Sometimes it’s easy to wonder what all the privacy advocates are screaming and yelling about all the time. While I agree with much of what they say, I find it hard to explain why privacy is important to Joe-not-a-geek. Enter the power of visualization:
This is from an interactive feature at Zeit Online [zeit.de]. Very cool. They took data collected by a mobile operator about a specific person and linked it with data taken from his public internet sites (such as twitter) to create scary — very cool, but scary — timeline of his activities. Now what’s missing is who he called and messaged, that data was not released but you can bet the mobile operator has it.
Now imagine this, in real-time, for every one on every mobile operator running on a big screen in a secret room somewhere. The technology exists. Imagine the CIA tracking ‘suspected terrorists’. Imagine being on that list. Imagine Bin Ali’s, Mubarak’s or Gaddafi’s secret police using this to anticipate protests and sending in the thugs before the protest even begins.