Digital Dark Age – And don’t tell me, Google is here to help?

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Today we have an article about a digital dark age and how all the data stored for this generation could be lost:

Technology could mean that our lives are lost to history, according to experts.

What experts am I left wondering and what could happen that would destroy all the data? Lack of backup’s? an EMP from the sun? No.

As the way that we store information about ourselves develops, memories stored in files that use older technology are becoming harder to access

So what does that mean? The medium in which it’s stored?  If say some data was on laserdisc would future generations have issues accessing it? Of course not, it would be read and brought onto a modern medium, or it could be put onto a modern medium now.  There’s no degredation when duplicating digital, so back up as much as you like!  Or is this vague statements relating to file formats? In 1988 I used a file format called .iff – and guess what, that data can still be read today.  Emulation is the keyword here as I can run the original Amiga application which I used at the time to create the file and open it with no problems.  The ability for clever coders to write emulators or conversion tools for old file formats won’t go away and if there is a potential historical significance to data at some time in the future, I’m quite sure the problem will be solved – and very easily.

evaporated because nobody saved it, or it’s around but it’s not interpretable because it was created by software that’s 100 years old

If nobody saves it then there’s nothing anyone can do.  Just like if I think up an amazing sonet and don’t write it down.  We have no problem emulating television transmissions or technology from the very early days of TV (if we so desired) so why is it any different for data?  Unless our understanding of the universe and our technology takes a massive shift from the direction its going in, then future PC’s are still going to have RAM, they are still going to have a CPU and, shock of shocks people will still be able to write code on them.  That’s not a far fetched prediction, I think thats based firmly in reality. Then we see who makes the remark, Dr Vinton “Vint” Cerf, vice president of Google – coincidently the same company digitising just about anything that moves (and that doesn’t too) – I’m sure if Google was allowed it would sit in the sewers of the world and digitize the waste paper coming down the pipes.  I’m sure Google would very much love to offer mankind a “solution” and have all the “important” data they elude to here, controlled and stored by them. So is this a prelude to an offer to “help” by Google? Google was in court in recent years over its plan to scan/digitize books.  You can read about that here.  It should come as no surprise that Google would have comment (and I’m sure offer to help) with this “problem” its creating.

…planned to scan every book unless publishers and authors specifically objected.

Source: No thanks Google, I’d rather have the sum of human knowledge stored on cassette tapes in a dusty warehouse underneath a large magnet field than “safe” in your hands.  Not because I think you’ll lose it, but because I think you want to own and control it. Google is rapidly falling out of favour with me.  Gone are the days where it was a trendy “be different” type firm.  Its now turning into an altogether different beast in my view.  I tolerate Google because I use the parts of its service that benefit me, but gone are the days that I support anything else the company does and I think its time people kept a closer watch on this company, lest we have another Microsoft on our hands in years to come…if they have not already become that whilst we have been distracted with the latest interactive Google logo on their search engine. This is fear-mongering in my view by Google and even if it ever became a concern, we should be looking at ANY other solution than Google.

Privacy supporters remain quiet? & The hypocrisy of “data”?

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Or/ Is this an example of the double standards which privacy supporters have?

Let me set the record straight for anyone who is new to this blog.  I agree with CCTV, the more the better.  I think that as a crime prevention tool and an additional source of evidence for a case, they are second to none.  I agree with surveillance by government agencies both overt/covert and strongly believe the greater good is served because of them.   That’s my opinion, yours may differ.

This article isn’t about all that though, this article is about the numerous articles/sites/letter campaigns by users believing that “privacy” is of the utmost importance.

Let me start by exhibiting some quotes from Privacy International where strong views about an individuals right to privacy is of the utmost importance.

Here is their site statement:

Privacy International (PI) is a human rights group formed in 1990 as a watchdog on surveillance and privacy invasions by governments and corporations. PI is based in London, England, and has an office in Washington, D.C. We have campaigned across the world to protect people against intrusion by governments and corporations that seek to erode this fragile right.

and also from the site, this time a statement by Professor Noam Chomsky:

With the ominous drift towards a surveillance society, not least in Britain, and the undermining of privacy through exploitation of the internet, the work of Privacy International is becoming even more crucial than it has been in the past.  Congratulations on your past achievements, and hopes that they will provide a firm basis for the even more challenging tasks that lie ahead.

it would appear that Privacy International have a very passionate following/belief in privacy of the individual.  Thats great, its an opinion and certainly one that should be respected.  Moving on now to another site, this time and we again see invasions of privacy mentioned.  What I haven’t seen any of these champions of privacy mention is todays news:

It is being reported by multiple [1,2,3] sources that after an appeal in the High Court, Sex offenders can apply to have their names removed from the sex offenders register and it having previously been stated that the register was incompatible with their human rights.  So Sex offenders are entitled to a right to a private/family life and challenge their continued inclusion on the register?

I don’t want this article to be a debate on the despicable crimes that people have committed to be on the list, but the question I have to ask is why are not the privacy groups celebrating this ruling?  Surely they must be happy?  Is this not want they wanted?  If it is, why are they not writing about it and if its not then how can they advocate “the right to a private life for some but not others”.

The reason I write this article is not to create a flame war between my opinions of surveillance and Privacy groups, its more to show that you CANNOT have an umbrella opinion on an issue without coming across exceptions like the one you see here.  Surely if the right to a family/private life is so important then privacy groups must champion those rights for everyone, sex offender or not?

I wonder if these privacy groups have left this news alone purely because they know it will lose them support?

I would be very interested to hear others views.  Personally I feel that putting people on the register for life is completely right, no exceptions. I think often people forget that there are victims in these crimes who have had THEIR rights abused in the most horrendous way, shouldn’t we be supporting them?

Freedom of data? – “All data should be free”?

Moving on from the upsetting topic above, I have a different example of campaign.  We often see cited that copyright laws are draconian, flawed and unworkable in modern day.  Thats fine its someones opinion.  There are many (when talking about copyright infringement) who champion it by saying that “data is not property” and you “cannot steal data” etc etc.  Noble statements in order to promote a pro-piracy cause.

My question though is this, where are they when personal details are lost from databases (as we saw recently in the news) surely this “data” is fine to fall into other peoples hands? Afterall if they don’t agree with copyright and don’t believe you can “steal” data what is the problem?  Additionally why do people have a problem with supermarkets/shops selling shopping habits to other interested companies? Surely nobody (in their opinion) owns this data so it should be in the public domain?  Nobody can own it and if we say that the “individual” owns this data (for whom it corresponds to) why do people who infringe copyright have a problem understanding that the material they share also belongs to someone else?  Double standards? I’d love to hear your view.

I would also like you to consider what you would do if say your personal journal was copied without your permission and distributed freely.  How would you feel?  Would you celebrate that under the opinion “All data should be free” or would you say “Hang on a minute, this data is mine, I don’t want it shared”

Goblin –

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the Openbytes statement, here.

T-Mobile it’s data & what do file sharers think?

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"They've been naughty boys haven't they Mr Flibble?" T-Mobile employee's sell personal information. I wonder what filesharers and their ethos of "free data" make of that? Anyone believe they would tackle that question?

Is £5000 a deterrent?


Its been well reported in the last week about the personal data that T-Mobile has alleged to have lost control over and subsequently it appears that some unscrupulous employee’s have sold that data on. The worth of that data being that rival companies could use it to sell new subscriptions when a customer is coming to the end of their contract.  It is now rumoured that in fact this is not current news as its been going on for over a year.  It does seem to ring true.  I have been a customer of T-Mobile and I have had many individuals ringing me up to offer me a new contract using many different tactics (as my current contract comes to an end)  You may be wondering why I am going with this article, but I think it makes an interesting point about copyright and IP.

A couple of important points to note here though.  Firstly the fine for an offense under the Data Protection Act will be around £5000, pretty small fry compared to the potential worth of the information.  Secondly, T-Mobile does not know how many of their customers have left because of this leaked information and finally (and maybe most important of all) whilst the information of the customer has been sold to rivals, who else has it been sold to and whats their purpose?

One member of staff at T-Mobile has already been sacked, but it does ask the question how many other companies are yet to discover that an unscrupulous employee has sold their data?

The information commissioner (Christopher Grahame)  said:

Many people will have wondered why and how they are being contacted by someone they do not know just before their existing phone contract is about to expire. We are considering the evidence with a view to prosecuting those responsible and I am keen to go much further and close down the entire unlawful industry in personal data. But, we will only be able to do this if blaggers and others who trade in personal data face the threat of a prison sentence.

One wonders where the deterrent is for this type of action.  It was reported on a local radio feature, that a recent raid on a business that engaged in this type of practice, had officials posed with the question (by the owner) “Would you like me to write the check out now?”

P2P copyright infringement – “Do as I say, not as I do”?

So now we come to the main point of my article.  Ive made many references to the site Torrentfreak, I asked the question of copyright infringement to be justified by any of its users and to date have received no responses.  I know that they visit as I see the referrals coming into the site.

Have a look at some of the comments on Torrentfreak.  It seems that file sharers believe that there is no problem with sharing data because, its just data (please correct me if I’m wrong) They see no problem with the sharing of movies, videos or other media, but they seem mysteriously silent on the T-mobile issue.  If file sharers believe that all data should be shared, then surely they should have no problems with the personal data being shared with other companies?  Please, if you are a file sharer put your opinion on that one.

Let me quote “The Hacker Ethic” found here.

….A free exchange of information, particularly when the information was in the form of a computer program, allows for greater overall creativity.

I’ll let you decide what the average file sharer believes.

Goblin –