Google's decision to change
how it deals with China was supposedly precipitated by a hack attack on its computer system that was apparently most likely instigated by the Chinese government. While many are discussing how this shows the level of computer-based espionage -- corporate and national -- going on these days
, a more interesting take comes from Julian Sanchez, who notes that the real issue
isn't so much about hacking into computers, but about the official "surveillance" apps that companies now use
to placate law enforcement. That's because what was hacked at Google was its surveillance app
that it uses to help deal with law enforcement requests. As Sanchez notes:
The irony here is that, while we're accustomed to talking about the tension between privacy and security--to the point where it sometimes seems like people think greater invasion of privacy ipso facto yields greater security--one of the most serious and least discussed problems with built-in surveillance is the security risk it creates.
Indeed, we were just discussing how more surveillance can make us less safe
by creating a bigger backlog, but Sanchez is pointing out that it's even worse than that. More surveillance can make us less safe because it can more easily expose data that should have been deleted. Creating surveillance databases creates a huge opportunity for attack. Remember those telco databases we were talking about that make it easy
for law enforcement officials (hopefully with a warrant) to track your location by GPS? You have to imagine those make a nice target for hacking as well... And that's true of any such surveillance database. While they're supposed to help keep us "safer," they also put a ton of valuable info in a single place -- which makes them attractive targets for those who wish to make us less safe.