Feeds

Microsoft lines up with the good guys on identity tech

Brands and Cameron pitch the fix for government's Big ID problem

The essential guide to IT transformation

We lack analogies and illustrations. You can't talk in terms of castles, safes, guns, bullets, locks or keys. But there's a serious and real problem of privacy and security on the net.

We now routinely and irrevocably leave our details all over the place as we transact on line. We're increasingly open to exploitation, fraud, impersonation, discrimination and wrongful service denial.

Yet some of the best minds in government and law enforcement are all in favour of this level of transparency, hopeful it will make their job of keeping tabs on troubled souls whose religious anger or drug business causes social problems.

The quality of global surveillance offered by the digital certificates we use in transacting seems to them providential; a welcome aspect of the natural unfolding of our technological era. At a stretch, you can see why they might think like that.

But the state isn't perfect, nor will it ever be. The unsuspected characteristics lurking in what Dr Brands calls "the most pervasive electronic surveillance tool ever built" will appeal to baser instincts in officials and politicians with corrosive effect.

Furthermore, irrefutable evidence of our transactions and behaviour is increasingly available to nitwits and crooks in every organisation with which or through which we transact - banks, ISPs, search-engine companies and telcos.

Today's Internet is an electronic El Dorado for the professional criminal, and it gets better all the time. As we destroy everyone's privacy in the on line world we make it unsafe for all. Government itself supports this dangerous trend, when it should be protecting us from it.

Now the Tory and LibDem UK political opposition have spotted that centralised “panoptical” (all-seeing) systems such as centralised health records, childrens' databases, and the centralised ID System now present a visible threat to human welfare.

The solutions you can't understand

But as with global warming or plastic waste, no-one seems to own the problem of the pollution of cyberspace with personal data. It's very hard for an entrepreneur – whose assets essentially reside in his own head – to say "Here's a solution I've invented and patented which solves the problem you don't know you have, in ways you'll never understand. It gives you other benefits you never expected or sought and frankly wouldn't believe possible until you do the maths, which you won't be able to."

That's not an easy sell to banks, supermarkets, or telcos. It's hardly a political "open goal" for the Home Secretary. There's no easy way for a start-up to generate cash with something so fundamental and large scale. It's a wonder that Dr Brands maintained his composure, humour, grace and sanity in the last 15 years.

His proposition only works for a market leader – a Visa, Google or Microsoft – that stands to gain from boosting confidence in the overall market.

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

More from The Register

next story
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
EU justice chief blasts Google on 'right to be forgotten'
Don't pretend it's a freedom of speech issue – interim commish
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
Detroit losing MILLIONS because it buys CHEAP BATTERIES – report
Man at hardware store was right: name brands DO last longer
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.