Meta data means “data about data”, and for most people, it seems like “innocent data”. A good example of “meta data” is if you call your friend. The meta data for that phone call could be for instance; Who you called, for how long you spoke with the person, from which phone you called the other party from, who the recipient called after he hung up on you, and so on.
According to Edward Snowden, and an official statement from the NSA, Barack Obama, and the Department of Homeland Security, NSA claim to not monitor the “data itself” as much, as gathering “meta data”. A good example is how they claim to not wire-tap phone conversations, but instead only collect meta data about your phone calls. To understand why this is equally dangerous as wire tapping the actual conversation, I need to illustrate with an example.
Imagine you’re going to the doctor, and he tells you that you’ve got Chlamydia. The doctor informs you that you’ll have to contact everyone you’ve had sex with the last 6 months, to warn them that they may have Chlamydia. You come home, and post a status update at Facebook, telling everyone that you’ve got the “clams”. Then you start making your phone calls, to all whom you’ve had sex with the last 6 months, as the doctor told you to do.
One of the people you call during this day, just so happens to be the Prime Minister of Britain …
In another place of the world, and intelligence organization is collecting all your meta data, while cross referencing your meta data with your publicly available information. All of a sudden, they see that you’ve made a phone call to the British Prime Minister, while also seeing that the British Prime Minister, who btw is happily married, with somebody who’s *not you*, creates another phone call, after you hang up with him. The person the Prime Minister calls, after hanging up on you, happens to be his Physician!
The organization that collected the original meta data, now has a very strong case for knowledge about an issue, that the British Prime Minister would probably be willing to go to extreme lengths to hide for the public! Then imagine that the intelligence organization that collected this meta data, was the Chinese Intelligence Services …
China can now effectively extort the British Prime Minster to do as they tell him to do, on issues where he’d normally have a completely different viewpoint! Great Britain has now effectively been “intellectually occupied and enslaved” by the Chinese Government!
The above story, is a perfect illustration of why hiding meta data as much as possible, should be the primary concern, for everyone dealing with IT and security today!
When you use the web, regardless if you use encryption, others can still see which websites you visit, even though they cannot see what data you transmit. This problem has already largely been solved by Tor and the Onion protocol. However, for applications and computers, there does not (yet) exist similar solutions. If you have a website, and your website is relying upon Web Services from other servers, then your website, and its network traffic can incriminate you, and your server, and create similar scenarios for you, as I illustrated above. In addition, you will know where your data is coming from, and the other party will know who is requesting the data. This is not always to your benefit, nor the ones your server is communicating with. To understand why, let’s use an example from economics.
How the King was Poisoned by Safran!
Everyone knows that the best Safran in the world is produced in Iran. This is a fact also known to the King of Saudi-Arabia. However, if the King of Saudi-Arabia directly ordered Safran from Iran himself, he would be facing a dilemma. The dilemma is that Saudi-Arabia and Iran are bitter enemies. Iran is for the most parts filled with Shia Muslims, while Saudi-Arabia for the most parts is filled with Sunni Muslims. Shia and Sunnis are bitter enemies, almost the same way socialists and capitalists are. This means that the guy in Iran taking the order from the Saudi-Arabian King, could very well feel for putting Cyanide in the Safran, before he sends the Safran to the King ordering it in Saudi-Arabia.
The way traditional economics solves this problem, is by having several links between the Saudi-Arabian prince, ordering the Safran, and the person manufacturing the Safran in Iran. This way traditional economics facilitates for people who are normally “enemies”, to still collaborate, and trade with each other, having mutual benefit from each others existence and business, without ever even knowing that they’re in fact “in business together”! This way, traditional economics is “lubricating the world”, and facilitating for more Peace on Earth!
In computer technologies, we lack similar mechanisms! So what we need as a way to facilitate for “economics” in regards to information knowledge, is the ability to “anonymize meta data”. A perfect example can be taken from my daily surroundings. Most of my friends, are so-called “conspiracy theorists”. This group is effectively at war with the so-called “skeptics” of the world. To have these two groups collaborate together, is like mixing oil and water. Or even worse; Mixing fire and gunpowder you might say! If these two groups knew the “other side” was requesting data from them, they would probably both consciously choose to corrupt the data transmitted. This is the equivalent of the “Cyanide” example from above.
If however, instead of requesting the data directly from each other, they instead simply requested data, not caring about where it comes from, for then to judge for themselves if this data has any value or not, and the source they requested data from, did not know who was requesting the data, then a completely different scenario would emerge! This would become a mechanism for allowing natural enemies to still collaborate with each other, on the task of creating better access to data, since none of the parties involved in the data-transaction, would know neither where the data was going, nor where it originated from. This is the same way “money” facilitates for exchange of goods and services, while anonymizing both transaction parties, and hence “lubricating” our world. Money is basically the reason why the Saudi-Arabian King can safely eat food with Safran produced in Iran!
All of these scenarios can easily be solved by something I like to refer to as the “Hammer Protocol”, which solves the same problems that Money solves for traditional economics. The Hammer Protocol is basically an implementation of Tor Routing for Web Services, which you can read about in my previous blog.
IT is first and foremost about *security* and not necessarily about “data harvesting”. Because no data can hold any value, in a world where both the recipient, and the sender, knows each other, and some huge “Man in the Middle is collecting it all”. Data works like money in such a regard! When ever our governments “takes it all”, there can no longer be neither Freedom, Trust nor Innovation, and hence we all suffer!
And since we all know where all our data is basically ending up, we’ve got a “Cyanide backdoor”, into the Heart of the USA, through NSA’s and the CIA’s “data collection centers”. This allows us all to “send Cyanide” to the “King of the USA” …
This is a problem we have never seen anything similar to, throughout the History of Man!
There’s a Gypsy saying that goes like this; “Be careful what you wish for, you might have your wish come true!” – And “someone” asked for access to all the information in the World! And I think, to be quite honest with you, that they may be having second thoughts on this decision today …
So although, I am 100% completely against Intelligence Gathering and Centralized Surveillance, I am not necessarily against “intelligence”. The reason is because “gathering all intelligence on the planet, through using Surveillance” is an *extremely* unintelligent thing to do … 😉
When we pay our taxes, we’re supposed to pay a tenth to our society and/or Church. I perceive information the same way. If our governments gets 10% of what we know, then that should be sufficient for any government, to be able to provide their services to their people!
The rest belongs to “We the People” !!
Now over to something completely unrelated 😀