The Grauniad has published a fairly sensible article about online privacy. Yes, relax, I really did say that, but it's a technical topic not a political one, so I'm not going soft. They point to a new piece of software being developed by a nasty horrible private sector company (they couldn't help it...) which is very efficient at tracking people by their online persona and identifying outliers - who may merit closer inspection by the authorities.
All very easy to justify, after all most of us are normal apart from the terrorists who do different stuff. Except that, as the Guardian rightly points out, statistics don't work like that - there are (thankfully) very few terrorists and a very large number of people, so the vast majority of the outliers will be perfectly decent citizens who suddenly start wondering why there is a big black Transit van at the end of their road...
I do of course wish the Guardian had realised this in 1997 instead of 2010, but better late than never. I suspect they may forget it in 2015, though. But that misses the point of this post. The article warns us that we reveal ourselves via the online footprint we leave, and that authorities can glean a lot of information in this way, perfectly legally, and without any oversight.
Now, don't get me wrong, I don't think there's anything especially unusual or wrong about the Guardian's privacy policies. But it struck me as amusing.