Have you noticed a bit of a theme emerging this week?
On Wednesday I wrote to you about the dangers of deepfakes. These artificial intelligence (AI) fakes are infiltrating our online media in a way that’s seemingly unstoppable.
On Thursday I noted how without electricity we’re all doomed. And that protecting our power assets is of the utmost importance.
I also pointed out that trials are underway using blockchain technology to protect the grid. Well funnily enough, it’s also through blockchain technology that we might be able to fight off deepfakes.
A start-up, Ambervideo, is using smart contracts and blockchain technology to track and trace deepfakes.
Also blockchain expert and PwC blockchain tech lead and solutions architect, Kevin Gannon, was quoted on Opendemocracy saying:
‘…the actual authenticity of video, audio files can be proven via a blockchain application where the hash of certain files can be compared against the originals. Though, it is not a silver bullet, and as always, the adoption and applicability of the technology in the right way is key.’
Can you tell what the theme is yet?
Is blockchain technology your answer?
Well, you’re wrong.
Government says yes, Facebook says no
The theme I’ve been picking up on this week is cyber defence. It doesn’t really matter what the solution is. It could be blockchain outcomes like I’ve pointed out above. Or it could be more traditional systems from giants of tech like Google.
According to Cointelegraph:
‘After spending over $100 million developing their [Content ID system], Google was able to create an algorithm that matches a user-uploaded video to a set of registered reference videos, even if it’s just a partial or somewhat-modified match.’
No blockchain solution there.
The point is that for too long people have been blasé about cyber defence. Even things as simple as passwords for your devices, far too many people still don’t take seriously.
I believe this is a hangover from the days when the world wasn’t so high-tech. When you didn’t need to log into your TV. When the phone in your hand was still tethered to the dialler on the wall. When your car had a chassis, wheels, an engine, and that’s about it.
Today there are more ways for attackers to get at you, at critical systems, and critical infrastructure than ever before. And thanks to government interference, these ‘backdoors’ will remain open.
The Aussie government is pushing to ensure tech companies maintain open access. They want encrypted applications like WhatsApp to have a backdoor in case the ‘Feds’ need to take a peek around.
The Telecommunications (Assistance and Access) Act 2018 is one of the most dangerous laws Australia has ever put into force. It should be repealed and people’s security taken far more seriously by the government.
Even IBM Common Stock [NYSE:IBM] has come out against this law.
A report in ARN explains how IBM want the Act reviewed. They explain:
‘[IBM says] that without review, the law has “potentially damaging” consequences for cyber security in Australia.
‘“Strong and ubiquitous encryption is essential for now and into the future,” the vendor’s submission argued.
‘It underpins data security, identity management and protection of devices against unauthorised access. It also plays a crucial role in defending critical infrastructure systems.
‘Security experts around the world recognise that empowering law enforcement agencies to build technology to counter encryption will result in a weakening of the encryption technology in use.’
Now the Australian, UK, and US governments are trying to use their power against Facebook. According to a letter obtained by The Guardian signed on 4 October, the governments ask Facebook not to:
‘…proceed with its plan to implement end-to-end encryption across its messaging services without ensuring that there is no reduction to user safety and without including a means for lawful access to the content of communications to protect our citizens.’
Facebook countered with:
‘We strongly oppose government attempts to build backdoors because they would undermine the privacy and security of people everywhere.’
The battle lines have been drawn
Quite clearly there’s a battle brewing here. The government wants to access everything you say and not let you know about it. But the tech giants of this world are actually trying to stop it from happening.
Now the likes of Facebook and Google get a hard wrap for some of their privacy practices. And rightly so. But at the same time they are the only ones with the might and clout to stand up to the government and say: ‘No, we won’t adhere to your draconian laws.’
Your right to have private, encrypted, and protected data should be enshrined in law. What shouldn’t be is the right of the government to pervade your data on a whim.
As we hurtle to a new decade I believe this is shaping up as one of the most important issues of our time.
Who should control and have access to your personal data? How do you protect yourself and your family from unauthorised access to it?
Clearly you should control your data. And you should choose who has access to it. And in terms of protecting yourself? Well there are plenty of ways to do it. There are plenty of companies out there delivering products and services to help out.
These are the companies that hold the key to your safe and private future. And they just might become the most important companies of the next decade.
Editor, Money Morning