June 6

Often underestimated in size, global technological growth also produces an amazing amount of waste annually. As your need for more data storage, more electronics and more technology continues to grow, so does the looming question of what to do with all the discarded wares. Where do they go? Can they be re-used? What happens to the data they contain?

A duo of artists known as KairUs curious about these questions and the issue of private data breaches and e-waste created an exhibition of artworks entitled “Forensic Fantasies”. Highlighting some key issues and effects related to e-waste dumps in places like Ghana, a topic we’ve covered before, they look at some interesting intersections of technology, the environment, and society.

Acquiring hard drives on the e-waste dump. Photo: Kairus.org

When an old computer is to be replaced they are throw in the garbage and many of them end up being shipped to dumping sites in far away lands like Ghana. Pieces are then burned and melted down for scrap, releasing huge amounts of toxins into the air, water and land. Digital storage like hard drives aren’t always thrown away of course, as they can be securely ‘wiped’ and used in other computers. However this is often overlooked and they not only pile up in e-waste dumps but the risk of private and confidential information on discarded drives poses a serious security threat. Put simply, there is no shortage of interested ‘parties’ from the world of organized crime and identity theft that would like to find treasures on them.

The first part of the art exhibition focuses on the myriads of different types of personal information found in the data on discarded media and it’s potential use for blackmail.

The second part focuses on the use of pictures and other personal information to build up whole fake identities that can be used to mislead. The example is ‘romance scams’ preying on people online using realistic looking profiles generated by ‘found’ data.

The third part of the artwork collects photos found on hard drives and forms a sort of narrative of the previous owner’s life revealing just a sense of the kind of depth discarded data out there can provide.

More pics/Related Articles

You can see some more pics in these articles and read some related blog posts here:

Category: data loss prevention

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