Thanks to pop-culture, wikileaks, journalism and youtube, most of us have some awareness of the cyber activities of Government agencies, mainly of the USA and the UK.
Today, we use free software and device applications provided by Google, Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox - to name but a few global software companies. In exchange, we share a panoply of information about ourselves including our whereabouts and daily commuting habits, our interests and things we are curious about (via search engines), our running habits and where we like to eat. Apple even records information about the footsteps of its users.
This information is monetised for commercial purposes, intercepted and gathered by law enforcement agencies and, increasingly, collected by Revenue authorities.
"We are all living in an aquarium life"
The exponential development of computing technology and the internet has enabled and telecommunications technologies and global Government agencies to collect and store information and connections about any of us and all of us.
This information will be used by Government bodies to target anti-democratic and anti-social activities such as terrorism, hate-crimes and tax evasion.
Today the largest tech companies including Google, Facebook, Twitter and Dropbox have divisions for the sole purpose of dealing with legal requests from Governments. They deal with enquiries from all over the world, including Ireland.
According to information made available by Google, the company received 12,114 legal requests from Irish Government bodies for access to information about users and user accounts in the six month period from July to December 2015 alone. Data was produced in 40% of requests made. Similar legal requests were submitted to Facebook and Twitter in the same period.
From our current vantage point, we can predict the likely future behaviour of Government Revenue authorities as advancements in technology give even greater access to information about different facets of our daily lives.
When historians write about the early 21st Century, the most significant inventions of this era are likely to be the internet and telecommunications. These technologies revolutionised the business world and the personal lives of every person whose life depends on a microchip device.
Business owners need to consider how the use of free software and internet enabled devices allows third-parties to gather valuable personal and corporate information especially when this information may be made available to Government bodies including the Revenue Commissioners.