts of personal data in the pursuit of more efficient marketing, greater social control, and more powerful mechanisms for monitoring of the citizen.
If You’re Not Paying for It; You’re the Product!
Of all companies Microsoft starts pointing fingers with its “Scroogled” campaign informing us that “Google scans each email that is sent and received through the Gmail service for keywords that can help it target users with more accurate advertisements.” This way we lean that Google’s business is Data Mining, to identify saleable information and therefore collecting, extracting, warehousing and analysing as much data as possible.
End of January 2013 UK media reported that “Google has admitted it intentionally sidestepped security settings on Apple’s Safari web browser that blocked websites from tracking users through cookies – data stored on users’ computers that show which sites they have visited.” Currently Google is being sued by dozens of customers in Britain who claim it secretly monitored their computers and phones made by Apple Inc..
Google’s Data Mining collides with Apple’s business model of selling a Closed Platform, a PC which remains administered by the vendor. To protect the user’s privacy against all perils from the Internet, Apple insists on preselecting the software and limit the usability of content like music or movies, which best is purchased through the corporate online store.
“All watched over by machines of loving grace”
Nobody seems to mind that these new “smart” devices are locked down1, accepting it as heritage of mobile phones, a category of computer where the user was never given many options compared to the general computation offered by the PC.
Moreover corporations are logging and preserving the user’s entire communications record and all attempted efforts at communication via telephone, SMS, e-mail or internet. Furthermore Android, iOS and Windows 8 facilitate the set-up of user profiles inclusive mapping of a current location.
Betrayed by your own smart phone
The German newspaper ZEIT ONLINE impressively demonstrated with this interactive map how every person connected is under surveillance 24/7 365. Little is known that even a switched off smart phone can be remotely activated and its microphone and camera used for clandestine eavesdropping.
Total Information Awareness – everybody with communication is a target.
The U.K. government plans to install an unspecified number of spy devices along the country’s telecommunications network to monitor Britons’ use of the Internet according to a report published 05/02/2013 by Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee.
For 2012 the total global digital data – inclusive Internet – was estimated to amount to 2700 bn gigabytes or 2.7 zettabytes.
In September 2013 the $2billion Utah Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah, USA is expected to be up and running. Its digital storage facility will be 5 zetabytes, so that the total amount of global data will fit.
A copy of the entire digital universe, including all phone calls, emails, photos, online banking transactions or postings on social networking sites, offers ideal conditions for Data Mining.
A Disposition Matrix database catalogues biographies, locations, associates, and affiliations of persons. Profiling techniques are supposed to identify predictable behaviour. The “official” Disposition Matrix is used by the US President to calculate strategies for finding, capturing, or killing terrorists. While having less lethal intentions, we should be aware that Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and thousands of other public and private institutions store piling up data. The more material there is available for Data Mining the more likely a precious gem can be found.
The multinational security firm Raytheon offers such a software named “Riot” – Rapid Information Overlay Technology – a program mining social network data, capable of analysing “trillions of entities”. Using Riot it is possible to gain an entire snapshot of a person’s life – their images, their friends, the places they visit charted on a map – in little more than a few clicks of a button.
Uhuru OS – freedom through self-determination
In the light of this situation, it becomes important to remember the classic British proverb “My Home Is My Castle“! Our laws guarantee absolute privacy in our homes; we can close the doors and no one can enter without permission. Do we really want to have to leave our key with the watchman or deposit a spare key at the police?
Connecting to the Internet is like leaving home. People at Facebook, Google, Microsoft or Apple are not friends or roommates. Let us draw a clear line: who stays out, who is invited in. Uhuru OS ensures the decision is your’s. Transparent and understandable – you may even peruse our programming code!