back to article Data collected to promote public health must never be surrendered to police

Five years ago I visited Shanghai, to see what the future might look like. I came back wondering how the rest of us had missed QR codes. In Shanghai every billboard, poster, and newspaper advertisement bore QR codes, all linking off to their respective web sites. It felt simultaneously old-fashioned (QR codes had been around …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Singapore's decision was disastrous

    At the time, I remember very well the number of comments wondering whether or not these COVID tracking apps would be perverted like that, and then Singapore went and did exactly that.

    Suprisingly, nobody else did, until now, that is, with Australia opening the way again.

    There is clearly a problem in our so-called Western society. On the one hand, everyone is all about Freedom (and, increasingly, Privacy), on the other hand we are sliding slowly but surely into police states at a level Orwell would be amazed of.

    Democracy is hard enough to keep going as it is. Let's keep the jackboots at bay.

    1. rg287 Silver badge

      Re: Singapore's decision was disastrous

      Suprisingly, nobody else did, until now, that is, with Australia opening the way again.

      To be fair, most other places are using apps based on the Apple/Google Exposure Notification API, which can't be abused in this manner. The UK uses QR codes but those are helping to connect anonymous identifiers on the Exposure platform.

      There was of course the controversy over UK Police accessing Serco's separate Test & Trace data, notionally to enforce self-isolation rather than in pursuit of broader Policing aims but still chilling and liable to make the data less useful for public health usage, which is entirely unacceptable.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Singapore's decision was disastrous

        "To be fair, ... Apple/Google Exposure Notification API, which can't be abused in this manner."

        And you believe that?

        Realistically the data gathered by these apps doesn't have to be put into any legal domain to be used 100% efficiently to strategically build a case, just like the concept of an "informant". In fact, it might be more beneficial to government types if the information is thought to be unobtainable, similar again to an informant.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Singapore's decision was disastrous

      Suprisingly, nobody else did, until now, that is, with Australia opening the way again.

      Early on, police in Germany collected the lists of visitors to search for witnesses to various petty crimes in the vicinity. I'll never enter my real data again.

      Maybe I don't have to. I got my vaccination shots. That means I'm good, right?

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: Singapore's decision was disastrous

        "Maybe I don't have to. I got my vaccination shots. That means I'm good, right?

        "

        No - it reduces your chances of spreading covid further, but it doesn't completely eliminate them.

        On the other hand false data, so long as one bit of it actually allows contact back to you, is fine. The only thing that the app needs is a contact method, which frankly could/should be the app itself.

      2. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        Re: Singapore's decision was disastrous

        "police in Germany collected the lists of visitors to search for witnesses to various petty crimes in the vicinity"

        While it's a bit annoying, why does it matter? How is that some invasion of civil liberties? If they call you, either help or tell them to sod off.

        I'm struggling to see what police could get from the app data that they couldn't get another way. This is a bit easier, and they're thick and lazy, so this is what they try.

        I also can't see that something so circumstantial would be evidence of anything in court.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Singapore's decision was disastrous

          I just take a photo of the QR code and pretend I've put it in to the app. Easy.

        2. RancidRodent

          Re: Singapore's decision was disastrous

          What does it matter? Because it is THE LAW that data collected is used for its intended purpose(s). Of course these checks and balances are always added to get the idea across the line - once across the line those lines are blurred and the original protections abused or ignored. When we (UK) gave up the death-penalty we were assured life would mean life - now a life is worth as little as three years. When we were disarmed it was to prevent gun crime - which has never been worse than it is now - 20+ years after it was made illegal for someone to own a gun. So yes, the little inconvenient small-print DOES matter - even if the abuse is seemingly used for good.

          1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

            Re: Singapore's decision was disastrous

            "Because it is THE LAW that data collected is used for its intended purpose(s)"

            Fair point. The rule of law is important. But what if there were an exemption in law?

            1. doublelayer Silver badge

              Re: Singapore's decision was disastrous

              There will be exemptions in law. Then people will distrust governments and won't comply. Then you'll lose anything you got for public health and anything you were going to get for policing. The rule of law is important, but so is the trust in law. Lose one and you'll soon lose the other.

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: Singapore's decision was disastrous

                "Then people will distrust governments"

                People don't trust them now. With reason.

                Sheeple, on the other-hand ...

              2. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

                Re: Singapore's decision was disastrous

                What is to distrust in the example presented, though? Is it so terrible if the police contact you and ask you if you saw something? You can say no, even if you did.

          2. DiViDeD Silver badge

            Re: Singapore's decision was disastrous

            When we were disarmed it was to prevent gun crime

            I think you'll find that widespread gun ownership in the UK hasn't been a thing since the early 19th century, so I'd have to take issue with that 'we were disarmed' quip, since the vast majority of Brits weren't armed in the first place or, indeed, feeling any particular desire to be armed.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Singapore's decision was disastrous

              As everyone know, only criminals need guns.

              When I was a young mobster in the '50 it was the main issue in UK: if you went there with a gun, it was a clear sign that you were a criminal since even the Bobbies didn't get one.

              Now the situation has changed a little, but seeing someone with a gun is still a sure sign that he is a criminal...

              1. rg287 Silver badge

                Re: Singapore's decision was disastrous

                Now the situation has changed a little, but seeing someone with a gun is still a sure sign that he is a criminal...

                You might want to define some context there. I've ridden across the UK carrying firearms on the train and even the London Underground (yes, that's legal). Cased of course. Sometimes people recognise it. The ticket inspectors on the train to Brookwood know where the people with the long cases are going.

                If of course you mean someone who is not a Police officer wandering around the streets with an uncased firearm then yes, that's cause for concern.

            2. rg287 Silver badge

              Re: Singapore's decision was disastrous

              Gun ownership has been a widespread thing in the UK through much of the 20th century.

              It is foolish to conflate this with "being armed". There are many reasons for owning firearms which do not involve some pant-wetting exercise in "home defence". To say nothing of the (stateside) preppers who have enough munitions to arm a small country but don't know how to find fresh water or cultivate a food crop.

              Even today more than 1% of Brits have a firearm and/or shotgun certificate. That ignores the ~10million airguns floating around unlicensed.

              As a point of reference, just 0.7% of the UK population identify as Sikh. So there are more gun owners than Sikhs and we write special exemptions for them into primary legislation - for instance we ban the carrying of blades but exempting Kirpans and other religious articles.

              Anything which affects whole-percentage-points of the population is "widespread", even if it's not well known.

              1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

                Re: Singapore's decision was disastrous

                "To say nothing of the (stateside) preppers who have enough munitions to arm a small country but don't know how to find fresh water or cultivate a food crop."

                It's a rational response to having other people prepping for that stuff, if you're happy to be a murderous bandit when the time comes.

                1. jake Silver badge

                  Re: Singapore's decision was disastrous

                  Whenever I hear the word "prepper" I have visions of idiots prancing around in the woods kitted out by Brooks Brothers, with polo shirts, boat shoes and V-neck sweaters worn as capes (Look! It's SUPER PREPPER!).

              2. DiViDeD Silver badge

                Re: Singapore's decision was disastrous

                more than 1% of Brits have a firearm and/or shotgun certificate

                I don't think 1% actually counts as "widespread" - unless they're evenly spread across the union at 30 mile intervals, of course.

              3. RancidRodent

                Re: Singapore's decision was disastrous

                Yeah - rich landowners are still armed - not us plebs.

                1. DiViDeD Silver badge

                  Re: rich landowners are still armed - not us plebs

                  A little unfair that - I'd say most of the guns are still owned by humble farm workers and 'salt of the earth' working class lads from Liverpool council estates.

                  1. jake Silver badge

                    Re: rich landowners are still armed - not us plebs

                    Last time I was in England for several months, a good friend, upstanding British citizen, tax payer, PhD research chemist for a big international company, offered me the use of a 9mm Browning automatic for the duration of my stay. I declined ... and was vaguely uneasy staying at his house for that time, despite the fact that here in my office in the USA I have easy access to several dozen rifles, shotguns & handguns. The "climate" around guns is different in England; as a Yank you have to experience it to understand it fully. Mostly, it's fear of the unknown (as you can see from comments here on ElReg and other places).

                    But the fact is that the guns are there. Even where they are illegal. In fact, by making guns illegal you are making a new class of criminal ... people who own guns, but don't actually do anything illegal with them. Thus, non-outlaws become outlaws at the stroke of a lawmaker's pen. And you are STILL not addressing the REAL problem ... actual, as opposed to newly invented, criminals.

          3. rg287 Silver badge

            Re: Singapore's decision was disastrous

            When we were disarmed it was to prevent gun crime - which has never been worse than it is now - 20+ years after it was made illegal for someone to own a gun.

            Please don't act the fool.

            1. It's not illegal to own a gun. We weren't disarmed. Certain categories of handgun were banned in 1997. It was a stupid and kneejerk reaction, which flew in the face of the Cullen Inquiry which laid blame squarely at the feet of Central Scotland Police. Apparently Tony Blair found experts just as tiresome as Michael Gove.

            2. Gun crime is not worse than it's ever been. It has however risen since 2010, demonstrating how in a European country with a sensible licensing regime it doesn't actually matter what you let people own (with a licence) but how well you enforce the law. Cut the Police through austerity and organised crime flourishes. Meanwhile the Czech Republic lets people own everything upto and including AK47s (with the right paperwork) and has half the number of homicides (0.6/100k people compared to the UK's 1.2/100k).

            A lot of people like to compare the UK to the US, but of course you can always draw a straight line between two points. The skilled carpenter knows to measure thrice. Chart out gun ownership vs. intentional homicide for Europe, and then throw in the US at the end and it's obvious that gun ownership simply does not correlate with violent crime in any meaningful fashion.

            1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

              Re: Singapore's decision was disastrous

              "gun ownership simply does not correlate with violent crime"

              No, it sounds pedantic, but gun ownership in fact doesn't simply-correlate, rather than simply-doesn't-correlate. It correlates - but not a simple correlation - when allowing for other factors.

              Problem is, gun ownership numbers are fairly objective, the other factors somewhat less so. Some are quite enumerable, like local wealth disparities. Others are almost impossible to enumerate, like the way the US is the only country on the planet where many people consider guns to be toys.

              I think anyone trying to draw statistical correlations using only objective statistics here is either deliberately or inadvertently talking complete bollocks. It's blatantly obvious that the US has a problem, and impossible to prove using objective statistics.

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Singapore's decision was disastrous

            Your comment about gun crime is wrong. While gun crime may be higher now than it was 10 yeas ago, it is considerably down from the peak before laws were tightened up, at half the rate of the early 2000s. If you look at London 2019/20 there were 1950 gun crimes recorded, compared to 3000 in 2010.

            In 1995 we were recording 64 incidents per 1000 adults for all violent crimes, we are now below 20 per 1000.

            Equally murderers are given life sentences - they may be let out on parole after a period - but minimum terms have to be served. If someone was jailed for 3 years they weren't convicted of murder., and we stopped hanging people for manslaughter long before we abolished death sentences.

        3. rg287 Silver badge

          Re: Singapore's decision was disastrous

          While it's a bit annoying, why does it matter? How is that some invasion of civil liberties? If they call you, either help or tell them to sod off.

          Because aside from being unlawful, Police misappropriating health data will push people to avoid using the health apps - which then torpedoes the usefulness of that dataset.

          In a pandemic, the operational requirements of the health services outweigh Police abusing circumstantial evidence in pursuit of petty crime. Their misappropriation of such data is not merely annoying and illegal, but actively undermining public health and safety.

    3. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

      Re: Singapore's decision was disastrous

      Er, Singapore has been an authoritarian hell-hole for decades. I really wish people would just stop citing Singapore, for any purpose. It's a bizarre anomaly in socioeconomic structure, and their self-reported facts and figures are as truthful as Soviet tractor production statistics.

    4. Adelio Silver badge

      Re: Singapore's decision was disastrous

      Never installed the App, but then over the last 16 months I have hardly been out and almost never carry my phone (I keep forgetting)

    5. Plest Bronze badge

      Re: Singapore's decision was disastrous

      "Freedom" depends on your viewpoint.

      The dictator sees their people as free and able to choose. The Gov collecting people's info sees data transparency as a gateway to freedom and choice. The person surrendering their info to the various places that collect it as enabling freedom and choice.

      "freedom" is an illusion in the eye of the beholder.

  2. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Relative exposure

    "... the treasure trove of individual tracking data (matched only by all the data hoovered up by every Android device everywhere in the world) ..."

    I would probably amend that to "grossly exceeded by".

    Nevertheless the scale of the hoovering is not what mainly worries folks - it's the potential for repurposing by governments (and that's specifically what data protection legislation was invented to control). However, since the behemoth hoovers are now so pally with governments anyway, Covid-related data collection is quite probably just a drop in the ocean.

    1. Snake Silver badge

      Re: pally hoovering

      And therein lies the ultimate joke. Most [gullible saps] are OK with hoovering by private business, indeed they volunteer their information by the oil freighter-sized load with their Facebook, Instagram and Google accounts. Not to mention even time they whip out their credit card for a £4 latte because carrying cash is too difficult for their delicate, entitled hands.

      But then they are the first in line to complain if/when government does something with all that data that they volunteered.

      It starts at home. You want your personal life to stay private? Then stop giving it out to *anyone*, especially when you think that you will get some type of benefit for it. The only reason they give you any benefit is as a honeypot - and you're the honey, sucker. You are the product, but you are too ignorant to believe this is true, that somehow all this giving of your information can't hurt you in any way.

      "I have nothing to hide." Then I'll take your bank account numbers, thank you very much.

  3. David M

    Privacy assurance cannot be trusted

    "Every government, everywhere, that offers a check-in app must agree — in law — that our freely provided data can only be used for public health."

    No such assurance can ever be trusted, as the government can always change the law later on.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: Privacy assurance cannot be trusted

      No such assurance can ever be trusted, as the government can always change the law later on.

      It's just digital bells. No vaccination? No pubs, clubs, concerts or travel for you. But now this has become a pandemic, what we're seeing is simple gain-of-function research. The population has been conditioned into giving their location information. Especially now exciting new variants have become available. See for example-

      https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-57610998

      The 43% figure relates to deaths only - so it misses all the vaccinated people who were exposed to Covid but did not catch it, or caught the virus but did not become very ill.

      Test them, count them as cases anyway. Case=Case+1, publish headline with daily case count.

      And by now, almost everyone at risk of dying from Covid has been vaccinated (more than 90%).

      Or they might have died in the 'first wave'. Or second. Regardless, the new normal fixated on cases being positive test results, not severity of illness.

      And in a world where every single person had been vaccinated, 100% of Covid deaths would be of vaccinated people.

      Ermm.. quite. But then you'd need to just adjust your messaging to try and explain why people who've been vaccinated are stil dying of Covid. Or mebbe just tighten up the coding of deaths so vaccinated people don't appear to be dying of the thing they've been vaccinated against. The CDC has done this, along with tightening up on PCR cycle counts and the definition of 'case'.

      And there is another reason you cannot currently just compare the number of Covid deaths among vaccinated and unvaccinated people and come to any conclusions about how effective the jabs are.

      Because most fully vaccinated people are over the age of 50 - and therefore more likely to die - while most unvaccinated people are young and healthy.

      Well, quite. Or as the recently departed Donald Rumsfeld once said, it's about known unknowns. Like it's unknown how many people developed Covid antibodies, triggering overly sensitive Covid counters without actually getting more than mild symptoms. The herd immunity thing where once everyone's been exposed, tests become less meaningful. But a known known is that young & healthy people are much less likely to get seriously ill from Covid. But let's vaccinate them anyway because we've got millions of doses, and they've got expiry dates.

      Of course then it's back to vaccinated people dying, and running the risk of being miscounted. Death by tombstoning on a hot day is likely in <50's than >50's, but might still get counted as a 'case'. Can't be having that.

      But such is politics. Herd immunity also becomes herd conditioning, helped along by Minitruth and the media. Which conditions people to just accept that it's for your own good, or a public good, and why won't you think of the children?

      Not think about more awkward stuff, like how vaccine passports would work in pratice. Or why they couldn't be added to the chips in biometric passports we now have to have. Or...

      Every government, everywhere, that offers a check-in app must agree

      .. that a simple flaw exists. Like people not bothering, or forgetting to check-in. Or possibly worse-case, if services are withdrawn for the unclean, checking in with false ID. Thank you for checking in Ms Mallon, may I call you Mary?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's just digital bells. No vaccination? No pubs, clubs, concerts or travel for you

        No support for your country waging a defensive war across the world? No 'I like' to the latest PM's cheerful public fart session? No support for the current party line? No pubs, clubs, concerts or travel for you.

  4. Potemkine! Silver badge

    In Shanghai every billboard, poster, and newspaper advertisement bore QR codes

    One could expect people in Shanghai to have QR code mandatory tattooed in a near future, just to fix the inconsistencies of Facial Recognition

    We now have quite all a tracking device in our pocket all day long, monitoring where we go, who we meet. The best is that we even pay to have one, and pay again to have a better tracking device every couple of years! These devices record now our digital fingerprints, the picture of our faces. Soon they will analyze our DNA. Is there any sci-fi author who viewed that coming?

    1. Denarius Silver badge

      try turning off GPS, bluetooth, WiFi. Not complete, but its a simple start and your battery life will improve immensely

      1. Mike 137 Silver badge

        " its a simple start ..."

        Or maybe finding out you can actually survive without a data slurping smart phone. We managed quite well for centuries before they were invented.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: " its a simple start ..."

          The Wife and I haven't routinely carried our cell phones for several years now.

          Life is much freer and easier than when electronically leashed.

          Try it for a month. You might be pleasantly surprised.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        try turning off GPS, bluetooth, WiFi.

        I suppose you should start with your cell/mob signal in the first place. But then, this itself flags you as suspicious, as you CLEARLY must have something to hide. Likewise those, who decide to inconvenience themselves by leaving their mobile at home. I man, WHY would you want to do that?! VERY suspicious...

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: try turning off GPS, bluetooth, WiFi.

          "Likewise those, who decide to inconvenience themselves by leaving their mobile at home."

          It's not an inconvenience. Far from it ... quite the opposite, in fact. Try it for a month.

          "WHY would you want to do that?! VERY suspicious..."

          Why do you have a door between your toilet and the rest of the house? Why don't you have a plate-glass window to the street in your shower? Why do you have curtains on your bedroom windows? What are you hiding? VERY suspicious.

  5. Fazal Majid

    It's like the disastrous consequences of the CIA using fake vaccination workers to locate Bin Laden. Now real vaccination workers are targeted by the Taliban and the fight to eradicate polio may never recover.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      In 2017, cases caused by vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV) outnumbered wild poliovirus cases.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polio#Prevention

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        But without elimiating wild poliovirus you can't reduce the number to zero. The fact that it's close is good - but that doesn't mean that we should stop the programme.

        The sharp climb in recently recorded cases suggests that either we are suddenly massively increasing the programme, or reporting more and more things as polio that might not have been reported previously (whether that's because they were short term or what I don't know).

        However there are also inactive vaccines available, just not quite as cheap and easy to administer as the oral vaccine.

  6. Denarius Silver badge
    Flame

    you mean

    trust the vacuum cleaners who want our entire medical history handed over to a select few, consisting of anyone who asked ?

    All in name of "Science" of course. The same mob who hand over any phone record to any casual copper snooping ? For our own protection, not some abusive spouse hunting down an escaped wife and children. Oh no, never. Ponses the lot and no, there is a significant lack of trust in authority to not abuse covid records. The only characters who trust authorities I have run across are the old "Karens" who love to scream self righteous abuse and enjoy a good moral panic. Apologies to Karen refugees who now have another source of confusion added.

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: you mean

      You can trust people all you like ... until someone opens an email that notifies them about the mail server needing the queue cleared - it can be fixed by opening https://www.saftylink.mailsarver.com/openmyaccount.php

  7. Denarius Silver badge
    Unhappy

    observation

    the group that passes for leadership in this country (Oz) all seem to believe the hoi polloi will accept any inanity if it is justified by the magic word safety. Regrettably, I think they are mostly right. Unfortunately, so many of the distrustful are informed by FaecesBook rather than reason and history

    1. UCAP Silver badge

      Re: observation

      It's not unique to Oz, its pretty much the same everywhere else, although some countries seem to prefer the mantra is "think of the children" instead of "safety".

      1. Korev Silver badge
        Childcatcher

        Re: observation

        We've even got an icon for it on here -->

    2. RancidRodent

      Re: observation

      Exchanging liberty for (perceived) safety is an inevitable disastrous one-way ratchet ending in tyranny.

      Orwell was a Socialist - but he understood how humans always turn any seemingly good idea into tyranny because the power-hungry always seek power - the worst people to hold it, hold it – ordinary people DO just follow orders – even if the orders are destructive personally or to their group because they cannot bring themselves to believe their “leaders” mean them harm and they are always told they are doing whatever they are doing for the good of the Children. Resist – take off your face-nappies – put down your smartphones – be human again.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: observation

        ITYM "Those who would trade safety for freedom deserve neither." —Thomas Jefferson

        1. Down not across Silver badge

          Re: observation

          Wasn't it Benjamin Franklin who said "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety" ?

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: observation

            Yes, he did. But it doesn't mean what you think it means, because you are taking the line out of context.

            For the sensible who prefer to copy & paste:

            https://www.hoover.org/research/what-benjamin-franklin-really-said

            1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

              Re: observation

              It does mean what people use it to mean. That's a rather desperate attempt from a near-fascist* to pretend it doesn't. It meant the same thing when Franklin said it, too.

              *I mean, really. He's arguing that civil liberties aren't even worth considering when the government says it is 'protecting' us.

            2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: observation

              Text doesn't display unless you enable scripting. Not a good start.

  8. batfink Silver badge

    As I always say...

    With all of these things, the best approach is to say to the politicians "you first".

    Let's start tracking the politicians' movements and making them public. Then we'll see how quickly this would go away.

    Likewise encryption (publish all politicians' whatsapp messages), plus any number of other things you can think of - even declaring war. IMO if any politician votes to go to war, they should be issued a rifle and sent to the front line, in harm's way. I suspect this might make quite a change in attitudes...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: the best approach is to say to the politicians "you first".

      You can say, shout and scream 'you first' til you grow old and get bored / die saying, shouting and screaming.

  9. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    'Freely provided data'

    "Every government, everywhere, that offers a check-in app must agree — in law — that our freely provided data can only be used for public health. No exceptions."

    Except that it is NOT freely provided. If I want to eat in a restaurant, have a drink in a pub, visit an exhibition, see a play or film (movie), I have to provide this data. It is provided under the duress that I cannot go back to any sort of social life without providing that data of who I am, where I've been and who I've been there with.

    Now, I got a fair few downvotes (and no upvotes) for suggesting that we consider the appropriate uses of tracing data that the public would accept, pointing out that there are other serious diseases (in the UK listed as Notifiable Diseases which doctors have a legal duty to report if they suspect someone is infected, such as scarlet fever, typhoid, smallpox, measles, plague, rabies etc. see https://www.gov.uk/guidance/notifiable-diseases-and-causative-organisms-how-to-report ). The article seems to accept that public health uses of tracing data should be acceptable, which I assume includes the diseases on the list.

    The issue is whether the Police (or any other government or private agency - see the latest stories about access to all our NHS records) should be able to initiate access to the tracing data for their own purposes. In the UK Census data is kept secret for 100 years, but is now available in detail. See https://www.ons.gov.uk/aboutus/transparencyandgovernance/freedomofinformationfoi/censusaccess . So the issue is also of how long the data is kept. I expect that if kept for years, then social researchers would want access eventually.

    (OK, expecting the brickbats and downvotes, I've got my hard hat on, fire away.)

    1. tfewster Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: 'Freely provided data'

      > ...provided under the duress...

      There's a social contract for living in a society. Obey their laws, pay taxes etc. And now, follow their COVID rules for the benefit of all.

      There are good reasons for this. Unfortunately there are also "bad actors" such as the WA police who will take advantage unless they're reined in.

    2. Graham Cobb Silver badge

      Re: 'Freely provided data'

      You are required to provide some data. There is no way to make sure it is accurate.

      The issue is that in order to get accurate data for public health, governments must agree — in law — that our freely provided data can only be used for public health. No exceptions..

      This isn't just some ranting on The Register - the point is that if governments don't do that then they won't get accurate data, however much they huff and puff and threaten and winge.

    3. RancidRodent

      Re: 'Freely provided data'

      The census is a good example of scope creep - even though the census can only legally demand name, address and occupation - how many “good citizens” diligently filled in every field? I think inside leg was the only item missing. The only time you are genuinely free is when those who rule you know nothing about you. State-sanctioned discrimination is very difficult without the data.

      It stuns me why ANYONE would be gullible enough to download the track and trace app – you’ve just given the government a tool to hold you, a supposed free citizen, under house arrest - just for the "crime" of being in the same building (or traffic jam) as some other healthy person who has failed a flawed PCR test. Why would you do that to yourself? Are you mad? Particularly if you or your family rely on you being able to earn a living beyond your front door. It really is a form of Stockholm Syndrome.

      1. Adelio Silver badge

        Re: 'Freely provided data'

        Which is why i always use "jedi" as religion

      2. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: 'Freely provided data'

        "The only time you are genuinely free is when those who rule you know nothing about you"

        Huh?

        That simply means that however benevolent they might be they cannot act in your best interest... of course it also potentially means that the malicious crowd currently there can't know they are acting in my worst interest, but they don't need to do that on an individual level.

        To effectively govern you must have some idea of the population you are governing.

        1. RancidRodent

          Re: 'Freely provided data'

          Benevolent people generally do not seek positions of power - narcissists and psychopaths do - that's why the size of the state should always be limited - and why the people of the US have the right to be armed.

      3. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Re: 'Freely provided data'

        RancidRodent: "It stuns me why ANYONE would be gullible enough to download the track and trace app – you’ve just given the government a tool to hold you, a supposed free citizen, under house arrest - just for the "crime" of being in the same building (or traffic jam) as some other healthy person who has failed a flawed PCR test. Why would you do that to yourself? Are you mad? Particularly if you or your family rely on you being able to earn a living beyond your front door. It really is a form of Stockholm Syndrome."

        Just checking, do you accept that Covid-19 is a pandemic of a deadly disease that is transmitted by breathing in the pathogen or not? (Basically only a global and nationally co-ordinated effort can possibly prevent vast numbers of deaths if Covid-19 is a deadly pandemic transmitted by breathing.)

        If you believe that Covid-19 is 'over-hyped' and either does not exists in real life at all, or is a minor disease and nothing much to be worried about then please let us know.

        Thanks in advance of your reply.

        1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

          Re: 'Freely provided data'

          Obviously it's mad conspiracy nonsense. Don't reinforce their nuttiness by engaging.

        2. RancidRodent

          Re: 'Freely provided data'

          There is no link between any government policy whether that be lockdowns and lack of - face-nappy wearing or anything else and the number of cases or deaths. The only meaningful thing the government could have done is ban all travel from China the millisecond the story broke (which I told anyone who would listen back then) but no - while we were under illegal house arrest the flights kept coming - it's almost as if it was planned.

          If this is a pandemic - why was 2020 only the UK's 65th most deadly year in the last 70 - despite a record population? How can that be true during a deadly pandemic? Sure, covid exists - it kills people who are already ready to meet their maker - a bit like flu - but unlike flu it thankfully spares children and babies. This is why there are no excess deaths - all covid did was shift the death a few weeks or months- and we've utterly destroyed our children's' future hiding from it...

      4. RancidRodent

        Re: 'Freely provided data'

        Six thumbs downs - Stockholm Syndrome...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You just had to go and look

    We just had a quick peek, promise!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    we’ve become used to scanning a QR code almost every time

    ... helping to build an more detailed and accurate profile for each individual. All carefully anonymized, mumble-privacy-mumble-mumble-something-priority-mumble-protection-mumble-mumble. BigData, fuck yeah!

    1. RancidRodent

      Re: we’ve become used to scanning a QR code almost every time

      GOVERN ME DADDY!

    2. DiViDeD Silver badge

      Re: we’ve become used to scanning a QR code almost every time

      yes. My carefully anonymised burner phone now has targetted advertising as a result of the number of times it's been used to 'check in'

  12. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    The future

    Meanwhile somewhere in the Department for Depopulation:

    INSERT INTO concentration_camp_queue (national_insurance_number, camp_id)

    SELECT national_insurance_number, 3 FROM population_nhs_data p

    INNER JOIN population_facebook_political_views ppv ON p.national_insurance_number = ppv.national_insurance_number

    WHERE

    p.jab_count = 0 AND p.age BETWEEN 18 AND 35 AND p.has_mental_illness = 1 AND ppv.class_group IN ('flatearther', 'anti-vaxx')

    The above is a poorly constructed joke, my apologies.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The future

      Poorly constructed, I'll say! In the top query, national_insurance_number is ambiguous, you must precise the table.

    2. Adelio Silver badge

      Re: The future

      Just as well i do not use facebook or twitter (because i just do not see the point!)

    3. RancidRodent

      Re: The future

      I was part of a team who looked into the NI number as a basis of an ID card scheme in the 90s - the database is so dirty it didn't even make the second of eight verification filters! Millions of NI numbers are in use by more than 5 people – millions of NI numbers of dead people are in use – millions of NI numbers that don’t exist are in use. The government and the rich globalist elite don’t care – they get a slice of the financial action while asset prices are raised and wages held down – all good news for the rich and powerful - a rather large British supermarket estimated the UK population to be 80 million+ over ten years ago (another project I was involved in.) Have nothing and be happy (or else) – it’s coming.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "That we track ourselves willingly shows us just how far our feelings about privacy have been transformed by the pandemic."

    Coming at this as a 'Merican, and worse, as a Southerner, I have to say that doesn't play well here. Hell, we wouldn't even wear masks to go into Walmart, much less voluntarily scan QR codes to disclose our precise location. Deep is our distrust of those who govern us. It's likely different in places like Cali or NY, but here in the Deep South, the pandemic is essentially over, and has been since before Thanksgiving.

    1. Stork

      Only, the pandemic is very much not over in the US south.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        No, it's over. Finished. Most of us are vaccinated, and those who aren't are the anti-vaxxers. Whether they live or die is up to their own good fortune as they've decided to leave it to chance, although sure, most of them will survive, since the virus only has like a 1-2% fatality rate. But for the rest of us, the "pandemic" is no longer a pandemic, it's perhaps an epidemic.

  14. Cuddles Silver badge

    Trust

    "In Shanghai every billboard, poster, and newspaper advertisement bore QR codes, all linking off to their respective web sites."

    Or to put it more accurately, they all contain QR codes linking to... somewhere. This has always been one of the big problems with relying on QR codes for anything; you simply have no idea what they're going to do until they've done it. Maybe it links to the website you expect, maybe it links to somewhere else entirely, maybe it's not even a link at all. URLs already have enough trouble with exploits based on things like spelling errors or obfuscation, and of course URL shorteners don't help matters at all. But QR codes take it to a whole new level by being entirely obfuscated by design. The only reason they're not a major source of malware is that hardly anyone actually uses them.

    1. PTW

      Re: Trust

      I'm pretty sure there are examples out there where miscreants have placed their own QR code stickers over the ones originally on the advert

  15. Chris G Silver badge

    "That we track ourselves willingly shows us just how far our feelings about privacy have been transformed by the pandemic."

    That is quite an assumption, the majority of people I know are reluctant to give anything more than is absolutely necessary in terms of private data, although I do know a fair number of the 'If you have nothing to hide' variety. But they will be the first volunteers for Soylent.

    most of the restaurants I go into, have a QR code on the table, and they are mostly to save them having to walk out and hand the client an infectious menu, I just tell them I don't have a phone with me so give me a bug spreading printed menu.

    They are all plasticised and wipeable with hand sanitiser anyway.

    Interestingly, my neighbour after going to a sushi retaurant twice and using the QR, began to get ads for the place popping up when online.

    So far only Castilla la Mancha insists on QR codes the rest of us don't.

    1. RancidRodent

      I would even question "necessary" - what the government thinks is necessary and reality are quite different. Take the census - even though the census can only legally demand name, address and occupation - how many “good citizens” diligently filled in every field? I think inside leg was the only requested data item missing. The only time you are genuinely free is when those who rule you know nothing about you. State-sanctioned discrimination is very difficult without the data – stop providing the government the tools to own you. It's the same when you commit any breach of regulation such as speeding - you will get a form with reams of fields for you to provide financial information in relationship with payment of the fine - in such circumstances I send a postal order and fill out every field with "none of your bloody business" - they've never refused payment or demanded a resending of data because they know and I know they are fishing for data they have no right to hold. Sadly youngsters have no idea how valuable data is – clicking “accept” to whatever T&C the pointless, useless or mildly convenient app is they’ve just downloaded - giving away valuable data is just a step they go through for their burst of “me too” endorphin.

      It stuns me why ANYONE would be gullible enough to download the track and trace app – you’ve just given the government a tool to hold you, a supposed free citizen, under house arrest - just for the "crime" of being in the same building (or traffic jam) as some other healthy person who has failed a flawed PCR test. Why would you do that to yourself? Are you mad? Particularly if you or your family rely on you being able to earn a living beyond your front door.

  16. RancidRodent

    This is how tyranny ALWAYS begins...

    "For your children", "for your own health" - to "keep you safe" or any variation on this theme are the usual utterances of any would-be tyrant(s) justifying the restriction of your liberties. This app will be used to create a two tier society (restrict travel an/or access to public buildings due to non-compliance) so as a tinfoil-hat nut-job your civil liberties will be so restricted, many will be forced to adopt it for an easy life or though peer pressure from loved ones (family holidays) – those who stand with freedom will end up single, on the dole and will be labelled as domestic terrorists for kicking up a fuss. The app will quickly grow into a fully-fledged surveillance/social credit system – just like in China. Is that what you really want? The great reset is real folks – do not comply. Freedom!

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: This is how tyranny ALWAYS begins...

      ""For your children", "for your own health" - to "keep you safe" or any variation on this theme are the usual utterances of any would-be tyrant(s) justifying the restriction of your liberties. "

      Absolutely - we shouldn't accept fences alongside railways, roads or cliffs. We shouldn't be accepting traffic lights telling us when to stop... </ s>

      Sometimes things are done for your benefit.

      1. RancidRodent

        Re: This is how tyranny ALWAYS begins...

        What that has to do with tracking the whereabouts of supposedly free citizens I have no idea.

  17. RancidRodent

    The consequences of this technology will be stuff of nightmares.

    The technology available today is far beyond anything I’ve ever read in any historic dystopian novel. Imagine a scenario where an "enemy of the state" (someone who thinks for themselves) can be tracked and labelled automatically from the day-to-day use of their smartphone using AI, we already have micro-drones capable of facial recognition and carrying a few grams of shaped charge - and those in receipt of our data will know with reasonable accuracy where this phone is at any point in time.

    You could release a swarm of these drones and take out a whole army of thought-criminals, say at a lockdown protest - in a packed,mixed crowd with no collateral damage – and there’s nobody holding a gun to be held to account or to refuse to fire on an innocent crowd, no direct path back to anybody in power – the operation could even be profiled, conceived and launched using AI – the powers-that-be could call it a terror attack and the millions spent labelling these people as domestic terrorist, anti-vaxxers or some other identity-politics based enemy-within will be well spent as the virtue-signalling sheeple shrug off the thousands killed as the cost of “progress”. This is how valuable our data is - and why this nonsense has to be stopped now – however the mere threat of cancelling family holidays for non-compliance will ensure a huge uptake – and the rest (as they would once say) – is history – except it will be edited to match the narrative in real time – another facet of modern technology the novel writers couldn’t even conceive. There are dark times ahead - don't comply.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Track and trace

    No - I refuse to take part in this contact tracing.

    I have -40dB of trust in government and Dildo / Serco etc. I'm fully vaccinated, wash my hands and wear a mask.

    Why if I want to go to a pub do they need to know my phone number, email address etc. Had even a half-wit thought about this we could have been given the option of a unique ID but then again that data would have been owned by the government to sell off to Scratch and Sniff incorporated.

    Another opportunity to get information and a spammy mailing list.

    Just fuck off.

    1. yetanotheraoc

      Separate issues

      "I'm fully vaccinated, wash my hands and wear a mask."

      Same here. This is right and the minimum we can do. Concern for society/others is one thing. Giving private information to the government, who have *promised* to use it for only one purpose, is a completely different thing. It's shocking to me how often the government agencies just give up my personal data to anyone who asks. That there are laws in place disallowing precisely that simply *does not matter* to them. Private companies are slightly better about it, because the government can fine them for breaking the law. But the government itself, or in practice the minions who work for the government, sees itself/themselves as above the law.

      On the subject of QR codes, a group I belong to uses them for meeting check-in. I had to register at a website, of course I gave some faked personal details. Every time I check-in via QR, I get an error popup saying "Geolocation services must be enabled." Not true, and even if it were true f*** off. First off it's pointless, you know where I am -- at the meeting place. Secondly why does your QR API need GPS in the general case? Oh, that's right, it's all about my personal data. Again, f*** off.

  19. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    I won't scan a QR code to go into a pub

    If the police want to know where I go 24x7 they can use the mobile phone cell location data like any other spooks.

    Fortunately since the level of government technical ability here means they are thinking of getting one of those fax machines one day - the pub just has a sheet of paper to write down your first name and phone number if you want.

  20. MonsieurTM

    I have found the excuse "the camera is broken on my dratted [insert PC/Woke-approved expletive here] camera is broken." The invariable response is either (a) DFKDFC carry on or {b) write your allegedly accurate details here (in a scrawl).....

  21. MonsieurTM

    Personally, given the amount reported on El Reg itself, over the decades, over the abilities of the various governmental agencies to access one's phones, turn on the microphone remotely, etc ,etc, I personally believe my android phone is already tracking me. Even turned "off". So complaining about overreach with track-and-trace data is like complaining about introducing copyright clauses on UK currency. It's just another way of prosecuting you for the same "crime", whatever the future might choose to retroactively accuse us of, aided and abetted by some crowd stirred up the agitprop of the day.

    What do we do to protect ourselves? Complain of course, but to your MP. To a suitable website that operates petitions. Buy one single share in the company you have an axe against and attend the Annual Shareholders Meeting and demand of the board that they account for those potentially unscrupulous actions. Just one share. It can be bought in an ISA or SIPP, so tax efficient for you!

    Come on! Get active! Engage! Change the world one share at a time! (i.e. really reaaaaally slowly, but....)

  22. Mister Dubious
    Big Brother

    Hearken to Prophet McNealy

    "You already have zero privacy. Get over it."

    Twenty-two years ago. Prescient, that's what.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Hearken to Prophet McNealy

      "I refuse to carry an electronic leash 24X7 unless you PAY me 24X7!"

      Me, about the pager & DynaTAC my employer wanted me to carry, roughly 1985.

      Today's kids happily pay for and carry their own equipment for their employer's pleasure. Sad, that.

      "Don't comment on Usenet or in email what you wouldn't shout from the rooftops!"

      Me, addressing a Freshman "using the network" class at Stanford, also around 1985.

      Today's kids see nothing wrong with spilling their life's history and other details all over twitter and facebook. Even sadder.

      1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Hearken to Prophet McNealy

        @jake - "Today's kids see nothing wrong with spilling their life's history and other details all over twitter and facebook. Even sadder."

        Whereas jake restricts his reveals of life history to events from 1985 on The Register.

        1. genghis_uk Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Hearken to Prophet McNealy

          That just implies that he is happy to shout about his life events from 35years ago from the rooftops.

          You've got to pity his neighbours... "Is that Jake shouting about his time in Stanford again? Better go out quick before he starts on about that server rebuild in 1987 for the third time this week..."

          Dude --->

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Hearken to Prophet McNealy

            I very, very rarely shout. Takes too much energy and almost never provides any real benefit.

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: Hearken to Prophet McNealy

          Take it in context. I was pointing out that we knew well over 35 years ago that privacy concerns would become a major issue. To the point that we tried to make end-to-end encryption the default for TCP/IP back in 1979ish ... but Vint Cerf, complying with the wishes of his bosses in the NSA at DARPA put the kibosh on it. McNealy, hardly a prophet (and a business major, not a techie), was just parroting what he had heard around campus as a grad student at Stanford.

          1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

            Re: Hearken to Prophet McNealy

            In context, I recall hearing the 'shout from the rooftops quote' or something similar around 35 years ago (not from you, I wasn't at Stamford), but, firstly, I don't recall it as being a prediction of today's privacy concerns, it was about those protocols being plaintext. The commercialisation of the internet hadn't exploded, so the risks of giant social media companies sucking up vast amounts of personal data for profit were not apparent. Secondly, end-to-end encryption of TCP/IP doesn't protect Usenet/social media posts - they are public anyway, and doesn't protect email from being read at intermediate mail gateways. As for the NSA DARPA putting the kibosh on it... maybe, but the processing load of encryption was a valid limitation with CPUs at the time.

  23. Stanislav Bonita
    Mushroom

    "Something that not long ago would have been considered government overreach and an intrusion into our lives — inspiring a fair bit of public debate last year — has become normalised and accepted as part of the price of safety in uncertain times."

    Er, no. It is still overreach and intrusion and it has not been accepted by anyone capable of logical deduction.

    Governments. Can. Not. Be. Trusted.

    Where I am, the government is thankfully way too disorganised to mandate a mobile app for tracing and checking in, so everyone signs a sheet of paper when entering a mall, large shop, etc.

    If they ever checked the sheets of paper (which I doubt they ever do), they would probably see an unprecendented number of Mickey Mouses whose residence is 'Disney' and whose phone number is 'None'. One of them would be me.

    Anyone who disagrees can do this -->

  24. julian.smith
    Happy

    I hate to spoil the party ....

    Western Australia ..... the site of the original incident is in a very special place with covid

    [the Police Commissioner refused to stay away from the QR data, the Premier tried to negotiate for 6 weeks and finally changed the law to match the public understanding that it would ONLY be used for covid health purposes and destroyed after 28 days]

    You mightn't trust your government, for plenty of valid reasons, but WA people trust the Premier Mark McGowan.

    His clear leadership and hard border closures made WA a covid-free oasis.

    The people responded by delivering a landslide result in the recent elections (about 85%) of the vote [FYI voting is compulsory in Australia]

    His approval rating is over 90%

    Last weekend the most populous part of WA had a form of lockdown for 4 days because a single case of Delta covid came from interstate and was active in the community for 2 days. Compliance with mask wearing and QR codes was near universal because people understood that it was necessary for life to continue as usual. QR codes enabled contact tracers to sort things out.

    Life in Western Australia is different from almost everywhere on Earth - everything is open, business is great, there is no community transmission of covid.

    Ring fencing the QR data to protect the public's trust and trusted leadership worked well.

    How are things where you live? and why?

    1. Mr R. Ebel

      Re: I hate to spoil the party ....

      Yes, but do you know how to use the three shells?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: where I live, you ask

      Fan-fucking-tastic, 34/100k and no-one gives a flying fuck, everywhere is open, party on Wayne!

      It's not the Black Death, it affects the elderly and the infirm the worst, the rest of us can carry on as per.

  25. tiggity Silver badge

    details on paper

    Not being young anymore & with underlying health conditions not been going out much with COVID.

    However, with both of us being double jabbed for a fair while now (partner doubled up later than me as a lower priority), partner & I have now been out a few times, bu as neither of us have the covid app installed (& typically don't even have phones with us - a walk to local pub for a drink & meal does not need a mobile in either of our pockets).

    So any covid "who we are" data has been written on paper at places we have visited (though, pointless anyway as pub landlord & landlady know who we are (& where we live etc.) anyway via general chat over the years, only info they did not have was phone number (& they could get that via directory enquiries anyway if they wanted it)

  26. Long John Silver
    Pirate

    We inadvertently are protected by government incompetence

    Present day governments and their underpinning pseudo-democracies, the latter being easily manipulated crowds of the ignorant, are way out of their depths for applying intellect, and of too narrow education, for comprehending complexity of the modern world within and between nations. Perhaps trend towards inability to cope took off immediately post-WW2. Technological advance proceeded at unprecedented pace. Setting aside the role of weapons for mass destruction in adding menace to chaos, the major problem rests with almost unbridled interpersonal and international communication.

    Digital encoding, high prevalence of personal computational devices, and the Internet have enabled actions and responses easily capable of getting out of hand. The Twattersphere exemplifies this: "going viral" is a positive feedback loop and the converse of silencing 'unacceptable' opinion by menace is a dampening effect on discourse. Into this Wild West of ideas, most of which are chatter among lowest-common-denominator minds, politicians and other "public figures" dip with false expectation of manipulating it to their advantage; thereby they get caught up by increasingly frenzied action and reaction in their roles as nonentities in the greater scheme of things.

    It's been obvious for at least three decades that British politicians (and most elsewhere too) cannot grasp modern technologies; many utterances concerning technologies display pig ignorance. No wonder the history of government procurement of computer-related technologies so often ends in costly failure or expensive sub-optimal performance.

    There are two sides to a bargain. The government side rarely has the nous to specify what it wants. Contractors easily pull wool over the eyes of government and usually talk-up their ability to deliver. The credulous nature of government ministers, and Parliament as a whole, was exemplified recently by two things. First, falling for the pitch from snake-oil salesmen from Imperial College. Second, the test and trace fiasco and the phone 'app'. By the way, what about "Project Moonshot"?

    Worries expressed about overreach of Covid 'apps' in the pipeline don't apply to the section of the population capable of self-direction. Even should a project for internal passports not fail dismally it remains true that the inevitably bodged scheme can be circumvented. Already in the pipeline is an open source project for mimicking an official 'app' and rendering it harmless. It is well advanced. The project's website has to stay on the move. However, the developer using ProtonMail keeps subscribers to a mailing list informed of the site's current whereabouts.

    Inactive 'participants' will have nothing to fear from the law regardless of how stupidly draconian it is framed. Sensible Civil Servants will be aware that 100% coverage is impossible to attain and that 90% is sufficient for any malign intent the government has in mind.

    Given fixation by politicians upon technologies they can't begin to understand, it seems likely there will be international agreement on a computer-based Covid passport for international travel. That too will soon have workarounds similar to those being developed for the Johnson et al internal passport vanity project.

  27. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    Oh, yes, QR codes

    What a terrific idea. Hide a human-readable identifier1 behind a layer of obfuscation, and train people to follow them blindly.

    I loathe QR codes and refuse to use them unless there's a compelling reason. I think that's only happened once, with the 2FA app we use at work (and I called that out as a design failure).

    1Yes, some URLs defy human understanding. Good. Observe that and refuse to follow them.

  28. TimMaher Silver badge
    Angel

    Any old QR reader.

    Just shove one on your phone so that you look realistic when you use it.

    No NHS app required.

    1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

      Re: Any old QR reader.

      If you're going to do that, just point your phone at the QR code. No-one's checking if you scanned it.

  29. Plest Bronze badge

    While I know that's not the point, I do know that 99.9% of my life is simply not that interesting! No, I know that's not the point. No, I don't just chuck my info about willy-nilly but sometimes being paranoid is just too much hard work, watching every single tiny detail every second of every day. Just use some common sense, that's all I ask. If a bit of data fed to GCHQ means someone has a job, an IT contractor has a contract, tech uptake rises and more software and toys appear, more interesting stories appear on the internet about hacking and incomptetance well then I think all this karma stuff kind of balances out.

    Ultimately if the GCHQ MIBs want to come find you then they will. Freedom is just an illusion, we're way too deep into the Matrix already.

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