More intel, less security

We were  all very offended by the Middle Eastern governments who wanted to ban Research in Motion’s Blackberry PDA because their security agencies had difficulties breaking the codes. Truth is, all over the ‘free world’ there are plans to monitor and store all your web-surfing habits, your (mobile) telephone conversations and your whereabouts in the ‘public domain’ through various CCTV cameras (not even counting the amount of privacy we’re giving up ourselves by thoughtlessly updating our activities and whereabouts on not evry secure sites like Facebook). The idea behind this is that it will provide us with more security in our ‘War Against Terror’. As politicians put it: we have to give up a little of our privacy for a whole lot of security.

What are you doing Dave? By Fisserman. Rights reserved under CC license
What are you doing Dave? By Fisserman. Rights reserved under CC license

Pizza hut
Well, instead of a whole lot of security, it’s a whole of  yahoo. First of all: I agree with the privacy lobby who feel that the price we have to pay for this so-called security it too high. The phrase “there’s nothing to be afraid of, if you have nothing to hide” is grossly untrue. What if your government decides that will start persecuting smokers that show up on one of those CCTV cameras? From there it is only a small slide to your internet-provider handing over data about you placing an order on http://www.pizzahut.com to your health-insurance. Or how about that call you made to that other company about a job… what if your current employer could find that out? Face it: you may not have anything you wish to hide, that still does not mean that you want everyone to know everything about you.

Big, BIG, numbers…
But this is not the point I want to make. My message is: more information, makes us less safe. Let’s say that our world is under a very, very large threat indeed and that no less than 0.01 percent of all communication that takes place is concerned with terrorist attacks. And let’s make a very, very conservative estimation about the number of calls made on mobile phones a day is 10.000.000 the number of e-mails sent is also 10.000.000 and the number of sites visited is 1.000.000. The number of communications in which our terrorist fighters should have an interest in would be, roughly: 100 calls, 100 emails and 10 web-visits. The number of ‘communications’ that are mere clutter is: 9.999.900 calls, 9.999.900 emails and 999.990 web-visits. problem is: we don;t know which is which. And even terrorists make ‘normal’ calls, ordering those pizza’s and e-mailing about holiday-weekends. If we are going to have to, potentially, follow-up on all those leads… it will be absolutely impossible to filter out the tiny bits of useful information with which we can all feel safe and secure and prevents attacks like the one experienced on 9/11.

More is less
Fact is: all the needed information to prevent an attack like 9/11 was already there… unfortunately nobody was able to fit all the pieces together, probably because there were just too many pieces.

Gathering more information does not provide us with better intelligence and more security. That  alone should be more than enough reason for all of us to stop politicians trying to steal more privacy from us.

Updated and editted from fisserman.wordpress.com blog.

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