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<nettime> Search and be searched (another data signifying practice)
Brian Holmes on Fri, 4 Dec 2009 17:04:51 +0100 (CET)


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<nettime> Search and be searched (another data signifying practice)


Following Geert's post on the Search conference (sounds great by the 
way) I think it could be interesting for people to read this:

"Slight Paranoia: Security and privacy analysis." by Christopher Soghoian
http://paranoia.dubfire.net

I found this text rather enlightening, in a gruesome sort of way. In the 
text that Geert posted, David Gugerli writes: "As a consequence of the 
implementation of relational databases and other enterprise application 
software which reside upon such databases, the entire corporate world of 
the late 20th century has become subject to the manager’s disposal and 
command." It would seem that the corporate world extends to your most 
intimate conversations, and the manager clearly has to include the cops. 
Gugerli's paper is brilliant, and the coincidence to which he points, 
between the invention of the relational database and the literary 
theories of combinatory systems is extremely interesting (though more 
understandable when you know how steeped in cybernetics the French 
literary theorists really were). The only thing I don't quite get is why 
he objects to Deleuze's word "control," which suggests the continuous 
probing and testing of information, along with direct intervention to 
reroute the course of events and the destinies of individuals. As seen 
in the paper linked above. The direct tie-in to the search event could 
be this quote:

"The reason we keep [search engine data] for any length of time is one, 
we actually need it to make our algorithms better, but more importantly, 
there is a legitimate case of the government, or particularly the police 
function or so forth, wanting, with a Federal subpoena and so forth 
being able to get access to that information."
-- Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, All Things Considered,
NPR interview between 5:40 and 6:40, October 2, 2009.

However, intriguing as that is, we already knew it and that's not what 
really gets developed in this text. Instead, the heart of the matter 
here is a web-portal where US law enforcement agencies [and spooks] can 
buy as much stored client data from mobile phone companies as they like 
-- including geolocative data from phones equipped with GPS. Check this 
fun factoid from the initial summary:

"Sprint Nextel provided law enforcement agencies with its customers' 
(GPS) location information over 8 million times between September 2008 
and October 2009. This massive disclosure of sensitive customer 
information was made possible due to the roll-out by Sprint of a new, 
special web portal for law enforcement officers."

Read it and weep, as they used to say. And by the way, consider 
outfitting your Firefox with the Taco cookie opt-out plugin, available 
on dubfire, if you don't want to leave those whispering data-trails on 
dozens and dozens of major info-aggregating sites.

cheers, BH


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