Recent incidents, combined with the rise of information and profiles online, have left society with a lack of identity and anonymity.
At a recent event in central London, Mike Janke, CEO and co-founder of secure communications vendor Silent Circle said that what has happened in the last six months has been “an amazing time”, and while some will want to “click their heels and go back to Kansas”, some companies will face the issue of being breached and not even reporting it to their shareholders.
He said: “In our view it is all wrong; but what we see is governments saying ‘we’re here to help’. I believe in anonymity, but you need protection from those who want to blow up buildings in central London. I don’t know of a single power that a Government granted itself that it ever pulled back.”
Asked if the revelations about Prism have further destroyed anonymity online, or as the NSA have said it is anonomised the data, actually kept it at the same level, Janke told IT Security Guru that it has had “drastic consequences”.
“Prior to Prism, how and what we thought about mechanisms for being anonymous were illusions. Since the NSA has actively compromised hardware (routers, cellular infrastructure, VPNs, servers, etc), there was no real level of anonymity. We now have to go to very extreme measures to have any level of anonymity and 99.9 per cent of the world does not have that technical capability. I am at least glad we now know.”
Speaking at the event, Dr Louise Bennett, chair of the British Computing Society’s security community of expertise, said that in Europe “we have a obsession with personal data, and it can get into stupidities, but with Big Data analytics you can work out who someone is and this can upset the privacy advocates in Europe”.
Bennett said that you cannot control data and information on the internet, we are past that stage, and if someone is determined to get that information, you have a problem. “You have secrecy on one side and anonymity on the other,” she said.
“Privacy and security go hand-in-hand and what advocates of privacy want is security for individuals for intrusion of actions from the state.”
Janke went on to say that with so many broken secure connections, this is why it chose to make its technology peer to peer, as if a Government can access a master key, then there is a lack of security and anonymity.
People choose to put information online, which is down to the “epidemic” of social behaviour online. However if there was a sense of anonymity before, then it is gone due to revelations, but like Dr Bennett said, is there an obsession with online anonymity in Europe?
Part of the reviewed EU Data Protection Act includes
the “Right to be Forgotten”, where firms will have to comply with requests to delete data unless there are “legitimate” grounds to retain it. The practicality of that happening is one, how many others have a copy of that data once it is deleted is another