Ok, so this post isn’t about something I have done or used, or about some cool piece of technology I have come across. Rather, this post is yet another rant on privacy erosion that has come about because of a breach in my own personal information from people that should know better.

The build up to this rant started on Saturday, so I did have time to calm down from wanting to tell everyone they are idiots and anathematize myself to selling hand woven baskets at the local markets.

However my calm was immediately damaged on a morning walk when I spotted this portable surveillance device complete with GPS and facial recognition, sitting calmly near some pedestrian traffic lights on George Street (Sydney).

So what happened on Saturday?

In my post Mail Insecurity originally posted on 4th April 2010 and re-posted on 28th January 2011 I said,

The scariest part for me is not about ME sending personal data, but other people sending personal data about me! I can easily envisage HR personnel communicating with the companies superannuation provider about my account and sending personal information such as my tax file number, date of birth and address. Wow, that's enough to identify me over the phone with any utility provider or even my bank! Scary...

And this has most certainly come to pass:

I was looking at my calendar and saw that it showed birthdays and other pesonal dates of people I know, including my upcoming holiday plans. This grabbed my attention since I never put it into my calendar. Upon investigation I found that someone had been using their public event calendar to also to keep track of their personal dates of interest!

People who know me know my strong (sometimes extreme) viewpoint on privacy and security and they should know better. What makes this more dumb founding is I gave a talk only a month ago on Why Information Security is Important.

So one of two things has happened here:

  1. My talk wasn’t good enough and I didn’t drive the point home enough.
  2. People simply lack the brain capacity to understand privacy, or at least check if something is public or not.

Resolution? Yeah, right!

The question remains as what to do. Sure, I can go through the usual bullshit and try to educate people or even give them a good verbal lashing. Again. But perhaps it would be more illustrative to start posting other peoples private data and see what happens. I get so tired of this. As Jean-Paul Satre said in his book No Exit:

Hell is other people

As my son recently discovered when someone offered him some jelly beans without telling him they were deliberately flavoured distgustingly: other people can never be trusted. Ever. The X Files most certainly had it correct:

Trust No One

Sometimes I really do want to go off the grid and make a living selling baked goods or hand woven baskets at the local market.