back to article Welcome to the out-of-control decade

Back in the turbulent 1960s, the anti-establishment rabble was often derided as being "out of control." Fast-forward 50 years to the 2010s, when that same phrase will soon be back in vogue. But with a very different meaning. The coming decade is shaping up to be one in which we, as consumers and citizens, will see our control …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    But B2B?

    What about:

    If you want huge, mega resourced software forget about doing it inhouse (UK NHS take note).

    Conglomerates are far better getting some of the major software solution providers wares and basing working methods on those.

    Small inhouse projects are fine?

    Large inhouse projects need a different approach?

    This is good.

    For why should an enterprise deciding it needs word processing, spreadsheets and databases go about starting from scratchy scratch to provide inhouse word processing, spreadsheets and databasing applications?

    Is there good or bad?

    Truth be a little bit of both really plus a way for organisations (UK NHS take note, are you listening?) with mega projects to get them handled by mega-providers and side effect is that the organisation can focus on what it does well without too much distraction in to managing mega software projects.

    For example: health records EU wide to be solution provided by in-house? Or by mega-solution provider? I know which one I'd suggest a board of directors do, take and make manifest.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You would trust your medical records to...


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "mega-solution provder"?

      Got one word for you there: TRAK

  2. Sir Runcible Spoon
    Thumb Up


    Excellently written and a timely warning.

    Now all we need is an idiots guide to online anonymity that should sell by the bucket load.

    Startup anyone?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There's a London-centric bit of paranoia missing here

    namely the pernicious evil that is the Oyster card's ability to track your every movement by bus and train pretty much in real time...

    1. Chris Miller

      IANA Oyster card user

      But AFAIK it's straightforward to obtain an anonymous Oyster card by paying cash and supplying a false name and address.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Oyster anonymity easier than that.

        No need for a false name and address, they don't actually insist if you don't want to register it - it's just a convenience: if you lose a registered card, they'll refund you the lost balance. But you don't have to, you can just pick one up for cash and walk away no questions asked if that's what you want.

        And it is. What I want, I mean. Buy one, use it for a few journeys, cash it back in, buy another next time. Not a problem.

  4. Colin Millar
    IT Angle

    You're a glass half-empty kind of guy

    At least its not Microsoft thats taking over the world these days.

    People have been giving away their privacy for years now - facebook, twitter, youtube - anything to get some poor quality screen time and feed their illusion that someone cares about what they have to say.

    Eric Schmidt is nothing new - that attitude had been around at least since policemen were invented and the enemy within goes back way before McCarthy and certainly isn't an American concept.

    The techy angle is mistaken here - information about us in the mass forms it is being sucked up by Google, supermarkets, the state is actually of very little value except as aggregators (for which a pro with a guess would be just as good). CCTV in the UK is a glaring example of ubiquitous tech having a rep which it cannot live up to. Juries are actually quite distrusting of tech - those that don't have many tech interfaces don't believe it and those that do are aware of how crap most of it is.

    Big Bro doesn't need tech - Eastern Europe behind the curtain, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Maoist China, North Korea - where's the tech?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Big Bro & Big Tech

      "Big Bro doesn't need tech - Eastern Europe behind the curtain, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Maoist China, North Korea - where's the tech?"

      Terrorists don't need bombs, 911 had only boxcutters.... where's the bombs? So it's perfectly ok to give terrorists bombs! .. erm on second thoughts that's specious thinking.

      I don't think it's wise to create a technology that would allow for a much smaller number of people to take control of a large populous. There should be corresponding strengthening in the democratic rights to balance it. Yes they could take control before, but it required far far more people to sustain it. Think of the Stasi, a huge number of the elite needed, and ultimately unsustainable, if you could do the same with far fewer people then East Germany would still be around today.

  5. Anonymous Coward


    ....may in fact be not the top villian.

    1. Ted Treen


      the chances are that they are - or, to be more accurate, that they STILL are

  6. lucmars

    That will hit the young and next generation

    Simply because all these gizmos are beloved by kids which don't get the point and certainly don't care. Hence the out-of-control will become a habit, an established practice.

  7. Steve Anderson 1

    Yeah, right.

    Enter the real world, please.

    Businesses do /not/ store their data on the web. Entrust my commercially sensitive data to Google? I think not.

    People /keep/ going on about the cloud. There's a reason that people stopped using thin clients. Keep that in mind.

    1. Ocular Sinister

      Yes, they do

      Well, I sort of agree with you in that I think cloud computing is a bad idea, but the fact remains the business *are* moving their data into the cloud. I'm just glad that although our company operates a growing business of HR software 'in the cloud', our HR data is kept internal.

    2. pctechxp
      Big Brother

      Cloud computing

      The main point of the article is that customers will not have a choice when buying new equipment, it will be cloud based or nothing.

      1. Fuzzysteve


        I think not.

        Perhaps microsoft, or apple, might try that. but then you have open source software.

        And I don't see hard drive manufacturers not selling their products.

        You always have a choice.

    3. MH Media

      Not right now but..

      .. when the bean-counters truly believe that they'll (a) never run out of drive space again, (b) all the data's held in a secure location and constantly backed up, and (c) it costs "far less than we're paying now" then of course they'll use every opportunity to move the company's crown jewels into the Cloud.

      I know people that think like this! (and no, I don't believe a,b or c)

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Article of the day.

    To all of the "nothing to hide, nothing to fear brigade", lets have a camera in every room in your house, live fed 24/7, and yes, i do mean the toilet and your bedrooms.

    After all, nothing to hide, nothing to fear.

    That is all.

    1. Plasma
      Big Brother

      Never mind the cameras

      Even simpler: Anyone who says "nothing to hide, nothing to fear" is never allowed to put curtains up in their house again.

      1. Oninoshiko


        curtains provide addiitional insolation, and help keep down heating costs... so we HAVE to have them to stop thermageddon!

        mine has the thick, heavy material in it...


    Stallman, and Freedom

    "It's stupidity. It's worse than stupidity: it's a marketing hype campaign... Somebody is saying this is inevitable – and whenever you hear somebody saying that, it's very likely to be a set of businesses campaigning to make it true."

    (Stallman speaking to the Guardian)

    What is acutely distressing about the hysterical use of 'terrorism' to justify civil liberty infringement is the blurring of the distinction between Government and corporate interest, at the expense of people who should be represented and protected in a democratic nation.

    Politicians find it expedient to privatise data gathering and surveillance for 'our safety'. The corporates find it convenient to exploit data harvested by the Government for marketing, and so perpetuate the fear.

    How exaggerated is the risk?

    On average, every year in the UK the same number of people die falling out of trees, as die from acts of terrorism. Yet no one is putting crash mats under oak trees, running breathless news stories of corpses found under a chestnut tree, or proposing strip searches on entry to woodlands.

    Thankfully, no one has died from an act of terrorism on the UK mainland since 2005. Tragically in that event, 56 were killed. That suggests our Security Services are doing a good job.

    Yet in the four years since 2005, approximately 114,000 people a year have died from smoking related disease caused by the poisonous products of the tobacco industry. That is around 450,000 dead. Around **half a million** dead. But no tobacco executive has been arrested and prosecuted.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Terrorism is just an excuse

      Look at the UK-US extradition treaty, originally sold as an expedited treaty need to quickly extradite terrorists suspects. That quickly collapsed into juridiction shopping and petty nuisance stuff:

      "If this order is approved, the United States will no longer be required to supply prima facie evidence to accompany extradition requests that it makes to the United States. By contrast, when we make extradition requests to the United States we shall need to submit sufficient evidence to establish "probable cause""

      Then there was the acceptance of hearsay even in the claim made:

      "the advice we had from the US that the requirement to show a prima facie case could in some cases undermine the chances of the case ultimately succeeding at trial, if for example an inability to rely on hearsay evidence in the extradition request exposed a prosecution witness before the trial."

      American Bar Association’s symposium (the US lawyers discussed the treaty) discussed how the UK authorities conspired to misuse the treaty:

      "But perhaps the most disturbing part of the Standard's Las Vegas transcript is when the Department of Justice man describes how Britain decided to reinterpret the law to help out its American friends with the Norris case. As we have heard, price-fixing was not an offence at the time in Britain. Happily, however, conspiracy to defraud was. So, said Hammond, "the UK Government looked at the information we provided in support of the extradition, and said: 'You know what? That looks like conspiracy to defraud to us'."

      And Jacqui Smith, is REQUIRED to uphold *UK* law, if UK law says the penalty is 1 month and US law says it's 1 year, and the crime was committed in the UK, it's not for Jacqui Smith to seek to apply US law.... yet that is exactly what she did:

      "In December 2007, the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, referred to “inaccurate claims in the press” that she was about to introduce an additional statutory bar to extradition called “’forum’ which could prevent extradition where a case could be tried in the UK”, adding that the key issue was to ensure that offences were dealt with in the place where they could be most effectively prosecuted,"

      So you see how terrorism is just an excuse, once the right is taken away, it's taken away for all crimes. So now we have extradition without evidence, hear say evidence, jurisdiction shopping, uncontrolled surveillance, and a security mechanism working like the AIDS virus causing the immune system to attack itself.

      Now we have a smart device that knows you every move, who you communicate with, when, even the direction your phone was at the time, we have companies collecting all this information and arguing that collecting this info is a *good* thing. We had a privacy directive that should stop them, but an EU Commission that won't enforce it. We have a collapse in civil protections, secret blacklists, warrantless surveillance the lot.

      It's like a slow motion train wreck we're all witnessing.

  10. blackworx

    Can we get a redux?

    Great article. Very much preaching to the choir though. I'd love to send this on to folk, but I doubt anyone would actually take the time to read the three long pages it comprises.

    I vote El Reg should prepare a "Mr & Mrs Average Consumer" version so we can send out a link to something that folk might pay some attention to.

  11. KenBW2

    Someone lock this guy up

    everyone's out to get him!

    Seriously, don't you think if there's a need for control over data, the market will provide it? Your comments about being locked in come down to how businesses assess their options. If they fail to go with open standards - whatever that will mean in 2015 - then they deserve all they get.

    Calm down for god sake...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      No Ken, they're out to get YOU, which is why you're hiding behind a false name. Calm down FFS!

      For the market to provide a solution, people need to be aware of the problem, so stories like this causing people to think about the privacy implications are part of the free market.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    @Rik Myslewski

    Nice article, scary.

    You might want to add that here in the UK we have probably the most, fixed and mobile, vehicle registration plate readers.

    These OCR cameras track our movement on many (unknown number) main roads and are linked to big databases which spew out everything the cops want to know about me.

    Damn! I knew I should have returned that library book ;-)

  13. Inachu

    2009 will be remembered by toxic religions.

    The bible is clearly against any type of NEW WORLD ORDER

    or any one big govt for the world run by any one man in charge but

    the christian neocons are the very builders of this new empire and call it

    democracy wrapped in a guise called christianity to make it sound wholesome.

    Want more death in the world? Hire a neocon.

    1. Rob McDougall


      Neocons aren't religious at all. They worship themselves. They may pretend to go to Church but that's only to get votes from the massive (at least in the US) religious right.

    2. I didn't do IT.

      Of Course They Are

      Any fervently religious zealot will tell you (or scream at you, take your pick), that the END TIMES must come for the absolute, best, mostest happy event in the world; the "return" of <insert diety nickname here />.

      Without the mass death, war and other generally profitable activities, it would just be another day where "paradise" was not realized. If there is no NEW WORLD ORDER, then there will be no one (and no need) to save us.

      Flames - because they WANT the world to burn, eh?

  14. John Sanders


    "Ten years from now, the concept of keeping all your personal apps and files on your local device - except for high-end systems used by pro-level content creators - may be as passé as booting your PC using toggle switches."

    All I can say is: not me mate, not me, maybe my customers, maybe my relatives. Me? no way jose.

    I already made the "personal" decision of not running at home anything MS proprietary beyond XP/2003, and that's because I do not trust Vista/7/2008 privileged system processes that I can not see or control.

    I'm IT old school, the penguin so far is my democratic IT friend and does allow me to do as I please with my files and my data.

    1. blackworx

      Point of order

      Did you read to the end of the article?

  15. disgruntled yank

    wish I could find it

    Thirty and more years ago I read something that Ortega y Gasset had written 40 years before that, praising the English preference for liberty over the appearance of security. Evidently from the days before the Metropolitan Police, he quoted a speaker in Parliament as preferring that (roughly)

    a half a dozen men have their throats cut in Miles End Road every year than that we suffer a system of police on the French model.

  16. xyz Silver badge

    2020: Why are you using a hard drive?

    If you've nothing to fear or hide, put it in the cloud. Only criminals use hard drives.

    Nuff said.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I know someone who knows someone who says he can sell me a hard drive with the GPS disabled and it will turn on without passport verification. He's lying of course.

  17. Fred 24

    Have to wonder...

    .. if this is the view of a troubled personality, or somebody paid to write an article to down the two main competitors to M$???

    Actual facts would clarify the situation, until any are provided articles such as this join my template list for ignored news threads.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Did you read the article?

      Firstly, there are various references to the "facts" referred to and additionally, since the article is a comment on a "possible" future, I think you will find it hard to find "facts" until the future actually arrives...

  18. adnim

    My friends

    have sometimes told me that I can seem a little paranoid at times. When I was in fact just thinking ahead. I agree with blackworx suggestion of a redux that can be linked to. I just worry that all the links that I would post in all those forums I use with differing nyms may leave enough of a bredcrumb trail for my true identity to be fathomed ;-)

    Our childrens children will likely be ignorant of what choice and privacy actually were, will these words be absent from dictionaries in a hundred years time?

    I told a friend who got her first computer a week or so ago and subsequently signed herself up for a windows live mail account that her email can be read by Microsoft staff. She was shocked and didn't believe me at first, thinking the email traversed directly from her PC to mine, she has not read the T&C's either. Most new users to computers think that email goes direct between PC's and they don't read T&C's either, many wouldn't even understand them because of the words used. And what is the point anyway when they can be changed at a moments notice or be so worded as to be ambiguous or have unclear boundaries? Somewhat akin the to the laws here in the UK me thinks, and this is just one example of general ignorance of the tech involved.

    I don't believe it is possible to provide an all encompassing solution to new users, consumers and those ignorant of how the technologies behind todays tech gadgets and indeed political systems work, that would be sufficient to protect them from the erosions of choice, freedom and privacy that we face.

    As more and more information technology enters our lives and homes so are created more avenues for abuse of that information, any solution has to be an ongoing strategy. That strategy should be education. Sir Runcible Spoon suggested an idiots guide to online privacy, there are a few sites out there that cover this, just as there are sites that cover consumer rights, privacy laws, encryption, the data protection act. And things I haven't yet thought of that would be of use to the unwary tech user . But there are no, at least none of which I am aware of, sites that cover all these topics on one easy to navigate domain. This is something I am certainly interested in creating or becoming involved with, or perhaps developing my own site in that direction.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Reg is good but not for the timid

      "But there are no, at least none of which I am aware of, sites that cover all these topics on one easy to navigate domain."

      Well, this Reg security site sort of comes close to that EXCEPT for the, er, 'colorful' articles/commentary/etc that tends to turn off the very people who need the info the most.

      Doesn't bother *me* (with very few exceptions), I talk like that myself and this site is quite tame compared to other stuff, but I know a lot of conservative people who would totally freak if I showed them some of the security articles and comments here, in un-edited original form.

      Now there would be a job opportunity ;) for someone there at the Reg, to translate important security-related Register articles *and* comments (often the *comments* are as much or more valuable as a source of extended info, in addition to the articles themselves; there are a lot of smart people who read this site) from Klingon er I mean cussing-like-a-sailor IT-speak ;) into something more tame that won't make Aunt Betty or Uncle Bob keel over from shock and heart failure.

      Bit unrealistic though.

      Besides, I enjoy profanity too much :) to want to stop. :)

      However, a suggestion: Maybe this site could cut back a little on the "c" word - that's *so* 1950s anyway, rather like some other outdated words which most smart people don't use anymore such as the "n" word, etc., same category of hate-speech and negativity.

      Anyway, all that aside, I've learned a *lot* of important stuff from articles *and* other people's comments at this Reg site, things that I probably wouldn't have found out about otherwise, about many different computer-security-related topics. On the other hand, I've also *boycotted* this site for a few years at a time, due to 'content' annoyances.

      (Years ago, I used to only read this site because some of the odd British humor is amusing, but found myself learning stuff in the process.)

  19. cschneid

    Welcome to the year 2000...

    ...when Simson Garfinkel's "Database Nation" was first published.

  20. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Life in the Fast Lane .... Yes, Please.

    "Welcome to the out-of-control decade ... We have seen the future, and it doesn't belong to you" .... Rik Myslewski in San Francisco

    Err, that is NOT quite so, Rik, for things are under control although for all of the best security reasons, you are never to know who would be exercising the power levers.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same, for has that not always been the case?

    And wouldn't you rather have a Google or an Apple in Control rather than imagining that an arrogant bunch of ignorant self-serving politicians forming a temporary government would know anything about what they are doing? At least with the former have you experts in their fields at the helm.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      IT Angle

      Who watches the watchmen?

      >"And wouldn't you rather have a Google or an Apple in Control rather than imagining that an arrogant bunch of ignorant self-serving politicians forming a temporary government would know anything about what they are doing?"

      Actually, I'm not so sure about that. I can't vote Google or Apple out of office. I may have only limited and flawed means of accountability and control over politicians, but that's still infinitely more accountability and control than I have over any private corporation. There's nothing inherently better about an arrogant bunch of ignorant self-serving businessmen than there is about an arrogant bunch of ignorant self-serving politicians; I mistrust them both pretty much equally, they are all primarily motivated by their own self-interest over mine, so there's little to choose between them on grounds of likely harm, and the amount of mitigation/control/options for self-defense open to me becomes the only deciding factor.

      >"At least with the former have you experts in their fields at the helm."

      See, I agree that this is a problem, but I don't then conclude that the solution is to hand unaccountable executive power to technocrats. I reluctantly reach the conclusion that if we - as technology users and developers - and commentards! - want things to improve, there is an increasing onus on us :-) to get engaged with the existing mechanisms of political power and control. I think more of us might have to get involved with campaigning organisations and political parties and even do things like stand for election, rather than all just posting comments on web forums ....

      RMS for President!

    2. Snert Lee

      Who ya gonna trust?

      So you'd rather be in the hands of temporal corporate interests who might decide it's better return on shareholder value to have your body corporal disassembled and sold for parts?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    'Tis all true

    And anyone who thinks they can evade all these will find it increasingly difficult to hide their data locally, stop people tracking their movements by foot or by car, stop their every purchase and rubbish disposed being measured and analysed...the system just won't let us stay out of it.

    Cheques will be gone soon, and dare I say it, cold, hard (untraceable) cash may be next...

    Then try staying in control!

    Paris, because we're all being breed to be as dumb as her and take it up the ass as a matter of habit...

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Happy New Year

      "Cheques will be gone soon, and dare I say it, cold, hard (untraceable) cash may be next..." ... Anonymous Coward Posted Thursday 31st December 2009 17:46 GMT

      Already in Beta, AC .......

  22. jubtastic1

    iPods & iPhones

    "the iPhone and iPod Touch are computing devices, not merely phones and media players"

    I assume this is true because underneath that oh so beautiful UI they run UNIX, a proper computer OS and no mistake, but if simply running *NIX makes something a computer then surely there are a whole host of gadgets & devices that also qualify as locked down computers that nobody thinks twice about; routers, external HD's with media serving capabilities, PVR's, TV's, games consoles, washing machines etc.

    Fact is that pretty soon every internet connected product is going to be running either a cut down *NIX, or some other less capable OS, and pretty much everyone is going to want those things to run reliably, just like they did before they became computers. That your new toaster could run MS Office or the Gimp is unlikely to be seen as a feature if all the toast comes out with a cock motif burned in*.

    *own up, whose been browsing porn on the toaster again?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Apple DO know better than most what should be on their computers.

    Consider Microsoft - they left it in the hands of the users and what did it lead to?

    Consider Apple - growing nicely. Good sales, strong fan base.

    People are sick of setup.exe. endless bloody spyware, malware, adware and so on. You don't get any of that crap with Apple.


    Yes, that's a big worry. That's the point at which some will log off and not return. That, and the feckin BBC becoming the UK's ISP.

  24. william henderson 1


    google, eat apples.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    "This is not news. Just ask the 100,000 or so Japanese Americans from California, Oregon, and Washington who received all-expense-paid vacations in sunny Arizona, Utah, Wyoming and elsewhere during World War II."

    In Canada, at least, and I believe the United States as well, that "all-expense-paid vacation'" was paid for by selling of the interees property at less than market value.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Great Article

    Very interesting article. I'd like to see more of that kind of thing here on El Reg. The cloud is a friend to every snooping, invasive and controlling government out there and nobody should forget it. In this sense the writer is absolutely correct: it's a mandate for loss of personal privacy on a massive scale, as if the interweb isn't under enough of a constant attack from governments and police forces of all nations.

    In the end, all it takes - all it's ever taken - to encourage entire populations to surrender their freedoms are our old friends, the terrorists and the peadomonsters. Like magic talismans held dear by government and law enforcement alike these twin agents of evil (whether real or imagined - and, let's face face it, that's hardly the point, is it?) have done and will continue to wreak havoc on personal freedoms. Charlatans and self-interested maggots like nothing better than to stoke a society's primal fears with misinformation and distractions, whilst they go about their real business untroubled by critics or dissent.

    And it will all get worse. Anyone here imagine - seriously - that an incoming Tory administration will attempt to roll back 12 years worth of p*sspoor NuLabour legislation? It doesn't work that way. The police rather like their brand new edifices built on the altar of 'national security' (at taxpayer's expense) - so much so, that they are very, very keen to see these structures expanded, remits widened. Will David 'Call Me Dave' Cameron and his chums object or will they defer, like every politician before them, to the likes of ACPO - who, if they say such measures are 'necessary', must surely be right? We all know how supine, uncritical and completely dumfounded your average politician becomes when faced-off by law enforcement agencies.

    But, handily, governments themselves distrust the internet, never mind their police forces, and they are all now at war with it. Their mission is simple: to get control. All the indications now are that the next ten years should indeed see our quaint notions of 'online freedom' quietly shuffled away into massive government data centres, while the general population, guided by media-friendly campaigns to 'safeguard' children and weed out the terrorists, blithely tap-tap away with their social networking, their online shopping and emailing...

    Sinking, like a bug on a peach.

  27. Rob McDougall


    I still don't fully understand the Oyster paranoia - you don't have to register it. You can buy it from a machine with 3x£1 coins and use cash to top it up...

    If you can be arsed.

    I guess that's where they get us.

    The same reason I use Google Calendar and GMail and will probably soon have a Google phone...


    The trouble starts when the basket I've put all my eggs into starts to sell my eggs. Or throw my eggs at buildings, if you'll allow me to push the metaphor that far...

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Oyster Refunds

      Anonymous Oyster fails when they rip off your card for £6 and you need to apply for a refund, this happens if the reader you touch exiting the system is faulty, then you get charged max for the day.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    you can have a million people march on the capital and it doesn't mean shit, just give up, your votes don't matter and neither do your voices.

  29. max allan

    Life goes on, change happens, deal with it!

    I expect when steam engines were coming into fashion, Mr Ludd was writing similar articles about the danger of machinery replacing people, etc....

    Don't fear the change, consider how to profit from it. If Ludd had spent less time objecting and more time learning about engines he could have made some money and advanced society forward.

    Extreme example : In future criminals will know when you leave your house (and where it and you are) and be able to plan their break-ins accordingly. So, instead of fighting the fact, embrace it. Start a service that "fakes" data about someone being at home. Or a "virtual companion", a profile of a scary kick boxer with convictions for killing muggers that single vulnerable people can go for a walk with.

    Hmm, does posting to the Reg count as prior art in a patent dispute??? Bye.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Interesting point

      "I expect when steam engines were coming into fashion, Mr Ludd was writing similar articles about the danger of machinery replacing people, etc...."

      Well let's explore that idea for a second.

      Before the machines came, we had thousands of cottage industries making cloth in their own establishments using their own tools. People with their own businesses in control of their lives (well inasmuchas was possible then). They weren't wealthy people but they had pride and some self-determination.

      Then the machines and big business came all in the name of efficiency and cheap prices. A few people became rich. Many thousands lost their businesses and their livelihoods and became destitute since they could not compete against this new efficiency. People had to leave their homes and villages to work for these monstrosities since there was no alternative; terrible conditions, a pittance of a wage, all so that we could get more cheaper cloth and make some wealthy people insanely rich.

      I think there are a few parallels to be drawn there to events happening now and they're NOT good.

      1. albatros183

        There is one central thing here the WWW

        Without it none of this would even be being discussed, the problem with it is that it goes against the original central premise of the internet. To make a decentralized NUCLEAR WAR SURVIVING network, web sites are highly centralized and do not meaningfully replicate each others data and now often have elaborateness filtering and censorship methods built into them, witness the illusion of mod'ing for controlling unfavorable postings(gives the illusion of participation) , no longer under the control of one or a few individuals much is automated and controlled by large corporate interests who's only purpose is to make grotesque amounts money for the very few at the top of there structures (please do not try to flame me about making money for there shareholders, that fantasy went out the window, with the baby, when the majority of people who had no business being in the market were effectively forced into it through mutual funds and 401k's)

        There is a clear progression of control progressing from the mid '80's (no CyberPunk dystopia you could site will be anywhere near as grim as it will actually be)

        This argument is long and to long for this post, but the WWW enable a way for people who had power to gain and maintain control over the internet centralizing rather that decentralizing and thus control over data and control over lives

        Stainless steel rat aside(has anyone actually read those books, nice fantasy not so much with reality)

        There is little space left for resistance, it isn't CyberPunk it's the Borg and I don't mean in a hot Borg Queen way that can ridiculously be by defeated individual appeals to supposed non-existant human weakness, there is no human weakness since despite there(notice) legal status as people corporations have none of the responsibilities, liabilities, or human characteristics of actual humans

        The corporation enabled the web the web enabled the corporation, get over the idea of freedom, you want freedom check out the back ground of Cheney and Rumsfeld and there ilk they planned for decades and now they are free some of the very few it will tell you how to go about it

        I know I stray a bit but this is only a part of a much larger problem of what will constitute human existence for decades or if we are very lucky century's to come, but consider the structural differences between a BBS/USNET structure and a WWW/database structure and what that means in terms of who controls information and by extension who controls peoples lives

        Final thought, Why is it you have a Credit rating and who exactly gave them the mandate or the tools to determine this for your life.

        Hung Around Neck

  30. Anonymous Coward

    Out of control... or the decade of the stainless steel rat?

    Harry Harrison had it right: in an advanced technological society, you need to know how the system works and you need to know how to work around it in order to maintain your autonomy as a real rather than purely theoretical option.

    Hence why I'll always be a hacker (in the old-skool sense, of course). We need more hackers to expose the dangerous and flawed systems that people will try and impose on us; learning to hack is something practical that people with technical skills can actually do in order to give themselves some power over their techosocial environment. Better living through code-istry!

    1. Kevin Reader
      Big Brother

      If we're talking Harrison...

      If we're talking Harry Harrison then this article puts me more in mind of his HomeWorld Novel (first part of a trilogy) but with its own themes really.

      quote from:

      Jan Kulozik is one of earth's privileged elite. A brilliant engineer, he enjoys all the blessings of a 23rd-century civilization which survived global collapse & conquered the stars. Then he meets Sara, the beautiful, desirable agent of a rebel underground dedicated to smashing the iron rule of Earth's masters. She shows him a sordid world he never dreamed existed! (Kev: No not that kind.) And suddenly Jan has to choose--between slaves & masters. His choice plunges him into a web of intrigue, assassination & betrayal that will lead him to death - or to the stars...

      Essentially the masses are true plebs, near slave labour, fearing unemployment even more than their poor existence. Those will money are a privileged and naive about the plight of the common man. The leaders basically enjoy being in control. Its not such a big step from today once you have electronic tracking of everyone and their actions and worth.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        With the "to the stars" option, one requires to know.. .....

        "The leaders basically enjoy being in control. " .... Kevin Reader Posted Friday 1st January 2010 20:19 GMT

        Can you definitively identify who or what are the leaders in control, Kevin Reader, and then further refine that to the Greater Point of Singularity and that to which All will be Subject and Secondary...... for there is always always the One who Powers All Leaders and to whom All Leaders will be as mere Followers. Be that Being and you would be something of a GOD Enabled to Gift the Power of Global Operating Device to Others.

        And I would not disagree with your post which is Present Man's Terrestrial Pedestrian Condition succinctly explained.

  31. David Mery
    Big Brother

    Madrid Privacy Declaration

    The deadline to sign the Madrid privacy declaration is January 28, 2010, which happened to be International Privacy Day:

    The Madrid Privacy Declaration

    Global Privacy Standards for a Global World

  32. Identity
    Black Helicopters

    This attitude, as ever, goes beyond tech

    For instance, the US Supreme Court looks likely to approve expanded corporate personhood (which, itself, was forced down the throat of the American sheeple by a court clerk and former railroad president who inserted the idea into the case Southern Pacific v. Santa Clara County headnote. It was never law, but has been de facto made so by relying on it as if it were.). So, then they may spend all they want to buy elections. After all, the Court already ruled that money is speech (Buckley v. Vallejo). They also look likely to overturn the legal necessity that honest services of financial institutions and government officials be mandated. (And let's not even go into the current argument that there is no right not to be framed [stitched up] by the powers-that-be.) Yes, we are looking forward to corporations being citizens and natural people existing only to feed them.

  33. justsaying

    I'm surprised

    that there doesn't seem to be any Orwellian references to 1984 in that article. Maybe it's just a given these days.

    Apple are definitely Big Brother in any future dystopia, though Google run them a close second. This is from someone who uses iMacs for fun, Unix for work, and Google Apps and email cos they are brilliant.

    Use them, abuse them, just don't lose them to the data miners.

    Oh, and before we lose sight of the big picture - thanks to RIPA 2000 your data is intercepted in realtime right now between your client and the "cloud" by legally compliant ISP's. THAT is much scarier than anything being proposed on the west coast of a fading superpower, and it's being going on for a decade.

    Happy New Year.

  34. James 100

    Pros != 'the public'

    I was surprised to see Steve Anderson claiming that "Businesses do /not/ store their data on the web. Entrust my commercially sensitive data to Google? I think not." - patently untrue, with literally millions of businesses doing precisely that already (over two million on Google Apps alone).

    It might seem unthinkable to an IT company, particularly one which sees Google as a rival, but for small non-IT companies, Google Apps is perfectly suitable - many of the smallest businesses don't balk at using Hotmail for business purposes, let alone Google Apps!

    For a lot of these businesses, it's a choice between trying to maintain and secure their own Exchange installation - probably with Internet-exposed ports, unless they poll for email from a third party server, in which case they might as well just use that server instead - or trusting Google. Which is more likely - Google snooping around stealing "proprietary information" from your account, or someone compromising an unpatched Exchange host which probably has an admin password of "password"?

    I've deployed it myself - upgrading a small medical equipment company's mail system from Exchange 2003 (part of SBS) to Google Apps. They were hitting 2003's mailbox size limits, had filled their RAID array and were approaching the limits of a backup system which had already had two hardware failures. With only a forklift upgrade route (requiring buying a new file server and migrating everything over) and nothing like enough budget to cover the hardware, let alone licenses and admin time to migrate, Google Apps was far more appropriate.

    Then there's the one-man (non-IT) consultancy: do I talk the guy into buying a server to hold all his email, figure out how to get it working on his cable modem at home with a dynamic IP then hope he'll manage to keep it patched, secure and backed up? Or get him a VPS or colocated host - which isn't really any more protected from interference from the hosting company than a Google account is anyway? That would be security snake-oil at best, a huge new security vulnerability at worst.

    Small non-IT company hosting its own mail server rather than trust specialist third-parties to do their job? They might as well just pull the pin: they're shutting out Google sysadmins - but inviting in every random botnet controller and '31337 haxxor' on the Net instead!

    1. A J Stiles

      Mail = easy

      Exim and dovecot, together with some Perl CGI scripts for web-based configuration, will work absolutely fine for 99% of small to medium businesses' needs; and messages for people within the site need never even leave the site.

      You can even install all this setup behind a firewall (note this is ISP-dependent; they have to be able to add an "Envelope-to" header) so it's as close as anyone gets to unhackable.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    Can we have an EL Reg branded tin foil hat please.

    Anonymous, for obvious reasons.

  36. Maty

    average consumer?

    If Mr & Mrs Average Consumer are anything like Mr & Mrs Average Voter, they won't passively hand control of their data over to 'them' - they will be the ones actively driving the process.

    It protects them from pedophiles and terrorists, you see...

  37. chew6acca

    Works both ways

    >If you're a dot-connecting prosecutor with a narrative to build, you're going to have plenty of info >with which to construct your argument. And if you're Mr. or Ms. Average Consumer, you'll have >little or no control over your own dots.

    What if the same dots prove your innocence?

    There never was, and never will be, such a thing as on-line anonymity. I highly doubt that anyone (them or us) is that interested in anything I am doing. Perhaps the writer has a guilty conscience (or inflated ego)?

    I am more worried that these systems will be so reliable that us IT professionals won't be needed any more! :o

    1. Anonymous Coward

      The dots never prove your innocence.

      The dots can only ever be used to accuse, not to absolve. And they generate false positives, and the process of joining them is a process somewhere in between wishful thinking and witch-sniffing, in which a clever prosecutor can draw whatever seeming connections between whatever unrelated items, cherry-picking relationships between dots that seem to demonstrate their cause and ignoring those that don't.

      That's the catch: that's why you're on a hiding to nothing. How do you prove a negative? You can't. It's like trying to fight shadows. No number of perfectly innocent emails of yours that the authorities intercept will ever prove that there wasn't some other email you sent that contained details of your terrorist sympathies.

      So no, I'm not convinced that the infinitesimally improbable possibility that the dots could somehow prove my innocence of something is worth the small but much more finite chance that I could one day be falsely accused. I'm pretty darn sure the errors in this system will all fall in one direction. And I don't fancy my chances if I'm playing a game the house always wins with a deck that is stacked against me from the start...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What if the same dots prove your innocence?

      Well no, the problem is caused by the asymmetry of information. YOU don't have access to everyone elses data.

      So in court, evidence is provided showing you were in the same location on all 3 occassions of some pickpockets. Prosecution infers how improbable that is. Yet if they were prosecuting for a subset of 3 out of 10 crimes and many other people were in the same location many more often, then it is not improbable at all..... yet all of that information you do not have access to.

      Welcome to information asymmetry. One group has a mass of information from which to weave their lies and you only (at best if you keep track of everything you do) have only your little piece.

      "There never was, and never will be, such a thing as on-line anonymity"

      Yes there is. That's why IMP & Mastering the Internet is seeking to remove it. Anonymous speech is uncontrolled speech to micromanaging politicians.

      "I highly doubt that anyone (them or us) is that interested in anything I am doing. Perhaps the writer has a guilty conscience (or inflated ego)?"

      Hoping you are boring enough not to be bothered with is no basis for a free society. It also requires that you never have political ambitions, and never say anything bad about the senior security junta.

    3. Mike Moyle

      Well, that's fine...

      ...but I think that you're starting from the position that the person(s) who have access to your data are, at the very least, NEUTRAL in regards to what is in your interests.

      In reality, we all (I would claim) operate on the basis of "what suits my goals is good and what DOESN'T serve my goals is bad." To a company that counts on using information about you to increase their earnings, therefore, anything that constrains their acquisition of your data is a bad thing. In the same way, anything that makes it more difficult for a prosecutor to get a conviction (of SOMEONE -- getting the right person is the ideal, but getting convictions that will hold up is the important thing), or which makes it more difficult for a government to look "tough on crime/terrorism" will be seen by those parties as a bad thing.

      "I highly doubt that anyone (them or us) is that interested in anything I am doing. Perhaps the writer has a guilty conscience (or inflated ego)?"

      And that may be true -- at this moment. The assumption that it will ALWAYS be true, however, is simply wishful thinking. Should having access to your information become financially/politically/career-enhancingly useful to someone that information and its possession no longer is a neutral value but a positive which should be actively sought. Again -- in the mind of the acquirer it becomes a simple equation of "Does this serve my goals at this time? If so, then it is a good thing." At that point, you are at the mercy of the present-day equivalents of France's Cardinal Richelieu who, on discussing ways to get rid of politically-inconvenient individuals, said: "Giver me ten lines written by the most pious of men and I can find something with which to hang him."

      In short, your stated position is only valid as long as it suits someone else's purposes. Once it becomes useful for someone else to know what you're doing -- for whatever reason they may have -- it can become actively detrimental to your interests.

  38. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Google Precrime!

    Helps law enforcement arrest Bad People before they even know they are bad (for a small fee paid by your tax dollars). Yes, Mr. Anderson, that means you!

    I like the Big Brother icon. Even in Orwell's dystopia, he is not the bad guy spying on you. He's actually the archetype of the GOOD guy, looking out for you and helping you get on the correct path again, should you stumble. Maybe helps you out with a cash injection to buy a new car or something.

    1. Alice Andretti
      Jobs Horns

      Can't even keep convicted killers in prison for long.

      "Helps law enforcement arrest Bad People before they even know they are bad"

      Only one problem. Here in the U.S. we can't even keep our current crop of known convicted murderers and sex offenders and cop-killers etc. off the streets for very long - the whole judicial system is a revolving door, with people who are designated "at high risk to re-offend" quickly RELEASED from prison where they hit the streets to resume their former activities, or often worse. (Why do they keep letting them out?)

      So unless one has annoyed the wrong official in local government, or visited terrorist websites, or...

      ...if Firefox has visited bad websites all ON ITS OWN via the lovely little "prefetch" thingy that most normal people don't know about - of course you and I know that be turned off in about:config... oh well...

      Devil Jobs icon because, well, you know, 1984 and Apple computers and all ;) ... as I sit here with my trusty (no, not rusty) old Mac which is still happily humming along accompanied by its modern (and much more quiet) Windows and Linux companions... Also, my proper respectful apologies to that reader (can't remember their name) who dislikes the phrase "you know" :)

  39. Doug Glass


    Re:"that there doesn't seem to be any Orwellian references to 1984"

    Research the graphic alongside the article's title.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Strange innit?(!)

    Mass data collection, UK mass CCTV observation, also UK strictest laws/practices governing civil engineering, .... , yet our UK finance sector can well and truly take government, people and UK subjects to the cleaners.

    And moreover the people are cleansed twice so; once in government debt and another again in bank charges.

    Wherebe the data collection, data mining and analysis on all that then?

    Maybe hidden behind a Nelsonian eye as ever it was, is and shall be?

    Greater minds often describe finance sector as legalised theft and I wonder if it really art so?

    Plausibly that a finance sector return of, say, a billion is another people's loss of, say, a billion and a half?

    So whom, apart from themselves, does it serve?

    Is it a case of over collection on the unneeded and under collection on the needed?

    1. Gulfie


      As far as I can see, UK Government == UK Big Business and has done for at least 30 years. Little significant legislation passes through parliment without the lobbyists having an influence; and that's the 'above board' visible(ish) activity.

  41. kevin biswas

    I want a computer with a toggle switch.

    That's all.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    A world of 'dumb terminals'

    I remember seeing a tv piece on some news or tech show many many years ago saying that future computer users won't have to have a high powered high computer with a large storage drive because we'll be using 'dumb terminals', ie a machine with just an input (keyboard/mouse etc.) and output (screen/speakers etc.) and all our programs/data will be stored on a central server your dumb terminal connects to through the phoneline.

    Well it looks like Apple/Google/Microsoft are well on their way to this 'evolution' in computing, things like Eee netbooks & iPhones are essentially the first steps to this, with the 'cloud' being the server at the end of the wire (well, wireless now).

    Personally I don't like the idea of dumb terminals because you're entrusting your 'computer freedom' to a large faceless company rather than keeping your data closer to hand (your own harddrive) and you're not told what programs you can run on your own machine, unlike the iPhone.

    Plus with all your personal data held in the 'cloud' it makes it so much easier for 3rd parties to find that data out.

    Posting as "Anonymous Coward" to make the point that when you look through your own posting history on ElReg they still show up, unlike slashdot for example.

    1. heyrick Silver badge


      I have an eeePC 901. Using it right now. It runs XP. All the apps are on *it*. No, I don't run a Google anything, nor a Yahoo!/etc/etc toolbar. Most things have been set to NOT autoupdate unless I explicitly say so. Much of my data is on it, and the stuff that is old or won't fit is on a desktop machine with a 200+Gb harddisc, shared folders, connected via a 100mbit router. The eeePC connects to the internet via WiFi. The internal intranet is not connected to the outside world at all, nor will it ever be.

      Oh, perhaps you are referring to the Eee Storage which offers 20Gb in the cloud? I think this is only so they can advertise the unit as having 32Gb storage, what with the actual 4Gb & 8Gb SSDs being rather small (the 4Gb is really cramped with XP and all those service pack updates). Hell, I have more storage on the SD card! :-) I don't use the cloud storage. Call me odd, but there's some assurance in looking across my bedroom and knowing my documents are "over there". Where's the Eee cloud? What legislation regulates its use? How well protected is it? I can't burn off DVD-R backups, not without copying it all back first. So I basically ignore it.

      The point is, cloud options exist. But at the moment so does the ability to "Just Say No". Whether we need to strive to protect this option, or carry on la-dee-dah depends a lot on how the proposed Google machine is received. Numerous thin clients have been seen to fail, perhaps because of the same reason people still like to buy CDs - there's a reassurance in holding a CD and there's a reassurance in knowing your document is in D:\blah\blah - as opposed to "somewhere", maybe in another country, maybe spread across servers on different continents so you don't know where the hell it could end up, maybe "down" because of a hundred different reasons.

      If we have a gale and it brings down the phone lines, I can't read El Reg for a while. But I can write more on that dopey little screenplay I've been working on since forever. The benefit of a system is not just measured by how well it works when it works, but also by how well it copes when stuff isn't working. And for that, I would probably avoid even the coolest computer handed to me personally by Paris herself (!) if it relied *entirely* upon an evanescent datastream plucked from the ether...

  43. Mark .

    Vote With Your Wallet

    Remember people - despite the overinflated Apple hype, the Iphone is a minority product with a few per cent market share. Even at the high end, Nokia are still dominant with around 40% market share, and several other companies between them and Apple. If being able to run software of your choice rather than their choice is important to you (as it is to me), then vote with your wallet, and buy one of the many other alternative decent phones out there.

    Also, thankfully, Apple are nowhere in the netbook market.

    I do fear though that all the free advertisng and praise that much of the media give to Apple (god knows why) will lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy where in ten years' time Apple will be the new Microsoft of mobile computing, yet enjoying control far more than Microsoft ever dreamed of.

    But the real frustration is that at least Microsoft was criticised - by the media, by geeks. With Apple, instead it's nothing but praise. So thank you to this article for speaking out.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Band together??????

    Very good article, but it's too little too late. Most governments as time wears on simply remove more power from the people not give it back, but for sure they are good illusionists.

    Corporates (well at least apple) are just as bad and yes I can see that business model growing.

    Never trusted apple on just about anything before. Thought I would chance an iPhone - just proves to me what an evil company apple actuially is on oh so many levels. Luckily I will be out of that by Feb..... and would not touch another apple product with a bargepole.

    I liked this from another post:

    "I don't think it's wise to create a technology that would allow for a much smaller number of people to take control of a large populous."

    Religion has already been invented...... exactly for that purpose...... Closely followed by so called "democracy".

    So now it's technology and gadgetry. Call it progress I suppose!

    What a sad, sad world that we do not band together. If we did..... no corporate or govt would stand a chance.

    Take China (the new economic superpower, created by western stupidity & greed) for example, they should be and ought to be at our mercy. Let me quantify that..... if the rest of the world does not "like" what they are doing with cutting emissions (just one example, another would be their abject cruelty to animals of all descriptions including many on the endangered list, not least there because of really stupid natural chinese remedies involving various body parts of said species) we the "public" of the world should boycott all chinese products for.... say.... three or six months. That would be a good "lesson". It would certainly teach them there are consequences to their actions.

    The same with corporates. How would apple fair if nobody purchased their products for a couple of months? I think they would soon be opening up a bit!

    All we have to do is band together...... of I forgot.... we are human beings - essentially all self interested arse holes.........

    "I'm alright jack" will be the downfall & subjugation of us all.

  45. packrat

    corperate goverance

    (the legal structure of corperations)

    is evoling.. past biz reps on the governing bodies.

    here, in canada, they are regulating the bodies now. (they being the ones that are doing it to us... in this case, 'suits' or corperate executives)

    the CRTC is a prime example. A brand new form of overlordship, written up, legislated and enforced.

    rep by pop here? lordies and ladies in a NEW house of lords?

    past dividends, the RIGHT to overlord the government agencies?


    oh, and welcome to admin law. here abouts, it is NOT subject to little matters like proof.

    onus (it's reversed), or appeal.



  46. mickeyziggyk

    cheer up fellas

    Come on, it is New Year, be sensible, these kind of things are not worth worrying about. Have a beer and enjoy the new decade. If Apple and Google wanted to take over the world there are better ways of doing so rather than make services and hardware for people to enjoy.

  47. snafu


    Apple's model isn't Orwellian but Huxleyan, actually.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nice article Rik

    I enjoyed reading it and think it's spot-on. In 2009 I put a fair amount of data in Google's apps, and looking back I realised that I allowed myself to slide comfortably into letting Google manage more and more aspects of my life. I use the calendar and the chat. My mail has been trickling in there for months, and can now only be made sense of in the context of Gmail with its special way of presenting them. I've had colleagues pressure me into taking on yet another feature because they use it and it will just be much easier all round.

    So you're exactly right. Google makes it very easy to fall comfortably into their arms and let them manage everything. They give so much away, like a drug dealer offering the first hit for free. There's another angle to consider too, that of security. One password per person to rule all this data. In a collaberative environment that means the weakest password from the most lax person is the weak point for all the data. The implication for breaches are immense, and corporates will need to think hard how their own policies and compliance fits into this model.

    In 2010 I am systematically moving all data back into local apps, switching to local mailboxes and winding the Google account down. I expect resistance but doing it now will be much easier than doing it later when I'm too hooked on the drug. I urge everyone to at least consider how they use Google and Apple and the like, consider how you can back up your data to your own machines, consider all the ways that someone could get access to your data. Use the platform if it suits your needs but please do it on your terms and don't sleepwalk into a state of reliance.

    Good luck to all and happy 2010 to all reg authors and readers!

  49. Reinhard Schu

    'Cloud' computing not so bad

    The essence of this rather long rant of an article is that the age of personal computing is coming to an end, to be replaced with vendor-controlled devices and cloud comupting.

    Bring it on, I say. Two decades of personal computing has brought us nothing but botnets, malware and spam. The auther of the article laments the lack of "freedom" to install whatever software he wants on his device. However, Joe Public does not deserve that freedom, neither do they need it. It does more harm than good, as the never ending security issues with Windows show. All that Joe Public needs is a device that works, performs the desired functions and is secure, and especially is secure such that it does not turn into a malware and spam spewing zombie without its owners knowledge. The iPhone ticks all these boxes as far as I am concerned.

    There will always be a small minority of power users who will want to tinker and have the freedom to do with their boxes whatever they like. They will continue to be able to do so, with a standard PC and an open source OS.

    Joe Public, on the other hand, is much better off with closed, secure systems. The less control for Joe Public the better.

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Cloud utopia

      What on earth makes you believe botnets, and spam will disappear with cloud computing? These problems come from afar - lest we not forget that Google make big bucks out of personalised advertising, which is a fancy corporate phrase meaning "yet more spam".

      At least running the browser of my choice on the platform of my choice I can choose addons such as AdBlockPlus and NoScript. What do you propose we do when the locked-in computer to the locked-in cloud service only runs authorised software options, and there's no way in hell they're going to let you turn off their adverts...?

      Malware. You have a point. But a fairly good way to avoid malware is to be smart and only install things you feel you can trust and stuff you actually need. There's a boy down the way who installs all the rubbish (animated cursors, clocks, screensavers...) he can download. His parents pay good money to have that machine fixed time and time again, yet they don't seem to get why booking train tickets off that computer might not be a good idea!? That said, I don't think malware and such are new, neither do I expect them to vanish with the change to cloud computing because...

      ...a lot of the vulnerabilities in Windows based computers were problems with the OS itself. Certainly adding flawed software (i.e. anything Adobe) adds more potential points of entry, but the fact is that there are exploits crafted to hack into Windows.

      Don't say use Linux - refer to for a list of vulnerabilities in Ubuntu. What the penguin has going for it is quick remedy and update, but how many problems have yet to be discovered? If a cracker gets to it first... well... there's a vulnerability.

      Do you seriously expect a cloud-based system to be bug-free and secure? By removing all control from Joe Public, we're going to a sort of Apple model where they are told what to use and what to do and if that goes tits-up, tough. Don't forget a single-character SMS was demonstrated as being able to grant a remote person pretty much full control of an iPhone. Everything has vulnerabilities. Shifting your data from your personal computer to the cloud won't make it any safer. It'll just mean you probably won't see half the problems. The server could be hacked a hundred times and you'd notice? Only if stuff goes missing...

      Sorry... the more I think about this, the more I feel it is a Really Bad Idea.


      The nonsense of blaming the victim...

      > Bring it on, I say. Two decades of personal computing has brought us

      > nothing but botnets, malware and spam.

      ...courtesy of a monopoly that never had to care about product quality.

      Even Apple's own general purpose products soundly refute the idea that

      a computing experience that can be controlled by the consumer necessarily

      will lead to rampant security problems.

      You're blaming the victim here when the real perpetrator was a company

      could get away with selling MS-DOS when Apple was already selling

      Macs because they (MS) were in a dominant market position.

  50. Anonymous Coward

    "You've got politics in my Technology!" - "No, you've got technology in my politics!"

    I sense that there's a sort of funny mud being mixed, in some offices, wherein political concerns, technological concerns, and simply business concerns are given to the puree cycle, then *robustly* mixed together, at such a resolution that the three sets of concerns become impossible to separate on sight.

    I'll be one to forget the 1984 Elegies. I say, rather, that it's time of the rise of the individual analyst -- so I stake the banner, here, with tongue in cheek.

    Rational independence is of culturally indispensable value. (and other novel platitudes)

    Viva Da-da, 2010

    (Anon. because I expect that this comment will strike some people as "odd")

    Tristan Tzara is my hero.

  51. Anonymous Coward

    Thank you, Mr. Myslewski...

    ...for making a number of valid and significant concerns read like they belong in the Unabomber's manifesto.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Digital Economy Bill

    What _really_ bugs me in the realm of privacy and consumer rights is what governments are doing as of late in cahoots with the "entertainment" industries: the Digital Economy Bill, with Big Brother spying on our internet connections to protect the rich at the expense of the poor. THAT is out of control, and it definitely deserves more mention in this article.

    What Google and Apple are doing is nowhere near as harmful.

  53. chew6acca

    Of course

    Chrome OS will have local storage for media playering.

    That is all.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    ... erm ... wake up call ... history lesson ...

    It seems the author has completely lost sight of past historical reference points.

    The so called freedoms that exist in our modern society exist for the minority of the planets population. They have also only existed for a century or less. Rewind 100 years and take a look at your average citizen of the Western World - uneducated, poor, controlled.

    The lucky citizens of developed nations have enjoyed relative prosperity unheard of historically, however, they are and always have been controlled. Usually it's control simply by virtue of the fact that they have wealth and are happy.

    Take the wealth away from a citizen of a developed nation and you'll suddenly see just how widespread control is - without a bank account, credit, transport, a job - your a marked person, or worse still, cease to exist - effectively becoming an unperson.

    These are what controls us. It's not the technology, it's not the surveillance, or the data gathering. It's cold hard cash.

    You can dress this up in all the techno-babble you want, make widespread predictions of a big-brother style state, forgetting that it's happened already, without the technology we have today.

    It happens because of austerity, it happens with nation building. Forget the Google's and Apple's of the world, be far more afraid of the bursting of the bubble. Be more afraid of a time when you don't have a computer, because you don't have a job, because there aren't any jobs.

    Be more afraid of the impending collapse of power supplies, further wars over natural resources, the specter of climate change, the collapse of western banking systems, the rise of China.

    What Apple or Google do pales into insignificance when faced with the very real prospect of widespread poverty. The kind of poverty that existed in the Western world 100 years ago...

  55. pctechxp
    Jobs Horns

    Long term strategy?

    Maybe this was the Apple plan all along.

    1. Launch an ad for the Macintosh in which you try to convince the world that Apple is a force for good and is disruptive to the status quo (Apple 1984 commercial, a frame of which the author has used as an icon

    2. Play the hard done by underdog for 23 years, during this time launch an MP3 player which turned out to be a success, launch accompanying music store.

    3. Milk the MP3 player's success by launching a handheld computing platform that doubles as a phone and which you exert complete control over, make the marketing and hardware so good that the none tech savvy completely miss this fact and go mad for it.

    4.IIntroduce free applications that provide a useful function but also harvest data that you can sell to government or business (the highest bidder)?

    Steve Jobs has been very clever and all this makes Microsoft look very tame in comparison.

    Google and Apple are the companies to fear the most in the coming years, I'm not of the tinfoil hat brigade but I think the author makes a lot of good points.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Re: Long term strategy?

    Well, the thing re: 3 is that it's actually quite nice for most people to not need to worry about where the apps or the music comes from and just be able to press a button to "make it happen". Most people like the saving in time this gives them to do more interesting things with the lives.

    If anybody's into Java, the equivalent is IntelliJ vs. Eclipse. In Eclipse you have to specify n different plugin servers for to get what plugins you want, in IntelliJ you just click on whichever plugin you want from a central list and that's the end of it. In my experience most developers for prefer the "click on something from the central list and make it happen" as it saves time to get one with more important stuff (like developing the software).

    On a more pedantic note, the "MP3 player" is actually primarily and MP4 player AFAIK which really just does MP3 as a sideline (and having owned crappy generic MP3 players in the past, I could tell you why it became a cultural institution as well, but that's different post...).

  57. Dodgy Dave

    What is it with you and iPhones?

    I've had a Sony Ericsson phone, a Nokia phone, a Motorola phone, a you-name-it-phone, and guess what? *Not one* has granted me unfettered control over which software can be installed on them. Wait a minute - none of them allowed *any* software to be installed, at all. Neither do my camera, my car's gearbox, my microwave oven, or my wristwatch.

    Please, El Reg, GET OVER IT. As if Apple invented this sort of aftermarket control thing, anyway - games consoles have been doing precisely this for decades.



    1. Anonymous Coward


      Nokia has offered an SDK for over 10 years for the symbian OS, without any 'sell your soul' NDA which apple had at first. My first nokia symbian phone also allowed me to install any apps that I had compiled or I had downloaded from *any* site.

  58. klarien masters

    spot on and it's already started

    time to start up my tor network again !!!!

  59. william henderson 1


    "they" only get that online info if you give them the opportunity.

    signing up for t' cloud etc. is not (yet) mandatory.

    the plebs make the choice(s).

    be it on their heads.

  60. Dodgy Dave


    No. my Nokia phone definitely didn't allow apps to be downloaded - it didn't run Symbian either.

    My point is that "the notion that if you own a computing device, it's under your control and it's yours to do with what you will" has been a fallacy since practically the dawn of time - I could drone on with more examples. It certainly wasn't Apple that first disrupted this Stallmanesque utopia.

    Personally, I don't think the 'vetted apps' idea will scale, and they'll be forced to give up sooner or later. Whether this brings with it a catalogue of security and stability disasters remains to be seen.



  61. jsg


    These are not my words about this article, but they pretty much sum up what I wanted to say.

    "I think it's overly alarmist.

    People thought the same thing about MS Windows.

    They argue that novice users won't jailbreak the phone.

    The same thing could have been said about Windows 98... but how many

    people were running illegal copies of windows 98??? Millions.

    If Apple gets too cocky, more people will jailbreak or switch. If they

    don't get too cocky, then people will just be more or less happy.

    Same goes with the cloud. If they abuse your information, people will

    demand audits, custodians, 3rd party checks, systems to watch the

    maintainers, more open systems etc etc. If they don't abuse too much,

    people will be happy for not having to manage their own servers.

    Everything finds an equilibrium."

  62. Jamie Kitson

    Nothing Last Forever

    Not IBM, not Microsoft, not Google, not Apple.

    And I think you're wrong to assume that Mr and Mrs Average wouldn't want personalised results even if they knew and cared about it, after all, who buys a neutral newspaper? Do they even exist?

  63. Julian 1

    I only speed read the article but

    I saw no mention of Microsoft who, in my and many peoples opinion, has sought to own large areas of our life without our consent and without any apparent accountability.

    Not being an Apple product user, I'm not directly affected. Google I may abandon.

    However, Apple, Google, and Microsoft (and a few others) are setting the Agenda against which we have no (democratic) control. Being of the older 'grumpy' generation, I cannot imagine a future of genuine freedom, choice and self- discipline etc., as I experienced it, any more, just one of 'control' as portrayed in various well known science fiction and espoused by our government(s).

  64. jai

    "can choose to avoid"

    the trouble is, but taking ourselves out of the loop and keeping control of our "digital dots", the few times we do show up on the radar screen is going to loop suspicious and we'll end up being the first against the wall

  65. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    The Military are not SMART enough for CyberSpace Control , however .......*

    The Beauty and Clear Advantage of Cloud is, that there is no Hardware or Software to Fail or be Taken into Custody or Closed Down in Order to Lose and/or Abuse your MetaData, and that would make the Cloud QuITe Perfect for the Semantic Web dDeveloper Creating Neural Networks InterNetworking MkUltraSensitive Information and Spooky Prime Intelligence which extraordinarily renders Corrupted and/or Subverted Systems, Easily Broken into and Taken Over or Taken Down with the Injection of whatever Binary Infection would be Required and Ideal.

    It is a Professional White Hat Hacker/Crack Penetration Code BetaTester's Dream Machine.

    * CyberSpace Controllers are Smart enough to ensure the Military are involved in their Controls. ..... for the Big Ignorant Sticks they can Wield against Opponents. And the Title is justified because no one joins the Military to make a Fortune which they can spend and share lavishly, but Cyber Command delivers Power over All Earthly Systems and that renders Wealth and IT Control beyond Reasonable Imagination, which is most certainly why All are so XXXXStreamly Interested in the Field. :-) .... but IT does not Suffer the Fool at All and thus would it be a very Exclusive Space Place.

  66. Marc 25
    Thumb Up

    @amanfromMars 1

    Telegram from amanfrommars

    Start. Loving_Your_posts_stop



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