Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Get HideMyAss! VPN, PC Mag's Top 10 VPNs of 2016 for 55% off for a Limited Time ×
Privacy Government

It's Getting Harder To Reside Anonymously In a Modern City (citiesofthefuture.eu) 100

dkatana writes: In a panel on 'Privacy in the Smart City' during this month's Smart City World Congress, Dr. Carmela Troncoso, a researcher from Spain, argued that data anonymization itself is almost impossible without using advanced cryptography. Our every transaction leaves a digital marker that can be mined by anyone with the right tools or enough determination.

Most modern cities today are full of sensors and connected devices. Some are considering giving away free WiFi in exchange of personal data. LinkNYC, which was present at the congress as exhibitor, is one such example of this. The panelists insisted that it is the duty of world leaders to safeguard their citizens' privacy, just as corporations are answerable to leaks and hacks.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

It's Getting Harder To Reside Anonymously In a Modern City

Comments Filter:
  • IMHO that's good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Monday November 30, 2015 @10:47AM (#51026337) Journal

    Personally, I think the anonymity of people in massive cities is the source of many of the problems of city life.

    A lot of urbanites poo-pooh the closed-minded clannishness of small town life, but part of the VALUE of this life (I live in a MN town of 1500) is that people know each other. They know each others' families, they know their histories.

    If you're an asshole, people know it and will remember it. So you make SURE you don't act like an asshole. Cities? You'll likely never see that person again, so who gives a shit?

    • by dablow ( 3670865 ) on Monday November 30, 2015 @11:10AM (#51026477)

      Anonymity is what enabled the modern world.

      It was because the anonymity cities provided people where able to question religious dogma, dared to question the authority of king and queens etc.....

      Yes, having anonymity also leads to people being douche bags to each other, that is the price to pay for a technological civilization.

      BTW last I checked, small towns also had a lot of the same issues as big cities. Murder, drug use, spousal abuse, etc happen there too. And although I have not looked into the numbers, probably in the same proportions as major cities. So like if there is 3 murders per 100,000 in a mjor urban area, that means if you divide up the population into 66 towns of 1500 people, only 3 of them will experience a murder. Which leads to the perception that it "never happens".

      • by TWX ( 665546 )

        It was because the anonymity cities provided people where able to question religious dogma, dared to question the authority of king and queens etc...

        Are you sure that was anonymity and not simply groups meeting in secret?

        • by dablow ( 3670865 )

          Of course there was groups meeting in secret.

          However how do do you have secret meetings if everybody knows who you are, where you are, what you are talking about and with whom at all times?

          Secrecy is dependent on privacy.

          • by TWX ( 665546 )
            Clandestine meetings take place in public areas all of the time. Additionally there are still private clubs (as there were back then) where only members could enter. Barring everyone else included the authorities.
            • Additionally there are still private clubs (as there were back then) where only members could enter. Barring everyone else included the authorities.

              I dunno....if you have one of those clubs and try to exclude anyone, you get hit with a racist or sexist tag and get sued.....and there goes you exclusivity.

            • by dablow ( 3670865 )

              It is not clandestine if the people meeting in a public location are known to all, if people can hear what they discuss, with whom, what they are planning.....

              They reason why they can meet clandestinely in a public space is due to anonymity. Nobody knows who they are and don't care...

              However if for example, il all outspoken critics of the catholic church are grouping up in a public park, the catholic church knows something is up and could move to suppress said movement.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        > Anonymity is what enabled the modern world.

        FALSE.

        Mutually assured destruction, plus safety in numbers enabled the modern world.

        Anonymity is only an enabler of assholes. The larger question, which you are gleefully ignoring (because your diseased society has taught you to hate the truth above all else) is WHY do you think you need to be anonymous in order for social progress to take place? If progress can only happen with anonymity, then you have got waaaaaaaaaayyyyyy bigger problems than just religious

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          "Without Freedom of Thought, there can be no such Thing as Wisdom; and no such Thing as publick Liberty, without Freedom of Speech; which is the Right of every Man, as far as by it, he does not hurt or controul the Right of another: And this is the only Check it ought to suffer, and the only Bounds it ought to know."

          - Some Asshole

    • Ah. You mean like this country neighbor? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    • by ColdBoot ( 89397 )

      well said. It is the peer pressure that helps keep rural society in check. Without that, there is no enforcement mechanism to ensure social norms are complied with which explains in part why urban societies are so much looser.

    • There is a side effect to this. Large cities are actually easier on the environment to people scattered all over the place. Whether you think the big city is good or not from an asshole standpoint, it's good from a resource standpoint, so we need to solve the asshole standpoint or we all drown in rising sea levels.

    • So you think instead of having two different options (small town/city) we should instead only have one option?

    • by oic0 ( 1864384 )
      It just lets you find out who they really are without pretense. Just like online, if youre a jerk when you think youre anonymous, you actually are a jerk.
    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      Personally, I think the anonymity of people in massive cities is the source of many of the problems of city life.

      Yes, but the lack of anonymity in rural communities is the source of many of the problems of living there too. I've heard many say they moved to the big city to get away from the peanut gallery.

    • by Falos ( 2905315 )
      Oh. You think commoners have access to Big Data. Imaginary property will actually resemble property when it's undistributed.

      But this isn't about Frank down the street. Precedent and protocol should be determined by more than your minisemiquasimicrocosm. If you can't see the big picture - a perspective that's better delivered by separating The Message and the identity that happened to write it - then defer to those who will think beyond themselves.
    • Who cares if someone's an asshole? They'll be naturally avoided anyway. Does the whole town have to know who's naughty and nice? Then it's about being a secret asshole and keeping up appearances. Assholes are assholes regardless of who is aware of their being an asshole anyway. They'll just make sure they slime their way out of consequences anyway. I know plenty of assholes at work and they're not anonymous. They don't care nobody helps them out, they have ways of preying on the weak and twisting arms to g

    • If you're an asshole, people know it and will remember it. So you make SURE you don't act like an asshole. Cities? You'll likely never see that person again, so who gives a shit?

      I have had similar thoughts. If you live in the city and lose all your friends, no big deal, just go find other ones pretty quick. No reason to value them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Noble713 ( 3516573 )

      If you're an asshole, people know it and will remember it. So you make SURE you don't act like an asshole.

      Things that nosy small town people consider assholish:
      1. Inter-racial relationships. "Ohhh, didn't you know your daughter is dating a gaijin? And a black man at that? You must be so ashamed."
      2. Material wealth. "Mr. X is driving a Lexus now. He must think he's better than us. What did he do to get that money anyway, living and working out here? Probably something illegal."
      3. Niche music/TV/fashion tastes. "Did you hear that noise Mr. X was playing? He called it 'death metal'. That's the path to the De

      • by moeinvt ( 851793 )

        Is that "groupthink" or is it a matter of cultural norms? Isn't a small town just a social connection between "like minded individuals" which is made somewhat more rigid by geography? The types of differences you're talking about definitely attract attention in a small town, but it's unfair to suggest that every difference which attracts attention is viewed as an intolerable negative.

        The problem I see with cities is that this "mind your own business" mentality becomes extreme to the point of dehumaniza

    • by Shadow IT Ninja ( 3891909 ) on Monday November 30, 2015 @02:48PM (#51028457)
      But the smart city isn't addressing this issue at all. You are still anonymous to other ordinary citizens. It's corporations and government agencies you are no longer anonymous to.
    • If you're an asshole, people know it and will remember it. So you make SURE you don't act like an asshole. Cities? You'll likely never see that person again, so who gives a shit?

      Small-town assholes are the worst of the lot.

      And in any case, there are thousands of other small towns where these assholes can move, starting afresh as an assumedly wholesome, small-town type of folk. After all, "Nothing ever happens here"

    • But there are the problems with not being anonymous, even in a small town. If you get a rep for being a trouble maker as a kid, the police will always suspect you even when you haven't done anything. Like Dukes of Hazzard. Social life often means going over to the next town where people don't know you and you can have a beer with your date without causing gossip. Especially if that date happens to be the same sex, or is older, younger, married, of the wrong race or religion. And speaking of religion, e

  • by known_coward_69 ( 4151743 ) on Monday November 30, 2015 @11:00AM (#51026423)
    in NYC you can find a basement to rent in a private home for cash and a lot of times a minimal background check. buy a burner cell phone or use only a home phone and pay cash for everything. but gift cards to shop online or walk to the local store. metro card machines take cash. live life like your parents did.
    • by Chrisq ( 894406 )

      in NYC you can find a basement to rent in a private home for cash and a lot of times a minimal background check.

      Can you really? In the UK the checks that landlords must provide are far form minimal [telegraph.co.uk]. I'm pretty sure you could find places to rent that didn't do this, but I don't think they'd be in the best parts of town!

      • NYC is full of illegal and semi-legal rentals where people who own a home rent out their basements to help make the payments. you can get buy with showing your ID and a simple credit/criminal check for legal reasons. the payments can be made in cash. illegal immigrants do it all the time. kids just want to live in hyped up neighborhoods full of snooty bars and restaurants and shop online because they are too lazy to walk to the local store for anything
      • So how do illegal aliens do it then?

        • In the UK, illegal landlords. Putting 5 families into a normal house, well beyond the legal limits, knowing the families cannot raise complaints.

        • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
          Re 'So how do illegal"?
          In the distant past it was simple: One person has photo ID that is acceptable at a state and federal level. Rent it out to a person who has the same basic appearance and they can rent a home in your name. Only do that one time and a steady flow of cash is paid for the cover ID owner, paper work is paid for by a group of people living in that home under the cover name.
          It works as different state, city, federal databases could often never be shared as the name is not on any gov lis
    • And use a license plate cover [usatoday.com] (although covers have been made explicitely illegal in some places).
      • Completely illegal in the UK, as is pretty much any changes to the number plate - you cant even change the spacing between characters.

  • One can easily live anonymously if one is willing to sacrifice modern convenience. Buy things only with cash. Live somewhere less desirable where the landlord doesn't want to know who the tenants are, or pay a lot more to live somewhere such that the landlord turns a blind-eye to the anonymity, and don't have some characteristic that draws attention. Use mass transit and use the cash-accepting kiosks to buy tickets and don't own a car.

    On the other hand, if one wants to consider anonymity and loss of i
    • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

      Does any of that really work when massive facial recognition systems exist and cameras are everywhere.

      As long as nobody takes an interest it you anonymity is possible. The moment a three letter or other LEO does take an interest they can probably track you and uniquely identify around town easily.

      • most of the cameras are privately owned to watch over someone's property. the data is deleted within a few days unless it catches a crime and the cops ask for the feed. at least in the USA
        • You need a good doze of wake the fuck up. There are fixed cameras everywhere; bars, stores, restaurant, street lights, tablets, laptops, possibly your TV... It has also become difficult to go out without someone pointing a cell phone in one's general direction and take a picture, either having coffee or at a restaurant. Even private property owners usually contract out the camera surveillance, most often to their ISPs, and have no control over the feed retention.
          • by TWX ( 665546 )

            You need a good doze of wake the fuck up. There are fixed cameras everywhere; bars, stores, restaurant, street lights, tablets, laptops, possibly your TV... It has also become difficult to go out without someone pointing a cell phone in one's general direction and take a picture, either having coffee or at a restaurant. Even private property owners usually contract out the camera surveillance, most often to their ISPs, and have no control over the feed retention.

            [CITATION NEEDED]

            Seriously. Citation needed. In my experience they're locally stored and operated, simply because the bandwidth of the cameras is far too high to send it across the WAN or Internet pipe. The cameras I work with connect at 100BaseTX. Given that manufacturers are cheapskates that means they need more than 10BaseT speeds. For the sake of argument, if a camera uses 11 Megabits and there are two cameras that's already exceeded the transmit speeds of most DSL and Cablemodem (ie, cheap) con

            • Since you decided to pick on that one detail, allow me to put minimal effort into it:

              https://www.att.com/shop/digit... [att.com] http://www.bce.ca/news-and-med... [www.bce.ca]

              Perhaps those cameras that you have 'experience' with use 100BaseTX Ethernet as physical medium. That doesn't mean that they are using the full bandwidth (pretty much guaranteed by design), nor that video cannot stream over the Internet (cell phone video streaming and Netflix). I'm not saying that everything is stored all the time, but the client doe
      • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
        Re "Does any of that really work when massive facial recognition systems exist and cameras are everywhere."
        That works well until you are seen near a gov building, court, using public transport, bank, get stopped or get shared with the gov via cctv over the years.
        Some nations do the CCTV sharing legally, others just set up public private partnerships and connect to federal government departments in a more discreet way. "Facial recognition: Privacy advocates raise concern over 'creepy' system Government
    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      Owning cars/houses/bank accounts in your own name is for plebes.

      If you are wealthy, these can all be purchased through corporate fronts. Yes, you will have to own a residence (or rent one). Because a person with some level of wealth but no residence stands out in a database. But you don't actually live there.

      Many years ago, when I lived in apartments, my building had more mailboxes than actual apartments (and numbers that didn't go with actual units). The manager made a decent amount of money on the side

    • Mass transit sounds like a quick way to lose any anonymity you thought you had - what metro station isn't completely covered with video surveillance? I think it's even becoming common on metro buses and some taxi cabs. Walking in a city? How many cameras cover the sidewalks? Wearing a mask only gets you recognized more quickly.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Is that newspeak for "orwellian shithole that tracks your every move and action to make sure you conform to their ever-increasing amount of completely arbitrary, restrictive laws that regulate things no sane government should ever even think of regulating"?

    Got a nice ring to it, I must say.

    • completely arbitrary, restrictive laws

      Except, they are not laws. They are TOS of various corporations.

    • Simple way to stop 99% of stupid regulation:

      Live in an unincorporated area, with no community board, no community center, etc.

      Because almost all of the problems come from LOCAL governments doing stupid things.

      The federal government has more important stuff to do, it only gets involved in things that need regulation. They might make BAD regulations, but they don't waist time on things that don't need to be regulated.

      States do some stupid things, cities/towns do a LOT of stupid things. When you hear ab

  • I remember going to Toronto around 2002 and recalling how many video cameras were all over the place. I bet it wasn't any better in the 90s either.

    What type of anonymity are we talking about? Personally in large cities I enjoy the sheer fact that other people do not know me. I can go to a bar and make a total fool of myself and no one will even care or remember. Sure there are a trillion video cameras around and if someone really wanted to they could follow my footsteps through my boring life.

    Contrast th

    • by mspohr ( 589790 )

      That's why I don't like cities. Too many jerks who think they can do anything stupid and be "anonymous".

  • on a scramble suit?

  • it is the duty of world leaders to safeguard their citizens' privacy

    That's all very well and good, except for the fact they do a fucking awful job of it. People should be responsible for their own privacy. Full stop.

    • Well, how are they supposed to make sure they're safeguarding their own citizens, and not some other country's, unless they know exactly who everyone is?

      • by mark-t ( 151149 )
        Why would they have to, if they weren't supposed to be responsible for it in the first place?
  • The panelists insisted that it is the duty of world leaders to safeguard their citizens' privacy, just as corporations are answerable to leaks and hacks.

    With corporations already answerable, how about we simply keep the government away from the data — and make corporations provide all of the anonymity-threatening services? Then we will not need to establish yet another governmental Department (of Privacy) and live happy fulfilling lives?

  • The panelists insisted that it is the duty of world leaders to safeguard their citizens' privacy, just as corporations are answerable to leaks and hacks.

    Not at all then...

It is not for me to attempt to fathom the inscrutable workings of Providence. -- The Earl of Birkenhead

Working...