Future Crimes

Recently Akamai Technology exhibition booth handed me a book by Marc Goodman entitled Future Crimes. I have been reading it up till chapter five, and it really scares me. It really live up to the the claim by the writer, after reading this book you’ll never look at hand phone, netbook, smart Tv, cable Tv, wired PC or any other electronic gadget in the same light again. Chew on  these stats for a start:

In 2014, every minute of the day, we:

  • sent 204,166,667 emails
  • queried Uncle Google engine 2 million times
  • shared 684,000 pieces of content on Facebook
  • sent out 100,000 tweets on Twitter
  • downloaded 47,000 apps from Apple App Store
  • uploaded about 48 hours of new video on Youtube
  • posted 36,000 new photos on Instagram
  • texted 34 million messages on WhatsApp

And…Facebook admitted that  at least 600,000 accounts were compromised every day. With all data collected and stored on line, there is no way we can guarantee its security despite the guarantee provided by various apps companies. Goodman said The more data you produce and store, the more organized crime is happy to consume. This is similar to the Moores Law.

When we register to use the various Apps like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, WhatsApp or Telegram, we happily and readily agree to the Terms of Service set by the companies. These ToS often written in tiny font size, leaded with half point spacing, with humongous wordy legal jargon designed to deter even seasoned lawyers to read them. Facebook ToS has 9,300 words in 2014 and it is growing. PayPal has the longest at 32,275 words – that is longer than Shakespeare’s Hamlet at 32,066 words.

These ToS mean they an take your data and use them for their own commercials interests. Goodman said by signing these ToS we are actually providing these companies with unending invaluable data that can be sold for lots and lots of money. We are actully working for them for free. By dutifully updating our status, biography, geographical locations, posting photographs, we are  In fact becoming the largest unpaid workforce in world history! The companies are making tons and tons of money from our data. Google’s revenue in 2013 was 59 billion USD and you just get a free search and several Gbs of emails! To illustrate how gullible or ignorant people can be regarding this ToS, a British retailer GameStation ran a little experiment in 2010. The company amended ToS ran something like this:

By placing on order via this GameStation site on the first day of the fourth month of 2010 Anno Domini, you agree to grant us a non transferable option to claim, for now and for ever more, your immortal soul. Should we wish to exercise this option, you agree to surrender your immortal soul , and any claim you may have on it, within five (5) working days of receiving written notification from gamestation.co.uk or one of its duly authorised minions.

Mind you, 7,500 people fell for this ridiculous terms. 7,500 were unwittingly willing to surrender their mortal souls to Gamestaion!

Courts around the world have found that agreement done by clicking ToS is legally binding. Another interesting point, had JK Rowling written Harry Potter in Google Doc rather than MS Word, she would have to battle it out in court to claim rights of her works and the rights for all the films adaptations. She might not be the billionaire that she is now. Had she written those novels in Google Doc, the ToS would have granted Google the rights to the documents. That is  real food for thought. Many of our documents now are written in Google Doc so that we can work concurrently on line with others on the same document.

What is scarier is the use of technology in crimes. When the Lashkar-e-Taiba bombed Mumbai in 2008, they were using real time data provide by satellite phone to plot their moves and check on police movements to capture them. The bombers use the technology available to maintain tactical edge over the police and even to the point of identifying their victims.

I’ll keep you posted on further reading.


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