Its a well known fact that
people men are obsessed with something. (Note to self: make that two things but don’t mention the first).
Go to any shopping centre on a Saturday and you’ll notice all manner of sideways glances, secret peeks and longing stares as men of all ages centre their attention on anything but their significant others.
The object of their desire, of course, is technology. Like bees around a honey pot, we can’t help ourselves – new tech captivates us in ways we cannot explain and creates a longing and desire that nothing else can satisfy.
Boredom with the old and interest in the new is fed by some sort of crazy attention deficit that is ingrained into our very DNA I swear.
Technology manufacturers love it though. Such an interest, that is almost always backed up by demand where funds permit, drives them to create new products like there is no tomorrow.
But the never-ending rush to bring new ‘toys’ to market does have drawbacks.
The biggest one that I can see is the fact that the security issues surrounding new technology never seem to be given the attention they deserve ahead of a product release and are instead only considered later, in response to particular incidents or third-party research (think IoT for instance).
Additionally, as we now know thanks to Edward Snowden, some governments have their own agendas when it comes to technology, seeing computers, phones and tablets as an extension to their national surveillance campaigns.
Some nations are not standing for it though, as evidenced by China’s claims on Friday that the iPhone represents a security threat to the state. The national TV broadcaster criticised the iPhone’s “Frequent Locations” function, saying that access to the data “could glean sensitive information such as the country’s economic situation or ‘even state secrets.’”
Apple hit back by saying that it ” does not track users locations – Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so,” adding that it had “never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will. It’s something we feel very strongly about.”
Whilst the iPhone is still freely available for sale in the country at this time I would not be surprised if that changes very soon, given the fact that China also moved quickly to outlaw the use of Windows 8 within government agencies.
The same state TV service branded Microsoft’s operating system as a threat to the nation’s cybersecurity, saying that it posed a “big challenge” and suggesting that the NSA may be using it to gather data.
Then there is the case of Russia which, shortly after Snowden’s defection, swiftly swapped computer hardware within the Kremlin for good old-fashioned typewriters in order to improve its security whilst creating a means for linking any created documents to a particular machine.
By way of contrast, the United Kingdom government is having a whale of a time with all this new technology, seizing upon the perceived threat of terrorism, peadophiles, etc., to rush in a law – which I think is draconian in nature – which will allow it to hold onto metadata for an entire year (if you want to know why that should concern you, whether or not you think you have ‘something to hide’, and including why it may pose a threat to democracy, then I highly recommend this recent post from Sarah Clarke in which she looks into the proposals in detail).
The fact that the UK government is doing a rush job on getting the proposals through Parliament leave little to no opportunity for MPs to debate the Bill and just as little time for us mere mortals to do the same either but what is noticeable is the fact that we, as a nation, are not standing up when practises that threaten our security and privacy are brought to our attention in the way that the likes of China and Russia are.
Maybe we don’t need to because, after all, we live in a democracy and our elected officials are there at our whim to do as we ask after all.
But then again I don’t feel that way myself – I think that we are allowing technology to control our lives to some degree rather than make them simpler and we are too blind to see what is happening.
I believe that new technology is a good thing but the way in which much of it is utilised these days warrants a level of scrutiny and subsequent control that just isn’t there right now. Alternatively, the insecurity could be all mine.