Moving to

I'm moving to Mostly.

I plan to use that site as a "self-marketing website" of sorts and to manage content in a way that I would otherwise not be able to do on blogger alone.

This blog will stay, ostensibly for more provisional ideas prior to refinement. I'll be gradually moving content (I still like) over to the other website. =)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Some Ramblings on Privacy and Security

Telecom companies have access to a lot of information on us and our activities. Given a cellular phone connected to a telco's network, that telco is able to store a time series of approximate locations of that phone. By appropriate computational post-processing, this time series can be made even more accurate.

Power companies, too, are able to monitor power usage in our homes, and by trying to solve an appropriate inverse problem, are able to estimate what is going on. This might entail what appliances are present, and what kinds of activities occur at what time.

The question is, what do we, as a society deem to be reasonable use of that information. In some manner of speaking, we are willing to trade some privacy for security. On one hand, there will be little opposition to the use of cellular phone tracking to pin point the location of terrorists en route to commiting a planned attack. On the other hand, the sale of such information to commercial entities for marketing purposes will be frowned upon by society at large.

Legal and regulatory lines have been drawn, so I will not go into those. However, in the wild west of the global network, one concern is the security of such information. Nefarious parties may get access to such information and use it for their profit. Even more sinisterly, unethical elements in telcos may collude with such nefarious parties to open backdoors to stored data and hence sell private information through a criminal front while hiding the breach.

Storage should be avoided to protect privacy. However, storage is necessary to identify possible terrorists through data mining. It is thus thoroughly annoying that telemarkets turn out to be the proxy elements of terrorists, causing daily disruptions costing millions in lost productivity daily. Once again, the terrorists win.

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