Intelligence and Integrity
I’ve never really been into conspiracy theories, apart for entertainment reasons, but recently and for me more or less out of the blue the other day, Rogier Brussee mumbled something about Google being the CIA (or FBI for all that matters). Expressions like that make me cynical but also make me question why I am cynical about those ideas. Could it be true? Do you think it is like that? And if Google would be the digitized version of the all mighty watchdog of the US, than who would be the (moral) owners of Facebook, delicious, Foursquare, you name any social media originating from the US? If it really is the security forces of our modern western society, than let us ask what the role of social media in our society actually is.
Russia Today interviewed Julian Assange, Wikileaks’ co-founder who needs no further introduction. In his interview, Assange focuses particularly on Facebook calling it the “most appalling spy machine that has ever been invented”. Assange: “Facebook in particular is the most appalling spying machine that has ever been invented. Here we have the world’s most comprehensive database about people, their relationships, their names, their addresses, their locations and the communications with each other, their relatives, all sitting within the United States, all accessible to US intelligence. Facebook, Google, Yahoo – all these major US organizations have built-in interfaces for US intelligence. It’s not a matter of serving a subpoena. They have an interface that they have developed for US intelligence to use.”
According to Assange, it is not the case that Facebook is actually run bi US intelligence; US intelligence is able to bring to bear legal and political pressure on them. Besides that, the system is automated. It would be too costly and would take too many people to run through individual data of all who use Facebook, let alone in conjunction with other social media. We could draw the conclusion that whenever needed intelligence services (and most certainly not just US intelligence) will have straight forward access to relevant individual data, again: their relationships, their names, their addresses, their locations and the communications with each other, their relatives. You name it. Remains the question: do we want this? The Wikileaks founder warns Facebook users, stating that if a user adds their friend to Facebook, they are “doing free work for US Intelligence agencies, in building this electronic database for them”.
I have always been very easy on my personal data. I have only three email addresses a secure private one @hu.nl and a probably not so secure one @gmail.com. Then I have one @ymail due to the fact that I have recently opened a Flickr account to share some koninginnedag (queens day) pictures with friends with whom we had been selling stuff at Bloemgracht all day. What’s wrong with that? The pictures I took with my iPhone all have GPS data so you know I am not lying. But than again, how many people have put queens day photographs on Flickr this year? (I get 8,609 results at Flickr, May 3, 2011 10.50 AM.) Nobody seems to care much about privacy issues.
April 24, I published a copied story from The Next Web about not just iPhone keeping all our data in a little file in our phone but also Android (read Google) doing just the same (more or less). Obviously, if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear. So, who cares if Mr. Obama or premier Rutte is having a look in your whereabouts?
As I see it, it is as Alexander Bard said during The Next Web Conference; the next new thing is integrity. Integrity has to do with openness and even Satan can have integrity; as long as Satan says he is Satan, we will accept it. The moment one pretends to be someone else, evil starts, distrust, corruption, blurriness. Intelligence services? How many sides to a coin?