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Tuesday, March 18, 2008


If you don’t yet feel the need to control your name and personal data, the latest evaluation of the potential shape of the digital universe may make you rethink your position. To begin with, in 2007 we created more digital information than could be stored for the first time ever. In an MSNBC article, Suzanne Choney tells us about a report from research firm IDC that should serve as a wake-up call to individuals who, as a group, generate 70 percent of this digital universe. We are being inundated by “ever-higher megapixel cameras, iPods with large hard drives and jumbo video files posted on YouTube,” according to Choney. The report was developed for the business world, but the consumer shares a big part in the dilemma by using technology that requires huge databank storage. IDC indicates that the digital universe in 2007 was equal to 281 billion gigabytes of data, about 45 gigs for each person on earth. That represents a 74.5 percent increase in just one year. They also add that it will be ten times bigger in five years. It would be ridiculous for us to think this kind of increase would plateau any time soon, considering the pace of current technology. As an example, a DVD movie requires 6 gigabytes of recording space. The digital growth is coming from a number of sources like social networking and large search engines like Google and Yahoo that regularly come up with new programs that need additional digital capacity. If you want to see the complete report, click here. There are at least two problems with which I am concerned about facing future expansion in this area: One is an environmental issue; Second, there is the potential of marginalizing security in the process. Unless someone comes up with the ultimate power-saver real quick—and so far this is only a topic of discussion according to IDC—consumption could double as new datacenters are built. To accomplish this it will be necessary to generate additional power sources to fill the need, and that could adversely impact the environment. Just as alarming is the pace necessary to maintain this development of increased digital capacity, which will no doubt outrun our ability to secure all this new data. We can’t even secure private information held now at the current rate of growth. In the junk mail industry—which is not regulated as to how long they are allowed to maintain our sensitive data like the pressure recently put on Internet search engines to limit this to 18 months—keeps every iota of your private information forever. In order to store more data, you buy more capacity, but at the same time you have to exert more security. My concern is that business and government will spend to accommodate the increased volume, but not to keep up with the additional safeguards necessary. Adding more confirmation to the fact that consumers should be granted control over their names and personal data, and it should be done now.

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