Last month I wrote about my impressions of life in Moscow. A Russian visiting the UK this month may have been similarly moved to write about our own society and the complications recent events have brought to the surface.
A hitherto moribund series of Celebrity Big Brother, was fired into life and international infamy as a row over racism and bullying caused a week of tabloid hysteria, national soul searching and pious condemnation of the show by sections of the intelligentsia. Then came extraordinary reports that the Metropolitan Police had hacked into computers being used in 10 Downing Street, no less. This, it was claimed, was to retrieve deleted emails and find electronic proof of alleged wrongdoing on the part of the Prime Minister's staff in the cash-for-honours investigation.
It's too early to comment on the outcome of this episode, but this and the goings on in the Big Brother house raise questions about the type of society we are becoming.
Big Brother is a show whose whole remit is based on the complete lack of privacy and how human beings react to being cooped up for weeks at a time in a confined space. While the show raises many ethical, psychological and cultural issues, the contestants do at least consent to having their privacy taken away as part of the contractual agreement.
The rules in real life, however, are becoming increasingly blurred as last month's feature made clear ("Private matters", SC January, page 38). I suspect as 2007 progresses, we will be debating data privacy with some vigour. And if events at No 10 prove as potentially explosive as reports suggest, we may we be asking: what price secure information now? And who benefits?
The primacy of email as a tool for business communication is under threat as rising tides of spam and email-malware threaten to undermine the whole precarious system. What can be done? Quite a lot and, as David Quainton's feature shows, it's not just about the stuff coming in that you need to worry about (page 32).
One of the big industry stories of last year was the acquisition of RSA by EMC. SC went to meet Tim Pickard, area vice-president of international marketing at RSA to find out more about what the acquisition means in real terms. His words in this month's cover interview (page 26) show that the future for RSA within EMC will be a lot more interesting than some in the industry have believed.
Another trend predicted for 2007 is that, as the corporate world gets wise to cyber crime, the attackers will pick on more vulnerable targets - small businesses that lack the expertise and funds to protect themselves. Steve Gold asks what vendors are doing to help this seemingly neglected part of the market (page 38).
Summer seems some way off, but it's not too early to start thinking about the 2007 SC Forum, which for three days in June will bring together the industry's top thinkers and suppliers. This year promises to be the biggest event yet. Find out more about the speakers and how you can qualify as a delegate on page 37.