Fandango’s Provocative Question (11 November 2020)

For today’s Provocative Question, Fandango asks:

Which is more important to you, privacy or security? How much privacy are you willing to give up for security?

Okay, this has got to be a split.

The obvious example is online. If you buy something from Amazon, you’re going to have to share your address with them, else your shiny new toy won’t get delivered. That’s a flippant example but it does show that, under certain circumstances, we need to be prepared to give some things away. A less obvious example might be when we go to the doctor’s surgery and they ask us for our DoB again. The problem exists anyway, computers just amplify it.

At the other end of the scale, people who are scammed invariably say “I didn’t think it could happen to me”, so there is obviously a need to be aware of how much information we give out inadvertently.

So, whereabouts along that curve do we fit? I guess that all depends on how adventurous we feel.

In terms of “big brother” security, I see two aspects to this: (i) harvesting the data, and (ii) converting that data into knowledge.

That the “knowledge” is invariably a bad thing (for the person whose data is harvested) I assume is a given.

Harvesting data happens, I’m sure, in bulk nowadays. Every government, every big organisation. But I don’t think many of them are any good at actually using the data. An example of somebody who was good at using it is somebody like Cambridge Analytica, but.. governments? I doubt it. Cambridge Analytica would have attracted the best brains and offered the best salaries (even if they weren’t so bothered about ethics) and the public sector just can’t compete.

Incidentally, did you notice how far-Eastern countries have not had so much of a second wave of COVID? Here’s Taiwan:

worldometers.info

compared to the UK:

worldometers.info

Would anyone care to speculate why that is? My theory is that this is a privacy thing – Eastern cultures are far more willing to accept state authority (and therefore give up some privacy) than western cultures. When their governments want to do something, people tend to fall in line. Heck, we elect free-marketeers as leaders so their whole ethos is to get economies trading again, even at the expense of more infections.

But I’ve been known to be wrong before.

Author: Mister Bump UK

Formerly Stroke Survivor UK. Designed/developed IT systems for banks, but had a stroke in 2016, aged 48. Returned to developing from home, plus do some voluntary work. Married, with a grown-up, left-home daughter.

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