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Op-Ed: Cyber security excuse for EEG brainwave privacy invasion

By Paul Wallis     Oct 5, 2016 in Technology
Sydney - Under the guise of “cyber security” someone’s developing a new EEG method to read brainwaves. Apparently Facebook security is so important it justifies a research program in to reading human brainwaves. No it damn well isn’t.
The new EEG research comes with a shopping list of detection and brainwave analysis potentials according to Science Daily. It also comes simultaneously with a virtual plethora of other intrusive technologies aimed at the human brain, like “autism detection”, behavioral profiling, etc. The recent hacking of Yahoo is another “noble cause” for this research, which was happening before the hack was discovered.
The theory is that the system is blind to who’s using it. That barely flies at all as a privacy screen. How hard could it be to find out who’s accessing it?
Add to this the fact the system is supposedly used to authenticate users, this paragraph from the Science Daily link above bubbles merrily along to an interesting contradiction:
One of those patterns that is growing in popularity within the research community is the use of brain waves obtained from an electroencephalogram, or EEG. Several research groups around the country have recently showcased systems which use EEG to authenticate users with very high accuracy.
The article also says that it can authenticate users with high accuracy.
Well, nice to know the “research community” isn’t so insular that it can do idea-farming like this. They might get lonely, otherwise.
I’m not going to go in to the intricacies of this “stick on a few electrodes and let something read your brainwaves” tech. It’s like a B movie, even in theory. Just read the bloody thing and try not to puke.
Let’s get down to cases:
1. “Authenticate” means “identify”, by definition.
2. It doesn’t take long to separate users in to categories and categories in to individuals in to identifiable people with basic number crunching or just plain basic logic. All people have identifying, unique characteristics, also by definition.
3. The argument that “cyber security” is any sort of justification for invading people’s brains is almost as pathetic as the cyber security industry itself. This is an industry which doesn’t even bother to come up with basic “no read/no execute” zones. It’s like a car with no wheels or engine.
Since when, bozos? Most of this read-the-brain tech is straight out of any dictator’s wildest dreams. Quite apart from the insulting idea that any kind of security requires the user to be the main focus of security checks, not the systems, how half-ass could it be to check out a system for cyber security which in other applications can also figure out whether you’re an alcoholic?
A bit extra-curricular, perhaps? A bit too damn cute? A bit totally unbelievable? To hell with halfwit conspiracy theories. A system like this is going to be used for chicken feed online security work? Like hell.
EEG tech and research isn’t cheap. Are we supposed to believe that the corporate humanity-hating environment is suddenly so interested in cyber security to develop a whole class of tech to do trivial jobs? Particularly when it can’t even be bothered to develop basic security screens? Neuroscience is turning itself in to a truly hate-worthy method of enabling future oppression. Like most “corporate science”, that contradiction in terms, the plot is flimsy, the objectives questionable, and the outcomes highly untrustworthy.
Security which with a few tweaks can tell if you’re an alcoholic or autistic…Yeah, sure. Convincing, not, and never will be.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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