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If you worry that they’re out to get you, they’ve probably got you already

February 2, 2019

A couple of days ago, a friend who lives in Bahrain sent me a message via Facebook Messenger. I don’t use the app very often, preferring text, WhatsApp or email. She asked for my home address because she wanted to send me something. She didn’t say what she wanted to send.

Now in a world without paranoia, I would have replied immediately with the desired information. Instead, I hesitated for a couple of days. I had several concerns. Was this really her? Was this some malign hacker pretending to be her? Is some state actor in the Gulf trying to get a back door into my phone content? And what was the package? A bomb, Novichok? Should I use some alternative method of verifying that it was really her sending the message? Should I call her to find out what the package was?

In the end I took a chance and provided her with the address. So now Facebook, if they choose to use or sell the information, have my home address. Will I therefore find myself on a mailing list rustled up by the latest iteration of Cambridge Analytica (as if I’m not on enough already by one data scraping means or another)? Too late for Brexit, unless there’s a second referendum. But there will be another general election pretty soon, I reckon.

But then I figured that any organisation that has my post code therefore has my address, so to hell with it. Also I’m not important enough to waste a block of Semtex on, let alone a toothpaste tube impregnated with Novichok. As for the malign state actor, I hope they find the messages from my wife to pick up milk and frozen peas from Waitrose suitably instructive.

My friend would probably not even dream that I might have such concerns, and on reflection I felt pretty over-cautious myself.

But on reflection, do we not live in a strange society in which a seemingly innocent request should arouse such suspicion?

From → Middle East, Social, UK

  1. baritone2 permalink

    Here’s a thing… data is very easily harvested but the real value of data hinges on its age. No self-respecting data buyer( yes I was one of those) would buy data without verifying its source, its age and the last time it was validated etc. The lesson is that data deteriorates with age and that is our re-assurance. That if we stop sharing or allowing use of our data, then eventually, what they’ve got on us becomes useless/valueless.

    • Thanks for your input. Interesting. I’m not sure whether I should be comforted or concerned!

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