Friday, 27 May 2011

The Privacy thing again...

Quite a lot has been happening in the privacy debate recently. There was the froth about Apple iOS and Google Android based mobile phones tracking users' every moves. Well of course the smart device in your pocket knows where you are and stores it internally from time to time. Anyone who has either owned one of the early standalone GPS units (and knows how long it took to get a decent accurate reading) or who understands the idea of 'assisted-GPS' will realise that more information is required than simple GPS from Satellites to instantly show you your location on a map on your smartphone. People also need to understand how much of their movements are tracked in all sorts of ways in the modern age (ATM machines, CCTV, credit card payments, etc.) in addition to their mobile phones.

Of course there is a debate to be had about how this information is stored, where it is used and who can get access to it. But users have to understand that in order to benefit from technology they have to give something up too. And most people won't worry about this; they have nothing to hide and their location information is not leaked to anyone, and certainly not to anyone they would be concerned about. But some US senators seem to be having a good time asking representatives of Google and Apple to explain themselves. I suppose it's an easy way to look as if they are attempting to protect the people who elected them.

Then in the UK recently we have had examples of how privacy afforded by secret court injunctions has been shown as farcical when 70,000 people have twittered online about something which national newspapers have been barred from printing to their readers. It demonstrates nicely how the legal system and current legislation is outdated in all sorts of ways, due to the changes that new technology and the Internet has brought about. This will continue to get worse as more cases of irrelevance happen in law. It's a part of the social change which is happening in society and which is leaving the established old laws of the land behind.

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