08:10 GMT07 June 2020
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    Google has said that it plans to shut down Google Plus after discovering massive security vulnerability. According to the Wall Street Journal, the network’s users have had their personal data exposed since 2015. The amount of users who could be affected is estimated to be nearly half a million.

    Sputnik has discussed Google’s plans to shut down Google Plus with Petri Crohn, a cyber security expert.

    Sputnik: What do you make of this latest revelation by Google? Are you surprised by this information that there was a breach discovered and it wasn’t made known to the public until much later?

    Petri Crohn: Technically speaking, it is not a breach, it’s a bug. All computer systems have numerous bugs which are discovered and repaired. So in that way it is not a surprise.

    Logo of Google on the front door of the new Google European tech center in Zurich, Switzerland
    © AP Photo / Keystone, Walter Bier, file
    Sputnik: But Google has got some of the best IT experts and programmers working for them; how common are bugs like this that affect so many people as far as making their personal data available?

    Petri Crohn: One should never trust any personal or private data to any sort of social network system or anywhere on the Internet. There is no security.

    One must always assume that anything one publishes on the Internet, in any private channel or in an email, will always become public in the end. Never publish anything that you don’t want the whole world to see.

    Sputnik: That’s frightening on the one hand; but what’s even more frightening is that we’re hearing more and more that Google and Facebook, as well as a lot of other apps and social networks, are not just using what we publish through them but they’re also harvesting information on us using microphones or photos, and we give them the permission ourselves. How frightening of a prospect is all of that? Where does this all go?

    Petri Crohn: There are AI applications in your mobile phones and it’s a fact that Facebook messenger application seems to be listening to everything that is spoken nearby your phone and targeting ads based on what you speak privately with your friends. It’s the Big Brother society, total surveillance is everywhere.

    But people are starting to accept it and live with it; and as long as this data is only used for commercial purposes like targeting advertising it doesn’t seem to bother people too much.

    But, you’re right; you should never say anything confidential anywhere near electronic communication appliances. If you want to say something private – go outside and leave your phones at home.

    Sputnik: How is this then processed? Because the amount of personal data that even one person creates with all the surveillance that’s going on is absolutely immense if you think about it.

    Petri Crohn: But also the capacity of modern computer systems and data centers, and the capacity of all these hard drives in these huge data centers are enormous.

    So, the amount of speech in the world, telephone speech and stuff like that, is far less than the capacity of all the surveillance systems to capture everything.

    Sputnik: I’m just trying to get a grip on how they are harvesting all of this. That information is then used to create targeted advertising or to be sold to somebody. So, they have computers processing all of this; how much of this is actually seen by another human before it’s posted or how does it get reposted? Or is this just kind of black-and-white statistics that nobody really cares about?

    Petri Crohn: Actually, I don’t know if humans even know how their AI applications get the data. The way I understand this is that, I suppose, is based on a personal experience, that whatever I speak or publish Google will make a very complicated interference based on this data.

    In many cases it will kind of violate the privacy of me or my friends. I might get advertising that’s based on something that happens to my friends. If somebody dies in the family or even if someone is about to die I might see advertising for funeral companies.

    Sputnik: Advertising might not be so horrible; maybe we want to see ads that have something to so with us. What are the more frightening things that we should be worried about?

    Petri Crohn: It’s government surveillance.

    Everything that companies see one must assume is also being seen and collected by the government. If Facebook hears or sees something, I’m sure the NSA also has the same game.

    Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Petri Crohn and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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    surveillance, cell phones, internet, private data, security, Petri Crohn, United States
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