Saturday, February 19, 2011

Crazy few weeks in privacy, security, human rights

The past several weeks have seen a little crazy when it comes to privacy and human rights. Facebook became a privacy hero (although Facebook called it a security issue), went back to it's privacy invading roots, and regained a little face by making https connections an option for users. Of course, these seeming contradictions resolve into logical actions when you realize the point of view Facebooks has toward them. Facebook doesn't worry about users privacy. It worries about security. That's why it stomped on Tunisia's attempt to steal all of the Tunisian users login credentials - a security breach - but is willing to let third parties access Facebook users data without their consent.

The internet has been a great tool for activists and protestors. The last few weeks have seen it used as a tool for oppressive governments. Tunisia tried to steal the Facebook credentials of the entire population of the country. Egypt is trying to block the internet to prevent the spread of dissident ideas and information. While they haven't been able to silence everyone, they have had surprising success blocking the internet.

It has been suggested that the President should have an internet "kill switch." It has also been said that such a thing would be almost impossible to implement. I tend to agree. but with Tunisia's near success at stealing their citizens Facebook credentials and Egypt's blocking of the internet in their country, I have to wonder if that belief isn't misguided. We have reached the point that whoever controls the internet controls the chief source of information for many people. Can we trust that power to the government?