Friday, 26 October 2012

Not participating in the daily mail survelliance infrastructure

The Bristol Traffic Project is, as we have repeatedly declared, a community-sourced police state, using the datacentre infrastructure of our strategic partners Google. Google have published some of their datacentre photographs, for people to look at while reading about how google use atomic clocks to implement causal consistency between locations. The reason that Google's "Spanner" system does this is to ensure that all their computers round the world have a consistent view of "when" they are.

The Bristol Evening Post, with whom we no longer have any strategic relationship, hasn't needed atomic clocks to implement a global-scale consistency model; indeed their articles do not usually implement causal consistency; the notion that actions (e.g burning carbon fuels) have side effects that happen afterwards (climate change). Nor are they eventually Consistent: at no point in the future will the various articles and newspapers of the daily mail portfolio ever make coherent sense.

This is not news; it is not important. Except now, anyone logging in to the thisisbristol web site to add a balanced comment about how Cllr Gollop is going back on his word of being an anti-cycling councillor and now pandering to the lycra-criminals is, if they use a email address, asked to sign in with their "google ID".

And when you do that, what rights does Google say the thisisbristol web site -hence the Evening Post and the rest of the Daily Mail portfolio say that they want to have to your account:
TINReg is requesting permission to:
  •     Manage your tasks
  •     View your email address
  •     View basic information about your account
  •     Manage your contacts
  •     Know who you are on Google

What does that mean? It means the Daily Mail/this-is- set of web sites want to:

Manage your tasks
Have the ability to read and update your todo list in google calendar.

View your email address
See your email address

View basic information about your account
See what your claimed gender and age is.

Manage your contacts
see below

Know who you are on Google
See who you say you are

It's that "Manage your contacts" one that worries us. Because Gmail builds up a list of contacts automatically, based who sends you email and who you email yourself, the google contact list is really "a list of who you communicate with".

That's a really interesting piece of information. Know that and they can start comparing your contacts list with the other people who comment on the paper.  And because they have the contacts list of those commenters, the site could even find common contacts between two commenters  -even in the case where the two commenters do not know each other directly. That is, in graph-theory terms, one degree of separation. Before long they'll have built up a graph of the communications between people in the city, which is pretty valuable stuff. Facebook have that to an extent, but only between people who explicitly declare each other as friends. Even so, that subset of links was enough for Facebook to show that there is usually a four-hop connection between any two people in the US: four degrees of separation

If the entire portfolio of the Daily Mail web sites start collecting your email address and those of all you talk to, they stand a good chance of building up a map of who talks to who amongst all people who log in and comment in any of their web sites.

We don't trust the organisation. It's not that we don't agree with their political objectives: the imprisonment of subversives, the stance they take against lycra-criminals, 20 mph speed limits and other potential criminals. It's just that we don't see why they need to go behind our backs and build up a graph of everyone who comments on the paper to achieve those goals. It's the people who don't read the Daily Mail, the Mail on Sunday, the Evening Post, and their other regional counterparts that we need to worry about.

This is what Bristol Traffic is: a police state run by volunteers! There is no need for the DM sites to spy on us -not when we report the anti-motoring activities that the city is up to.

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