I recall back many years ago a movie named, "Twilight Zone - The Movie", in which many scenes play out with horrifying images. The stories are essentially recounted by a passenger and the driver of his car. Near the end of the movie, the passenger says to the driver, "Do you want to see something really scary?", at which point the passenger turns into a monster, attacking the driver.
Well, do you want to see something really scary? Review the recent article from the ComputerWorld blogs about a company named Palloriun Incorporated, a New York based company in the business of knowing everything about everybody.1 They keep a database of billions of records of information about you, your family, friends, relatives, and even loose acquaintances. When asked if the public can create an anonymous web presence, Steven Rambam, the CEO, says, "Privacy is dead. Get over it. You can't put the genie back in the bottle.".
Interestingly enough, the problem doesn't start with Pallorium and similar aggregators of personal data. It begins with what I'm calling, "Generation O", where '0' is for "Open". Social networking sites have become some of the most visited sites in America. Places such as Facebook and Myspace account for a seemingly unlimited amount of information people post about themselves and others on the internet. All of this information is generally wide open for the public to see. It wouldn't be such a problem for everyone if the sites could somehow restrict the information posted there to just that of the individual member.
The fact is, members can post anything, from pictures to documents to movies, all in the social interest of "See what I'm doing." However, it could also mean, "... and look what she's doing!"
If you are the information gathering type, be careful where you dig. Mr. Rambam was arrested in 2006 for uncovering information about a person in the FBI's witness protection program.2 Even the FBI's information is vulnerable to aggregators of personal information.We've created a new culture where private information no longer exists. Social web sites, the Internet, our cell phones and other gadgets, and our lackadaisical way of managing and openly providing our secrets in public venues has opened us up not only to aggregators and private investigators, but also to foreign internet users. According to Rambam, "You can have [all the security in the world] with the most current locks [installed], and all of that is meaningless if a 16-year-old kid can social-engineer [information about] you."
- ComputerWorld - The Grill: Privacy is a thing of the past, says private investigator
- Washington Post - HOPE Speaker Arrested by the Feds