So, this weekend, I ran in the Spartan Sprint, the event I and a few friends were training for over the past month or so. The Spartan sprint is a 5KM long obstacle course, which was tiring, but very very fun.

I had my Go Pro strapped to my chest and got some great footage, which I edited together into a little video (which I’m quite please with, especially as it was a first attempt put together in a hurry).

I am aware this post digresses from my usual technology focus, but watch the video and I’ll bring it back to the point in a minute.


I put this together with Apple iMovie on the Mac Mini I bought so I could do some iOS development. Previous attempts at editing video using FOSS tools had been painful, but iMovie was a total dream to use – simple and intuitive interface, I could add and edit the soundtrack, there was a bunch of handy effects. Obviously, it’s not a professional edit suite, but it was more than enough for me to hack together a little demo video on an evening.

However, I’m pretty pissed off. For two reasons.

Firstly, FOSS… pull your finger out! Video editing on Linux is absolutely horrific… sort it out.

Secondly, Apple have made the wonderfully intuitive and simple application that works really well. So what the hell is the excuse for iTunes?

You have none, Apple.

The UX is ropey and inconsistent, it is bloated and needs to be updated every ten minutes, and my biggest gripe; if you have your music library on a network drive and forget to mount it before starting iTunes, it’ll forget it entirely and then force you to factory reset your phone before it’ll let you do any updates.

I know this is down to the DRM Apple was forced to build to get music industry buy-in on the iPod concept, but it’s 2013 and if DRM went away tomorrow, the music industry would not pull everything out of the iTunes store. So, why are you making my life suck Apple? Why did I have to buy a new MP3 player just so I could update my playlist and avoid having to run iTunes?

You make some great stuff Apple, so why does iTunes suck so hard?

Yesterday I spent a pleasant evening at Trinity College Oxford at the No2ID summer identity and privacy event.

This was an enjoyable and lively event made up of a panel of interested parties and members of the public.

On the panel were:

Many points were raised, including the need to not be complacent.

Something of particular interest which was raised by someone in the audience before I had a chance to do so, and that is the issue of data ownership.

I think that it is data ownership that is at the heart of the issue here. As we move into a much more data-centric society with more and more information about us is held by third parties, we need to start looking at our laws – and in particular to enshrine in law the concept that data about a person belongs to that person.

Right now we have a rather backward system where agents – be they the Government or Amazon – who collect information about your view that information as theirs. They mine it, monetise it and share it, all without your permission.

If the organisation is in the UK, there is a certain amount of protection afforded to you by the data protection act (unless it’s the government that holds your data), but this is rarely enforced and has been systematically weakened by the labour government.

What would happen if individual was the arbiter of who has access to what? Since third parties can be rarely trusted to retain important data, what would happen if we made the individual the physical gatekeeper of such information?

Could we have a device that asked you “Agency X is trying to access item Y, allow? (no, once, always)”, and allow you to revoke such permission at any time?

Such data you released could then be licensed, and perhaps we could at last put DRM to some good use?

Its technically possible, but probably impractical. Still, if we could just do the very first part – reversing the basic idea of who owns what – we would have a way forward.

Data about me is mine, the audit trail I leave as I live my life is also mine. Some time after I die, I dare say it would be useful for society to have access to that data since I no longer need it (perhaps for census data or medical research) but certainly while I am alive it is me that should govern who has access and for what purpose.

While I am alive it will be necessary for some third parties to have access to my data, either because it exists in their systems, or because they need it to provide me with a service. I can choose to grant access to them for a limited time and for set purposes.

There is already a system in place to handle this sort of arrangement, its called copyright. Thanks to all the lobbying done by big business the punishment for copyright infringement these days is punitive to say the least (in most cases it is a civil offence not criminal – so theoretically less punitive than a breach of the DPA – but civil actions seem to be pursued more often).

Wouldn’t it be a delightful irony if these restrictive and punitive laws turned out to be one of the great safeguards of individual sovereignty?

Of course, as I mentioned previously – once the data is out it is out – so it is still better not to give out unnecessary information in the first place.

But if the individual was concious that data belonged to them in the same way as their clothes, car or house they might mind a little more if this data was misused. Equally, if agencies feared the punitive action for such misuse available under copyright law, perhaps such instances of misuse would be fewer.

Just a thought, any lawyers want to comment?