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Did We Lose the Privacy War?

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the no-now-finish-your-cheerios-and-straighten-your-shirt dept.

Privacy 521

eihab writes "I've been a fanatic about my online privacy for the last few years. I've been using NoScript and blocking Google Analytics, disabling third-party cookies, encrypting IM and doing everything in my power to keep data-miners at bay. Recently, I've been feeling like I'm just doing too much and still losing! No matter what I do, I know that there's a weak link somewhere, be it my ISP, Flash cookies, etc. I've recently gotten AT&T U-Verse, who, according to their privacy statement, will be monitoring my TV watching habits for advertisement purposes. I'm extremely annoyed by that, yet I love the service so much and I don't think I can cancel it. I just can't take this anymore. I have nothing to hide, but I do not want to be profiled and become member #5534289 in a database somewhere that records everything I do. I know I'm not that interesting to anyone, but the idea of someone being able to pull up everything about me with a simple SQL SELECT statement and a couple of JOINS makes me cringe. One of the reasons I hate data mining is that data security is not understood and almost non-existent at a lot of places. Case in point: I changed my life insurance two years ago, and the medical firm that conducted my health screening was broken into and computers with non-encrypted hard drives and patients' data were stolen. That medical firm didn't really need my SSN, but then again neither did AT&T when I signed up for U-Verse. Am I just too paranoid? Is privacy dead? Should I just give up and accept the fact that privacy is not the norm anymore (like Facebook's founder recently said) or should I keep fighting the good fight for my privacy?"

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521 comments

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Err no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31156288)

War? I'd say we're Poland and we got blitzkrieg'd.
A war implies you put up a fight. They control the media,
the lawmakers, the government.

Re:Err no (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31156380)

Part of the problem is that "they" need to be personally identified. You want to find the root of the problem, not just of privacy but why your (USA) government does not represent you and doesn't give a damn about you? Whose interests it really is serving? Look to the old-money families of the USA. The Rothschilds, the Morgans, the Carnegies, the Rockefellers, the Du Ponts, and the Vanderbilts. Don't hear those names very often? That's because they are not like the politicians. They don't like the limelight. They prefer to fund front groups and are politically active through those.

Do. The. Research. Yourself. Then start to understand the problem.

Re:Err no (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31156476)

The Rothschilds, the Morgans, the Carnegies, the Rockefellers, the Du Ponts, and the Vanderbilts. Don't hear those names very often?

I hear those names all the time, mostly from idiots on the internet spewing crap about how the government caused Swine Flu, September 11th, AIDS, and Sprint's shitty cell phone service.

Re:Err no (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156576)

I hear those names all the time, mostly from idiots on the internet spewing crap about how the government caused Swine Flu, September 11th, AIDS, and Sprint's shitty cell phone service.

The government did not cause Swine Flu, September 11th, or AIDS.

Re:Err no (3, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156810)

The government did not cause Swine Flu, September 11th, or AIDS.

Maybe not, but they were so opportunistic in exploiting them that they might as well have caused them. They want you to win the war on terror by being afraid.

Re:Err no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31156688)

You left out David H Koch.

Re:Err no (2, Insightful)

fearlezz (594718) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156804)

Most other countries didn't even have a blitzkrieg, people did an Anschluss instead.

There was a war? (2, Funny)

mandark1967 (630856) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156296)

Damn...If it wasn't so private maybe I'd have heard about it and fought...

Re:There was a war? (1)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156770)

Then you have already won because the only winning move is not to play.

You insensitive clod! (4, Funny)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156320)

I am member #5534289 you insensitive clod!

Re:You insensitive clod! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31156556)

It would have been funnier if your actual /. uid was 5534289, but I don't think /. has that many users yet.

You are number six. (0)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156324)

I do not want to be profiled and become member #5534289

#6: I am not a number, I am a FREE MAN!
#2: Ha ha ha ha ha!

Not 5534289 (0)

0racle (667029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156330)

You're 823684

Hobby (3, Insightful)

Dan East (318230) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156334)

Everyone needs a hobby. If you enjoy playing cloak and dagger, then let that be your hobby. Otherwise invest your time in more worthwhile endeavors.

Re:Hobby (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31156604)

Yeah how dare anyone think they have a right to a sphere of privacy as guaranteed in the 4th amendment? After all *anything* done by the free market is a-OK right net.libertarians.hypocrties

I mean hey if corporate data miners behave like the Stasi why should I complain, just grin and bear it the market has spoken and human rights don't apply in the private spehere, right?

You surrendered. (5, Insightful)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156336)

'm extremely annoyed by that, yet I love the service so much and I don't think I can cancel it.

You are agreeing to give up your privacy. You are not losing - you surrendered.

Re:You surrendered. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31156416)

'm extremely annoyed by that, yet I love the service so much and I don't think I can cancel it.

You are agreeing to give up your privacy. You are not losing - you surrendered.

Care to buy an eihab principle? It's never been defended and only been dropped once!

Re:You surrendered. (4, Insightful)

delt0r (999393) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156458)

Thanks. Its not like there are not alternative ways to get your media, TV shows, movies or otherwise. The submitter has sold privacy for convenience. Convenience of mere entertainment no less. Privacy is not getting taken away, we are giving it up freely.

Re:You surrendered. (5, Interesting)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156462)

You are agreeing to give up your privacy. You are not losing - you surrendered.

Indeed. I like his whining about them not needing his SSN. Then why did you give it to them? Phone and cable service is regulated in most states. I've yet to read state regulations that allow them to deny you service you refuse to fork over the SSN. If they refuse to give you service without the SSN then contact your state regulators and open a case.

I did this here in New York with Verizon and the public service commission compelled them to turn on my service within two business days of my filing a complaint. All they can do is ask you for a deposit -- the law usually requires them to return it to you after a certain number of timely payments (usually a year's worth) have been made.

Re:You surrendered. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31156670)

You are agreeing to give up your privacy. You are not losing - you surrendered.

I don't think this is the problem. The problem isn't that people are using systems that disregard privacy, the problem is that people are designing them. This is why the war on privacy is necessarily the war on open source: Open source software doesn't invade your privacy. Firefox lets you automatically delete cookies, Flash doesn't. Asterisk lets you control what your phone switch is recording about you, AT&T doesn't. On and on.

So if you don't like how the world is going, build a different one.

Re:You surrendered. (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156776)

You surrender only because you cannot win.

Try NOT agreeing to give up your privacy. Life will get so difficult and doing business will be such a pain in the ass that you regret it right away... _

And if you don't, well, there's always gitmo.

RE: Did We Lose the Privacy War? (1)

phil42 (24711) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156338)

yes, we did

Accept and enjoy! (1)

Jaden42 (466735) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156342)

I never understood why people didn't want to be catalogued. I think life would be lovely if everywhere I went, everyone knew what I wanted.

That can't *possibly* be a bad thing!

Re:Accept and enjoy! (1)

Eponymous Coward (6097) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156404)

Until you walk by an e-billboard and a loud commercial for some herpes treatment starts up.

Re:Accept and enjoy! (1)

ottothecow (600101) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156490)

Well, if only they knew a little *more* about you, they would know that you don't like public evidence of your little problem...

Re:Accept and enjoy! (1)

Shatteredstar (1722136) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156786)

Didn't penny arcane do a comic on this?

BAD BOYS BIG BIRDS!

You know...subway...eat fresh?

Re:Accept and enjoy! (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156406)

Perhaps if their intent was to give it to you; but more than likely just plan to use it as a carrot you will never quite get. Poker is really the best representation of daily life in game form. You really are better off the less the other players *know* about your hand be it strong or week.

Re:Accept and enjoy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31156790)

My life is like that situation when you *realize* you entered the wrong SQL query and backup servers've been down whole week.

Re:Accept and enjoy! (1)

Vayra (1744282) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156638)

Yeah, and then when you start thinking the government ain't all that great you get silenced before you have a chance to do anything about it.

Re:Accept and enjoy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31156718)

It wouldn't be if some people weren't set on sitting in judgement of others and regulating their actions based on preconceptions and prejudices.

Privacy is dead, deal with it. (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156348)

There is nothing you can do to preserve your privacy while remaining in society. Privacy is dead and gone. The best thing you can do is work for a company which gathers private information on the richest and most powerful. If you don't want to help reduce privacy, then you are part of the problem and that is why you are being watched.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vsxxsrn2Tfs [youtube.com]

Yes. (1)

RCGodward (1235102) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156350)

Yes, and your curiosity has been noted, eihab, along with your IP address, computer make and model, geographic location, blood type, next of kin...

answered your own question (3, Insightful)

socsoc (1116769) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156352)

I'm extremely annoyed by that, yet I love the service so much and I don't think I can cancel it.

Then you answered your own question. If you continue to use the service, you're giving them positive reinforcement that their activities are acceptable.

Re:answered your own question (1)

socsoc (1116769) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156658)

Redundant by a minute's previous post... thanks mods.

solution: add noise (5, Insightful)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156354)

It seems that the only solution is to add so much noise that data miners will have a really hard time filtering out the real data.

Here [nyu.edu] is a start.

Re:solution: add noise (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156454)

This.
Black-hats are a group that need to avoid getting found so it is good to look at how they do it. Setting up multiple personas to have 'scripts' to go on that data miners grab hold of. And the other way is to make a lot of random meaningless noise. Lastly you give as little real information as possible.

You need to approach it from all angles. You don't necessarily need to give up your favourite w/e u-verse so long as you do other things.

privacy is going obsolete (1)

u4ya (1248548) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156356)

Ubiquitous surveillance, body scanners, HD spy satellites ... this is where we are today. In a few years, tiny remote controlled insects could broadcast video and sound from virtually any private place, catching our most intimate moments. Eventually, if and when we learn to read thoughts, no one will have any secrets left.

Inherent privacy is dead. (4, Interesting)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156362)

Given how interconnected our world is, if you want to participate, you have to do it in public. You have to connect to someone else's machine, hook up to someone else's fiber, talk to someone who you can't immediately trust, and you have to do it in the open.

That is to say, SSL, TOR, NoFlash, NoScript etc, still don't have a place in our lives as geeks. Just, forget privacy.

Besides, I think we live in a world where we have obscurity through density, instead of obscurity through privacy. Billions of people on this earth, nearly a billion of them connected to the 'net. Embrace it. Eventually, if enough personal data gets out there, it may become worthless to mine it due to the sheer volume available.

Re:Inherent privacy is dead. (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156460)

Eventually, if enough personal data gets out there, it may become worthless to mine it due to the sheer volume available.

Wouldn't that be like saying Gold would become worthless if we had it in large volumes?

Does it not still have many applicable uses?

Personal data mining will continue - it will only become more automated.

Re:Inherent privacy is dead. (4, Funny)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156534)

>>Personal data mining will continue - it will only become more automated.

Mr. Shepard: Our records indicate that you have been dead for the last two years. Have you ever considered looking into Asari burial shrouds? Our burial shrouds are of the finest quality, hand-woven on the Asari homeworld by skilled artisans. You'll appreciate the difference the next time you die!

Re:Inherent privacy is dead. (1)

Galestar (1473827) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156598)

Wouldn't that be like saying Gold would become worthless if we had it in large volumes?

Does it not still have many applicable uses?

Compared to most other substances we can harvest/produce, Gold is not particularily useful.

Re:Inherent privacy is dead. (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156728)

I've come to understand it - it has a pretty high aesthetic value, is an excellent conductor for electricity, and is very maleable, making it a very desirable resource, in everything from Jewelry to electronics.

Re:Inherent privacy is dead. (4, Insightful)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156520)

So what we have in lieu of privacy is occasional access to anonymity. You can maintain that anonymity for a little more of your life for a little more effort, but maintaining it 24/7 for everything you do is increasingly difficult.

Re:Inherent privacy is dead. (5, Insightful)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156540)

That is to say, SSL, TOR, NoFlash, NoScript etc, still don't have a place in our lives as geeks.

Speak for yourself, not all geeks share your defeatism.

Re:Inherent privacy is dead. (5, Insightful)

malloc (30902) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156702)

Besides, I think we live in a world where we have obscurity through density, instead of obscurity through privacy. Billions of people on this earth, nearly a billion of them connected to the 'net. Embrace it. Eventually, if enough personal data gets out there, it may become worthless to mine it due to the sheer volume available.

Panopticlick [eff.org] wants to disagree [eff.org] .

That, and "billions" / "sheer volume" are meaningless in the face of computers processing billions of cycles a second. The whole point of data mining is software can find neat correlations and connections that a human never could. You are not hidden in the billion bits of data.

Re:Inherent privacy is dead. (1)

kaoshin (110328) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156732)

"You have to connect to someone else's machine, hook up to someone else's fiber, talk to someone who you can't immediately trust, and you have to do it in the open."

That is to say, you didn't zombie someone elses machine, hijack someone elses connection, impersonate another individual or conduct your activities through covert channels.

Re:Inherent privacy is dead. (3, Insightful)

BlackCreek (1004083) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156750)

Besides, I think we live in a world where we have obscurity through density, instead of obscurity through privacy. Billions of people on this earth, nearly a billion of them connected to the 'net. Embrace it. Eventually, if enough personal data gets out there, it may become worthless to mine it due to the sheer volume available.

Sure. Until someone uses that to steal your identity, and all of a sudden you will need to prove to N different government, banking and credit institutions that you are not a fraudster.

Privacy (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156364)

You're worried that people might know what TV channels you're watching? Why? I don't think that was a problem which the people originally started worrying about what people knew about them were concerned with.

Re:Privacy (4, Funny)

armyofone (594988) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156474)

"...don't think that was a problem which the people originally started worrying about what people knew about them were concerned with."

Still trying to parse this. Will get back to you when parsing is completed... ;]

Just Because You're Paranoid... (3, Insightful)

rebmemeR (1056120) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156384)

Every time you take some action to protect your privacy, someone does a +1 on your suspectability index in their database.

Losing the war.. (1)

y4ku (1681156) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156386)

Privacy is dead, but the way things are going everything that really matters will be censored anyways. Things are going the wrong way for the internet these days...

Re:Losing the war.. (1)

JockTroll (996521) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156514)

That's because the loserboy nerds didn't want to fight. Too late for words: throw away your worthless computer, grab a gun, knife or pipe and kill someone.

Fighting the fight? (1)

Ardx (954221) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156392)

I used to be a bit anal about my online presence, but relaxed after I saw the amount of data mining done that the end user does not have control over. I decided that while I will still opt-out where and when I can, but there is no way to prevent a lot of the data mining unless I am willing to give up a lot of creature comforts and live off the grid in a cave.

OP, show some backbone (5, Insightful)

spyrochaete (707033) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156394)

I've recently gotten AT&T U-Verse, who, according to their privacy statement, will be monitoring my TV watching habits for advertisement purposes. I'm extremely annoyed by that, yet I love the service so much and I don't think I can cancel it.

If there is a privacy war it is a war of one. You know the chef is poisoning the soup but you find it too delicious to stop eating.

Cancel your cable. War won.

Re:OP, show some backbone (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31156572)

I canceled my TV service 6 months ago and haven't looked back.

The only solution is complete non-participation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31156396)

You will have to unplug, my friend. Even then privacy will become increasingly difficult as passive tracking becomes more advanced (cameras, RFID scanners+IDs, etc.). Life as a hermit is about it, then.

Fuck you buddy (1)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156418)

If you really want to have privacy in the digital age the only winning move is not to play. The people in control of things want to endlessly analyze every single thing they can in order to better control and shape society to their will and it is too easy to get that data through computers.

See: The Trap [wikipedia.org]

Privacy? Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31156420)

Why do you want all that privacy online?
What makes it so different from real life?
Do you go everywhere with gloves or cleaning your finger prints?
Do you clean your foot steps?
Do you erase the memories of people you meet or anyone you cross on the street?

What is all this privacy you want and for what reason?

You gave up. (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156422)

"I've recently gotten AT&T U-Verse, who, according to their privacy statement, will be monitoring my TV watching habits for advertisement purposes. I'm extremely annoyed by that, yet I love the service so much and I don't think I can cancel it."

There wasn't a war to lose, you surrendered before it even started. You are Czechoslovakia in 1938. You sound paranoid about your online privacy but yet you remain online, a system that wasn't designed with privacy in mind, all the things you are doing still leave traces, server logs, etc.

You aren't fighting properly (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156424)

You can agree not to give the companies your social security number - at least here in Canada. There is some law regarding that information only be required to do credit checks, otherwise a company can't NOT give you service based on you retaining your info.

You will have to give them some other piece of Identifying information though, but it doesn't have to be permanent. Usually an address works - my ISP and Mobile phone (as thats the only services I purchase) don't have any information on me besides my phone number (obviously), my address, my name, and I thiiiiink my Date of Birth, but I might have actually retained that.

Anyways, as for paranoia, if you've got nothing to hide than I don't see why anything makes you cringe. I've got things to hide and I still don't worry about it. I know if you enter my full name in Google you'll get a page and a half on just me - My Facebook Profile, some news article clippings of me, sites I've visitted. Microsoft Outlook support forums had quite a few, by the way. Why I registered with my real name is beyond me, but whatever.

What it boils down to is what you need versus what you want. Some providers want to be able to give you certain services on the basis that they can sell ads targetted directly at you. If you don't want that, don't sign up for it, simple as that. Don't put anything online that you don't want found. If you steer clear of Social networking sites like Facebook, you can expect a reasonable level of privacy.

Get !Prozac. (4, Funny)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156438)

This amazing new drug from Pfizer called !Prozac, pronounced Not-Prozac. It has the complete opposite effect on a human body. !Prozac, when ingested by a normal human being, it will trigger multiple-personality-disorder. Now you can use one identity for your normal law-abiding activities without any concern about privacy and data mining etc. Then you can use the other identity for nefarious, criminal and/or shameful activities. Infact the other identify can ingest another dose of !Prozac and create another personality. Recursively! Your criminal personality A does not have to know what your shameful personality B is doing. Just look at the hoops people are willing to jump through just to get prOn!

Good privacy is really difficult (3, Insightful)

jgreco (1542031) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156442)

It's probably a good fight to fight, but remember it'll keep getting harder. I was connected via VPN last night (all IP connectivity except the VPN itself runs over the VPN) from a hotel. Pulled up Google Maps to look up some local destinations. It offered me the option to use Firefox's location services. Curious, I let it, and despite being logged in via VPN, it accurately pulled up my location to within a few hundred feet. Still not exactly sure what it's doing to figure that out, but boy, that's scary...

SSN is short for Schutzstaffel Number (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31156444)

SSN is short for Schutzstaffel Number

What war? (1)

gregthebunny (1502041) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156450)

You still have your privacy. You still have your own personality, your own thoughts, your own opinions, your own emotions, etc. These are yours to have and keep and no one can ever take them from you. No one can ever invade them or inspect them without you first giving them away.

If you choose to use a service offered by Company-X, then you must agree to their terms. If they want to monitor how you use their service, so be it. And if you don't like that, then you can either switch services or drop off the grid entirely.

Am I just too paranoid?

Yes.

Stop stressing (0, Troll)

Fished (574624) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156464)

Look... not to be a spoil sport, but who cares? So you don't have any privacy... is it costing you money? Is it costing you jobs? Is it harming you? The alternative is to go "off the grid"... and you *can* do that if it's worth it to you. It's not to me. So just accept that companies will look over your shoulder and don't do stuff that you're going to be ashamed of, counting on the fact that the law of averages will shield you. This is no different, really, than living in a small town.

Re:Stop stressing (2, Insightful)

Jenming (37265) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156676)

don't do stuff that you're going to be ashamed of

This is very good advice. Online and offline. Be proud of your actions and don't be afraid to put your name on them.

I know this isn't possible in all parts of the world. But the real problem in that case isn't lack of privacy.

Relax (1)

twmcneil (942300) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156466)

Sure they can see what you are watching but they don't care about you or what you watch. You are only one in millions. They are interested in the overall trends of what the millions are watching. So relax, you're just one grain of sand on the beach.

Unless of course you have a vengeful ex somewhere.

Hiding in Plain Sight Or Going Off the Grid (1)

manlygeek (958223) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156472)

Welcome to 1984. You really have only two choices: 1) Create a persona, an alter ego, that isn't really you, and maximized it's visibility to advertisers, aggregators and data miners, or 2) Go completely off the GRID. You will find option 2 very onerous but the most safe option. Option 1 is not too hard as long as you can play that role all the time and with everyone. I suppose the real bender with this option is realizing at some point you become your alter ego and then what? Did I mention this here red pill in my hand?

Not totally true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31156622)

Does AT&T really need your SSN? (Legally?)

If not...why are you giving them your ACTUAL SSN? Give them a fake one. 593-22-8846
Medical screener gets 593-22-6648

Here are the advantages...
      Tracking becomes impossible.
      If it becomes public, who cares?
      Legally speaking...oops, sorry, I made a mistake. Dyslexia and all. :-)

And no, neither of those are mine. :-)

No SELECT is necessary. (5, Funny)

t33jster (1239616) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156492)

I know I'm not that interesting to anyone, but the idea of someone being able to pull up everything about me with a simple SQL SELECT statement and a couple of JOINS makes me cringe.

Actually, we've written a stored procedure to determine whether or not you're interesting.

EXECUTE IS_INTERESTING(5534289);

Very interesting indeed.

Re:No SELECT is necessary. (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156574)

I'da modded that funny if I hadn't posted.

Accept that privacy is a relic and move on. (1, Flamebait)

elucido (870205) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156498)

You have no privacy, none. Any hacker, any private investigator, any stalker, can access your data from thousands of private or public databases. If you are jewish then the neo-nazi's probably already know where you live. If you voted for Bush the lefties already know who you are and where you live. If you disagree with how I think on privacy, I could find out where you live.

And nothing stops me from creating a huge list of names and addresses, putting it into a database, and selling this list to advertises so they can spam you. And nothing stops anyone from selling your health records to the nazi's, the mafia, the street gang, the Republicans. So if you are a gay homosexual you can expect that your medical records will be accessed. If you are Barack Obama then you can expect your cellphone records to be accessed http://news.cnet.com/8301-1009_3-10104997-83.html [cnet.com]

The far right, those people who vote for Sarah Palin and who have all those guns and bibles, those people who don't believe in evolution, they know where you live and they know everything about you because you added a Republican to your facebook page. And if you added a liberal then you can expect that those global warming crazies and anti-globalists will know where to find you and all your vulnerabilities.

So why don't you have a right to privacy? You don't have a right to privacy because your life just isn't important to the government. The government knows that most Americans are dumb breeders who will pop out babies just like the Octomom. If you die the Octomom will have another baby and replace you. Corporations don't see you as anything more than consumers. And political parties only care about you when you think like they do and are willing to serve their special interests.

Face it, you aren't all that and nobody is protecting you or your privacy.

Re:Accept that privacy is a relic and move on. (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156756)

In theory, I would be happy with the world knowing everything about me, because I could explain all the things I did and stood for, excuse for all the things I regret and have people expect the same of me. In practice, however, the world is full of jackasses who don't understand that and who will be your teacher, employer, doctor, neighbour, friend's friend, stepmother, etc...

Now these jackasses lose privacy. Now if I am attacked on what I did, I can answer to them that they wrote "I love my poo!" ten years ago on a public blog. Therefore, I am a bit more flexible these days about privacy. I use crypto for important stuff, I participate openly in the pirate party in order to reopen the debate on whether anonymous access to a public space should be allowed (if not I want to have the right to hold a record of where every politician slept each night)

The loss of privacy is only temporary. The jackasses will soon discover they lost it and will want it back.

Re:Accept that privacy is a relic and move on. (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156828)

>If you voted for Bush the lefties already know who you are and where you live.

I can't exactly picture Al Franken and Russ Feingold sitting around smoking cigars and laughing while their servers churn away printing reports about opposition voters. Now Cheney on the other hand...

Queueing job "MineSoulskill5534289" (3, Funny)

davidwr (791652) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156504)

Creating record "Soulskill5534289"
Set "Slashdot Story Submission alias"="Soulskill"
Set "PrivacyFanatic"=true
Set "UsesNoScript"=true
Set "BlocksGoogleAnalytics"=true
Set "disables3rdPartyCookies"=true
Set "UsesIM"=true
Set "EncryptsIM"=true
Set "blocksFlashCookies"=false
Set "UsesATTUverse"=true
Set "TimeStartedCurrentATTUverseSubscriptionRange"=1/1/2009-2/16/2010
Set "ProbablyReadsPrivacyStatements"=true
Set "LovesATTUverse"=true
Set "EnjoysBeingProfiled"=false
Set "WantsToBeMember5534289"=false
Set "HasInflatedEgo"=false
Set "HadInsuranceRecordsStolenTwoYearsAgo"=true
Set "ChangedLifeInsurance2yearsAgo"=true
Set "AsksSlashdot"=true
Set "MoreNotes"='Ask Slashdot: Did We Lose the Privacy War? on Tuesday February 16, @11:44AM
Posted by Soulskill on Tuesday February 16, @11:44AM
from the no,-now-finish-your-cheerios-and-straighten-your-shirt dept.
background: url(//a.fsdn.com/sd/topics/topicprivacy.gif); width:71px; height:53px; privacy
eihab writes "I've been a fanatic about my online privacy for the last few years. I've been using NoScript and blocking Google Analytics, disabling third-party cookies, encrypting IM and doing everything in my power to keep data-miners at bay. Recently, I've been feeling like I'm just doing too much and still losing! No matter what I do, I know that there's a weak link somewhere, be it my ISP, Flash cookies, etc. I've recently gotten AT&T U-Verse, who, according to their privacy statement, will be monitoring my TV watching habits for advertisement purposes. I'm extremely annoyed by that, yet I love the service so much and I don't think I can cancel it. I just can't take this anymore. I have nothing to hide, but I do not want to be profiled and become member #5534289 in a database somewhere that records everything I do. I know I'm not that interesting to anyone, but the idea of someone being able to pull up everything about me with a simple SQL SELECT statement and a couple of JOINS makes me cringe. One of the reasons I hate data mining is that data security is not understood and almost non-existent at a lot of places. Case in point: I changed my life insurance two years ago, and the medical firm that conducted my health screening was broken into and computers with non-encrypted hard drives and patients' data were stolen. That medical firm didn't really need my SSN, but then again neither did AT&T when I signed up for U-Verse. Am I just too paranoid? Is privacy dead? Should I just give up and accept the fact that privacy is not the norm anymore (like Facebook's founder recently said) or should I keep fighting the good fight for my privacy?"'
Close record.

Create job "MineSoulskill5534289" "Compare record Soulskill5534289 against all known databases".
Queueing job "MineSoulskill5534289". Monitor job queue for job status.

RE: Privacy war (2, Funny)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156516)

Thank you for being a loyal AT&T U-verse customer! We have received your email and have created a trouble ticket for you automatically by monitoring your web postings. Please submit both a fresh semen sample and a two day old fecal sample so our customer service reps can verify your information and begin to investigate the issue.

Thank you. AT&T Customer Service.

Yes you can win the privacy war (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31156532)

Services like U-Verse will monitor everything you do. use alternate services.

The idea privacy is dead is nonsense - as for face-book its next to impossible to tell if the data stored is genuine or not.

In terms of companies demanding your SSN: well there is nothing you can do about that, but you can limit its effects with lifestyle changes including:

- Discuise your finantial activities by not using your credit card,
- I'm fairly sure you can request the destruction of your medical records - and keep a copy yourself (don't quote me on this)

By adopting habbits like that, even having your SSN would give no more personal information about you than your address and place of work - which even the post office knows.

There are lots of other things you can do - but point is its entirely possible to lead a completely private life - its just not very convenient.

What A STupid Question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31156536)

Privacy.... in the U.S.A.?

You're surely kidding.

Yours In Minsk,
K. Trout

Privacy? Who cares! (1)

frenkel (1037254) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156546)

Some people just don't care about privacy. A good example shown by http://pleaserobme.com/ [pleaserobme.com]

No, you're confusing what the war is about. (5, Interesting)

Coopjust (872796) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156554)

It's not the war of privacy- it's the war of privacy vs. convenience.

Facebook lets me keep in touch and aware of what my friends are doing. On the other hand, photos of me doing something that may reflect poorly on myself to an employer or other friends. I have pretty strict privacy settings on Facebook, but the reality is that something bad could easily be associated with my profile and seen by many before I could get it pulled.

On the other hand, if I didn't share quite a bit of personal info on Facebook, I wouldn't even be aware when I was tagged in a photo.

Today, people are accepting convenience at the sacrifice of some privacy. It's nice when I can call up the cable company and have them able to see what services I have, that I'm paying the bill, and the modem has the wrong DOCSIS file. On the other hand, I'm in a database that is easier to access than ever. I accept the sacrifice for convenience when I have to work with the cable company.

Or credit cards. The majority of my purchases are now associated with my SSN in a database. The ability to track my spending and have some degree of purchase security is worth the sacrifice for me, so I choose to use electronic payment.

So did we lose, giving up so much? On one hand, there are plenty of alternatives- I can buy online with a Visa Gift Card, registered to whatever name and address and purchased in cash. I can buy in cash in person. On the other hand, it's virtually impossible NOT to be in a database- even if you were to forego electricity, television, cable, etc., you'd still be in a government tax database. Someone I know got a letter last year saying "an IRS employee with your and a couple million other taxpayer documents, including your taxpayer ID number, full name, and address, lost their laptop. We'll try not to let it happen again. Here's a year of credit monitoring from one of the three bureaus, then you're on your own. Seeya!"

So, yes, to some degree we lost. It's hard to avoid changes that the rest of society is fine with. Living like a hermit in a powerless shack in the woods is still possible, but for the average person, it definitely has been eroded.

It seems... (1)

bit9 (1702770) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156578)

I'm extremely annoyed by that, yet I love the service so much and I don't think I can cancel it.

...you just answered your own question.

It's no longer in your hands (1)

bcboy (4794) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156588)

If you interact with anyone who does not value privacy then your efforts are wasted. They can also expose your data. This is how facebook is able to know who your friends are even if you've never had a facebook account, or given them a single piece of data: they can mine the contact lists of people who have willingly exposed theirs. If you appear on any of them, facebook can start building a profile of you.

Unless you're living without human contact, you will be profiled in a database somewhere.

that is... (1)

alobar72 (974422) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156596)

I think that is the sad point and perfidity of it:
to this point in time, there is no obvious evil company or government that forces us to hand over our private data.
They do not invade our houses anymore, or intercept our mails without us knowing.

No: this days they offer us a big deal of convenience and comfort - just for that little bit of information about us.
And if you are not too deep into it you might speak to yourself: why not ? no big deal.

This for sure is a reason why the law-situation today kind of misses the point. The whole background of privacy protection was to protect you from evil companies and governments that are trying to steal your private data one way or the other. It is very hard to justify laws against people giving up their privacy on free will ( more or less )
Not that most of the politicians seem to understand the topic.

A few weeks ago I had an interesting discussion with a guy who is in that kind of business - acquiring and consolidating data from different sources to provide them to other companies for marketing purposes. And I was really blown away by what these guys are doing. I thought I was paranoid - but I still have been magnitudes to naive I think.
btw: It may not even save you to not give any of your data away. Might be enough to live in the neibourhood of people who do - you will be thrown into the same bag - and treated acordingly.

Try to skew their stats, if you must... (3, Funny)

mi (197448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156646)

If you can neither accept being the statistics (and you seem to admit, that you can't put together a rational explanation for your aversion), nor avoid it, try screwing them up...

I share the same syndrome as you (although, perhaps, to a lesser degree), so this is, what I do:

  • Whenever asked for an address (except when I am expecting to receive something from the asker), I put in 0 Privacy Drive, MyTown, My State, MYZIP . The credit-card verification, in reality, needs only the ZIP-code, so for "billing address" this is enough. And for the vendors knowing my ZIP-code is enough to know, what they need to know for their stats-gathering efforts, but robs them of the ability to mail me their "exciting new specials" later.
  • When signing-up for a store "discount card", in addition to the address-trick above (you can use a bogus name too), be sure to either share the same card (the store will give you multiple ones with the same number) with as many relatives/friends as you can. First you (well, the one of you, who gets to the store on the lucky day) will get the bonus-points discounts faster, and second, the stats will be sufficiently skewed by the multiple people and their preferences. This is somewhat bad for the store, so I, instead, just exchange the cards with others. The store still knows, that the same person bought A and B, they just don't know, who that person really was.
  • When forced to give out e-mail address online, use the VendorName@yourdomain. If the vendor abuses your trust (such as by automatically adding you to their e-mailing list), you can block that single address. If you don't have your own domain (how come?) you could use yourself+ Vendorname@gmail.com for the same purpose (it is a shame, Yahoo! Mail does not support the sub-address [wikipedia.org] ). Unfortunately, many vendors' sites — including highly prominent ones like the Enom-registrar reject the sub-addressing e-mails as "invalid" — the verifying regular expressions must be too complicated for the dumb programmer wannabees, employed by these companies. This is where having your own domain is very useful.
  • When asked for personal data in person, ask to explain, why the information is needed. If the clerk says, oh, I just need it for the computer, ask, if it can be avoided, or given later. For example, some companies insist on creating a full record, when you are just asking for a quote... Don't get confrontational — just explain, that you'll give your last name and address, when you pick their bid. If they insist, give the address as described in item 1...

Re:Try to skew their stats, if you must... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31156816)

I always use the zipcode of Barrow, AK, 99723. Its the northermost city in Alaska.

or the Zipcode of the white house, 20500 .

The offensive part. (4, Insightful)

Xzzy (111297) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156650)

The thing that bugs me about being endlessly monitored and categorized is that it's never used to make my life better. It's only ever done to help some random corporation improve their profits by some fraction of a percentage.

If being tracked watching a TV show for a full season resulted in them going "hey, thanks for being a loyal viewer, have this X as a token of our appreciation", I wouldn't complain so much. It wouldn't necessarily have to be a material bonus, in this day and age they could simply grant access to some kind of insider info website. The possibilities are only limited by imagination.

But no. Everything I do gets dumped into a database and sold to the highest bidder. It serves no purpose but to try and get more money out of my wallet. Or if the government is involved, measure my odds of being a terrorist.

Tracking your TV watching is good (3, Informative)

Yossarian45793 (617611) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156652)

I can understand concerns about privacy when it comes to web browsing, but I don't get the fear about TV watching being tracked. I can't count the number of good TV shows that have been canceled because of bad ratings. Before Tivo existed, every time one of the shows I liked was canceled I wished that the TV network was tracking MY viewing habits instead of the unwashed masses who appear to like reality TV. Ever since I've had Tivo I always record all the shows I like and I'm happy that Tivo is collecting that information. Sometimes I even record and play back reruns (with the TV off) to positively affect the data for the shows I like.

Information Asymmetry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31156662)

The root of the problem isn't so much what they know about you. It's how much they know about you, relative to what you're allowed to know about those who collect your personally-identifiable information. There is no apparent way to naturally keep companies, or for that matter, governments, in check with respect to information asymmetry without relevant laws and enforcement.

Clear (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156682)

Halfway off topic...

Anyone know anything about Clear, the company trying to promote 4G WiMax for home internet and phone use? They seem to be advertising reasonable rates, and I would love to dump AT&T for my home phone and internet service as protest against their data sharing.

Who owns them? Anyone have experience with the quality of their service? How much do they tack on in other fees and such that don't appear until the first bill?

(Rates seem to be about the same for home use, but with Clear service would be faster, I could also buy service for my laptop to use anywhere in town with faster service and a rate better than AT&T Wireless or any other cell provider.)

Yes, privacy is dead. (3, Interesting)

aussersterne (212916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156686)

The division between the "public" and the "private" only matters when there is a world of hidden "private" lives (from which the public is excluded) and your public life (with private excluded) has to circulate within and be measured against other public lives (with private excluded).

Once everyone's private becomes public, your own private is no more embarrassing or important than the "private" of most other people.

The same thing applies to thinks like identity theft. The more these things become regarded as "public" rather than private, the more identity theft (a) will happen in volume and (b) will be commonly understood and mitigated through tools and common forms of recourse as a "regular" thing, and others won't hold you nearly so responsible for it.

The reason, in other words, that privacy seems critical is that you assume that you're being marked by and held responsible for everything in your "private" world at a much deeper level than whatever is in your "public" world. Meanwhile, however, the rest of the world continues to increasingly dissolve the "private" into the public, with the inevitable shift that the "private" will be less and less something that people will be marked and/or held responsible for.

Once your boss has a Facebook profile with pictures of their drunken weekend, and friends you with it, your own photos aren't so embarassing.
Once the bank has so much identity theft going on that it's considered a cost of business and made easily reversible, your responsibility for protecting these "identity" records is diminished, as are any consequences of failing to do so.

You've mistaken privacy as an inherent value and end in itself, rather than the means to an end (social success). Increasingly, social success lies along the very opposite path: being as open, public, and omni-visible/trackable as possible.

So hold on to your privacy if you really love it, but realize that society is going to reward you for it less and less, and in fact may even punish you for it relative to much less private others.

What if you are privately gay? (4, Funny)

elucido (870205) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156754)

Leviticus 20:13:
"If a man lies with a man...They must be put to death."

If you are gay, and a jew, and you voted for Obama.... it's only a matter of time before the Christians who take Leviticus seriously find out where you live.

Winning the war (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31156714)

The best reply in this thread ... "The only way to win the war is not to play." Sounds like it came from the movie War Games. That poster was correct, you must drop off the grid, the net, the planet. Of course if the black hats developed sufficient "counter measures" that we could all employ, perhaps we could pollute the data pool to the point that it became worthless.

Obligatory XKCD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31156716)

http://xkcd.com/327/

just legally change your name to something similar

Re:Obligatory XKCD (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156820)

Darn, you found it before I could.

U-verse tip... (4, Interesting)

Temkin (112574) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156762)

Temkin's u-verse tip... Turn off the TV using the native remote. The box stays on, and continues to stream for hours. It eventually turns off after a timeout of roughly 6 hours. But they can never be certain where I stopped watching. Just adds a little noise to their data.

Apt quote ... (1)

debrain (29228) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156772)

... from the intellectuals of yore:

The intensity and complexity of life, attendant upon advancing civilization, have rendered necessary some retreat from the world, and man, under the refining influence of culture, has become more sensitive to publicity, so that solitude and privacy have become more essential to the individual; but modern enterprise and invention have, through invasions upon his privacy, subjected him to mental pain and distress, far greater than could be inflicted by mere bodily injury.

— "The Right to Privacy", Warren and Brandeis, Harvard Law Review, Vol. IV, December 15, 1890.

Hmmmm... (1)

Derosian (943622) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156796)

I don't know about you guys but the best privacy I've found on the internet has more to do with no one really caring who you are, in which case I would prefer to be a number. Generally the internet, and media, and advertising may want to target you, but so far I'm just a number in all that data, and there isn't THAT much information publicly available on me, and to top it off, there is no reason to be interested in me. Just blend in with the crowd and your privacy is protected through obscurity.

Hi-tech civilization ought to lose privacy (1)

snikulin (889460) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156802)

Sensors became better and better and unless you sit in an adiabatic room, we can get a lot about your state of body and mind.
As we approaching the singlularity, we even can predict your behaviour and then we can replicate you in our computers.

Privacy is more nuanced than that... (3, Informative)

yar (170650) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156824)

Privacy is a nebulous concept, and it's possible that in some cases, we give up privacy, and in others, we don't. It's not necessarily a binary on/off thing that you either have or you don't. I don't believe that people who say that privacy is dead are correct; or if they are, it's a very narrow view of privacy. You still don't have people watching you in the shower, for example. (Hopefully...)

Check out Daniel Solove's work- here's a good start.
"I've got nothing to hide" and other misunderstandings of privacy
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=998565&rec=1&srcabs=667622

He's got some other interesting articles on the subject there, and some interesting books as well.

There are still things you can fight for to protect privacy, even if you are giving up some facets. You can fight against ubiquitous surveillance, and continue to do the things that you're doing to protect your privacy. You can help make threats to privacy transparent, for example, by supporting groups like EFF.

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