Feeds

'Overplayed' privacy concerns rile Symantec boss

'IP addresses are so not private'

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Interview Consumers ought to accept that loss of privacy is the price they pay for using internet service, according to Symantec chief exec John Thompson.

Echoing Scott McNealy's opinion that "you have no privacy, get over it," the Symantec boss expressed surprise that information such as IP addresses is regarded as sensitive.

"Some people think of everything as private, including information such as IP addresses. I don't get that," Thompson told El Reg.

Quizzed about the furore raised when supposedly anonymised search result data was released by AOL and tied back to individuals making searches, Thompson stuck by his guns. "If someone is searching for cancer treatments there is nothing that links that search to the health status of an individual. They could be running the search on behalf of a friend."

Thompson questioned whether there was any likelihood of harm from the release of such information, in contrast to where financial details (for example) are exposed. People need to put privacy concerns in perspective, he contended.

"If you use the net, you are observed. Search results are tracked if you use a public search engine and even if you don't, cookies are placed on your machine to serve up ads by most websites."

Symantec's security products offer the option of deleting tracking cookies. Perhaps Symantec is simply providing customer choice, even to those its chief exec might regard as paranoid.

Thompson's essential argument is that some privacy concerns are overplayed which, he argues, gets in the way of building a more secure internet. He was quite adamant that his views go beyond a simple philosophical difference with the more privacy sensitive who he suggested "live in a cocoon not in the real world."

Symantec's chief exec is not against breach disclosure laws per se but reckons that the loss of encrypted data ought not to be covered by breach disclosure laws so that firms who have protected sensitive data are not affected by the "expense and brand damage" such public notifications bring.

"Businesses have a responsibility to protect sensitive data. The public should not expect the government to protect them," he added.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Next page: Follow the money

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
NOT OK GOOGLE: Android images can conceal code
It's been fixed, but hordes won't have applied the upgrade
Apple grapple: Congress kills FBI's Cupertino crypto kybosh plan
Encryption would lead us all into a 'dark place', claim G-Men
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.