Friday, December 9, 2022

Deleting from the internet system ‘almost impossible’ 

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Market Desk (Tech): We can delete posts, messages and data of choice whenever we want from different platforms. But Twitter’s former head of security, Peter Zatko, says the story is different.

Most people may live out their digital lives with the assumption they can delete their posts, messages and personal data from services whenever they choose. But a tech hearing this week threw that core assumption into a big question.

Peiter Zatko, the former security chief at Twitter, told Senate committee on Tuesday that the social network does not reliably delete the data of users who cancel accounts, expanding on bombshell allegations he made in a whistleblower disclosure first.

It will remain in various databases of the server. And there is no guarantee when that information will be deleted, even if it will ever be removed from the server or backup, it is not clear. He said that it is not known how the information of the deleted post is kept in any database. As a result, they float around on the server as ‘lost’ data.

Peter Zatko gave this information in a statement given to members of the US Senate. However, Twitter authorities termed all his statements as false, fabricated and an attempt to defame Twitter.

Who really owns users data has gone from petty disputes to Supreme Court cases. However, no definite answer has been found yet. Sandra Matz researches the right to privacy and protection of personal info. She claims that once something is uploaded or posted on the Internet, there is no way to completely delete it.

Thousands of users are constantly harassed for posting fake news on social media. But the current context is different, now the law is constantly changing; the social perspective is changing rapidly. Posts that may not have been harmful 5/10 years ago and now be considered crime under the new law. False cases and slander can also be spread against a person by using their old posts as evidence due to personal enmity. So the company’s negligence in deleting posts cannot be accepted at all.

Ravi Sen, a cyber security professor and researcher at Texas A&M University, said that the hardware and software currently available to law enforcement agencies can extract information from any server. It can also be a post deleted by the user. As an example, he says, after an e-mail is sent, it is stored in at least three places—the sender’s and recipient’s devices and the e-mail server. If the sender or recipient deletes the mail, it should be deleted from the other 2 locations as well. But that doesn’t happen in reality. According to him, although users can request social media or other internet-based service providers to delete all their account information separately through customer care after pressing the delete button, there is no way to verify whether it has been deleted or not.

So cyber security experts say, one should at least think twice before posting something on open forums, keeping in mind that there will be no way to delete it. And private conversations and information should never be brought outside of messaging or sharing platforms that support end-to-end encryption. A good thing is that if we don’t delete the encrypted data, no one can read it without encryption. 

Please remember that it is better, if we maintain confidential and personal info kept off from the Internet.

By Lisanur Rasul

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