Monday, August 1, 2011

An Integral Part of Your Life

I wrote a post a little while back about the internet, social media and security. After all, Africa and especially East Africa seems to be riding the crest of an ICT wave that's going to be affecting us all for decades to come. Exciting times, right? I guess this is as good a time as any to confess that I am now formally in the business of peddling social media to civil society organizations. Which means also having to consider the Bigger Picture issues that come with the job, such as the very real concern with social media's use as a surveillance tool.

If you are still thinking that social media and ICT is "pretty harmless stuff," check out this fascinating experiment carried out by Malte Spitz, a German politician, that my colleague passed on to me today. When George Orwell wrote 1984, who could possibly have known how prophetic his work would turn out to be? Science fiction wins again.


  1. That's one very alarming map you posted a link to. But it rings very true with my experience.

    I tried a little experiment of my own some time back to see what information I could get out of one of Tanzania's mobile networks. I used a friend-of-a-friend who worked at the network, and asked them about where a friend of mine had been at a particular time when they sent me a particular text message. And I got back chapter and verse on where the message had been sent from, where else that person had been, who else they had been communicating with, and was even offered the contents of other messages they had sent and received.

    If I can do that with almost no effort involved, it seems pretty clear than anyone with the right connections, power or money could do the same.

  2. @Anonymous: I had heard about the possibility of getting this information here, but I didn't know it was that easy... frightening technology, this.


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