Who’s afraid of the biometric database?
Israeli newspapers reported this week that Israel’s Population Registry was almost leaked to the Internet. Countless columns have been written about the danger posed by the biometric database proposed by the government. Science fiction books and movies warn us about the dangers of state totalitarian control over our lives. In the future, they warn, it will be possible to alter our identities, sell our information to the highest bidder, frame us and, in the worst case scenario, erase our information.
The funny thing is that, in any case, we already willingly provide all of our information to technology firms. Thus, for example, the eulogies for Steve Jobs and the abundant praise of Apple and its products never mention the dark side of the iPhone (or any other smartphone). The aggressive device has long become a portable computer stuffed into a cellular phone. Not for nothing has it amassed an enormous number of admirers around the world, but with its great advantages come disadvantages as well.
The latest upgrade, which moved Apple users to the iOS5 program, has already done it all. Thanks to it we now breathe, inhale and exhale on the Web. Backing up our devices is already not done on our computers. We don’t need to connect the cable to our PC. We don’t need to do anything. Our information is backed up daily in the digital cloud. With iOS5, Apple saves us the trouble of updating and backing up our digital treasures by automatically backing everything up directly to Apple servers (iCloud) through the cellular network, without the need for an actual physical connection. The cloud moves between all of our cell phones, between the personal computer and the iPod. And thus, all of our personal information – emails, letters, papers, music, movies we like – everything is constantly moving from place to place.
Apple has done this without the need to battle against activists who oppose the biometric database law. It didn’t need politics to pass new laws. The corporation already holds so much information that it does not need to fight the state and its authority over our identities.
We are already hostages to fast-developing technologies, which only increase Apple’s power. With one small malfunction, Apple can shut down or even erase our information. Blackberry users have already experienced this – a malfunction in the phone left millions of users without the ability to send email or use other systems on the portable device. Such is life.
Corruption at Apple could result in our information ending up with another corporation, or in the worst case, hackers could expose it online. Despite this, Apple enjoys our unquestioned trust. We love its technology, and we are addicted to the technological innovations that it delivers, never thinking for a second about the implications of the virtual network’s accelerated penetration into our lives.
So while we are worried about the information that the state holds about us, the cellular telephone has already become our identity card, giving giant corporations more information about us than the state will ever have.
Science fiction has become reality, yet we are still waging old-fashioned struggles against the state. This week we received a harsh warning about the responsibility of those who hold the state’s data. The question is, what happens when we get a warning from the heads of Apple?
this article was first published on israel hayom