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Welcome to The Lotus Position, an intermittent collection of extempore navel gazings, ponderings, whinges, whines, pontifications and diatribes.

Everything is based on a Sample of One: these are my views, my experiences... caveat lector... read the Disclaimer

The Budapest Office - Castro Bisztro, Madach ter

The Budapest Office - Castro Bisztro, Madach ter
Ponder, Scribble, Ponder (Photo Erdotahi Aron)

Guest Nutter/Kindred Soul: Bill Bailey


Wednesday, 6 August 2008

That's all right then...

Some time back BT ran what some consider an illegal trial of Phorm, a system that carries out "deep packet inspection" of internet traffic, i.e. it looks at what you are sending or receiving, not merely who you are sending to or receiving from, as a way of "targeting" advertising - i.e. telling you about things you are more likely to be interested in.

Now, although the European Commission has told UKgov to deal with the issue, there is question of what we might expect - and the answer is "Not a lot" I fear.

According to this BBC news item "...the Information Commission ruled in May that no action would be taken against the telco due to the difficult nature of explaining to consumers what it was doing."

What??? I can conceive of many things, but imagining greater stupidity on the part of the IC is difficult... the "difficulty of explaining" has nothing to do with the ethics of the action in the absence of consent; if it was "too difficult" to explain, then under no circumstances whatsoever could informed consent be obtained and so it should never have happened.

Consider the ramifications of this irresponsible pronouncement: a financial advisor, a medical practitioner, your local garage etc. would be given carte blanche to do whatever they like if it could be argued that what they intended to do with your money, your body, your car etc. was beyond your poor, limited powers of comprehension. Perhaps the government could pass an Enabling Act to introduce complex rules and regulations on anything they like without further Parliamentary scrutiny on the basis that what they might want to do would overtax our poor representatives brains.

I'm not a great believer in conspiracies, I am however utterly convinced that sheer stupidity on the part of officialdom is the bane of the 21st century, and the more power placed in the hands of the stupid, the more likely it is that something will go seriously wrong. I shan't even mention how much personal data the UK government has lost in the last year or two...

I propose a principle: anything anyone may wish to do that affects another and which a reasonable person might reasonably anticipate an objection to is expressly forbidden without consent. [I'll tidy that up later... just aiming to get it off my chest for now.]

Would the man on the Clapham Omnibus (including but not limited to Kekule) be happy to know that as soon as he got on the bus, he was bugged and that his subsequent conversation with his wife, mother, mistress, bank manager... would be used to "provide him with more relevant advertising" on the LCD ad panels in the bus on the way home? I think not.

I shall work on a more fundamental philosophical reason why privacy is important - the usual "Get Out of Jail Free" card of "if you've done nothing wrong you have nothing to fear" is deeply offensive... all I have to do is to work out why...

Infuriating Stuff