Thursday, September 18, 2014

Unprecedented technological privacy

“Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data. So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.” Cupertino chose these words to informed about its policy change against government data requests.


The consequences of Wikileaks and Edward Snowden’s revelations are shaking the technological landscape like never before. With this statement, Apple claims that henceforth it will not longer give access to its devices at law enforcement’s requests. The way they did it is similar to the movements of most large companies in the sector: encrypting data and make it inaccessible from their own servers.

Something similar happens with the new NFC payment service, Apple Pay. It uses a random number for every purchase. Besides all operational billing is done on the device itself and not in the cloud, protected under a biometric system - a fingerprint sensor -. This blurs the figure of credit card and unique code thus protecting payments. Some extra layers of security needed to address the risks and dangers of third environment.

Privacy is not always on the user's hand. But the huge amount of information about this topic in the last months based on the leakages about the activities of certain intelligence agencies is driving security concerns beyond its strictly technical boundaries.

Such democratization of security may be counterproductive in some cases. We saw the side effects of implementing security measures and how they could lead a delegation of responsibilities by the end user causing more risk than at the initial state.

It is also harmful the proliferation of tools like FinFinisher, used at the time by intelligence agencies to track suspicious individuals, but which is also being used by cyber criminal groups, in order to find vulnerabilities, blackmail and even resell data to third parties.

Taking all this into consideration, it is not surprising that the European Union follows very closely the big Internet companies’ movements. Google is still in spotlight for his alleged abuse of dominant position in the search engine sector. The debate revolves around whether the recommendation of the company's services is to improve the user’s experience (avoiding to search the same thing again on a different platform), or if this really helps further what is called filter bubble state (we don’t see what there is, but what Google thinks or wants us to see).

These six hot topics are complex to analyze due to all their ramifications. These are six issues that will directly affect you, as a user of digital services. How to deal with a technological paradigm of this kind? What implications will present decisions in tomorrow’s communication network?

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