In the course of his extraordinary tirade, which even for Senator Conroy contained some rather overblown and misleading rhetoric, he stove to link Facebook and Google ... Implying that both organisations showed a similar disregard for their users' privacy. But it was Google which seem to attract most of the Senator's ire.
But despite trying to link them as he did, the cases of Google and Facebook differ considerably.
Google's heinous breach of privacy came about as they roamed the streets gathering data for their mapping services. A huge number of wireless networks have been setup in homes and some businesses without any security, and in the course of collecting their data, (Google say) they accidentally collected some personal user data.
So what dear reader, was the manner in which we were alerted of this hideous transgression? Was it the result of investigations carried out by the indefatigable custodians of communications security? No! We discovered it because Google, themselves volunteered the information!
That's right dear reader. The primary authoritative, and in fact, the only news source of the "security breach" was Google themselves!
Since then, several government officials, who otherwise have sat on their sofas, fat and happy, have now commenced to swell up indignantly ... To huff and puff ... And do ... Not really much at all ... Except announce that there will be investigations! No doubt the result of their investigations will be the discovery ... That the only facts anyone has of the "security breach" is what Google themselves have disclosed ... In Australia, Senator Conroy has asked the AFP to investigate the issue.
And that's the good news ... The bad news is, if you are one of those people who has an insecure home network, there are others apart from Google who are aware of the holes in your security. And they are not corporations like Google who, to date, have tried to behave ethically.
So, at this point, your humble blogger must wonder ... Will any of these "investigations" reveal that there is a vast shadowy underworld of criminals who have dispatched automated scripts to exploit those very same security holes, and to plant malicious software on your computer? Well, they should because there is! And it is happening right now ... Or whenever you go on-line ... And sometimes when you just switch your computer on! If your network is not secure, and you are using a computer operating system created by one particular company, then some of that malware probably has been planted on your computer... And the people who engineered this crime-wave have nothing to do with Google. They work mostly for 24-carat, genuine Bad Guys!
Now, dear reader, does that sound creepy?
Facebook's behaviour has been rather suspicious also. They have made use of viral marketing to entice users to start using their service. They include a ridiculously complex interface to manage security settings which by default are all wide open ... And the difficulty users have getting out ... Makes it, as some bloggers say, "Rather like the Hotel California ... Where you can check in any time you like ... But you can never leave!" And all the while, your personal information is shipped off for data mining by third parties ... Which your humble blogger perceives as rather creepy!
But the real creepy issue is that of security ... Or more precisely total lack of security. The biggest threat to Facebook users, and in fact most users of popular social networking sites turns out to be malware specifically tailored to run on a particular type of computer operating system. And the vast majority of Facebook users don't even have the good sense to join the fledgling protest against Facebook, let alone replace their computer operating system.
And it must be said that Senator Conroy is taking on the appearance of someone played poorly by an understudy for Peter Lorre. He still persists with his allegations that the Internet is so awash with child pornography that one can find it just by sitting close to a networked computer ... And yet none of us regular Internet users can find it! ... The senator rubs his hands together (rather creepily) and insists that is there ... If only we knew where to look!.
If we weren't feeling so uneasy, we might suspect that the Senator is mounting a deliberate fear campaign ... And ACMA's attempt at banning the Wikileaks site, and the strange "passport difficulties" that Wikileaks' founder Julian Assange had last month ... Couldn't all of that be described as creeping if not actually creepy?
In fact in this little film noir ... on a virtual stage ... Google is one of the few players that doesn't seem creepy. They observed that there were a large number of wireless networks that are not secure and they publicised the fact ... Or they attempted to publicise it.
All of those unsecured wireless networks connected to vulnerable computers are like a virtual invitation to Internet criminals all around the globe. Computer crime is a growth industry because of the number of opportunities presented by this installed base. The world may not be awash with publicly listed Internet child pornography but it certainly is awash with vulnerable computers with little or no security settings. And criminals rightly perceive virtual crime as much lower risk than "physical" crime.
Google themselves have some first hand experience with the threat posed by this type of attack. The famous "Chinese" incident was initiated with Microsoft malware vectors. Google now no longer support Microsoft computers in-house because of the severe security risk they pose. Your blogger can only humbly wonder: What took them so long?
And despite the security elephant in the room -- The proposed government filter won't do anything about any of it!
Ironically if the current government managed to pass their gormless, unworkable, secretive and expensive mandatory filtering legislation through the senate, it would become even more bureaucratic and labyrinthine by the process of political horse-trading that they would need to engage in to ensure its' passage! The end result could be the government will be held responsible for the parlous state of global Internet security. Because one of the lessons of the history of politics should be that by legislating to address a problem ... A government is in a sense, taking ownership of the problem! ... Bit hard to pretend that it's someone else's problem then ... Isn't it?
Last month at the end of his remarkable outburst, Senator Conroy asked the parliament (and the Australian voters?) ... Who would you rather trust? Google or Us! ... your government?
Umm ... Can we get back to you on that Senator?
Now I ask you dear reader ... Who would you trust? Is that a trick question? Because in the opinion of some, Senator Conroy is about as trustworthy as the lunatic Renfield, rubbing his hands together over his collection of spiders ... And almost as creepy!
Related items (Internet Filter):
- The Internet Filter Wedge.
- Internet Filter - A Success For Whom?
- ACMA Blacklist Fiasco.
- Conroy's Clean Feed.
- The Rabbit-proof Internet Fence.