Tag Archives: digital footprint

Hundreds of Automatic License Plate Readers Found Wide Open by the EFF


Hundreds of automatic license plate recognition (ALPR) systems were found wide open on the Internet by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). These systems potentially store years worth of archival data indicating which vehicles drove by a particular place at a particular time. Amazingly, this is not even that big a deal anymore, as it is not beyond the capability of a single decent developer now to create an ALPR system from scratch.

This is a good example of how one’s digital footprint grows over time by factors outside our direct control. It also demonstrates one component of the intractable nature of computer security – incompetence.

The Privacy Equation

Edward Snowden recently did an AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) on Reddit where he said:

Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.

A pithy statement, is it not? Unfortunately, the situation is not so simple – privacy and free speech are at odds with each other both technologically and legally. This is because the ability to preserve privacy and free speech are inversely related by the same fundamental processes. Simply stated, that which makes free speech more possible makes privacy less possible.

In this article I will show how the degradation of one’s privacy is inevitable and potentially accelerates over time by factors outside one’s direct control. This is a recent phenomenon brought upon by the digitization of information, always-on connectivity and continuous advancements in machine learning. These technologies and the infrastructures built from them also facilitate the propagation of uncensored free speech.

Thus one can accept the futility of preserving their privacy yet still cherish their freedom of expression. One day we will truly have very little to hide, regardless of whether we have something to say. Continue reading The Privacy Equation