Skip to main content

We Know Where You Live

Casting around the news this morning, I see that search-engine-giant; Google is defying a request by the US government to hand over data revealing what its users are searching for online. The Bush administration wants a list of requests entered into Google's online search engine in an unspecified single week. It also wants one million randomly selected web addresses from Google's databases.

There was an interesting BBC Money Programme on Google on Friday evening and as I was watching it, the phone rang and to my surprise, it was the BBC, attempting to drag me into the news studio to discuss the same story. Unfortunately for the “Beeb”, I was entirely comfortable where I was, on the sofa and they had obviously not updated their own records for the last three years, because they still believe I live in Wimbledon.

I plan to write a longer story on this subject for my silicon.com column, probably on the train to London on Monday but in a nutshell, the US administration wants an excuse to re-introduce Clinton-era anti-pornography legislation and they believe that a week’s records from all the search engines, not just Google, will support this effort. I suspect they are right. As a Director of one of the first Internet Service Providers in the nineties, (bought by Easynet) over 60% of our Web-traffic was sex-related and when I suggested blocking some of the nastier Alt.binary sites at the time for moral reasons, I was outvoted or the simple reason that there were no legal grounds for such an action and that if we prevented the perverts reaching their destinations on our servers, they would simply switch ISPs.

Just remember that everything you search for is linked somewhere to the unique IP address of your computer, which is exactly why governments would like these records, whether they be Chinese, British or American.

You may remember me writing in the Thanet Gazette last month and warning over soaring energy prices and the Iran effect. Well Iran says it has started withdrawing its money from European banks in preparation for the possibility of economic sanctions over its nuclear programme.

It also hinted at economic retaliation as it agitated for a cut in crude production by the OPEC oil cartel, helping to drive up the price of oil.

Western countries are pushing for Iran to be referred to the UN Security Council, where it could ultimately face economic sanctions, because of fears that Teheran is trying to build a nuclear weapon.

I doubt very much if China will support any action against it’s oil partner in the UN, which leaves everyone else “Stuffed”, when it comes to doing anything to avoid the risk of Israel dropping a nuclear bomb on Tehran before the Iranians carry out their President’s threat to “Remove the State of Israel from the Map.” This uncertainty will keep the stock markets nervous and will inevitably drive up the price of oil and our own fuel in the months ahead. As a consequence, higher petrol prices (gas and electricity too) will impact our own economy as families have less to spend on other items. Time to start saving against a rainy day I suggest.

Finally I note that even the walls of a Roman Catholic school are no longer a defense against the barbarian hordes of ‘Hoodies’, when this week in Colchester, a gang of pupils from a neighboring Comprehensive, raided St Benedict's RC College to attack a boy in one of the classes and badly beat the Geography teacher who attempted to defend the lad, causing him to be rushed to hospital in an ambulance.

With the incident captured on other students’ camerphones, nine boys were subsequently arrested and bailed from an unnamed local school but what will happen to them, very little or nothing I suspect community service at worst because they are under eighteen. What kind of message does this send out I wonder?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Mainframe to Mobile

Not one of us has a clue what the world will look like in five years’ time, yet we are all preparing for that future – As  computing power has become embedded in everything from our cars and our telephones to our financial markets, technological complexity has eclipsed our ability to comprehend it’s bigger picture impact on the shape of tomorrow.

Our intuition has been formed by a set of experiences and ideas about how things worked during a time when changes were incremental and somewhat predictable. In March 1953. there were only 53 kilobytes of high-speed RAM on the entire planet.

Today, more than 80 per cent of the value of FTSE 500* firms is ‘now dark matter’: the intangible secret recipe of success; the physical stuff companies own and their wages bill accounts for less than 20 per cent: a reversal of the pattern that once prevailed in the 1970s. Very soon, Everything at scale in this world will be managed by algorithms and data and there’s a need for effective platforms for ma…
The Mandate of Heaven

eGov Monitor Version

“Parliament”, said my distinguished friend “has always leaked like a sieve”.

I’m researching the thorny issue of ‘Confidence in Public Sector Computing’ and we were discussing the dangers presented by the Internet. In his opinion, information security is an oxymoron, which has no place being discussed in a Parliament built upon the uninterrupted flow of information of every kind, from the politically sensitive to the most salacious and mundane.

With the threat of war hanging over us, I asked if MPs should be more aware of the risks that surround this new communications medium? More importantly, shouldn’t the same policies and precautions that any business might use to protect itself and its staff, be available to MPs?

What concerns me is that my well-respected friend mostly considers security in terms of guns, gates and guards. He now uses the Internet almost as much as he uses the telephone and the Fax machine and yet the growing collective t…

Civilisational Data Mining

It’s a new expression I haven’t heard before. ‘Civilisational data mining.’

Let me start by putting it in some context. Every character, you or I have typed into the Google search engine or Facebook over the last decade, means something, to someone or perhaps ‘something,’ if it’s an algorithm.


In May 2014, journalists revealed that the United States National Security Agency, the NSA, was recording and archiving every single cell-phone conversation that took place in the Bahamas. In the process they managed to transform a significant proportion of a society’s day to day interactions into unstructured data; valuable information which can of course be analysed, correlated and transformed for whatever purpose the intelligence agency deems fit.

And today, I read that a GOP-hired data company in the United States has ‘leaked’ personal information, preferences and voting intentions on… wait for it… 198 million US citizens.

Within another decade or so, the cost of sequencing the human genome …