Is it not a lovely day when you wake up, you go downstairs and if it is warm enough, likely in nothing more than a simple bathrobe you sit down. At this point, whether it is inside, or outside, you get the first start of the day with coffee and the newspaper. For most people, that part had been for a long time a slice of heaven.
We would go through the news whilst sipping tea or coffee (in my case the latter). What if I told you that these times are now forever a thing of the past?
My reasoning? For this I will go over each case in three parts. First the point I make, then the reasoning for that point and lastly the motive I personally think is behind that. I would like to add sources, but at times there are little to none and it is all based on common sense.
First there is no need to rehash the entire Leveson history. That reports was made and filed and suddenly the press was all uppity uppity on ‘the freedom of speech’ and how their rights are now no more.
Let us take a look at this part.
1. How often does the press report on privacy violations by large companies like Microsoft?
Answer: almost never. I found one article by the guardian, and a few by what we would normally all less reliable sources. (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/30/microsoft-privacy-chief-nsa)
Motive: The publications rely on big business (advertisements). It relies less on governments as their form of income and in addition, government is always seeking visibility, big business brings in money. In this situation I personally think that the press seems to be willing to ‘ignore‘ or whisper very softly certain events.
How about Microsoft HealthVault?
They state: “Privacy, It’s your HealthVault account. You decide who can see, use, add, and share info, and which health apps have access to it. HealthVault won’t provide your health information to any other app or service without your permission.”
Venturebeat had the following interesting quotes “For instance, Microsoft reserves the right to store your medical data offshore, in countries that may not have the same privacy protections as the U.S.”
“HealthVault appears to open the door to a potentially unlimited line of people, entities or programs that can obtain permission to read and alter your health information, since it’s possible to delegate the ability to grant those permissions to others.” If did find a few mentions by CBS and ZDNET, yet the papers (the big ones) did not show up in any search. Even though this issue is not that recent, it is still interesting that the big ones aren’t anywhere near this place.
If we consider that this means that if an insurer gets access to this, then the smallest visit to the hospital could result in an increase to your premium. This is all linked to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act 1996. There we find that the HIPAA Privacy Rule regulates the disclosure of Protected Health Information held by what we would call “covered entities” (employer sponsored health plans, health insurers, and medical service providers that engage in certain health transactions.) By regulation, the Department of Health and Human Services extended the HIPAA privacy rule to independent contractors of covered entities who fit within the definition of “business partners”.
So, if these contractors are outside of the national borders, your health data goes into several other directions too.
Consider that we volunteer this and other personal data to Microsoft (your Skype, your software, your Microsoft devices and your browser). How long until you represent a Z-Value? Not before too long, you are diminished to several Z-Values, and as your value depletes to below the norm, what options will remain for you?
Yet, the press seems to banter again and again on NSA and GCHQ. The question becomes, whether the press is nothing more than a simple tool to make us look the wrong way, whilst big business has a free go at us and our personal details.
I do not claim to know what the actual truth is here, but I do know that the press has not been focusing on the wider truth and reality too much lately. That is something that becomes slightly more visible when we read Claire Fox in her smug article (at http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/leveson-has-done-his-damnedest-to-encourage-press-regulation-despite-his-protestations-8874676.html)
When you hear the actual response by his Lordship in regards to WHY he felt it was inappropriate to answer, Claire just trivialises it in the air of “that he would not play ball“. Let us not forget that it is her right to see things in the way she did, I will not attack that, but this situation left me with question marks on how far ‘misrepresentation‘ goes at present.
So if big business is protected through non-visibility, then why don’t we just get rid of all journalists and rely on bloggers? The digital world is ready for it all, journalists no longer seem to be truly ‘story‘ driven, when the bulk hang on the usual GCHQ drab anyone can get from Reuters and the bulk of the big business transgressions remain on blogs, I wonder where the journalistic pride and ethics remained as they claim their part in their need for ‘freedom‘.
2. How will many protect their children and finances if visibility remains low on issues that have an impact? Many PC’s and tablets get linked to games that are ‘proclaimed’ to be free. Yet, when you want to move forward, you can pay for additional options.
The BBC covered this on September 25th (at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24272010). The Guardian seemed to have covered the same story and that is pretty much it. So why is there not a lot more visibility?
I had a look at a program called ‘Dragon Story‘. It looks nice, it is a little non-adult, but it has a few original sides. You can breed two dragons together and they leave an egg. You can hatch that egg and get a new different dragon. You can buy many of them, or if you take the time breed your collection. This is all pretty original. The dragons in their habitats collect money and that money can be used to grow your area. Yet, the part not shown is that some dragons are rare, some habitats (larger ones) are expensive. Smaller habitats can be bought with coins, but the larger ones must be bought with gold. That costs actual money. A child can without realising it spend $20 per habitat, some dragons; the really rare ones cost $50. So in 30 seconds a child can spend more money than a full version of Grand Theft Auto costs. It is clear that actions can be taken to prevent some damage, but the visibility is not there. Why?
In reflection upon ‘Dragon Story’, an addictive game named ‘Blockheads’ (a 2-d version of Minecraft) can also be downloaded for free, and you can buy an upgrade so that all actions go twice as fast. The price, $5! Now an additional option can be bought for $3, so that the player can play in higher resolution, a total of $8 for something that need not be bought, the choice is up to the player. THAT is what I call an excellent approach!
So where is the press here?
It cannot be for the lack of ‘public’ interest, as the tablet market in the UK alone is soaring towards 190 million owners this year. That is more than the total global owner base of the PlayStation 2 used to be (which was 150 million). So, one could say that tablet issues should be at the top of every newspaper. The Google search seemed to contradict this (I had to start somewhere).
So when we look at these heated arguments on the freedom of the press, we should be asking ourselves what they are complaining about. Freedom is nice, but when they relate it to the limits of their cubicle we get to miss a lot of information, the press and especially their editors should realise that.
In my view, to the extent I had read the Leveson report, I saw it not as an attack on the freedom of the press, but on the ‘enforcement’ of ethics and accountability. Those two are elements in any form of Journalism. For I am never against the freedom of the press, I do think that some acts require accountability. The hollow phrase ‘the people have a right to know’ lost its value when some used it to tabloid away all levels of privacy. Crashing a funeral less than two weeks ago by the Daily Mail is an excellent example of that. I do wonder whether all this is just about the journalists, or was the Leveson escalation due to a failing by the editors to keep a proper pulse of the journo’s they are supposed to mentor. To that I have no honest answer; there are too many murky facts in the open.
The PRESS fallout has been a long one and we are not there yet!