There was a very nice article recently following the first year after the revelations of Edward Snowden on how it become really easy even for regular citizens to “track” someone online. While all of this NSA business is often link to a debate of freedom vs. security, the biggest concerns should maybe not be NSA but the new Kings and Monarchies of our time aka (some) mega corporations.
We have hear and seen repeated for a long time the quote of Benjamin Franklin on freedom vs. security. However a more pervasive attitude is at play, and I must say that I am playing it like many others to some extent: giving away (some of) my privacy for convenience. One can ask how far would it go?
Things were looking to go better when Apple announce iOS8 and OSX 10 in which extra layer of security was added, going all the way to even hide your critical data from Apple itself (so employees or external agencies could not get their hands on it!). Apple will also add MAC address randomization so you cannot be tracked without your consent as you get into various Wi-Fi zones.
Since then three announcements, each at 180 degrees from Apple, appears to decrease privacy significantly for, in principal, added convenience:
- Nest will let other Google services and 3rd party collect information for greater convenience 😉
- Google I/O 2014: Google Fit, Car, TV (sounds like a rehashed of last few Apple announcements…). But the interesting part was certainly that of Android Chief Sundar Pichai which resumes it all: “We’re making everything contextually aware. We want to know when you’re at home, with your kids.”.
- Amazon Fire: each time you hit the home button, the microphone and camera are activated and take “snippets” to offer better “contextual” products.
Each of the above announcements means that these companies will collect more information on you and in the end will know more about your general and detail behavior that even you can recalled from memory. The quote from Google Android Chief is quite explicit about this; they want to know where you are and what you do in real-time, all the time…
It turns out that the Android is becoming the biggest Trojan Horse virus of all time. First it is “free”, second it is adopted willingly and third Google is at the receiving end of all that information. It is the free part that is the central issue. The truth is than Android is not free. it pays itself by collecting your personal information…and that information by itself and aggregated by categories is extremely valuable to Google and to any one it see fits to share it with or sell to. Google business model is to sell advertising i.e. to sell the best “picture” you at any given point in time to others.
In fact, one might contend that receiving these so-called “free” software and hardware is probably not a strong enough retribution for the worth of your personal information: you are really worth more then you think and are probably being exploited without realizing it.
The scary part is to understand how wide is the gap between total lost of privacy and that of freedom? The next few years will be interesting.