One of the more pressing debates in the world of technology is the trade-off between security, privacy and convenience. Especially on the end-user level, convenience seems to trump both privacy and security more often than not. But if the European Head of Data Protection has a say in the matter, that might be about to change very soon.
The Fight For Privacy Continues
In the past year and a half, it has become crystal clear that governments do not respect consumer data in any way. In fact, most governments have been spying on citizens from quite some time now, including listening in on phone calls and monitoring internet traffic. Ever since this information came to light – in no small thanks to Edward Snowden – the debate on protecting user privacy has taken a turn for the worse.
Regardless of how you want to look at the matter, the consumer is losing out in the end. Not only is everyone’s data under surveillance at all times – both in the online and offline world – but there is absolutely no proof that mass surveillance is providing noteworthy results.
If you are to believe the various governments of the world, mass surveillance is implemented to fight against terrorism. And while that statement may hold some merit, terrorism has been prevented in the past before this mass surveillance even started. Giovanni Buttarelli, the European Data Protection Supervisor, calls it a “fad to discuss security vs. privacy any further”.
According to Mr. Buttarelli, governments should rather focus on implementing news laws that respect both account privacy rights and the need to fight terrorism. Even though Giovanni Buttarelli is not openly against measures such as mass surveillance – which directly interferes with user privacy – he does question whether or not these measures are viable.
In a recent post made by security expert Bruce Schneier, a claim is made of 54 terrorist plots being thwarted thanks to the NSA’s mass surveillance. However, that number was later on reduced to 13, and eventually officially confirmed in the form of “one to two”. cases where mass surveillance was a successful countermeasure. When everything was said and done, mass surveillance prevented one man from sending the sum of US$8,500 in support of a Somali militant group.
“Surveillance should enhance, not undermine, trust in democratic institutions, but in order for that to happen, governments need to justify why any massive, non-targeted, and indiscriminate collection of individuals’ data is really needed” – Giovanni Buttarelli told the media.
A Call For Transparency and Openness Looming?
It goes without saying that many people are fed up with all of the spying and monitoring conducted by governments around the world. Rather than being open and transparent about the data they are collecting – and more importantly, how that data is used – the world only learned about these invasive measures thanks to whistleblower Edward Snowden.
And even though government officials may not be a big fan of Bitcoin itself, the underlying blockchain technology could play an important role in the fight against terrorism. Rather than spying on citizens en masse, issued identities linked to the blockchain can be analyzed in a public manner. In doing so, not only will government officials have an easier time to find possible terrorism threats, but they can also ask for help from the public.
Whether the governments want to admit it or not, things will have to change. There is a ton of undiscovered technological potential at our fingertips in the form of blockchain technology. And its public aspect will allow for greater transparency and openness. Even though that idea might sound very scary, it may very well be the only way forward we have left.
What are your thoughts on mass surveillance, and how do you see things moving forward? Let us know in the comments below!
Source: Ars Technica UK
Images courtesy of Shutterstock
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