'Our security forces have it back'?!?

August 21st, 2013

Novelist and former MP Louise Mensch, demonstrating her deep understanding of how digital technology works:

Louise Mensch on data security

She probably thinks the Guardian no longer has access to the files on that laptop too.

Actually, cancel that. I'm sure she's perfectly well aware that digital data can be – and in this case, was – backed up. To my mind, she's just doing her bit to help the government to deflect the focus of the discussion away from the Guardian's story and the doings of the surveillance state and on to the government's preferred law-and-order/keeping-us-safe-from-terrorists/nothing-to-hide, nothing-to-fear agenda.

[Via Charlie's Diary]

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A million here, a million there – before you know it you're talking about serious numbers of users

June 13th, 2011

The largest data breaches of all time, compared.

I feel quite fortunate that as far as I can tell not a single one of those incidents would have involved my personal details.1 I shouldn't get too complacent: I have a horrible feeling that if you extended the chart to cover the next 20 or 30 incidents then I'd see a familiar name or two.

Between the effects of governmental incompetence, corporate laxity and plain old malware, I wonder how many of us don't have our personal details up for sale, on a list alongside 99,999 other poor saps, on some dodgy bulletin board somewhere.

  1. Unless one of the organisations involved was holding/processing data on behalf of a company I've had dealings with.

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The first truly honest privacy policy

December 27th, 2010

The first truly honest privacy policy:

At COMPANY _______ we value your privacy a great deal. Almost as much as we value the ability to take the data you give us and slice, dice, julienne, mash, puree and serve it to our business partners, which may include third-party advertising networks, data brokers, networks of affiliate sites, parent companies, subsidiaries, and other entities, none of which we'll bother to list here because they can change from week to week and, besides, we know you're not really paying attention.

We'll also share all of this information with the government. We're just suckers for guys with crew cuts carrying subpoenas.

Remember, when you visit our Web site, our Web site is also visiting you. And we've brought a dozen or more friends with us, depending on how many ad networks and third-party data services we use. We're not going to tell which ones, though you could probably figure this out by carefully watching the different URLs that flash across the bottom of your browser as each page loads or when you mouse over various bits. It's not like you've got better things to do.

[…]

This privacy policy may change at any time. In fact, it's changed three times since we first started typing this. Good luck figuring out how, because we're sure as hell not going to tell you. But then, you probably stopped reading after paragraph three.

[Via Bruce Schneier]

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Tax Online

May 2nd, 2008

The outgoing Italian government's parting shot was to publish details of every Italian's tax declaration on the web. Obviously I'm horrified that such a huge quantity of confidential information was released by a government in such a cavalier fashion,1 but I can't help but think that there must be more to the story than we're seeing in the BBC's report.

I'm quite prepared to believe that the outgoing government might want to make a point by rolling out the site before it left office, but the government surely couldn't have put together a site on that scale from scratch in the fortnight since it lost the election. Was the surprise at the notion of putting the information out there, or at the fact that the site had been rolled out early? Or was the real surprise how interested the Italian public apparently was in this information?

[Via Qwghlm]

  1. That said, there's a small part of me that is amazed that people get so up in arms about the possibility that other people will find out how much they earn. I've never understood why this is seen as such a sensitive issue. For the record, my gross salary last month was £1,359.25.

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