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Identified only by his surname, Ao was caught in Nanchang, Jiangxi province, 90 kilometers from his Zhangshu home. He was reportedly shocked when police got hold of him, because he was singled out by facial recognition technology at a Jacky Cheung concert, which he complacently attended with his wife and a 50-thousand strong audience. He said he wouldn’t have gone had he known the police would be able to Where’s Waldo him. Another shocking, tech-driven privacy invading was at the center of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, where the personal Facebook data of 87 million users’ were compromised, among them the data of a 33-year-old American by the name of Mark Zuckerberg. Privacy is a relatively new concept in human history. Companies and organizations that wish to breach our privacy for their purposes, be these making money, keeping social order or achieving world dominance, are usually better funded, and oftentimes far more tech savvy, than those fighting the good privacy fight, while the general public seem to be lazily indifferent to the dangers of surveillance capitalism. Technology and innovation disrupt privacy in a way which is overwhelming even to the those who closely follow tech. We constantly hear of new ways of extracting data from people and their gadgets, legally, illegally, and that “barely legal” grey area; and of methods brand-new data can be deduced from existing, seemingly banal data. This means that data we’ve given, consciously or obliviously, could be used to find out things about us that we didn’t even realize were possible to infer from that data; that information we dole out today may be abused in the future, using methods that don’t even exist yet; and that there’s not much we can do about it, since we can’t retract private information once it’s out, the same way we can’t unpop a Tide-pod once we’ve tried to eat it. We live in an era where personal data is one of the hottest commodities. Initiatives such as the European Union’s GDPR are trying to give control over it back to its rightful owners. This is one of the most important uphill battles of our digital times. In this episode of the Lex Cybernetica, HUJI’s Cyber Security Research Center’s podcast, we look into digital privacy and how to protect it, with our guests Dr. Katrina Ligett, Privacy Protection Authority’s Adv. Limor Shmerling Magazanik and Adv. Yoram Lichtenstein, hosted by digital culture blogger Ido Kenan.

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