From scatterplot to Unicorn

We all have these moments, even if we deny this, even if we do not want this, we get drawn in. We see the point in a plot and the mind fills in the connections. To see this, we need to take a look at two articles. The first one is ‘Australia’s spy agencies caught collecting COVID-19 app data’, which was given to us by Ted Crunch (at https://techcrunch.com/2020/11/24/australia-spy-agencies-covid-19-app-data/) last November. There we see “Australia’s intelligence agencies have been caught “incidentally” collecting data from the country’s COVIDSafe contact-tracing app during the first six months of its launch, a government watchdog has found”, in this I do not really care, I do not trust ANY contact tracing app. Most of them are quick designed apps with a need to make a few quick bucks (evidence to follow). The article also gives us “For some, fears that a government spy agency could access COVID-19 contact-tracing data was the worst possible outcome”, why? If you think that the government is your worst enemy, then read on. 

The second part is seen when we turn towards the Netherlands. They give us ‘Data leak test provider: anyone could get fake test results in app CoronaCheck’ (at https://nos.nl/artikel/2389818-datalek-testaanbieder-iedereen-kon-valse-testuitslagen-in-app-coronacheck-krijgen), there we see “Due to a major leak at a company conducting corona tests, it was possible for anyone to obtain fake travel or access certificates in the CoronaCheck app and manipulate data. The company works for Testenvoorjereis.nl, which has been set up by the government”, it is only the beginning. The additional part is “Not only was it possible to create false evidence, but sensitive personal data was also leaked from more than 60,000 people who had been tested by the provider”, here we see the issue, not only is there a pool of data from people going on, or recently went on vacation, it is possible for criminal elements to create false papers for all kind of reasons. And there were people calling me mad? I think that these two parts show just how shortsighted those pushing for quick creation are. One could argue that any of these 60.000 households can make a claim towards the people behind testenvoorjereis.nl if they get burgled. Is it me, am I seeing the unicorn in the scatterplot, or is it the alleged delusional making claims like “Incidentally, there is still no evidence that anyone other than the RTL journalist has gained access to the system, VWS informs”, a stage that is not a given and and there is a chance that they will never be able to prove that there was no access. It is a stage that can fall either way. I tend to side with the cautious side, and there is a larger stage of denial from the other side. 

The problem is not the precautions one side makes, it is the uninhibited hype towards apps and data. And in this stage the criminals are laughing their heads off. They get way too much access to too many datasets. It might be small, yet when they aggregate 2-5 of these sources, they end up with a rather large dataset that is a lot more complete than too many sources are willing to admit to. These apps all rely on phone number, or mobile serial number, optionally even with connection details. Now consider that people have been kindly logging into EVERY place, all in the name of safety. So a person goes from Whole Foods, to the Trocadero, to Regent Street, to Liberty London, the get a Corona test, they register everywhere and the criminals are taking note, especially when some are about to go on vacation. This is a lot larger than the Netherlands. I am willing to go on faith (faith of the greed driven) that most Commonwealth countries have similar flaws, if not bigger ones. 

Is it me? Am I seeing the unicorn in a scatterplot? I am willing to admit that I am on a piece of slippery ice, yet personally I do not believe that to be the case, there is too much out there to support my point of view.

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Filed under IT, Politics, Science

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