Monday, May 15, 2006

Bush, NSA and YahoogleZon.com: Double Standards and Management Frameworks

This is awesome: the largest database ever, so it's been said, is the artifact of the latest Bush / NSA tapping affair, as part of which the call records of almost any American have been collected and stored for further analysis. The reaction to this "Bushgate" consisted of the usual adjectives, i.e. "scandalous", "shocking", "frightening" and, on more practical grounds, of a bunch of lawyers, avidly working on billions US$ lawsuits against the collaborating operators.

And yet, at the same time, in the Virtual-o-Sphere - where countries have lovely names like Google, Yahoo!, and Amazon, and where governors are doing no evil - WE, the citizens (of both the Virtual-o-Sphere and the "old physical world") are willingly letting the V-Governments do what they perceive as necessary for their existence, as long as they keep providing us with fresh content and services "that just work". We let YahoogleZon.com and the other Internet Giants to store records of our VoIP calls, IM messages, Search & Chat history and private e-mails. These records are constantly correlated, enriched, compared etc. in the quest for Business Intelligence. The Virtual-o-Sphere governments know, for years already, who's talking to who, when, and where; what is the content of the conversation – be it a VoIP, Chat or Mail – they know it all and they use it constantly and explicitly for their own good – which is making more money.

I might be intellectually blind, but for me Bush, NSA, Google and Amazon are all equal in their attempts to acquire as much business intelligence as possible, in order to control what appears to be a complex, chaotic and unpredictable system, consisting of millions of elements, which happen to be... us. Moreover, if I had to weigh the morality of Bush vs. the Internet moguls, my tendency would be to prefer Bush over YahoogleZon.com, if only because the first might be interested in protecting my physical existence, while the other's only interest is in increasing its share's value.

To sum up, I think that once again we're having a double standard story.

In a completely different level I find this aggregation of CDRs (Call Detail Records) to be a sort of Q.E.D. on the essence of Service-Oriented Architecture. If you remember (well, sure you remember!) I maintained that SOA has nothing to do with integration and interoperability; rather, SOA is aimed at the creation of a management and control infrastructure for complex, organic and dynamic systems - be it an Enterprise or a State. The way SOA is realizing this mission is by listening (and even eavesdropping) to the conversing elements of the complex system. SOA is a management layer over private conversations. And see more details on this exact subject in my post In SOA We Trust, where you'll find the eye of BigBrother-NSA looking at you.

2 Comments:

Blogger Dan Ciruli said...

Ah, but there are some differences between YahoogleZon.com and BushCo, Inc. First, when I choose a VOIP provider, I get to choose with whom I do business. I get to read their privacy agreement. And if I don't like it, I can choose another provider. BushCo, Inc. provides no such choice nor agreement.

Secondly, while YahoogleZon.com are interested in marketing to me using the information they gather, BushCo Inc. may have far more nefarious goals in mind (see ABC News blog for info about how they are using the call record information).

Lastly: there's no Bill of Rights that prevents YahoogleZon.com from trying to collect this info. BushCo, Inc. can't say the same--they are (theoretically, at least) bound to follow the Constitution.

8:11 PM  
Blogger Muli Koppel said...

Let's discuss it this way: there's the collection phase and next comes the action phase (which is based on the intelligence created by the post-collection analysis).
Now, any organization having customers is engaged in the collection phase of usage records (or at least, those organizations having a Customer Data Warehouse and a Business Intelligence department). Privacy statements don't discuss this internal activity at all, and if I'm wrong – please refer me to an example.
Then comes the 2nd phase – that of acting upon the Intelligence. I think we should acknowledge that sooner or later we're going to merge into the virtual-o-sphere and that over there it is not Bush who's got the power but rather YahoogleZon.com, which has the potential of becoming as nasty and nefarious as BushInc.
After all, Google's "Do No Evil" suggests that Evil is a viable option…

11:22 PM  

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