Time marches inexorably on and each day government bureaucracy at every level, health services, financial institutions and even retail outlets are all squirreling away information about each and every one of us in data bases both large and small.
Whenever one inquires about the safety of such databases the assurance received usually goes along the line that there is nothing to worry about - a high level of data security surrounds personally identifiable information and, it would be hard to identify individuals from those information blocs held in long-term digital storage (for comparison/research purposes) because the data has been anonymized.
However, this is apparently not the case. Due to the large number of public databases accessible on the Internet and by application to various institutions/agencies, it really isn't all that anonymous because most information can be mined and/or manually cross-checked. Thus potentially allowing re-identification of an individual and the information held concerning that person or family.
Computer scientists have recently undermined our faith in the privacy-protecting power of anonymization, the name for techniques for protecting the privacy of individuals in large databases by deleting information like names and social security numbers. These scientists have demonstrated they can often 'reidentify' or 'deanonymize' individuals hidden in anonymized data with astonishing ease. By understanding this research, we will realize we have made a mistake, labored beneath a fundamental misunderstanding, which has assured us much less privacy than we have assumed. This mistake pervades nearly every information privacy law, regulation, and debate, yet regulators and legal scholars have paid it scant attention...
"For almost every person on earth, there is at least one fact about them stored in a computer database that an adversary could use to blackmail, discriminate against, harass, or steal the identity of him or her. I mean more than mere embarrassment or inconvenience; I mean legally cognizable harm. Perhaps it is a fact about past conduct, health, or family shame. For almost every one of us, then, we can assume a hypothetical 'database of ruin,' the one containing this fact but until now splintered across dozens of databases on computers around the world, and thus disconnected from our identity. Reidentification has formed the database of ruin and given access to it to our worst enemies." With the Rudd Government seemingly stacked with politicians in love with the idea of big data bases and, Health Minister Nicola Roxon's e-health card (with its unique personal identifier within each chip) bearing down on ordinary citizens going quietly about their business in 2010-11, this is a problem we all need to consider carefully. As government legislation will not stop personal privacy being invaded (it can only provide mechanisms to rectify or penalise after the fact) and the hope that IT software will dam the information outflow is fast receding.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 19
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
[Adopted and proclaimed by United Nations General Assembly resolution 217 A (III) of 10 December 1948]
Hi! My name is Boy. I'm a male bi-coloured tabby cat. Ever since I discovered that Malcolm Turnbull's dogs were allowed to blog, I have been pestering Clarencegirlto allow me a small space on North Coast Voices.
A Bazzamusing: It was hard to cadge a treat from the two-legs last Wednesday as everyone was talkin' bout that Barry O'Farrell resigning as NSW Premier. I don't have any questions about that wine bottle - what I want to know is why in 2011 after years and years in politics the man didn't own even one square foot of house or land according to his member's declaration.
A swear boxmusing: I'm in trouble. I have to meow a hundred times, "I shall not call Operation Sovereign Borders Operation Stupid B@stards and then yammer hysterically". What? Cats can't have a sense of humour?
An SPC Sundaymusing: I'm a cat so I don't eat much fruit, but the Blues Brothers budgies (who are into all sorts of fruit 'n' veg) tell me that SPC Sunday is going off with a bang and lotsa two legs are buying SPC Ardmona products and telling the world about it today. Over at Twitter on #SPCardmona
they are jumping out of their skins and folks at SPC Sunday on Facebook are happily getting into the mood as well.
A rumour has itmusing: Whispers are doing the rounds in the first few days of February 2014 that David Bancroft, a former The Daily Examiner editor and later an editor of the Rural Weekly, is taking a position as Clarence Valley Council's media/public relations spokesperson. In-ter-esting....
A fractured historymusing:On 1 February 2014 The Northern Star confirmed what many have suspected. Clarence Valley Council has been allowing local government paper records to rot in a paddock for years - When the NSW Land and Environment Court called for the documents to be made available, the Crown solicitor was told "they must be with the Clarence Valley Council". He was later referred to the Coffs Harbour Council but eventually it was discovered that the majority of documents obtained from the former Ulmarra council were "housed in a shipping container in a paddock" and the Clarence council believed it "would be a big job to try and access the shipping container because it is full". Justice Craig admitted he was left to "guess" what some of the documents might have contained.
A karmamusing: Maclean Court House, 9.30 am 12 February 2014, NSW Police v Geoffrey William Leviny, Case Number 201300148044, LC Sentence.
A spam is getting sillier by the minutemusing: This email caused a hoot of laughter from the two legs in my house - Happy New Year! 800,000 Pounds sterling has been awarded to you from my wife & I. Kindly reply with your Name, Address, Phone Number for details of prize if you are interested. Adrian.
A she saw redmusing: If there is one thing a house going paperless hates it's junk mail so She really was annoyed enough to say a sweary word when telling me the tale.
Unfortunately one new local business is choosing to ignore this advice and when the person distributing its advertising was challenged by my owner he asserted that the unwanted advert was not junk mail. Well, in all likelihood he is acting informally and not covered by any industry code of practice. But I think the letterbox stuffer was probably the CCW owner – so hemade a bad business decision that day.
A grinning from ear-to-earmusing: My human came home today all cock-a-hoop. A group of young lads from north of the Rio Tweed (who read this blog) brought the Administrator of North Coast Voices her very first mobile 'phone. I can't wait to see her learn how to drive the thing. Bet she falls over furniture, trips over apps and crashes into walls!
A thought to ponder:
In case of bushfire or flood - do you have an emergency evacuation plan for the family pet?
An adoption musing: Every week on the NSW North Coast a number of cats and dogs find themselves without a home. If you want to do your bit and give one bundle of joy a new family, contact Happy Paws on 0419 404 766 or your local council pound.