PRIVACY is a bit of a hot-button topic this week.
On the international stage the winsome starlet Jennifer Lawrence (not to be confused with Canberra’s own Jennifer Lawrence who is entirely winsome but has yet to win an Academy Award) has joined the wider world in the desire to see herself naked, taking the pictures to fulfil that desire on her iPhone only to see them become public.
Due to, it seems, a bizarre combination of security flaws in Apple’s back-up system for iPhones her naked selfies have percolated through the sewers of the internet and, with a bunch of other celebrities, come into the broader public domain.
On the other hand, Canberra’s Queen of Mr Fluffy Victims, Brianna Heseltine, has posted unwisely to Facebook about her political ambitions, said a number of inconsistent things, and threatened to sue everybody.
Facebook privacy is, Brianna’s protestations aside, a relatively simple matter.
Unless one gains binding undertakings in advance, any information shared is the property of those it is shared with.
Let’s try and grasp how Brianna wants the world to work.
A figure engaged in a public advocacy campaign to enrich a small group of property investors who gambled badly on amosite asbestos deserve compensation (at least in terms of comparative disadvantage) at the expense of the homeless and mentally ill (I realise this is pushing the limits of debate, but Fluffy compensation money is going to come at the expense of many far worse off).
She wants to do this while planning a candidacy for the party of Government (as announced on her Facebook profile weeks before denying such plans on Radio 2CC), while claiming privacy and a right to sue everyone and anyone. (Deep breath).
Let us turn our thoughts back to Hollywood’s Ms Lawrence.
Celebrities, as loosely defined by regular appearances on late-night American television, tend to have an innocuous email address through which they conduct their personal business.
In my travels, I’ve gained a couple of them and the unspoken contract is that the address will never be used trivially and will not be shared with anyone else.
But armed with such information it has until recently been possible to fire brute force password attacks at Apple’s iCloud service. Once one knows that Jlawr@jenniferlawrence.com (as a hypothetical and imagined example) is the target ID, then robots can run potential passwords at the server until the deep booming voice says: “Open, sesame”.
Because Apple runs superb back-up services above and beyond any other IT company, those two data allow a person in possession to build themselves a perfect replica of the starlet’s iPhone, including any nude selfies.
When the intricacies are beyond mighty Apple what hope the rest of us?
We start up a new phone to be bombarded by ill-defined messages asking us crucial questions.
“Automatic backup?” Well that sounds good doesn’t it?
One would like to think feminism has more to aim at as an “ultimate goal” than women taking pictures of themselves naked.
But should that urge prove irresistible it might be best to make sure the image capturing device has a simple enough information technology stack to really understand what it’s doing.
Failing that, Polaroids.
Shake it like a polaroid picture.