Thursday, March 18, 2010

Watch My PUC Presentation Tomorrow - Read Bruce Schneier's Latest

I want to reiterate my invitation to watch me present before the Public Utilities Commission tomorrow (watch the live webcast here) on the privacy implications of a Smart Grid electrical system. AS I posted last week, my panel begins at 10:30 AM and goes until noon (expect the statement to be right at the beginning).

Now, I don't want to give up too much of what I'm going to say (we each have an opening 10 minute written statement...then what's left of the 90 minutes will go to a panel discussion...of which I'm on), but I will let readers know that I'm not going to focus on the Smart Grid as if its in a vacuum.

Anyone that has read this blog probably knows that I like to serve as a "dot connector", and as such, the privacy threats that are posed by a Smart Grid system alone, aren't what's most worrisome. No, its the totality of the assault on both the right to privacy, and the very idea of privacy itself that I want to touch on too.

And to do that, I will establish a pattern, a kind of trend line, that should make us all take a step back and ask some bigger questions, particularly, what is privacy in the information age? And, what can we even do to re-affirm and protect it at a time it has been whittled away to almost nothing?

I will leave it there for today, because, I will post my statement to the PUC in full before once I give it.

My Vacation to Baja: March 22nd - March 29th

For readers, please know that, after posting my official statement here tomorrow or Saturday, I won't be posting again until at least March 30th, as I'll be visiting my father in Baja for a much needed vacation. I will be looking forward to gaining strength and rejuvenation from the land, from the ocean, and yes, from the whales (and my father).

It's possible that a colleague might post something here...but probably not.

With that, I thought this article in Networld about a recent speech given by privacy expert Bruce Schneier would be a fitting post before I go to the PUC. Needless to say, I think Schneier is simply RIGHT ON, about privacy, its endangered future, and the need to establish (at least try) tough new laws that address this issue in cyberspace.

Tim Greene of Network World reports:

The longer information-privacy policies go unset, the more likely it is that they never will be set, says Schneier, an author of books about security and CTO of security consultant BT Counterpane. As young people grow up with broad swaths of information about them in the public domain, they will lose any sense of privacy that older generations have.


As Schneier sees it, the problem is one of balancing control over data to maximize individuals' liberty. If individuals control data about themselves, that gives them liberty. If their information is controlled by the government, they lose liberty and power, he says. "If you give an individual privacy, he gets more power," Schneier says.


Social networking puts more information about individuals in front of the public with the illusion that it is private. But social networks don't try to help preserve privacy, Schneier says, citing U.K. research that found all 43 social networking sites reviewed make privacy control settings difficult to find and to understand. And defaults are almost always set to allow maximum dispersal of data, he says.


Mediating interactions with other people through computers -- social networking -- calls for setting policies about how information in those interactions is handled. "It's not natural," he says. "We now need policies where we didn't before."But people growing up living more of their lives in public won't know anything else. "By the time you graduate high school, you've been dumped on Facebook, and you're used to it," he says.

Click here to read more.

That's all for now...

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