Chapter 9. Multilateral Security

Privacy is a transient notion. It started when people stopped believing that God could see everything and stopped when governments realised there was a vacancy to be filled.

— Roger Needham

You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.

— Scott Mcnealy

Introduction

Often our goal is not to prevent information flowing 'down' a hierarchy but to prevent it flowing 'across' between departments. Relevant applications range from healthcare to national intelligence, and include most applications where the privacy of individual customers', citizens' or patients' data is at stake. They account for a significant proportion of information processing systems but their protection is often poorly designed and implemented. This has led to a number of expensive fiascos.

The basic problem is that if you centralise systems containing sensitive information, you risk creating a more valuable asset and simultaneously giving more people access to it. This is now a pressing problem in the world of 'Web 2.0' as online applications amass petabytes of people's private information. And it's not just Google Documents; a number of organisations plan to warehouse your medical records online. Microsoft has announced HealthVault, which will let your doctors store your medical records online in a data centre and give you some control over access; other IT firms have broadly similar plans. Yet privacy activists point out that however convenient this may be in an emergency, it gives access ...

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