Dados e Privacidade

Dados e Privacidade

Interessante matéria do Economist, Civil liberties: surveillance and privacy | Learning to live with Big Brother mostrando como as novas tecnologias digitais têm expandido as formas de coleta de dados pessoais e como isso ameaça um dos pilares da democracia moderna: a vida privada. Abaixo alguns trechos. Vejam matéria na íntegra no link acima.

AP That old-time data: East Germany’s files

“IT USED to be easy to tell whether you were in a free country or a dictatorship. In an old-time police state, the goons are everywhere, both in person and through a web of informers that penetrates every workplace, community and family. They glean whatever they can about your political views, if you are careless enough to express them in public, and your personal foibles. What they fail to pick up in the café or canteen, they learn by reading your letters or tapping your phone. The knowledge thus amassed is then stored on millions of yellowing pieces of paper, typed or handwritten; from an old-time dictator’s viewpoint, exclusive access to these files is at least as powerful an instrument of fear as any torture chamber. Only when a regime falls will the files either be destroyed, or thrown open so people can see which of their friends was an informer.

These days, data about people’s whereabouts, purchases, behaviour and personal lives are gathered, stored and shared on a scale that no dictator of the old school ever thought possible. Most of the time, there is nothing obviously malign about this. Governments say they need to gather data to ward off terrorism or protect public health; corporations say they do it to deliver goods and services more efficiently. But the ubiquity of electronic data-gathering and processing—and above all, its acceptance by the public—is still astonishing, even compared with a decade ago. Nor is it confined to one region or political system.

In China, even as economic freedom burgeons, millions of city-dwellers are being issued with obligatory high-tech “residency” cards. These hold details of their ethnicity, religion, educational background, police record and even reproductive history – a refinement of the identity papers used by communist regimes.

Britain used to pride itself on respecting privacy more than most other democracies do. But there is not much objection among Britons as “talking” surveillance cameras, fitted with loudspeakers, are installed, enabling human monitors to shout rebukes at anyone spotted dropping litter, relieving themselves against a wall or engaging in other “anti-social” behaviour.

Even smarter technology than that—the sort that has been designed to fight 21st century wars – is being used in the fight against crime, both petty and serious. In Britain, Italy and America, police are experimenting with the use of miniature remote-controlled drone aircraft, fitted with video cameras and infra-red night vision, to detect “suspicious” behaviour in crowds. Weighing no more than a bag of sugar and so quiet that it cannot be heard (or seen) when more than 50 metres (150 feet) from the ground, the battery-operated UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) can be flown even when out of sight by virtue of the images beamed back to a field operator equipped with special goggles. MW Power, the firm that distributes the technology in Britain, has plans to add a “smart water” spray that would be squirted at suspects, infusing their skin and clothes with genetic tags, enabling police to identify them later.(…)”

Take radio-frequency identification (RFID) microchips, long used to track goods and identify family pets; increasingly they are being implanted in human beings. Such implants are used to help American carers keep track of old people; to give employees access to high-security areas (in Mexico and Ohio); and even to give willing night-club patrons the chance to jump entry queues and dispense with cash at the bar (in Spain and the Netherlands). Some people want everyone to be implanted with RFIDs, as the answer to identity theft.

Across the rich and not-so-rich world, electronic devices are already being used to keep tabs on ordinary citizens as never before. Closed-circuit television cameras (CCTV) with infra-red night vision peer down at citizens from street corners, and in banks, airports and shopping malls. Every time someone clicks on a web page, makes a phone call, uses a credit card, or checks in with a microchipped pass at work, that person leaves a data trail that can later be tracked. Every day, billions of bits of such personal data are stored, sifted, analysed, cross-referenced with other information and, in many cases, used to build up profiles to predict possible future behaviour. Sometimes this information is collected by governments; mostly it is gathered by companies, though in many cases they are obliged to make it available to law-enforcement agencies and other state bodies when asked.(…)

Privacy is a modern “right”. It is not even mentioned in the 18th-century revolutionaries’ list of demands. Indeed, it was not explicitly enshrined in international human-rights laws and treaties until after the second world war. Few people outside the civil-liberties community seem to be really worried about its loss now.

That may be because electronic surveillance has not yet had a big impact on most people’s lives, other than (usually) making it easier to deal with officialdom. But with the collection and centralisation of such vast amounts of data, the potential for abuse is huge and the safeguards paltry.(…)

On the face of things, the information age renders impossible an old-fashioned, file-collecting dictatorship, based on a state monopoly of communications. But imagine what sort of state may emerge as the best brains of a secret police force—a force whose house culture treats all dissent as dangerous—perfect the art of gathering and using information on massive computer banks, not yellowing paper.”