Category Archive: Identity

Why making a call-centre worker say “poopsy-poo” will strengthen your security

By Simon Davies I spent nearly twenty years as a university lecturer unsuccessfully trying to figure a way to make authentication a fun and popular topic, and only now have I cracked the problem. It’s all about “pull” and “push” and making people in call centres read out hilariously stupid words from their screen. I …

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Weekend Reflection: Secret Brussels; Has the capital suddenly become Europe’s friendliest city?

By Simon Davies A new mood of civility is emerging across Europe. You can see it in the faces and attitude of people in Paris, Berlin and even sour-faced Switzerland. But the trend is most pronounced in Brussels, previously the butt of everyone’s jokes about bad hospitality. There was a time, not so long ago, …

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A letter from the future warns of the true privacy dystopia

By Simon Davies To understand the value of our rights, it’s important to get a glimpse of what life in the future might be like without them. This is a letter from the future that tells us what life in 2044 might look like – and why we should think carefully about the path we …

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Exploring the flicker of life after death

By Simon Davies I died a few months ago. Literally died. Body functions ceased, heart stopped, lungs paralysed. Cast deep into a coma, I swung precariously between life and death for a month. Yes, I know being brought back from clinical death is no big deal in the larger scheme of things. It happens to …

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How a dog and some chocolate biscuits reveal an identity crisis in America

By Simon Davies Overpriced bourbon isn’t the only reason why San Francisco’s International House of Wine & Liquor is noteworthy. The last time I was there a year or two ago, anyone of any age who buys a packet of cigarettes there is forced to disclose an identity document. A slightly luminescent pink sign on …

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Governments take note: the world’s most ambitious identity system is falling to pieces

By Vickram Crishna Any country planning to introduce a national identity system should take careful note of recent events in India. This country’s most ambitious – indeed the world’s most ambitious – identity assurance program has become a juggernaut. Even more relevant, it has become a reckless juggernaut that moves with inexorable and crushing indifference …

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My blindness – and the curious tension with privacy

By Simon Davies When I was a young boy, there was a kid in my class whose visual impairment was so bad that he had to sit front and centre of the classroom, using binoculars just to see the blackboard. To many classmates this was a hilarious spectacle, though there were always one or two …

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European hotels edge toward universal reporting of guests to police

By Simon Davies The next time you check into a hotel in any European country – or indeed in many countries outside the EU – chances are you’ll be required to fill out a guest registration form. At the very least this form will demand information such as passport number, nationality, home address, telephone number, …

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An exciting new Periodic Table reveals the elements of surveillance

By Simon Davies Getting to grips with how the world ended up under a blanket of extensive surveillance can be a challenge, even for the experts. Surveillance is now so deeply embedded in our societies and legal systems that understanding its causes is a full-time task. With this in mind Privacy Surgeon is pleased to …

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In the blink of an eye, Google Glass has just shifted to the dark side

By Simon Davies Last week a California start-up – Lambda Labs – announced that it is about to release a face recognition app for Google Glass. With this simple innovation the wearable technology has been transformed from a cool gizmo into a privacy quagmire. Facial recognition is a digital “biometric” technique that scans a face …

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