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France, India, Korea, Interpol, and Anonymous – Today’s Digital Dilemma

Today’s news included some interesting collisions in who owns private information about Internet users and where government can interfere.

France, for example, warned Google that its privacy policy and launched and investigation into whether Google’s soon to be adopted policy changes may be illegal under European data protection laws. At the same time, India announced it was stepping up its surveillance of on line activities through the creation of the National Cyber Coordination Centre an agency which will scan Internet traffic and post alerts to other agencies when security concerns arise. Meanwhile, Korea announced last month that it is most likely dropping its policy that prohibited anonymous postings by requiring posters to provide their government identification registration number – the so-called “real name system”. Korea noted that the program simply didn’t work and the globalization of social media sites makes it impossible to enforce.

Nor should it go unnoticed that Anonymous claims to have shut down Interpol’s website in retaliation of the arrest of 25 suspected members of the hacker group. The latest unsubstantiated threat from Anonymous (and one the group – whoever they are – claim is not true) is that they’re going to shut down the entire Internet on March 31, dubbing the event, “Global Blackout”, reminiscent of the unfulfilled threat – Operation Blackout – to shut down Facebook earlier this year. At least one security expert, Robert David Graham, believes it’s not possible for anyone to take down the entire Internet. But could a group like Anonymous simultaneously shutter, e.g., Google, Facebook, and Twitter, and as far as millions will be concerned, shut down the Internet has they know it? Graham says “maybe”.

All of this illustrates the ongoing battle faced by terrestrial nations trying to balance privacy with surveillance and individuals trying to protect their personal information from wholesale exploitation. The question, however, is not whether there is a balance, but whether a balance is even possible.

Doug Wood, We Expert

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