PRIVACY THROUGH THE
Chris Marsden, Oxford 21 May 2014
EVERYTHING IS BROKEN
“Facebook and Google seem very powerful, but they live about a week from total
ruin all the time. They know the cost of leaving social networks individually is high,
but en masse, becomes next to nothing. Windows could be replaced with something
better written. The US government would fall to a general revolt in a matter of days.
It wouldn’t take a total defection or a general revolt to change everything, because
corporations and governments would rather bend to demands than die. These
entities do everything they can get away with—but we’ve forgotten that we’re the
ones that are letting them get away with things.”
Much of what I am going to say is taken from my book
with Oxford’s Ian Brown: (2013) Regulating Code, MIT Press
See Ian Brown (2012) Privacy attitudes, incentives and
IS PRIVACY A RICH MAN’S
Did privacy not exist in primitive villages?
Is privacy a feature of shame?
Is the walled garden the physical manifestation of privacy?
Is privacy an Oriental construct based on patriarchy?
BUT PRIVACY HAS WESTERN
Not least through its inverse: the
Bentham claimed privacy was
surrendered by illegality
ENTICK V. CARRINGTON KBD 1765
Every American law student learns this in the first week:
Lord Camden: ‘We can safely say there is no law in this country to
justify the [police] in what they have done;
if there was, it would destroy all the comforts of society,
for papers are often the dearest property any man can have.’
Still referred to in US privacy cases
PRIVACY V. FREEDOM 1773
“Benjamin Franklin colonial Postmaster General
Leaked letters by Massachusetts Lt. Governor Thomas
Hutchinson to Thomas Whatley, Prime Minister’s assistant
For colonists to enjoy the same rights as English subjects
“an abridgement of what are called English liberties” might
be temporarily necessary.
Franklin dismissed & censured by Solicitor General
TELEGRAPH AS VICTORIAN
“The shift from sailing ships to telegraph
was far more radical than that from
telephone to email!” - Noam Chomsky
“The American father is never seen in
London. He passes his life entirely in Wall
Street and communicates with his family
once a month by means of a telegram in
cipher” – Oscar Wilde
THERE BE PIRATES!
‘Golden (sic) Age[s] of Piracy’
• Francis Drake to Daniel Defoe – 1580s/1720s
Nastiest age was post-Napoleonic Wars
• Industrial piracy in Atlantic/Mediterranean
Supressed by British Naval power
• Serving Abolition of Slavery Act 1807
Secured trade routes
• India, West Indies, Cape Colony, Australia, Hong Kong
SOCIAL NETWORKING &
We used to call our undergrads the
36,000,000 broadband in 2000
Precursor to YouTube/Facebook/
ZEMBLANITY AND EMPIRE
Global digital communications: the telegraph
• Opposite of paradisiacal Serendib - a barren, icebound, northern land:
Nova Zembla, nuclear testing archipelago
• Latinisation of the Russian novaya zemlya, which means ‘new land’.
ZEMBLANITY BOYD (1998) ARMADILLO
Making unhappy, unlucky and expected discoveries by design
Incompatible but essential indispensable part of serendipity?
• “So what is the opposite of Serendip, a southern land of spice
and warmth, lush greenery and hummingbirds, seawashed,
sunbasted? Think of another world in the far north, barren,
icebound, cold, a world of flint and stone. Call it Zembla.”
• discussed in Hertnon From Afterwit to Zemblanity: 100 Endangered Words
NSA/GCHQ WAR ON ENCRYPTION
#EdgeHill #Bullrun (Generals with memories of US Civil
War) & #Cheesy Name (no memory at all)
NSA $250 million per year buys:
1. Tampering with national standards (NIST)
1. to promote weak, or otherwise vulnerable cryptography.
2. Influencing standards committees to weaken protocols.
3. Working with hardware and software vendors
1. weaken encryption and random number generators.
5 MORE TECHNIQUES
1. Attacking encryption used by 4G phones'
2. Obtaining cleartext access to 'a major internet peer-to-peer
voice and text communications system' (Skype)
3. Identifying and cracking vulnerable keys (CheesyName).
4. Human Intelligence division to infiltrate the global
telecommunications industry – essentially bribing employees
5. Decrypting HTTPS/SSL connections
1. Yahoo, Google, Hotmail/Outlook
THREAT TO SOCIAL NETWORKS?
Not so much…ironically required by https encryption default
Who do they target? Those using encryption esp. TOR
‘If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear’
‘Metadata isn’t real data’
Be quiet, peasants!
COCOONS BOILED & EMPTIED
Personal data is NOT metaphorical oil in digital economy
• unless bodies have seeped into the sediment.
Personal data accumulate with our treks into cyberspace
Better metaphor is silk,
• woven into tapestry of online personality.
Potential to move beyond a caterpillar-like role as a
producer of raw silk
Ability to regenerate into a butterfly or moth?
SILKWORMS THAT TURNED
Weaving of a web by billions of prosumer-created sites.
Silk created tapestries Wikipedia, Facebook and MySpace
Arguably loss of ownership led MySpace decline.
Prosumer boycott led by those preferring control of own data
• cocooned in their own personal form: chrysalis or pupae
Such boycotts rapidly create a landscape of zombie users:
• ancient Hotmail and MySpace accounts that are undead, unchecked,
unmourned, useless to advertisers, and
• antithetical to positive network effects that feed a successful business.
Widespread move towards regulation of social networking
• Including in US – Federal Trade Commission
European Court cases – both data retention and deletion
European Parliament pressure on PRISM post-Snowden
National regulator decisions on cloud, Streetview and others
European Data Protection Supervisor pressure on merger
cases – competition law – conference 2 June
New European Data Protection Regulation – first since 1995
• See http://internetsussex.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/towards-web-30-
Why do social networks decline? MySpace/Bebo/Orkut/Friends Reunited
Is the visceral nature of offline social networking responsible for success online
• dating sites approximate strong human contact better: Grindr, Tindr – Twitter?
or bad coding, European data protection and a more aspirational demographic
• Facebook v. MySpace/Bebo
But ASmallWorld was Eurotrash Facebook and failed?
• Weinstein’s brush with social networking and its failure: