The Italian Supreme Court: name and surname only aren’t subjected to the Data Protection Act

The Corte di cassazione (Italian Supreme Court) decision n. 20615/16 narrows the definition of “personal data” under the Italian data-protection act that enforces the data-protection directive.

The merit of the decision is a legal action against a municipality accused of having published on its website the name and surname of an individual who sued the municipality.

While, the Court said, when mandatory by law the releasing of personal data is always allowed (and this was the case, since there is a law the bind a municipality to disclose its decisions, including those related to legal actions), the simple publication of a name and surname is not enough to make and individual actually identifiable.

Verbatim, the Court says:

the identification of the individuals… would have been possible only by way of further investigations, including third-parties database, with a disproportionate effort in terms of energy and money that is not justified by the interest to identify people involved in a trivial car accident.

This decision set forth a very important point because points out the fact that the “identifiability” notion of the directive is a relative one.

In other words, and enforcing the legal principle to the telco world, an IP number in itself is not necessary a personal data, unless “the identification of the individuals… would have been possible only by way of further investigations, including third-parties database, with a disproportionate effort in terms of energy and money that is not justified by the interest to identify people”.

Needless to sat, the Italian Data Protection Authority has always challenged this interpretation, trying to affirm an “absolute” notion of personal data, thus creating bureaucratic burdens end financial costs for the compliance.

Phoney and the forensics value of Iphone chat

Phoneys is a software that allows a user to change the content of an Iphone chat thus altering the meaning of the conversation.While this is just an entertainment software, it might have some disturbing impacts on a possible criminal investigation.

Indeed, SMS, chat transcripts and messages are routinely used as a source of evidence by lawyers and prosecutors on the basis that if something is on a phone it can be hardly be faked. Of course, this is not always true, of course evidences must be corroborated by independent checks, of course the legal community is not that dumb to give face value to a text on a phone screen. But…

Phoneys allows a malicious person to create a prima facie deceiving fact, by exploiting the fact that a message has actually been sent, thus leading the investigator into thinking that a conversation took place with the intended correspondent. In an emergency context, the necessity of taking immediate action might push him to under evaluate what has been shown as “evidence”, thus jeopardizing the final result.

Maybe this is a either a minor or non-existent issue. But judicial reality has proven to be more surprising then legal-thriller. So, next time you’re confronted with a message as an evidence, why not double check?

Just in case…

Smartwhatever, Cloud, Artificial Intelligence. When Marketing Tricks Lead To Dangerous Effects

If we give marketing buzzwords its proper meaning, a lot of hype disappear and things can be looked at in a less fancy while easier and pragmatic way.

So, for instance, SmartWhatever is just an electric/electronic tool with expanded (although limited) programming capability. “The Cloud” is just either an FTP or a grid/parallel computing service with dynamic resources allocation and, last but no least, Artificial Intelligence is just the attempt of enhancing the computer’s capability of performing its task in autonomy (and is not related to the creation of an actual “intelligence” since neurologist and other scientists still ignore how the brain works.)

Sure, neither calling a cloud service “enhanced FTP” nor labeling an “intelligent phone”  just “voice driven mobile” power the sales of the gimmick of the moment. Nevertheless, since words do have meaning, the recklessness of the marketing coupled with the ignorance of lawmakers and courts lead to dangerous consequences.

The legal “rhetoric” about these buzzwords is unbelievable: the legal community tries to look for “new” problems to solve (and I suspect, for new clients), and somebody, around, keeps talking about artificial intelligence “rights”.

To put it short: once again, by fault of ignorance and unscrupulousity we are exposed to  non-existent legal issues that, despite being just nothing, shall cause actual trouble.

Brexit, French GIGN and Italian GIS. Are Professional Media Committed to Truth?

One of the more often heard claims against “independent” online information is that “professional” journalist are exactly so, professional, thus giving the reader some sort of “quality assurance” about the news they deliver.

The Internet, nonetheless, has proven this assumption wrong.

Among the multitude of poorly informed articles published by “official” press, one example of this lack of care in reporting a news is a recent article by about the Bataclan aftermath.

The article reports a quarrel between a group of French GIGN operatives and its commander, accused of having be withheld from intervene during the Bataclan massacre by fault of “jurisdiction” concerns.

Anais Ginori, the Italian journalist that wrote the article, at a certain point writes:

What would have happened should the GIGN were taken into play? Maybe the Gendarmerie’s elite force intervention would have allowed an early neutralization of the terrorists, by way of the high training standard often inspired to the GIS, the Carabinieri special group1

What’s wrong with that?

The sentence “by way of the high training standard often inspired to the GIS, the Carabinieri special group ” is is historically inaccurate. The GIGN has been established by the French Government on 1974, as a consequence of the 1972 Black September’s Munich Olympic Games massacre, while the Italian GIS on 1978 (several years late than the GIGN, the German GSG9, and British SAS’ Special Project Team.)

Sure, one may say that this is only a minor flaw that doesn’t affect the general value of the article: at the end of the day all of this fuss is just about a matter of wrong dates, and nothing more.

But it ain’t so.

By indirectly (and wrongly) establishing some sort of “primacy” of the Italian GIS over the French GIGN, the journalist induces into the reader a false notion. And since a casual reader is not supposed to be learned into the technicalities of – as in this case – the special forces’ maze, the result is the spreading of mistakes and the building of false assumptions.

And Brexit already showed what happens when people take decisions based on false statements.

  1. Cosa sarebbe accaduto se il Gign fosse stato mobilitato? Forse l’intervento dell’unità di élite della gendarmeria avrebbe permesso di neutralizzare prima i terroristi, dato l’elevato standard di addestramento, spesso ispirato a quello del Gis, il nucleo speciale dei carabinieri.

What “Big Brother” and “Orwellian” actually mean

A lot of people – politicians, “gurus” and “activists” use the word “Big Brother” and “Orwellian” without having read even the cover of a George Orwell’s book.

They rather want to have a look at this TED-ed short lesson, to discover what they’re actually talking about.

Apple Update’s Options. Freedom the Apple Way

Whenever Apple releases a software update, a badge like that shows on your desktop

deceivingoptionApple just gives you an alternative with two option (install now – install later), but what if you are content with your current version? No “no” button to push, no “close” cross-hair to click, no “dismiss” gesture to perform. Sure, you can ignore the message and carry on, disable the auto-update feature etc., but the point is that – at a glance – you’re not given a full list of possibility.

This is freedom, the Apple Way: do whatever you want as soon as you pick one of the option we lay down for you.

This is the “Walled Garden” strategy that sound oddly familiar to Noam Chomsky‘s prop-agenda theory…