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Privacy – Don’t Get Bitten

 

The stark reality of privacy and data security in the modern world has dominated headlines of late. No agency or institution seems immune from their secrets being exposed or their databases hacked and dumped for the world to read.

While the indiscriminate, broad-style hack and data dump is devastating, where the real damage is done is in the incisive and editorialised hacking and data release that is becoming far more frequent.

In our modern, headline hungry world, controlling and shaping the narrative is far more important than truth; sensationalism wins every time.

Loose lips sink careers

The recently departed England manager Sam Allardyce must be wishing that he had conducted his clandestine meetings over a secure conference call as then he could’ve used the recording of the conference call as evidence in his defence.

Unfortunately for Mr. Allardyce he had no control over the data, which lay solely in the hands of the Daily Telegraph who were free to edit and present it in the most damaging way possible.

The protestations of entrapment from the ex England manager make little difference and the truth of his innocence, guilt or intent unimportant  – those who control the data set the agenda and without hard evidence for a rebuttal the reality is that you are at the mercy of someone else’s agenda and editorialising.

As football managers up and down the country wait nervously for the next drip fed revelation from the Telegraph one thing is for sure, many will be looking to conduct the majority of their business with the security of a telephone conferencing service that offers them personal protection against misrepresentation.

Empty threats and bluff

Unguarded and poorly judged comments have long been the catalyst to end careers, however, never before have we lived in a world where so much can be collected and recorded, mixed together and then repackaged and presented to fit an agenda.

During this election cycle in the US, the usual questions of truthfulness and transparency have dogged both candidates – nothing unusual there, however much has changed in the eight years of Obama’s presidency, the world is a different place with Snowden, Chelsea Manning and WikiLeaks having altered the face of data and security and our trust in government.

A lot of the pressure on Hilary Clinton has come from her use of a private e-mail server to handle classified documents but the rhetoric and accusations from Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, have hugely increased the speculation and suspicion.

Yet, for all Assange’s bluster, he is yet to release his so-called smoking gun on Clinton, one that Assange promised would see Clinton incarcerated.

That merely the suggestion of knowledge of impropriety from one of the new gatekeepers of data can have such a devastating effect on a presidential candidate should give us all pause.

Whether Clinton acted with negligence knowingly or not, or whether she attempted to conceal her activities from authorities is not really the point, that pressure can be applied on someone one step away from the Oval office purely by what at the moment looks like a completely empty threat is a terrifying prospect.

Both the Democratic and Republican parties must be wishing that their top candidates had been directed towards telephone conferencing rather than e-mail – interestingly, the very thing that the heads of the NSA and CIA are required to use to conduct meetings due to the security of telephone conferencing over e-mail.

Damage limitation

Every day we make choices about our data and personal information; we choose to exchange our information in order to use services and giving up personal data involves a level of trust with the companies we interact with.

That is why the revelation that over 500 million Yahoo accounts were compromised in 2014 is a massive blow to consumer confidence, however, if the early reports that the company knew of the breach at the time but took 2 years to inform the public are true, it could completely destroy a company already struggling.

The once leading name of the Internet has struggled to find its way online since its pioneering days and whether through damage limitation or negligence, the lack of transparency with its user base may well be the final nail in its coffin.