Roland Dürre
Saturday February 7th, 2009

IT Fears: Real or Imagined?

This is the third (and last) of my sample articles for the Informatik-Spektrum:
The media warn against the perils of information technology: internet shopping and “browny-point” systems produce personal profiles and images of your character. Personal data become products of commerce. Famous topics are: criminal activities by call centres, data theft in general, the proposed “federal Trojans”, mini cameras and video monitoring in public places, the costly monitoring system on motorways, the disputed compulsory census queries, a no-longer-guaranteed bank secrecy, the Liechtenstein scandal, the video monitoring at Lidl, constantly recurring employee supervision in many enterprises, the Schufa-Holding in Wiesbaden, the increasing numbers of computer hackers who can enter any computer and abuse data at their own convenience, the risks of social networks, the weakness of firewalls, and many more.

To sum it up: you can read everywhere that everything is transparent, users do not know what they are up against, every mouse click, every hit of the keyboard, every password becomes a hazard. Then comes the ultimate advice how you can protect yourself against intrusion into the private sphere: “Just log out!” Of course, nobody logs out. The small i-phone shows the way. Being dependent on “Wifi” will soon cease to be a bottleneck in our civilization for a fast development of the info-mobile society. For example, let me describe NFC (near field connection). With NFC, you can read what is written on passive information bodies, such as poster columns or subway stations, with mobile phones. Those underwent the mutation to multi-functional IT end devices a long time ago and are now named “Handies” in New-German. NFC will initiate a totally new world of applications and the cell phone will become the basic means of payment abroad.

Because if something is both efficient and practical, it will prevail. Look at the cell phone. There have been and still are sensible reservations on different levels. Many people are concerned about the health hazard. Some are annoyed by the fact that all discussions and short messages (SMS) are stored. Others may find it justifiably alarming that movement profiles can be generated out of mobile network technical data. Nobody loves the receiver on his roof, but everybody has a cell phone. Thus, the mobile phone established itself, just like the money machine, internet banking, travel booking through the internet, and much more. The reason is that even personal reservations are easily forgotten as soon as you perceive a personal advantage.

To be sure, the collective and individual transparency will increase in an IT dominated society. There will be more risk in some segments that you “get caught and will have to take responsibility”. That is a positive aspect, and the Orwellian vision contradicts it. However, the new world will come, anyway. We only have a chance if we strive towards more tolerance and justice in our society. We will not solve our problems through technology.

1 Kommentar zu “IT Fears: Real or Imagined?”

  1. Dr. Werner Lorbeer (Sunday February 8th, 2009)

    “Sicher, die kollektive und individuelle Transparenz wird in einer IT-dominierten Gesellschaft zu nehmen.”
    Was hier als “Transparenz” bezeichnet wird bezeichne ich als informationelle Leibeigenschaft. Es stellt sich mir dar als Generalangriff auf das “Private” wie es John Locke ersonnen hat. Er musste nur über den übermächtigen und unlegitimierten Staat nachdenken. Heute erfolgt die Vernichtung des Privaten zusätzlich über die IT von Verbänden, Behörden, Firmen, Schulen etc., Datawarhousing, Dataminig, Schlüsselzusammenführung etc. Wehe uns, wenn sich alle, noch ein schöner positiv konnotierter Begriff, vernetzen. “transparent und vernetzt” – so sollen alle sein – nur nicht mehr “privat und kreativ”.

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