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Privacy In the Age of Persistence

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the hard-to-beat-intertia-of-lazy-people dept.

Privacy 120

Bruce Schneier recently wrote another essay on privacy for the BBC concentrating on how data seems to be the "pollution of the information age" and where this seems to be leading. "We're not going to stop the march of technology, just as we cannot un-invent the automobile or the coal furnace. We spent the industrial age relying on fossil fuels that polluted our air and transformed our climate. Now we are working to address the consequences. (While still using said fossil fuels, of course.) This time around, maybe we can be a little more proactive. Just as we look back at the beginning of the previous century and shake our heads at how people could ignore the pollution they caused, future generations will look back at us — living in the early decades of the information age — and judge our solutions to the proliferation of data."

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Remember... (5, Funny)

stillnotelf (1476907) | more than 5 years ago | (#27016995)

Anything you post in this thread will be on the Internet forever, so be careful!

Re:Remember... (5, Funny)

aicrules (819392) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017049)

Slashdot moderation provides the utopian method for making all information available while providing the facility for anyone to set their own threshold for what information they will actually see. Slashdot will be looked at by future generations and they will say "There is an information source that was ahead of its time!" Then they'll accidentally set their mod threshold to -1 and will immediately dig up Taco's corpse and beat it with a stick.

Re:Remember... (1)

memnock (466995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017137)

i was just about to say
save the information environment: shutdown /.

guess you beat me to it. :)

Re:Remember... (4, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017357)

The problem is that nothing disappears. If you admitted back in 1999, while you were an idiot college student, that you "experimented" with marijuana, do you really want that Slashdot post to reappear in a year 2020 Google search when you're trying to run for the State Legislature or Congress?

There are drawbacks to keeping messages that we posted when we were still young & stupid. I still have Usenet posts from the year 1987 that still come back and haunt me. I was only 10-11 years old, but nobody reading those old posts know that. They identify those posts with the adult version of me, and assume I can't spell.

Imagine the backlash that might have occurred against Obama if we were able to find his old high school postings, wherein he admits he cheated on a test by copying from his neighbor. The web didn't exist when Obama was in high school, but eventually we will have presidents with decades-old online postings, and you can be sure FOX News, CNN, and all the rest will dig them up for all to see.

Re:Remember... (2, Insightful)

RedK (112790) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017617)

That's exactly why you use an online handle. I doubt we'd see "commander64_love" running for president.

Re:Remember... (3, Insightful)

TorKlingberg (599697) | more than 5 years ago | (#27018249)

Unless it can be connected, say if he lists commander64_love@something.com on his Facebook profile.

Re:Remember... (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 5 years ago | (#27018551)

"commander64_love"

Is that commodore64_love's evil twin brother, who loves running Total Commander on a 64-bit PC?

Re:Remember... (2, Funny)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27019289)

No my evil twin's name is atari800_love.

We had various and vociferous debates about which computer was better. He'd say the Atari has better graphics, and I'd argue the Commodore has a sound chip that can make realistic music. It got even worse when he upgraded to an ST and I to an Amiga. We just never saw eye-to-eye.

Of course now that Microsoft controls everything, we both are unhappy.

Re:Remember... (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 5 years ago | (#27019957)

It got even worse when he upgraded to an ST and I to an Amiga. We just never saw eye-to-eye.

Damnit! Some people never listen to reason. The Amiga supports Video Toaster, which can offer you toasted or grilled bread products at any time, as well as rendering 3D graphics for unpopular Sci-Fi TV shows. How could he seriously support the Atari ST under such circumstances?

Re:Remember... (2, Interesting)

Rob Kaper (5960) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017759)

The problem is that nothing disappears. If you admitted back in 1999, while you were an idiot college student, that you "experimented" with marijuana, do you really want that Slashdot post to reappear in a year 2020 Google search when you're trying to run for the State Legislature or Congress?

Yes, because hopefully by 2020

a) the electorate will put more trust in candidates being open about past mistakes than those being most capable in cover-ups or spin doctor tactics

b) the electorate will realise we all have lived twenty to thirty immature years before reaching true adulthood

c) the electorate will not be so uptight about marijuana in the first place

Re:Remember... (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 5 years ago | (#27018573)

Yes, because hopefully by 2020 a) the electorate will put more trust in candidates being open about past mistakes than those being most capable in cover-ups or spin doctor tactics

Ha! Oh boy, you really crack me up. Nice one!

Re:Remember... (3, Interesting)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017817)

The problem is that nothing disappears. If you admitted back in 1999, while you were an idiot college student, that you "experimented" with marijuana, do you really want that Slashdot post to reappear in a year 2020 Google search when you're trying to run for the State Legislature or Congress?

Why would this be an issue? It hasn't been an issue for people running for President. Why should it be an issue for people running for Congress. So far it has only been an issue for people trying to get student loans or jobs at Best Buy.

Anything could be an issue. If your parents post baby pictures of your circumcision, baptism or Bar Mitzvah then this could certainly be an issue, although people may argue that it shouldn't be. Anything could be made into an issue. If you talk about politics or religion on your Facebook account then this could be an issue. I've heard of one executive that was denied a promotion because of the style of belt he liked to wear. The clothes you wore could be an issue. If you were seen eating meat could be an issue.

Why worry about these things when you have absolutely no control over the people placing judgment on you. Get drunk and be gay. If people don't like you for being you then you shouldn't be associating with those people. If you can't get a job because you are discriminated against then steal food to survive. Sometimes you've got to not only tell people to fuck off, but play the game as well. Like I tell people in China; if you don't like communism then either leave the country or assassinate its leaders.

Re:Remember... (1)

redkcir (1431605) | more than 5 years ago | (#27018107)

This is a issue because employers are now scouring the Internet for things their employees say or did. Ask the girl in England who just lost her job because someone saw a comment she made on her My space page. Even though it didn't mention her employer, they fired her because she said she was unhappy about her job. And how about your insurance? Providers are looking you up on the net for anything to disavow your claim or if they will cover you. Anything you say that goes across the net can come back and bite you. In ways yet to be discovered.

Re:Remember... (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27019567)

>>>they fired her because she said she was unhappy about her job.

I can't believe that's legal. Lots of people are unhappy with their job, and say it out loud. That's no reason to fire them.

Re:Remember... (1)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#27019635)

>>>they fired her because she said she was unhappy about her job.

I can't believe that's legal. Lots of people are unhappy with their job, and say it out loud. That's no reason to fire them.

"That's no reason to fire them". It's not a good reason to fire them. I remember hearing about one company (can't remember the name) that was a retailer. In the employee lounge area they had a sign up, it said something like this "Don't forget to smile at the customer, or you'll be fired". So sometimes being "unhappy" isn't an option.

Re:Remember... (1)

AchilleTalon (540925) | more than 5 years ago | (#27018139)

Amen!

I don't care if you are drunk, gay or a donkey. Would you marry me?

Re:Remember... (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27019331)

>>>It hasn't been an issue for people running for President.

Then why did Clinton say "I tried it but I didn't inhale." Clearly it was an issue for him to utter such a baldfaced lie. I suspect Bush did marijuana too, but he kept quiet about it rather than risk losing the 2000 election. Marijuana IS an issue for anyone running for office.

Heck, look what happened to the Congressman who supposedly prostituted for sex in a bathroom. He got run out of Congress. We ALL have sex, but apparently elected people are not allowed. Or something. The whole thing was stupid.

If you want to be in office, you need a clean record.
Ditto if you want a job, although not quite so strict.

Re:Remember... (1)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#27019593)

>>>It hasn't been an issue for people running for President.

Then why did Clinton say "I tried it but I didn't inhale."

Yes, everything is an issue when running for Office. It's all relative. Compared to getting a minimum wage job or even an education, it's obviously a lot easier to face the wrath of the electorate than the wrath of the HR department. As for Clinton, he never got sanctioned for not inhaling, he got sanctioned for not having sex. It appeared to me at least that smoking marijuana was more an issue with himself and his own hypocrisy (he signed into law draconian laws that denied student loans to pot smokers). The issue with Clinton was himself and his own dishonesty and hypocrisy. He should be ashamed and held accountable for that. Instead, like Bush, he gets re-elected into office. It's bizarre the way the American electorate behaves. And yes, if you haven't noticed, this is a class issue and it always has been. The anti-marijuana laws (in the USA) were originally meant to harass black people. Now they have it so poor people can't get student loans.

When your rich it doesn't matter what you do because if somebody leeks out an (embarrassing) sex or drug tape about you then you can just start your own reality TV show like Paris Hilton did. If you're a teen in a public school then you're likely to be charged with child pornography. Nothing is fair. But yes there are double standards. Being exposed isn't the real danger. Being poor is the real danger.

Heck, look what happened to the Congressman who supposedly prostituted for sex in a bathroom.

Sex is a different issue. Of course it's nobody's business, but there are laws and the electorate and the HR department to deal with. Life can be sucky that way. People need to learn to live with themselves.

Re:Remember... (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 5 years ago | (#27019945)

If you want to be in office, you need a clean record.

Senator Burris may disprove that theory.

And Mayor Marion Barry (Washington DC), who was elected in a landslide as soon as he got out of prison on corruption charges from his previous stint as Mayor of DC, might also disagree.

Re:Remember... (1)

wordsnyc (956034) | more than 5 years ago | (#27019857)

Like I tell people in China; if you don't like communism then either leave the country or assassinate its leaders.

You tell them that to their faces? How do you get the air time?

I ask because I think they'd really go for some Amish-built space heaters I have.

if there is nothing to be ashamed of, so what (2, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017921)

i smoked marijuana. why should i be ashamed of that? why must i pander to weakminded shrill people i don't even like whose opinions on making marijuana illegal i consider wrong?

furthermore, why should we pander to over judgmental assholes who would hold against somebody some indiscretion of their from high school?

i understand what i did in high school should not be held against me, you understand that, anyone of any moral integriy does too. in which case, who are we really trying to pander too? oh: weak minds, overjudgmental minds: people who would find something wrong with you anyway, regardless of your ability to white wash your past in the pre-internet age

and in fact, it is GOOD it is hard to hide now. if no one can hide that they tried marijuana, if everyone has to come out and admit they tried it, the sheer preponderance of the weight of the hypocrisy of it all begins to collapse this whole rotten veneer that some people actually believe this stuff is bad for you, and some other assholes pay such fools lip service

let it all come out, let it stay out, and let it prove what is really right and what is really wrong

in short, the persistence of this information is a good thing. the judgment of something being bad or good is not dependent upon your ability to hide something in shame. my judgment of you will be fair base don your character as it is today, now, not as when you were a high schooler, and so will anyone else with a solid morality, and as for anyone who is not, to hell with them, and they would find something wrong about you in the hysterical minds anyways

Re:if there is nothing to be ashamed of, so what (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017983)

Of course, we can all see that your caps lock and period keys are busted and you're too cheap to spring for a new keyboard. I'm sure somebody will try to use that against you now. You should have posted anonymously.

Re:if there is nothing to be ashamed of, so what (1)

jakykong (1474957) | more than 5 years ago | (#27018143)

Ok, really now. I am a fan of proper English as much as the next guy, but what does that have to do with his opinion? I have a friend, for example, who has a reading disorder; as a result, his spelling is terrible. One's ability to type in English is not a meter of their opinion's value. Personally, I entirely agree with the GP, and while I haven't tried marijuana myself, I don't see why anyone should be begrudged based upon something stupid they did in school, especially if they're clearly (as in this case) willing to disclaim it. It's not as if I'm completely free of stupidity (that was, however, very difficult to type!).

Re:if there is nothing to be ashamed of, so what (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 5 years ago | (#27018293)

Once you understand his point, you'll understand the difference between being right and being true.

truth isn't always right.

Re:if there is nothing to be ashamed of, so what (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27020935)

If the poster can't be bothered to use a shift key or a period (let alone <br>), why should we care what they have to say?
There are enough posts here that say the same thing but clearer for that one not to matter.

I didn't read it, I skip bad English posts unless they hook me in the first ten words.
A lot of people do.

oh dear (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#27018289)

grammar nazis know i've smoked pot

my life is ruined

Re:if there is nothing to be ashamed of, so what (1)

Boomerang Fish (205215) | more than 5 years ago | (#27021617)

Because, at least in most places, it's illegal. Against the law. A crime.

I'll agree with you that it shouldn't be.

But when you apply to a job with the police force, or when your name comes up as a potential nominee as a federal judge, I won't give a rats a$$ that you smoked marijuana... I'll light the torches and bring out the pitch forks because you believe yourself above or better than the law and now want to help administer it.

--
I drank what?

Re:Remember... (1)

Patch86 (1465427) | more than 5 years ago | (#27018331)

Ah, but therein lies utopia!

You see, it's true that if you post that you've experimented with marijuana then everyone will be able to find that out forever. But that applies to everybody. It's estimated that 25% of adult Brits have experimented with drugs at some point- and that's based on a voluntary study (the real figure is liable to be higher). It'd be a lot more difficult for parliament to argue drug users are evil monsters if they know a quarter of them have tried it themselves (and can actually look up each other's names).

Same goes for everything. What the internet threatens to create is a society where you just plain can't lie anymore- a truly honest society! Not exactly by choice admittedly, but honest all the same...

Re:Remember... (1)

gemada (974357) | more than 5 years ago | (#27018473)

hopefully marijuana will go back to being legal by then. the "war on drugs" is about as fruitful as a "war on the weather" would be. it could only be considered a success if the original goal was to help create the private prison industry in the US.

Re:Remember... (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27019589)

How come Some drugs can be banned with a simple law, but banning the drug known as alcohol required a constitutional amendment? Hmmm. I suspect banning marijuana also requires an amendment, just like alcohol, but the Congress, President, and Supreme Court conveniently ignore that restriction.

Constitution - "Just words on a page."

Re:Remember... (1)

ion.simon.c (1183967) | more than 5 years ago | (#27021059)

Constitution - "Just words on a page."

I drink your milkshake. I drink it up!

Re:Remember... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27018615)

...Imagine the backlash that might have occurred against Obama if we were able to find his old high school postings, wherein he admits he cheated on a test by copying from his neighbor.

Obama admitted cheated on a test in high-school?

Why didn't this get out before the election?

Re:Remember... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27019443)

Hey dont forget about "Old and Stupid" too! :-P :-)

Re:Remember... (1)

quanticle (843097) | more than 5 years ago | (#27020565)

I'm of two minds about this. I'd like to be able to disagree with you; to say that by 2020 everyone will be used to people sharing things about their lives, so that revelations like your example will be a non-issue. At the same time, I'm afraid that nothing will change, that we'll be held to the same standards as today, with far more information available to the general public about how we've failed to meet those standards at some point in our lives.

Still, I hope for the best.

Re:Remember... (2, Insightful)

Albio (854216) | more than 5 years ago | (#27018067)

Yet the moment you try to archive your files to slashdot for later retrieval you'll find that the site has crashed and lost all data.

Re:Remember... (2, Insightful)

WidgetGuy (1233314) | more than 5 years ago | (#27018643)

Not only that, but anything that anyone else has posted about you.

I once found a document that noted my (real) name and that I had been a member of an amateur rock group that had won a 1964 "battle of the bands" contest at my high school. The name of the city and state I lived in at the time was also in this document. Not hard for some prospective employer to determine my age (roughly) from that posting. When that information was "fresh," not even ARPANET existed (if memory serves) except, maybe, somwhere at RAND Corporation as a proposed design.

It's not only that this type of information persists but that it is so widely and readily available and that it may have uses never anticipated by the poster. So, please, also be careful what "personal" information you publish about others.

Re:Remember... (1)

eltaco (1311561) | more than 5 years ago | (#27021519)

amen brother. that's what I'm especially worried about. I don't have anything to hide, but I still don't want data about my personal life floating around in cyberspace.
recently I recieved spam addressed with my actual real name - I was close to shock. I've been on the net since the mid nineties and never disclosed my real name, DOB, address or other personal and identifiable information.
The only time I ever did this was when buying something via credit card from a trusted site or when registering a domain. Imagine how pissed I am after being so incredibly careful over the past decade and half and placing my trust in companies in good standing, for some bastard to go ahead and sell my info! I'm kicking myself now for not having marked my email address with ..+company@..
and then there's stuff like facebook, myspace, etc. I'm on a german site (studivz) which is basically the same as facebook. using a pseudonym, and other false information, you can only find me if you know my friends. thank god, you can easily delete any information about yourself, including tags on photos.

what really pisses me off, for instance regarding the recent article illustrating google's facial recognition software, is that companies are exploiting tech-unsavvy people. when using their software, they ask you to tag people's images with their email address. they know, that the unsavvy lot will gladly divulge information about themselves and use this to get information about third people, who otherwise wouldn't be in their DB.

I might've rambled on a bit. My point is, that not just your surfing habits and tidbits of information you put on the net are the downfall of your own privacy, but also, and possibly especially, the information others divulge without thinking twice.

Regulation obviously needed. (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017033)

While I believe that "information wants to be free", that can have negative consequences as well. Just as we were forced (and it is true, we were) to regulate all kinds of physical businesses (power, chemical, the list is huge) so that they did not pollute us to death, it will probably be necessary to regulate information businesses in a like manner.

Re:Regulation obviously needed. (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017117)

Problem here is that nobody does nor can have complete jurisdiction over the information. Don't like how the EU or US does privacy, want to run amuck and do whatever you want, there are plenty of eastern european countries as well as those in the far east or africa willing to turn a blind eye. So how exact do you propose to regulate something that transcends borders?

Re:Regulation obviously needed. (1)

vandelais (164490) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017241)

Problem here is that nobody does nor can have complete jurisdiction over the information. Don't like how the EU or US does privacy, want to run amuck and do whatever you want, there are plenty of eastern european countries as well as those in the far east or africa willing to turn a blind eye. So how exact do you propose to regulate something that transcends borders?

International pressure on the Swiss Bankers. Either that or explosives placed properly in the dead of night courtesy of the CIA may cause an avalanche.

Re:Regulation obviously needed. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017301)

In what way do you think it transcends borders?

Other countries have demanded -- and gotten -- extradition of people who broke their laws, over the Internet, from within the United States. What makes you think that if the United States had privacy laws, that others would not be subject to them? Of course there will probably always be somebody who will, or will try to, get away with it, but that is true of everything. Not all nations have extradition treaties with the U.S. and so on, of course.

But that is still largely beside the point. If regulations are passed such that within the U.S., certain kinds of data may NOT be made public without permission, then most of that data will seldom get into the hands of others anyway. And if people in the U.S. then want to transact business with countries that do not honor our laws, well, Caveat Emptor. They don't have to, and they made that choice. It is not as though anybody is forcing them to do business with anyone they don't like or don't trust.

Re:Regulation obviously needed. (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017715)

Other countries have demanded -- and gotten -- extradition of people who broke their laws, over the Internet, from within the United States.

Really? I thought the constitution forbade it. There's plenty of examples of it happening the other way round.

Re:Regulation obviously needed. (2, Interesting)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017873)

Even if that is true, when was the last time you heard about the Federal government actually following the Constitution?

Re:Regulation obviously needed. (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 5 years ago | (#27020961)

For about ten minutes in 1789.

Re:Regulation obviously needed. (1)

Rob Riggs (6418) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017151)

We already to do a greater degree than most realize. Sure, there's HIPAA and others for data security that many folks know about. But there are other regulations on data quality, such as the U.S. postal service requiring a certain standard of data hygiene, called CASS certification [usps.gov] , in order to do bulk mailings.

Re:Regulation obviously needed. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017327)

Yes but there are other kinds of information that are not properly regulated. Take for example the recent loss of data concerning millions of customers of a certain large bank, which was transporting that data to a backup facility in plain text on tape. Shouldn't the bank be held responsible for such gross negligence? Of course they should. But we won't get that without proper regulations.

Re:Regulation obviously needed. (1)

Rob Riggs (6418) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017767)

GLBA covers the bank data fiasco you mention. What we don't have is an enforcement arm. Laws against rape and murder are fairly useless without cops on the street. Same goes for laws governing corporate conduct.

Re:Regulation obviously needed. (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 5 years ago | (#27018019)

I doubt that regulation could stop the data from accumulating, after all many people want to have their data out there, twitter, facebook, blogs, youtube and all that stuff works by users publishing stuff on their own, not by evil companies collecting things behind your back, and those things will only grow when storage and bandwidth become less of an issue. I think what could need regulation is how that data is handled, just as you can't discriminate people due to their skin color, maybe one shouldn't be able to discriminate somebody because they posted something a decade ago on facebook. It might also be a good idea if there would be a stronger emphasis on anonymous communication, that might not need regulation by itself, but at least it should be made sure that it doesn't get outlawed someday due to some "stop the terrorist/crimilals/pirates/whatever".

scary (4, Insightful)

blhack (921171) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017061)

Look at what happens to people when the run for office. We found some pictures of Barack Obama when he did some joke modeling thing with one of his friends in college (or something like that).

Can you imagine if we had a searchable index of every single conversation a presidental or senatorial candidate had ever had?
Imagine being in your 40s and having to account for a "private" conversation that you had 20 years ago at 2:00am when you were drunk.
*shudder*
Guys, this isn't some crazy whackjob ranting about the evil government. This is reality! My username can, with not a whole lot of work, be tied to me in real life. If somebody wanted to, they could go back through every single comment I had ever made on any message board or blog that I use this handle on.

Scary. Really really scary. My bet is that almost everybody is in this same boat. Google has made it TOO easy to find things.

Re:scary (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017103)

That's not a problem becasue no one will care. IT's on thing to look at one person and see them do something 'wrong'. but when you look around and everyone is doing it, no one cares.

ITs not scary, and if you wanted a username that can't be traced back to you, you could do that.

Sure, I've dome some monster stupid stunts, but who cares?

Re:scary (3, Interesting)

berend botje (1401731) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017169)

Why you are right: nobody cares about things a random user on the internet does.

Why you are wrong: when "blhack" gets interesting in a social, political or whatever function, then this old, stale information will still be there. And you'd better believe 'they' will drag it out of the noise here.

Remedy: don't have your online presence be linked back to real life. Change usernames often (I once had an four digit /. account). And it helps to have a common name in real life. Hard to filter for the right John Smith, twinty years after the fact.

Re:scary (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017289)

People won't care if you are up front about it. The politicians get in trouble when they get caught because they pretend to be virtuous.

Some real-life examples:
o Arnold Schwarzenegger has done too many things to list, including steroid use.
o George Bush was caught drunk driving
o Barack Obama admits pot and cocaine use

Most people got into some kind of trouble as a kid, or at the very least made some bad judgments. The difference between scandal and a good story is how up front you are about it.

Re:scary (2, Insightful)

D Ninja (825055) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017503)

All people got into some kind of trouble as a kid, or at the very least made some bad judgments.

Fixed that for you. Everybody is human. We all make mistakes and we have to learn from them. Too many people get their "holier than thou" attitude (and this is EVERYBODY - religious or not, rich or not, whatever) and like to forget the things they've done and judge whoever it is on the chopping block.

While I know many people here tend to shy away from religion, there is an interesting story in the Bible where the prostitute was going to be stoned. The way the story goes (trying to cut down the size of my post here), Jesus intervened and, knelt down in the sand and began writing things in the sand. Now, you never know what he was writing - it's never said in the Bible. But, one theory I heard was that Jesus was writing down the sexual sins of the men who were about to stone the prostitute.

Of course, the men, embarrassed, eventually walk away and the prostitute lives.

It's a very interesting story and very insightful to how quick we, as human beings, forget our own faults are so quick to judge others.

(With all this said, in order for society to function, some things *must* come under judgment. Murder, for example, cannot be condoned.)

Re:scary (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017797)

I'd rather find out that some dillhole is worried about something I said 15 years ago straight away. Spending my time making sure I am hidden away from dillholes sounds horrible.

Sure, this may inconvenience me in a great many ways, but no amount of convenience is worth letting tiresome biddies run the world.

Sad, but true. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27021503)

No amount of convenience is worth letting tiresome biddies run the world.

Re:scary (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 5 years ago | (#27018493)

> Hard to filter for the right JW Smythe, twenty years after the fact.

    There, fixed that for you. :)

    Aliases are a strange yet powerful thing. Mr. JW Smythe has been seen all across the Internet. There have been a few of us. What's funnier is, there are more people of my real name to be found. A search for me, as noted on my real birth certificate, find quite a few me's. Some are in the same city, but different addresses. Several are found in every state, including ones I've never been to. Some are well known internationally.

    But for the fact that old information can be dredged up, as time goes on, things start falling off. Sites that archive information today may not exist tomorrow.

    Lets use what should be a simple example. I was asked to work on a Redhat 6.2 server. The release date for RH62 was only March of 2000, so it's only coming up on 9 years old. Aw, just a baby. Trivial bits that were available years ago have been lost by the wayside. Sites have crashed and been resurrected missing older pieces. People stopped caring and just deleted things. Sometimes space becomes an issue, so old forgotten bits were deleted. What happened to that post you read in 2001 about the bug in RH62? Now it can't be found. But, who cares? Well, in this example I do, because I'm trying to work around without telling the client to upgrade to something resembling current. (they refuse to upgrade that machine)

    What happened to the thousands of Fidonet posts I made in the early 90's? As far as I can tell, they're long since gone. What about the other various BBS based message systems? Likely all tossed by the wayside. I know I was great about archiving them, and at one time had them stored on my good ol' 486/33 (high speed at the time). Drives fail. Backup tapes are wiped or disposed of. I couldn't even guess at where that good ol' 486/33 ended up.

    But, as you said, aliases are disposable and should be changed. I can't even remember the names I used back then. I've had so many over the years, I couldn't even guess at some of the older ones. Very infrequently do they cross paths. Even if I was presented with "In 1993, you said you had smoked marijuana", I wouldn't be able to confirm that statement. Well, I can confirm that I didn't smoke marijuana. I just can't confirm nor deny the statement. Really, who could authenticate the legitimacy of such an online posting? As a joke and proof, I used to send emails to coworkers from various public figures. I had sent an email to a Microsoft fanboy from "Bill Gates", with what appeared to be legitimate headers, offering him a job. He almost quit, except the office manager laughed at him. The officer manager was in on the joke. :) Electronic, paper, whatever, you have to prove the legitimacy of a document. Otherwise, I can produce information from 1985 where George W. Bush admits that he likes wearing womans clothing [youtube.com] .

Re:scary (1)

cortesoft (1150075) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017205)

Hopefully the end result in the future will be that no one is offended, embarrassed, or judgmental about this personal information being disclosed. If everyone's embarrassing moments are available for all to see, maybe we will stop acting with such contrived outrage at these incidents. Everyone does embarrassing things, lets stop judging others so harshly for them. If everyone knows everything about everyone, it is very hard to be hypocritical.

Now I know this is not the full answer; sometimes we keep things secret for good reasons (to not hurt someone else for example), but I think the point that we shouldn't be judging others so harshly for things we all do is still a good one to learn from this.

Re:scary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27017897)

It is quite easy to be hypocritical if you are not the one running for office. It is not like Barack Obama could have refuted that stuff by showing the embarassing moments of the news readers, not to speak of all their audience.
He could probably make his competitor look equally bad, but I don't think this will lead to the scenario you think of. In the end the nice guy that doesn't bother with throwing dirt will lose. Doesn't sound that good to me.

Re:scary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27017299)

My username can, with not a whole lot of work, be tied to me in real life. If somebody wanted to, they could go back through every single comment I had ever made on any message board or blog that I use this handle on.

bugmenot is your friend.

- Me, Posting AC since 1999.

Re:scary (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 5 years ago | (#27018649)

It might be possible to use Google to build a coincidental case that a certain handle belongs to a particular individual, but just as an IP address is not absolute proof of identity (i.e. the person getting the bill from the ISP is not necessarily the only one using the account) neither is a handle absolute proof that a particular individual was behind the posts. There will always be a certain amount of plausible deniability with these sorts of things provided that user(s) of the handle do not out their real names in public (and even then they could be faking them). It is very easy to say CodeBuster is not me or CodeBuster who, and very difficult to explain to Joe Sixpack that CodeBuster is linked to me via various data mining results and complex formulas. Remember that Joe Sixpack failed high school algebra and loses interest very quickly whenever a conversation becomes technical or complex (just ask the advertisers and marketers if you don't believe that).

Re:scary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27020339)

The real risk may not be that someone gets absolute proof. The risk may be that some individual gets enough proof to convince themselves. Then that person can blame you for everything you think you're posting with pseudoanonymity.

A big deal? Probably not but suppose the person is someone you work with. They don't really have anything actionable against you but they'll show their friends and suddenly you have a shitload of enemies and you can't figure out why. THIS is why I hate my record on Usenet because i was a troubled kid and Usenet was there for me to pour all my shit into.

So I think it is less about proof and definite consequences than it is about making enemies perpetually. Of course people SHOULD be more aware these days about persistence but indications pop up all the time that they aren't.

However, I'd like to put in a suggestion that we all ask Google for some reasonable pruning of their Usenet database. That thing is the bane of my existence.

I was with you... (1, Flamebait)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017097)

I was with you through your point about pollution but why'd you have to go off the deep end with human-caused climate change?

That's like putting in a reference to a flat earth with the sun orbiting it within a 6,000 year old universe with dinosaur fossils and light from stars beyond 6,000 light-years away put in place to test the believers in an otherwise sane piece.

Re:I was with you... (1)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017225)

I was with you through your point about pollution but why'd you have to go off the deep end with human-caused climate change?

It's interesting that some people can find issues where there are none. Like people looking for child porn can find it in Wikipedia articles, and religious preachers can find satanic messages when listening to Rock and Roll records backwards.

Re:I was with you... (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017499)

It's just sad to see an otherwise rational person give in to something that has issues with finding the SUVs used to get rid of the glaciers that used to cover a good chunk of the continent. Though eventually I'm sure they'll find those big ol' evil caveman coal fired powerplants that brought us out of the last ice age.

Well (1, Troll)

alexborges (313924) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017105)

First of all: Schneier is not "like" chuck norris. He IS chuck norris.

Having said that, I think that someone "up there" needs to start listening to this guy: we are on the verge of big brother and we happily go online and pay for some old gizmo on ebay.

Tomorrow, ebay will give us automatic sign-on with our webcam. We will tout it as "great" and think nothing of them having our pic along all the data of what we buy or not, our credit record will go to banks, which will then be able to cross-refference it all and then serve it to the government because "we are in danger" (we are always in enough danger to be fucked in our rights for some reason or another).

We deserve what we get.

We need concience.

Re:Well (2, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017193)

"..verge of big brother .."

AAAAAAHHHHHH!!!
Clearly you didn't understand the book.

A) Elected officials change.

B) If everyone has the information, then the information can not be redacted

C) With global information it is harder to lie to your people about who you ahve always been at war with(create tension with)

D) Our Cameras point both ways.

E) The technology that would be needed for 'big brother' is available to all, not controll be a government

F) I don't ahve to sneak away to some abandoned house with my lover and worry about getting arrested for questioning the government.

I could go on.

We ahve a conscience.

Re:Well (0)

alexborges (313924) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017701)

Id claim that YOU didnt understand it. The fact that its not what Orwell thought does not mean the basic waivering and/or takeaway of rights is different.

You claim that "our cammeras point both ways" and that government does not have control... I dont mean just the government (who can or not be a control freak), I mean the corporations AND the government.

"We" have a conscience. I mean you and I do. But WE, the average consumer, do not. We couldnt care less if facebook can tag your ass and be used as a very nice way to do face recongnition elsewhere (and theyll be selling that data in a second), we dont give a fuck if ourd ata is searched and COPIED by customs officials into some hardrive deep inside the airport.

We have a conscience... right!

Re:Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27017839)

"..verge of big brother .."

AAAAAAHHHHHH!!! Clearly you didn't understand the book.

A) Elected officials change.

So what? The Demopublican/Republicrat party doesn't.

B) If everyone has the information, then the information can not be redacted

You've got one right. Minitrue's Memory Hole wouldn't work.

So we do the next best thing; because everything's kept forever, it's trivial to find something that discredits someone who tries to remind people of unfacts.

C) With global information it is harder to lie to your people about who you ahve always been at war with(create tension with)

Actually, it's easier. With global information, we tend to self-segregate. On FreeRepublic, many people think Saddam was behind 9/11. (The fact was that Saddam's Iraq was sending $5K checks to suicide bombers, and that as a state sponsor of terror, he therefore became fair game as per US policy at the time. The Republicans deliberately obscured that distinction in order to garner support for the invasion.) On DailyKos, many people think Bush really said the Constitution was "just a goddamn piece of paper". (The fact was that it wasn't a quote, it was a rumor that appeared on Capital Hill Blue. The quote may have been consistent with Bush's actions - but there was never a shred of evidence that it was ever uttered.)

And then, there's disinformation, case in point being the 9/11 truther nuts.

D) Our Cameras point both ways.

E) The technology that would be needed for 'big brother' is available to all, not controll be a government

It's not about which way the cameras point, it's about who's got the legal right to wear the boot on his foot, and who's got the legal obligation to wear the boot on his face.

F) I don't have to sneak away to some abandoned house with my lover and worry about getting arrested for questioning the government.

If Larry Craig had used an abandoned house instead of an airport bathroom, it still would have been public indecency or trespassing. Mark Foley turned his Congressional pages in private, and it didn't save his career either. (And in the interest of the Fairness Doctrine, Monica Lewinsky almost cost Bill Clinton his career. Even the Oval Office isn't private enough to save your career.)

I could go on.

We have a conscience.

Lone Ranger: "Gee, Tonto, we're sure facin' a lotta Injuns in them thar hills!"
Tonto: "What you mean 'we', kemosabe?"

Political systems exist to perpetuate themselves. They don't have consciences.

Re:Well (0, Troll)

jakykong (1474957) | more than 5 years ago | (#27018371)

A) Since when? B) The information has to be stored somewhere. In 1984, the problem with this statement is that once the powers that be completely irradicate evidence that the current "facts" were ever different, you can simply say you're remembering things wrong. When the majority (for whatever reason) agree with this statement, then you're just a crazy. C) Sure. Harder, but not impossible. Well, maybe it's impossible right now -- but what if net neutrality is broken? I mean, clearly, right now we would have too much outcry. But if we had a sufficient reason that a majority of people were willing to go along with, I could see network neutrality being thought of as an okay sacrifice. Remember: 1984 is dystopian. It describes what could be, not what is. And, also, the GP said we're on "the verge" of big brother -- not that he's here now! D) Huh? In 1984, the telescreens could see you and hear you, as well as preach at you day in and day out (that's "pointing both ways", isn't it?). Either you said something you didn't mean, or I misunderstood you, but this statement makes no sense. E) The technology was available to everybody before the party took over in 1984, too. Clearly, I mean, because the party wasn't always in control -- what about before the revolution? And since scientific inquiry has all but stopped in 1984, I doubt the party could have invented the telescreens! F) .... yet. Also, as far as a conscience goes, individually, we do. Some people (I would like to count myself, here, for the record) have consumer consciences as well (open source folks seem to be more likely than most people in this regard, in my experience). But collectively -- as a society, as a nation -- we don't seem to have much conscience. I believe this is what the GP was trying to get at.

mod dZown (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27017109)

Political and Technological Progress (1)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017119)

There will be no privacy in the future, and therefore no crime. Technology improvements in cameras, microphones, etc will keep on improving so much that we will eventually end up living in a technological and political Utopia. Do to genetic and behavioral profiling we will stop crime before it even happens.

Continuing political improvements and progress in the law and the technology to enforce the law means we will be safer, richer, and happier.

Re:Political and Technological Progress (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017795)

Continuing political improvements and progress in the law and the technology to enforce the law means we will be safer, richer, and happier.

Amen.

CC.

Re:Political and Technological Progress (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27019423)

I just hope you're being satirical.

*shudder*

Re:Political and Technological Progress (1)

Boomerang Fish (205215) | more than 5 years ago | (#27021629)

And much, much more boring...

--
I drank what?

Schnier vs Brin? (3)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017147)

I want to see David Brin's response to this, in the light of The Transparent Society [davidbrin.com] .

Re:Schnier vs Brin? (1)

fjanss (897687) | more than 5 years ago | (#27018797)

Yes, that whould be an interesting debate.

Is the information quantity the problem? Or is it the imbalance between those who have access to it and those who do not?

Not possible (2, Insightful)

Dreen (1349993) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017149)

This time around, maybe we can be a little more proactive.

Different people will make same mistakes that our fathers did. They will learn from their mistakes, just as our fathers learned, but the next time around new people will make same mistakes again anyway.

The proliferation of data... (4, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017265)

...is not nearly as much of a problem as the proliferation of noise with respect to signal. In the end, whatever survives is whatever is dominant (ie: the most successful in the environment) which is not the same as whatever is actually useful. If noise is the dominant element, then noise is what will endure and the signal will die. It will be out-competed. Basic darwinism.

THIS is the pollution, not the persistence of information. There's probably not much more real information being produced now than there was at any time in the Age of Enlightenment, so it really doesn't matter if it persists. It'd be great if it persisted better. The problem is the creeping crud. This isn't about freedom to express oneself, since that is also information (sometimes too much information, in another sense of the term). Nobody claims a Nigerian scammer is expressing themselves. Well, if you DO claim that, I've a few billion in gold that could be yours if you just supply me with some information first.

Re:The proliferation of data... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27017689)

So when future anthropologists are digging through our ancient ruins they will have only one question: what happened to all the gay niggers from outer space go?

Re:The proliferation of data... (1)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017965)

When it comes to privacy, noise may be a solution rather than a problem. Vernor Vinge suggested that if the Net remembers everything about you, you should flood it with contradictory noise that provides plausible deniability about things that are actually true. Either that, or they'll have more evidence against you.

Re:The proliferation of data... (1)

triffid_98 (899609) | more than 5 years ago | (#27018457)

It ought to work this way, but the way our courts work today plausible deniability seems difficult to achieve. Flooding the Net with noise just gives more evidence for prosecutors and investigators to cherry pick from. In civil proceedings there is no such thing as beyond a reasonable doubt.

Even if you are changing ids and using anonymizers, we already have linguistic analysis software that can take samples of your writing and establish with some degree of confidence which ids are your aliases.

So I'm afraid \\\\////\\\\////e'll al7 ahve to Start using my new service~~~~~~~ !!!!!!!!!!1~~~~~~ I OWN JOo. LOLOLOLOLOOLOOLOLOLO... !!!!!!!!1~~~ I Will 4hck becuaz I will haX))r U!!!!!!~~~ TEH MEWSSAGE ANONYIMZER takE th4t ogOglebots...

( http://www.rinkworks.com/dialect/dialectt.cgi [rinkworks.com] )

When it comes to privacy, noise may be a solution rather than a problem. Vernor Vinge suggested that if the Net remembers everything about you, you should flood it with contradictory noise that provides plausible deniability about things that are actually true. Either that, or they'll have more evidence against you.

Re:The proliferation of data... (1)

aukset (889860) | more than 5 years ago | (#27018599)

I understand why you analogize pollution with noise, but it is not what TFS is trying to convey. The analogy to pollution is a warning about the unintended consequences of information persistence, not the purity of the information.

a few things (2, Interesting)

visible.frylock (965768) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017293)

I can't read tfa at work.

A few things. Change the law such that:

a) as little data as possible needs to be given up in the first place
b) when possible, non-identifying data should be used
b) data needs to be retained for as short of a time period as possible

As usual, these are precisely the things that will not be done, and will in fact be fought against by society at all levels. Because we're idiots.

And as usual, if we actually did those things, then we might have less law and more liberty. Oh the horror.

I uninvented the coal furnace (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27017381)

But that caused a paradox resulting in me never being able to create a time machine.

Hate to break it to you (0)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017395)

But the information age isn't going to survive a whole lot beyond the age of fossil fuels.

Why?
1. the physical components of IT are often made of oil or natgas.
2. the energy density and physical quality of oil makes it the best fuel and one of the best sources for a vast variety of materials.
3. the environmental demands for IT are extra-ordinary - from clean rooms to high intensity lasers - it requires insane amounts of energy and truly peculiar materials native to fossil fuels.
4. the economic requirements are based in commodity functions, like economies of scale. No one is going to cut a half dozen wafers of silicon a year and make a profit. Contemporary IT requires a commodity based industrialism, and industrialism is what is destroying the planet.
5. The typical economic response is "substitution" but there is no equivalent substitution for petroleum in terms of energy density and convenience on one end and the ability to easily make long polymers on the other.
6. Then we have to contend with Peak Everything. Copper is in very low densities of kg per tonne. Aluminium requires massive amounts of energy to blast out of bauxite, and is otherwise in too low a concentration. Tin is weak, and all these monitors require Indium which isn't exactly plentiful. Sometime this century, most of our metals will peak out.

We can go on and on about wind power, or nuclear, or solar or whatever. So far, for all the wind power we can generate (and I've been to altamont - I've seen the towers) we have yet to have a windmill make a windmill. Because it can't. Energy is not materials, and technology is not energy. We have yet to see a set of solar panels build another set of solar panels.

We HAVE seen the petroleum age reproduce itself over and over. In the 1920s, the energy return on energy invested for petroleum was 100:1 -one barrel of oil could produce 100 barrels of oil from the ground. Now we're around 10:1 and falling rapidly. At 1:1 it doesn't matter how much is in the ground. you'll leave it there because it's not energetically worth pumping up.

And you're not going to grind up the forests to make plastics and energy to smelt bauxite because people are going to be ripping down the forests to keep from freezing to death in the winter.

Sorry folks. It is a sad and poignant thing to think that there will be some development of technology because in 20 years, the ERoEI on oil will be close to 1:1, and there won't be enough alternative energy infrastructure to keep the happy motoring culture rolling or the 3000 mile Caesar Salads, or the plethora of iPods and computers and phones and TVs and whatever other gizmo gets crapped out to keep people distracted and in their places as happy consumers.

Of course, some technopositivist will bang me down as a Troll, but I'm actually not a troll at all. I'm simply calling it as I see it, and I've been studying this stuff for well over 15 years now. It has me VERY depressed half the time, and I don't sit here saying these things because it makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.

It's just that facts are facts. You can't live outside the laws of thermodynamics. we found almost 3 trillion barrels of black gold and we've pissed it away on war machines, entertainment, building a gigantic population that is deeply into overshoot and is dependent on a resource about to vanish from the market.

Don't worry about a humungus pile of digital information. I would worry about keeping BASIC information, like how to make soap at home, and candles out of fat, and keeping it in a form that won't disappear when Microsoft deems it worthy of DRM.

RS

Re:Hate to break it to you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27017881)

5. The typical economic response is "substitution" but there is no equivalent substitution for petroleum in terms of energy density and convenience on one end and the ability to easily make long polymers on the other.

This is exactly what people do not understand. Crude oil is so energy dense that THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE that will allow our society to continue once peak oil is reached.

GAME OVER

Re:Hate to break it to you (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 5 years ago | (#27018423)

We can go on and on about wind power, or nuclear, or solar or whatever. So far, for all the wind power we can generate (and I've been to altamont - I've seen the towers) we have yet to have a windmill make a windmill. Because it can't. Energy is not materials, and technology is not energy. We have yet to see a set of solar panels build another set of solar panels.

I note that you have conveniently left out nuclear energy in your examples.

It's just that facts are facts. You can't live outside the laws of thermodynamics. we found almost 3 trillion barrels of black gold and we've pissed it away on war machines, entertainment, building a gigantic population that is deeply into overshoot and is dependent on a resource about to vanish from the market.

Sounds familiar [wikipedia.org] .

The fact is that human beings are resourceful creatures. Oil may for most intents and purposes run out, but people will find alternatives. Almost all the points you have rely on the proposition that we will never find a source of energy as rich and abundant as oil was in the 1920s. Yet the simple fact is that for most of humanity in the 1920s, oil was not a very useful commodity. By your own argument, as oil became "thermodynamically scareser" , people used and benefited from it more and more. The "thermodynamic scarceness" of a commodity does not appear to correlate well with its utility in society.

I don't buy into the idea that humanity is going to run out of energy. It sounds an awful lot like the old Malthusian idea that we were all going to run out of food. We didn't. Back then, in the 1800s, the most important natural resource was land, because it was used to grow food that people needed to survive. Right now, the most important natural resource is oil, because people "need it to survive". Yet we've moved past that most basic of resources, food, being a bottleneck. I'd argue that we will move past oil.

We may be wasteful in our use of energy, but the fact is that we are getting more efficient every day. And the plain fact is that we already have alternatives to oil, nuclear being the first of many. And moreover, we are continually discovering new sources of energy. As oil becomes scarce, people will improvise and adapt, just as they did when land for food became scarce.

Can you name the one thing that revolutionized our ability to grow food(And no, the answer is not oil). You can't, and the reason is that our ability to grow food did not undergo a revolution. It underwent an evolution, just like our ability to procure energy will.

Humanity could well be wiped out by a lot of things, all of its own making. But and energy shortage is not one of them.

Re:Hate to break it to you (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 5 years ago | (#27018939)

Don't worry about a humungus pile of digital information. I would worry about keeping BASIC information, like how to make soap at home, and candles out of fat, and keeping it in a form that won't disappear when Microsoft deems it worthy of DRM.

If you're really worried about that, why don't you do some research and write a book on that stuff, and "print" it on something more durable than the typical book material. I bet you'd get a lot of buyers.

Now let's see.. clay tablets are probably the most enduring medium, but they might be tricky to mass produce and distribute. The dead sea scrolls are a pretty good study of a fairly compact information storage medium, being composed of leather, some kind of paper, or some kind of metal (tin? copper? I forget) with varying success at retention.

The antikythera mechanism seems to have lasted for a long time in a saltwater environment. Perhaps that would be a good material of choice.

Re:Hate to break it to you (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27019245)

Wait, why won't nuclear work?

There is a blurb in a recent Scientific American that states there is tens of thousands of years of uranium in the ocean. There isn't currently technology that can obtain the uranium, but if it comes down to a choice between your sad-face distopia and some radiation, do you really think people are going to choose a distopia?

Here's the blurb:

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=how-long-will-global-uranium-deposits-last [sciam.com]

And Bruce would know about privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27017771)

Seeing as he works for a company (CTO no less) that is intent on spying on its customers
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/02/29/phorm_roundup/ [theregister.co.uk]

BT has got a hardon for this, and until he or his company severs ties with Phorm
Bruce needs to STFU as he has zero credibility all the time he is taking BTs cash
he can spout off about its nothing to do with him but while he cuts a paycheck his words are thin
and every day it reflects badly on him and his beliefs.

sometimes you need to do the right thing and saying one thing while doing another aint good enough.

Re:And Bruce would know about privacy (1)

mikael (484) | more than 5 years ago | (#27019011)

Here is the latest article about this company:

Phorm unleashes legal attack on critics [theregister.co.uk]

i don't understand this shock about privacy (2, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#27017785)

the internet is a series of servers and wires beyond your control. please note: BEYOND YOUR CONTROL. therefore, regardless of any law, written in bold 72 pt font in blood, no one can reasonably expect anything to be private on this system. buried in your deskdrawer, in your house, there you can find privacy. on the wide open internet, the very notion of privacy is philosophically impossible, like oil and water, the two concepts

furthermore, much of what people are shocked to find that the internet can know about them is detritus. pointless bits and pieces. in other words, no facts about yourself that anyone would consider seriously private in terms of anything that can damage you, unless you are some sort of hysteric. were it even to be found and associated with you, needle in a haystack this stuff is, the very effort that be mustered to even care is ridiculous. yeah, its "private" facts about you in that it is associated with you personally. but the to me the notion of privacy includes some sort of horrible damagin facts about you

and even beyond that, much of this detritus wouldn't exist without the internet in the first place. its not like you had some sort of private facts about yourself, then the internet came along and stole them from you. no, these random bits and pieces about your life only exist because YOU choose to go out on the internet and PUT it there

finally, it is entirely possible to manage your online identity in such a way that what goes on there, behind this moniker or on that site or in this newsgroup or on that facebook page or with that avatar or in that email: you consciously manage what is disclosed and what isn't under that rubrik. this really is nothing new or weird. people, in real life, long before the internet, often managed different parts of their identity in different social spheres of their life

in short, privacy on the internet is:

1. impossible. not legally impossible, but beyond that: philosophically impossible
2. pointless. mediocre bits of flotsam and jetsam where you have to be quite a hysterical person to even care that someone else knows this about you
3. native to the internet. without the internet, this detritus wouldn't exist in the first place. no privacy was "stolen" from you. its the same half-witted reasoning that calls file sharing "stealing" and "piracy". you PUT the information there, with your full conscious authorization of the implications involved
4. completely normal and in line with the entire human history of identity plasticity, manipulation, and management

in short, why the HELL do people get so worked up over this bullshit concept of privacy on the internet. there is none! just accept reality, move on

i honestly believe that kids in their teens, and younger, would find this entire conversation just plain weird. that if you grow up with the internet, this entire issue is beyond understanding, simply because what you do on the internet and privacy is i think natively understood by those who grow up with the internet to be disconnected concepts

tempest in a teapot. an absurd and pointless topic

Pollution is good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27018411)

I was worried about my facebook profile being revealing. I deleted it and found out another person with the same name had a profile. This guy is fitter, better looking and has a better online profile.

In this case I planned to do that anyway in an attempt to pollute searches against my name. If there is too much bad data out there how will anyone know which data is valid?

"Uninvention" is easy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27018521)

Nothing is permanent. Civilization as we know it is teetering on the brink of destruction, with a millennium or longer Dark Age ahead if we are not very, very careful. Humans very quickly resort to rank intuition and superstition.

Fine for Data Breaches (1)

izomiac (815208) | more than 5 years ago | (#27018575)

It seems to me the that fining businesses something around $50 or $100 per item of information in the event of a data breach would cause an abrupt end to the age of persistence. Collect name, e-mail address, billing address, shipping address, credit card number, phone number, and records of three invoices? That's $450 or $900 per customer in the event some employee loses a laptop with the customer database on it. Some company getting a $10,000,000 fine would a) make the government bean counters happy, b) make companies get serious about information security, and c) make companies seriously question how much information they need, and how long they have to keep it.

Re:Fine for Data Breaches (1)

Boomerang Fish (205215) | more than 5 years ago | (#27021653)

And make the government the sole holder of this information...

At least our new corporate overlords need us for something other than our tax money -- as cogs in their vast metropolis...

--
I drank what?

Prevent data pollution (1)

CheeseTroll (696413) | more than 5 years ago | (#27019563)

I propose a cap & trade system for forwarded emails and Facebook updates.

Maybe we can use it as a good thing instead. (2, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 5 years ago | (#27020695)

Why do we need privacy? Invariably the reason seems to be: "I don't want others to know what I am doing".

Followed by: "because they might do something harmful to me because of it". (there is another argument as well, which I will cover after this one)

Actually, that last bit is NOT the way people usually say it, but I said it that way to make my point easier.

We know that in history there have been times that it was very bad to have certain people know something about you. Godwin be damned, but having people know your religion was not always something good. Nazi germany used "harmless" census data gathered earlier to exterminate those who to them had undesirable census data.

Privacy advocates would argue that if this census data had NOT contained religion, it would have been better, but would it? A similar bit of potential census data was used by another organization to hunt down those it found undesirable. The KKK. Skin color. That you can't keep private/hidden away. If you are black, you are black and it tends to be fairly noticable unless you want to go to the most extreme forms of privacy (burka).

Blacks being prosecuted by white racists did NOT benefit from the fact that the US did not collect skin color in its census data. So in this dark era of the previous century, privacy would not have protected those lynched in the US.

Would it have protected the jews in europe? Some, but not all. Those who hid away their religion, because they were only related to jews but not actually religious themselves or had learned not to be noticed might have had better changes. But any jew who practiced his/her faith would have been noticed regardless of census data and suffered the same fate.

The privacy advocates suffer from the fact that they are looking at the short term and only at information that can be hidden if you all wish to confirm to the majority world view. Take the constant cases of online communities banning homosexuals who dare to come out of the closet online. Recent example Xbox-live, banning a lesbian for daring to be a lesbian. As long as she blends in with the majority (or at least the mob) she was safe. Keep her sexuality private.

But is this what we want as a society?

Let me know make my point.

We would be better off in a society where we had no privacy but nobody was prosecuted for information about their person.

A jew in nazi germany would have been better off if the fact that a person was jewish did NOT matter. Well DUH you might say but think about it. If society doesn't judge you based on your sexuality then there is no reason for it to be private. Simple example: Blondes. We all know that blondes are dumb, ergo you might wish this information to be private so you are not judged on your hair color in your job application. Silly? Well there are experiments to just that with nationality in job applications to stop people being discriminated against based on where they were born. BUT place of birth needs ONLY be private IF you are judged on it. If there was no discrimination, there would be no need to keep things hidden.

So for instance the law against age limits in jobs and that you do NOT have to list your age on a resume is just a lazy privacy law against the real problem of age discrimination. If we got rid of age discrimination, we would I think have a better society then a society in which your age is private.

Why? Again, the xbox-live example or for that matter, the white black man, or the gentile jew. As long as the lesbian, the black person or the jew blend into the crowd, behave like the mob and don't stand out, they were somewhat safe. Until the mob decides that their behaviour ain't enough like the mob. Note that the lesbian might also wish to hide that she is a female on a gaming network.

Just how free is a society where you are allowed to be a different religion just as long as it isn't known by society?

Privacy laws like this are ONLY known as long as we allow society to discriminate.

And now the other reason for privacy: "I don't want people to find out what I did".

In a way this is closely related to the first but this time the person themselves considers that there is some justification in society judging what they did/are to be bad or at least accept that there is little change of the mob ever changing its mind.

Lets take the lesbian on xbox-live again. She has sex with other women. So what? But say she had said she was a pedophile and had sex with little kids. Oops! I think far fewer people would have defended that. Our society currently judges pedophilia to be extremely bad and so it has outlawed it and spends a large amount of money on trying to make this bit of information on people non-private. Translation: the police try to find pedophiles.

The police is an odd beast, it is an entire organisation dedicated to making private information known. They are a privacy advocates nightmare or at least ultimate dilema. Only the most deranged privacy advocates (a bit redundant) would argue that that everything should be private. I am sure there are some slashdotters who would say that if a murderer captured them and cut their bodies into bits and stored them in their freezer that this should be something private between them and their murderer. I am going to assume however that the majority of us thinks this private information of the murderer is something that should be shared with the world.

Speed camera's are a less gruesome example of this. Society wishes for the roads to be somewhat safe and part of this is to enforce a speed limit. Not because the speed limit is always sensible but simply because a speed limit is "needed" to keep things operating smoothly. Without getting bogged down in the whole safe speed issue, most speed limtis are not about how fast YOU can drive safely but how fast society can drive safely in general on that bit of the road even considering as simple a thing that having unique speed limits on every mile of road would be hellish on drivers.

Anti-speed camera people wish for the fact that they are speeding to be private, society doesn't. Speed camera's make this private data public with the idea that because of this, speeding will stop.

Note that this is PRETTY CLOSE to the reasoning followed by (got to love godwin) the nazi's. By making religion public knowledge they wanted to stop people from following certain religions.

This time, the better society would NOT be to keep privacy I think, but to change society in such a way that we no longer would need to keep this information hidden. This time because we just don't speed. Grow-up, realize that speed limits are not about you but about everyone and just follow the rules.

The tag [LESBIAN] should be fine on xbox-live. The tag [\n] (Newline, if it worked) would not because it disrupts things.

This is a complex issue, it asks us to judge what part of what we are/do is to be free and what isn't. Having sex with women is a freedom (I presume, I am on slashdot so what do I know), having sex with kids isn't. Why? Well... I don't know. Oh I know what the mob would say but that is not enough. Should the police be allowed to investigate cases of pedophilia but not homosexuality (yes, that is invesitaged by some police forces in this world)?

Are those same people who protest speed camera's also against camera's in parking lots that film carthieves? I bet not.

My argument is that a lack of pricacy is only to be feared if the information made public can be used to harm us. As a society we then got to ask yourselves, for which information about a person can harm be done?

Privacy advocates are wrong for two reasons: first, by hiding the information you are effectively forcing everyone into the same generic mob controlled mold. Everyone is allowed to be on Xbox-live as long as you are a white teen male, you are allowed to be a jew as long as you are not jewish, you are allowed to be black as long as your skin is white.

Second: what happens when somebody is determined to make this information public? Say you hide your homosexuality completly so society can't judge you on it, that is fine until the day somebody decides to dig deep enough. You then will still be judged. Privacy only works as long as it is respected. Make note of the forced outing of homosexual celebrities by action groups.

I think we would have a better world if privacy advocates spend more time working on stopping discrimination rather then trying to get everyone to hide who they are and what they think less the mob finds out about it. Fight the mob, not the individual.

Yes, I am a dreamer, but better that then a realist.

Life recorder (1)

TropicalCoder (898500) | more than 5 years ago | (#27020939)

I find the concept of the "Life recorder" quite interesting. This idea has been around for awhile, but when reading the article or the comments below it, more dimensions then simply preserving the day to day experience came to my attention. For example, it was mentioned that perhaps a Life recorder - transmitting data recorded to remote data storage in real time - could identify the assailant of a person who was attacked or robbed. Such a thing could also identify who was at fault if you were involved in a car accident. And finally, there is the sinister side where in some future scenario, people could be compelled to always wear a Life recorder to prove they did not commit crimes. Anybody who did not wear one would be suspect.

While there is much food for thought in what I have just said, I have considered practical uses for a device constantly recording the daily experience. I developed a environmental audio monitor [tropicalcoder.com] that I have experimented with running on my computer many hours a day. I have also left it running overnight or even days when I am away from the house. It records what it hears, saving the audio in mp3 format to minimize disk space. With triggering adjustable by both magnitude and frequency, it can be set up to capture only "interesting" data. I have been playing around with this concept for many years. One day I discovered a conversation I had recorded several years ago an old hard drive. It was very uncanny, an instant flashback to a long forgotten fleeting moment of the past. You would be welcome to experiment with this software (Windows platform) and share your ideas with me.

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