On the plus side, the wearing of surgical masks by people with colds will become the new norm so that's one in the eye for facial recognition.
The world seems set to adopt smartphone-driven contact tracing to help detect COVID-19 carriers but regulators need to plot an exit strategy from this new form of deeply personal and intensive surveillance. The need for that exit strategy is plain because whenever businesses or governments get us all to sign up for data …
Firstly, the article suggests that Google and Apple should be the ones who control when this gets switched on or off. I disagree. Like it or not, decisions over this should be made by national governments (in my case, a democratically-elected national government), not private companies. The article appears to my eyes to suggest that corporations should take decisions over governments, and that has the potential to lead to a very dark future.
Secondly, the article notes that "cynical misuse of the data by a social network" is a risk, but fails to include cynical misuse of the data by the world's largest ad broker, who are also responsible for the software running on 80% of the world's smartphones. And have been known to still collect data even when the "pretty please, I don't want to" switches have been set in the maze of twisty little config settings.
Google are not some collective whose only concern is for the public good. They are a corporation whose only concern is maximising revenue. Any public statements of "Don't be evil" stopped long ago.
Not only does it need government input, it needs governments to specifically ban commercial use across the board.
While governments are at it they should also be limiting themselves and their agencies from being able to abuse this technology.
Simon can add to his list Social Services and Local government abuse, as happened before with the RIPA.
That has led us to today. Google, Apple, IBM and others lobby our governments, get lawmakers in their pockets and strive to ensure that no major obstacle gets in the way of their profits.
We'll see how the EU declares managing this, and what actually results, but I will be sincerely astonished if Trump imposes anything on "Tim Apple".
fails to include cynical misuse of the data by the world's largest ad broker
likewise, a cynical misuse of the data by the world's goverments. Trouble is, that all the parties, i.e. contract providers, service providers (aka googles of the world) and the governments are out to get your data, all under the same pretences of helping YOU. Trouble (also) is that you can do fuckall about them. You have a choice, of course, you either either bend over for this one, or for that one, or for all three, etc.
I can't help but feel that Facebook must be delighted with the way that everyone seems to be setting up neighbourhood WhatsApp groups to help support vulnerable people etc in the current situation. Purely from the meta-data from these groups they'll be able to identify communities of households across the country and work out which people are the "organisers" (people who send lots of messages taht others read and respond to), which ones are the "volunteers who repond when prompted" (people recieving messages from "organisers" and then further exchange in smaller groups) and people who "do what they are told" (people receiving messages from organisers and responding to them but not any further).
As little as I trust Google and Apple I trust the US and, from what I read, the UK governments even less This doesn't add much to their saleable data but it does wonders for a surveillance state.
All it needs is a cutoff of notifications to anyone but a government agency and the ability of that agency to opt you in without telling you. Pick your suspect and see who he comes in contact with.
Whilst Covid-19 is undoubtedly scary, the prospect of users willingly signing up to contact tracing in order to get their life back on track and the abuse consequences of it are even scarier.
It also needs to factor in.....
Not everybody has a mobile phone.
Not everybody with a mobile phone runs google or iphone OS.
Not everybody with a phone has it with them 24/7 - I frequently leave my phone at home when going out, just to get away from it. This particularly the case when going into some public events, like concerts, or maybe restaurants.
Whilst these ideas could do some good, there is a lot of potential for a lot of harm that we will never recover from.
Yes, but similar to Micky Flanagan's "out out", there is "off off". From what I understand from various articles, even when you have your mobe turned off, it is still partially on and reporting stuff back to mothership.
The only way to have it "off off" is to remove the battery...and give it an hour or two for every capacitor etc. to discharge...or drop it in a bucket of acid (as many phones are now waterproof).
>Not everybody has a mobile phone.
You mean terrorists/pedophiles/people_who_leave_the_teabag_in ?
>Not everybody with a mobile phone runs google or iphone OS.
>Not everybody with a phone has it with them 24/7
A new offense of "going un-equipped during the hours of daylight"
most people have a phone and herd immunity only requires about 80% coverage
if you look at mobile usage currently 6.8 billion own a mobile or 95%+ of the world populations
and 99%+ of these run either android or iOS
the next two OS are KaiOS at 0.32% and Tizen at 0.16%, and apparently 0.1% still use windows mobile
so by covering Android and iOS you cover approximatley 94% of the world's population, which is more than enough to protect the other 6% (herds and all)
On the contrary, we will likely be urged to adopt it permanently. For our own safety, of course.
Don't assume that it will remain optional. This issue sits at the nexus of surveillance capitalism and governments protecting themselves from their citizens. It is in the self interest of all of the stakeholders* to populate their "social graphs" with ever more intrusive and inescapable surveillance.
* Except us, but no one in a position to decide cares what we think; we're just the batteries that power the matrix.
sadly, phone-walking business is already behind the latest ideas. In another European country, you're supposed to snap a selfie, when the app "asks you" to do so. You have about 20 min to comply. And no, they don't compare that mugshot with their own database (although, they might, who knows, they didn't say they're not doing it). And what do they do when you don't want to send them your stupid mug, zap you? Nah, they send the police to check on you. Sure, multiply by 2 million (or just by 2, eh?) and all two police partrols are already engaged. But then, how about an idea of cheap and cheerful herd of robo-spiders tasked with checking on law-abiding citizens. Minority report is still in the future, but drones have had their first real, world-wide test. We're only at the very, very, very beginning of a race to replace certain services, costly to the State, with non-human equivalents. Remember citizens, it's all for your own good!
I will say to both Apple's and Google's credit, they have baked a decent kill switch into their designs. Users hold a unique and private key that is used to generate daily identification tokens. This means two things:
- Without access to the individual's unique key you cannot do pattern-of-life analysis across multiple days. This makes de-anonymisation _very_ difficult. I won't say impossible, but without the ability to spot common patterns across days, in turn allowing you to derive the day, venue, participants etc, it is at least very difficult.
- Without access to everyone's keys (or at least a significant percentage of them), you can't tell which day is which - this means you can't hijack the contact tracing data for "other" research. Answering possibly benign but possibly not benign questions like "which day are people most social on?" becomes impossible.
Assuming that private key is suitably protected and only used during contact tracing activity, the design is sound. Given both Apple and Google have effective root access to our devices and have unlimited capacity to store and analyse information about us, the design could have been a lot, lot more invasive.
My worry here in the UK is that the government's approach is being informed by bullshit merchant powerpoint jockeys like "Faculty AI" and the absolute scumlords at Palantir. They'll be falling over themselves to smash the genie's bottle of privacy into as many pieces as they can so they can hoover up all the post-covid contracts, and I don't think there's any professional or technical body here with enough clout to fight them as they do it.
>Changing id daily doesn't help, the government knows where the phone was at the end of the day (carrier and local government data) and so has deanonymised not only you, but your whole social graph.
Location data doesn't help. Contact tracing information has no location information, instead it encodes the fact that two devices came into proximity with one another, and that is only verifiable if you bring together the daily key of the broadcasting device with the device that received the broadcast; by design this does not happen on the servers that co-ordinate the process, it happens on your device. You need to read the spec a bit more closely.
Quote: "...deanonymised not only you, but your whole social graph..."
There's a subtle assumption in there....namely that the STASI can identify "you". But they can only do that if the mobile you carry has been registered in some way to an actual person. Suppose I'm carrying a ten year old 2G phone with a "pay-as-you-go" SIM (from a convenience store) and using minutes (from a convenience store)...all paid for in cash. No contract, no credit card......and the STASI have no idea who is carrying the phone. Of course, "social graph" is another matter......but all my pals are using the same strategy.....all the STASI can collect is a completely anonymous "social graph".
Maybe the next legislation will attempt to ban this simple strategy? If so, we absolutely know that the STASI is with us, big time!
This needs lots of upvotes.
So many people either haven't read the Google/Apple scheme, or haven't understood it.
This scheme doesn't need a kill switch, because it does not support tracking, only a yes/no have I met an infected person.
But don't believe me, believe Bruce Schneier. "It is privacy preserving... and well thought out."
As anonymous coward writes, the risk isn't that the Apple/Google scheme is abused, it is that it is ignored by those wishing to use Covid 19 as an excuse for wider surveillance.
Yep, I read the article above and was left unsure if the author had even read the Apple Google whitepaper. If the author had mentioned, for example, the tokens that the system is based on, then I would know that they had read it and thus their opinion was informed - regardless of whether they ultimately came down in favour or against it.
As it is, the author writing about the white paper but then not mentioning any specific details leaves me in doubt.
Lots of graphs here. Compare the graph of Coronavirus cases in South Korea compared to damned near everywhere else. It looks very different. Why? Well, being a prosperous country with good health care helped, as did a rapid roll out of testing and contact tracing. This contact tracing did save lives. It also, in a small number of cases, reveal some people to be cheating on their partners due to how it was implemented.
I'll leave it to you to weigh up the right to live against the right to have a mistress on the sly.
If anyone in the UK wants to take up arms in the fight against surveillance, then they would do well to look at the legislation that has been passed in response to this pandemic.
1. Google undo the utter bullshit that is having to enable location service for bluetooth to work, and
2. All the fuckers producing apps that hoover up all the contacts from people phones with some EULA fine print that says "I confirm that all my contacts have agreed to me sharing their data" which we all know is an absolute crock of shit, are hit with maximum GDPR fines
These calls to end it asap afterwards will be torched by the desire to make it compulsory forever. The excuses will be perfectly plausible and seem almost objection proof to most people, such as "needing further research to see if we could have learned more useful information that would have saved lives" and "being instantly prepared for the next time this happens". The "oh look, we now know so much about everyone that we can now terrify them into obedience in our new authoritarian state" bit will sadly only be discovered later. That bit only needs to happen once, however much the "don't be silly, we would never do such a thing" may be true for any incumbent government.
"First, I believe Google and Apple could usefully kick things off by making conditions under which they'll deprecate their schemes as part of their plans. That deprecation scheme should explain how, once coronavirus is behind us, the two firms will expunge contact-tracing from devices they power and ensure similar functions never make it into their app stores."
It's not just the apps that need to be expunged, so does the data.
In fact, there's a further aspect to consider about data. Once a patient is clear of the virus that needs to be taken into account as there's no point in warning people about contact with someone who's no longer a risk.
pass the joint.
Seriously, if you think for one second that the "freedom-loving" nations are going to be able to claw any of this back without anything short of a all-hands-on-deck (or three whips) effort by a significant chunk of the populace, you're on something.
And, as we've seen for the last decade, the populace does not care.
Beer, for crying in.
The Strayan' government is now openly talking about trying to get us to download the same type of app in a fortnight or so. Apparently at least 40% of us will have to do it for it to be effective. Yeah, good luck with that. IF there is ever a hint of this even remotely becoming mandatory, I'll unplug the smartphone and buy a $40 burner dumb phone. Good luck getting your spyware app on that.
What do you think will happen with a burner phone? You still have to connect to some network in order to talk. All they have to do is filter out the "known" phones (ID'ed) - showing just the burner phones... you make it easier to track and marked yourself as an object of interest.
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves." --William Pitt, The Younger (1759-1806), British statesman.
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." --Benjamin Franklin
I installed a piece of [governmentally created] tracking software on my phone, which tracks my location vis-a-vis potential infection vectors... as I am only going from home to supermarket and back (we are under lock down). When this is over, I intend to flash my phone with a new operating system (/e/) - don't even trust the removal of the program to suffice... one can never be too paranoid.
.....how often do we have to suffer this STASI government crap? Once again, NO MENTION AT ALL of plans to dismantle the tracking when the panic is over!
Quote: "What should we do?" Answers in no particular order:
1. Buy a "pay-as-you-go" SIM and some minutes for your smartphone from a convenience store ....cash of course!
2. After item #1, be sparing in the use of the phone.....maybe switch it off most of the time.
Actually, a better question is "What should we NOT do?" Answers, in no particular order:
3. Never use a registered mobile contract paid for with a credit card. (See also items #1 and #4)
4. Don't use a smartphone....find a ten year old 2G "feature phone" and buy a "pay-as-you-go" SIM and some minutes from a convenience store....cash of course!
5. Don't use a mobile at all.
The problem illustrated here is that it is very difficult to ensure that you don't have a contact tracker on your phone. Even if you delete an app that had a use during the Covid-19 pandemic the fear is that somehow it will remain, or be built into some other app or OS function. My solution is to swamp it with garbage.
What we need is an app that most of the time when your location tracking is not critical, turns off or isolates the phone's GPS location tracking and instead introduces false data. This could be random or deliberately misleading. For example, once the spooks realise that there probably aren't several thousand people visiting 10 Downing St, Buck House, or the NEC in Birmingham they may just give up. If each phone cycled through several dozen random locations in a short time the whole thing may well collapse.
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