Saturday, November 9, 2013
Privacy, Cyber-warfare, and the Brouhaha Over NSA's Listening In
Privacy may be a matter of no one knowing, or a matter of there being no consequence (as you understand it) that others know (or at least some others know). I assume that someones know among themselves everything, but they do not coordinate too well. What we need is protection from consequences--if what is being private is likely legal and perhaps ethical. In other words, people who game the system should not expect to be so protected.
I'm not sure I mind Google making the ads suit me, but no telemarketers or broadcast emails. Embarrassment is surely unpleasant, but more consequential harms are to be protected against. Stealing my property, intellectual or material, is not fair game.
The vanity is to think that you are special, that your actions are rare and outrageous, that you are particularly interesting.
As for NSA's listening to Angela Merkel, what's embarrassing is that surely her own government (even without the Stasi of DDR) is listening to all, since they are likely to have the technology and access. There are many privacy protections, given the past of the Stasi, but I do not believe that stops the German listeners, the French listeners, or most others who can do it. So the scandal unleashed by Snowden, or by Wiki-Leaks earlier, is rather a matter of saying what is not to be said, not about others' innocence or whatever.
(I am not judging US or other countries' actions, and they might well be against the law and ethics. I'm just saying that the outrage is a show, albeit hypocritical--although hypocrisy is the coin of the realm in this arena.)
As for cyber-warfare, and vicious hacking and stealing data and vital/financial data of individuals, that is hard to control. One focuses on the most significant players, but I suspect there is much more than we are willing to devote resources to protect ourselves. So, what one needs to do is to go on the offensive. If the "Chinese" are the biggest cyberwarriors and thieves, what you need to do is to:
Figure out how to sprinkle false stuff that appears to be authentic among the various data archives etc.
Properly chosen sleeper code and material is likely to be very destructive.
Vigorously respond to intrusions, by hunting them down, drowning them in their own materials. This is not easy, but that is why you need hackers and experts to do the work. I think in terms of our being snipers: the opponent, in attacking us, reveals their positions; our job is to then fire back. I realize that the ballistics here is not gravitational and aerodynamic, but is more like a maze. But that is a challenge.
The proverbial Russian con schemes need to be blocked, and if possible they need to be counter-conned by their supposed customer-victims.
Create an environment of paranoia and real danger for our opposites.
I am convinced that our agencies have a much better handle on some of this than they allow publicly, appropriately. I am not at all sure they are being deceptive, offensive, snipers, and counter-conning the others. Notions of fair play and faithful bargaining are instruments for deception, allowing those who believe they are still safely secret to continue to believe that while undermining them, and undermining individuals with gossip (true!) about their malfeasances are all part of the game. Do we play dirty enough? Do we have enough sleeper code in our software and in our hardware, that even the smartest players are swallowing poison while they get drunk on their power?