x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Secrets in the air

Secret data falling from the sky? Well, yes. But don't worry.

The familiar snowfall of paper confetti rained down - if you'll excuse the mixed metaphor - from Manhattan's skyscrapers onto Thursday's parade in New York City, sponsored by Macy's department store to mark the annual US Thanksgiving Day.

But these shreds of paper, New Yorkers and tourists noticed, were rather odd. They contained enough legible information that people were able to work out the source of the papers: confidential records from the suburban Nassau County Police Department. There were arrest records, the names of undercover detectives and even something about a Mitt Romney motorcade.

There are, to be sure, people and companies that will, for a fee, spend the effort and time to reconstruct shredded documents. But somehow we doubt that there was much danger of that here, in the tumult of a parade and mixed in with the usual litter New Yorkers generate. In any case, nobody much cares about Romney motorcades now.

There is, however, a good lesson here: nothing is really secret any more, but on the other hand there's so much information floating around these days - literally floating around, in this case - that nobody can really use it effectively.