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Your Privacy Is a Sci-Fi Fantasy

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the when-education-battles-apathy dept.

Privacy 195

snydeq writes "Deep End's Paul Venezia discusses the 'sci-fi fantasy' that is privacy in the digital era. 'The assault on personal privacy has ramped up significantly in the past few years. From warrantless GPS tracking to ISP packet inspection, it seems that everyone wants to get in on the booming business of clandestine snooping — even blatant prying, if you consider reports of employers demanding Facebook passwords prior to making hiring decisions,' Venezia writes. 'What happened? Did the rules change? What is it about digital information that's convinced some people this is OK? Maybe the right to privacy we were told so much about has simply become old-fashioned, a barrier to progress.'"

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195 comments

How to get Slashdot to care about privacy (2, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | about 2 years ago | (#39479091)

The best way to get geeks to care about privacy is to make the argument about Facebook. Geeks HATE Facebook. If you make it about Google, who is much worse when it comes to privacy abuses, you will be ignored, because Google has successful propagandized itself as a harmless, techie-driven web search company and not a multi-billion dollar, data-collecting, advertising behemoth.

Re:How to get Slashdot to care about privacy (-1, Redundant)

msheekhah (903443) | about 2 years ago | (#39479113)

that signature disturbs me. they should get modded +5 partyvan

That sig is offensive. (5, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 years ago | (#39479185)

The picture of the comment you link to is actually a defense of freedom, not a defense of "child pornography". The writer was denouncing censorship; he was not advocating anything.

Sorry, but you don't get to turn it around and say the author stated something that in fact he did not.

Re:That sig is offensive. (2, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | about 2 years ago | (#39479329)

Yet idiots like these are very much everywhere. We have three generations of people in the US who have fallen prey to pop culture marketing thought. Their very thoughts are comprised of slogans and talking points. (As language is the encoding of the mind, it shows everywhere in the way they talk.) It will be the people with "mental problems" who will save the rest of us from ourselves... you know the ones -- the ones with Asperger's and the ones who, for whatever reason, couldn't go along with religion while the rest of their families did.

Bonch needs to go sit in a corner and really think about what he has done. Unfortunately, all he will think is that he's right and righteous and nothing about anything which resembles a slipery slope or witch trials or imprisonment over art in which the eyes of the characters are too large and are therefore "children" as depicted and is therefore child pornography. The McCarthy's and the witch prosecutors out there believed they were right and righteous too.

Re:How to get Slashdot to care about privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39479269)

No. There's a significant difference between Facebook and Google.

When using Facebook, it's like you're being checked for a parking sticker before you're permitted to park in the parking lot of a crowded clothing-optional private beach in a gated community for septuagenarians on family day.

With Google, it's more like you're navigating a river delta that empties into a broad gulf in a dugout canoe, while you canoodle for catfish.

Sure you might get stung by jellyfish, or contract parasites from either, but it's not about mere tastes. One is a little bit more practical than the other.

Re:How to get Slashdot to care about privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39479953)

SIGH... you really have no clue the only difference is number of users... if you could reverse that the result would be the same.

MANDATORY WARNING! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39479725)

For those who haven't been following, Burston Marsteller were hired by Facebook to run an anti-Google astroturf campaign. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-12/facebook-enlists-pr-firm-burson-marsteller-to-pitch-google-privacy-story.html [bloomberg.com]

Some of the sockpuppets they use here are:

DavidSell
ByOhTek
antitithenai
Bonch
TechGuys
Overly Critical Guy
CmdrPony
InsightIn140Bytes
InterestingFella
SharkLaser
jo_ham
DCTech
smithz
HankMoody

There are many others, including disposable accounts used to moderate and deflect discussions in directions they promote. If you see a post by any of the accounts in this list in a Slashdot discussion you know for certain that discussion is polluted and likely to contain misdirection and lies. Avoid feeding the astroturf machine by posting sensible comments in these threads.

At all times while reading Slashdot and other tech sites, be aware that you are being manipulated by professional reputation managers.

Please RTFA (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 years ago | (#39479119)

The article actually reaches a conclusion that is far different from what the intro would imply.

Re:Please RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39479261)

Oh, my poor dear, it's encrypted - read it backwards.

Re:Please RTFA (3, Funny)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 2 years ago | (#39479645)

If cryptography is outlawed, bayl bhgynjf jvyy unir cevinpl.

Re:Please RTFA (1)

Genda (560240) | about 2 years ago | (#39479991)

Cute, a simple ring cypher where a=n, and I'm sorry, with the NSA looking up your skirt 24/7 even outlaws won't have privacy.

You mean +2, Helpful (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39479125)

( Fascist invasion of ) privacy .

I hope this helps to resolve your fantasy.

Yours In Minsk,
K. Trout

The problem is... (5, Insightful)

houstonbofh (602064) | about 2 years ago | (#39479141)

The problem is that far to many people look about as far ahead as a goldfish. "Sure I will give you access to all my facebook data for a cheap beer..." And that makes it had for the rest of us with a clue.

Re:The problem is... (3, Insightful)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 2 years ago | (#39479197)

The problem is that far to many people look about as far ahead as a goldfish. "Sure I will give you access to all my facebook data for a cheap beer..." And that makes it had for the rest of us with a clue.

Nothing hard there, they can have access to my Facebook data (I haven't logged in in over a year, and my 5 friends are more random than telling), I get a free beer and they get.... less than they expected, from me.

Idiots have been bragging about their crimes forever, most mob busts were based on (unintentional) confessions.

Re:The problem is... (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#39479241)

Most of my facebook User info is fake. Wrong birthday. Wrong location. Wrong employment. Only my name and schools are correct (so friends can find me).

There are certain suspicious people (Alexjones fans) who have accused me of being a fake person, a government or corporate spy, and so on. I can see why they think that since most of my data says things like, "Worked at Hari Seldon's Foundation" and similar nonsense. And yet these Alexjones people should know better than anyone..... putting your real data online is unwise.

Re:The problem is... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39479275)

And why do you have a clue?

Why is it such a bad thing for them to want a cheap beer in return by giving them information on their life?
Why is that bad? Why are you projecting YOUR opinion on others on what they can and can't do with their personal information?
So what if they have access to said information, its not going to change their life in any way. In fact, it is very likely going to get BETTER.
They might get more cheap beers. They bar might bring in a different kind of beer because so many of their fans like said beer.
And in turn, they now get better business, people get to have a better time.
Everybody wins. Except from you of course, "the cool kid".
Unless the guy behind the bar is REALLY A SERIAL KILLER! OH THE HORROR.

Considering your post, you already don't have the slightest "clue". If you did, you wouldn't even be on here or even living in society.

Re:The problem is... (4, Insightful)

CCarrot (1562079) | about 2 years ago | (#39479529)

And why do you have a clue?

Why is it such a bad thing for them to want a cheap beer in return by giving them information on their life?
Why is that bad? Why are you projecting YOUR opinion on others on what they can and can't do with their personal information?
So what if they have access to said information, its not going to change their life in any way. In fact, it is very likely going to get BETTER.
They might get more cheap beers. They bar might bring in a different kind of beer because so many of their fans like said beer.
And in turn, they now get better business, people get to have a better time.
Everybody wins. Except from you of course, "the cool kid".
Unless the guy behind the bar is REALLY A SERIAL KILLER! OH THE HORROR.

Considering your post, you already don't have the slightest "clue". If you did, you wouldn't even be on here or even living in society.

Sorry to interrupt your rant, but it is NOT okay if "your" data, that you are willing to pimp out so freely, includes any information about me.

Facebook is not a personal diary app. It is wholly and completely dependent upon interconnections between people. If you prostitute your info out to all and sundry, how can I prevent mine from getting shoveled along with it, other than de-friending your ass? And even then, my past comment history, photos of me, etc., etc. remain for the data miners to chortle over...

I just hope all your FB 'friends' know about your personal data hygiene policies...

Also, I appreciate the irony...AC. You'll throw the curtains wide open for a crack at a free beer, but cower behind the drapes when it comes time to take a stand on an issue. Nice priorities there.

Re:The problem is... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39479747)

That is entirely your fault for having the wrong friends. Not my fault at all.
Personally I don't become friends with people who are scared of the sky because it can see them.
I have always been honest with everyone I have ever known. I have no reason to hide behind some bullshit "public persona" or such other nonsense. It is all lies, fake and wrong, plain and simple.
People who feel the need to have multiple personas for different groups of people are everything wrong with our current society. Simple two-facedness at its finest.

As for the AC, I'm just too lazy to register since I rarely comment as it is.
Also, even if I was registered, AC posting prevents the abuse of moderation.
If you post with your account, you null your moderation ability for that particular article.
At least, it was like that last I checked.

Equally this doesn't apply to me either way.
I don't haphazardly go around clicking on free deals or other such nonsense on Facebook. In fact, I blocked the feeds of everyone and all applications the instant I added anyone.

Assumptions, as always, are the finest here on Slashdot. See First post for even more fine meta on Slashdot.
Of course it gets marked flamebait despite being absolutely true as of recent times. Another reason I choose not to register. No better than Reddit groupthink.

Re:The problem is... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39480091)

And yet you STILL post as AC .... lol

Re:The problem is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39479835)

How is anything I, or the AC, or any of your FB friends knows about you considered "your" data. If I know it, even if its about you, its MY data and anyone else who knows it.

I care about privacy. I'm careful what I put on Facebook and online in general. The idea that you should be able to pass through life and everyone who comes in contact with you is supposed to forget about it is ridiculous. As is the idea that by telling someone else, or EVERYONE else, what they know about you they are sharing "your" data. They may be sharing data "about" you..but I don't see how it can be argued that its your data to control.

The exception, obviously, is legally mandated protected data (medical records, for an example). To try to extend the privacy that medical records receive to all information about you seems ridiculous on the face of it.

Re:The problem is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39479933)

You asked why is (the loss of privacy) such a bad thing.

Imagine a world where marketing has been refined to such a degree that governments and companies can calculate with astonishing accuracy what you are going to do and when you are going to do it and what slight 'adjustments' and 'prompting' (aka advertising/infomercials/infotainment) it will take to get you to do exactly what they want. Doesn't that sound more like narrowing your choices than broadening them?

The loss of privacy over time may not affect you so much as it *will* affect generations to come. Your childrens' children will be manipulated in ways that we cannot imagine. All because our generation didn't think of the consequences of letting soulless, artificial creations access to all our private thoughts. Individually it is no big deal, but aggregated together over the entire population and over a few generations it will become the dominate tool for control of entire nations of people.

For example, I don't really care what you think about war. What I care about is that there is a 78% chance that 90% of the people will support war if presented with 'news' articles using the appropriate words. Not crudely done like today, but so fine-tuned that it almost directly targets basic human primal instinct.

I'm all for predictive analytics but I think it is going to be a one-sided fight - puny human with limited lifespan vs corporations with powerful computers and immense data-sets.

Re:The problem is... (3, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | about 2 years ago | (#39479371)

No. There will ALWAYS be pretty stupid people. ALWAYS. This is why being a conman is illegal for a wide variety of reasons. Taking advantage of stupid people is the problem and it is THE FEW who take advantage of the man. It is unreasonable to blame the masses for the deeds of the few.

The problem is, in fact, the few. This is true because it is more convenient and it is true because when the flaw is a fact of human nature, the best course of action is to compensate for it rather than to "wish really hard" that human nature will change or that somehow a darwinistic evolution will occur across humanity and people will magically get smarter.

Re:The problem is... (1)

LordLucless (582312) | about 2 years ago | (#39479545)

Sure I will give you access to all my facebook data for a cheap beer...

Why are you assuming that my facebook data is not worth a cheap beer, to me? A transaction in which I gain something of value to me, in return for something of value to the other person, which I value less than the goods I receive is the fundamental bedrock of economics.

Re:The problem is... (5, Insightful)

martin-boundary (547041) | about 2 years ago | (#39479723)

A transaction in which I gain something of value to me, in return for something of value to the other person, which I value less than the goods I receive is the fundamental bedrock of economics.

Not quite. There are some things which aren't meant for you to be traded, even if you'd really like that beer. You can't sell your kids for a beer, for example. Even though they're your kids, and you should be able to do with them what you like in general, it's not in society's interest to let you do that. I like to think that letting you sell your privacy for a free beer is not in society's interest either.

Re:The problem is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39479695)

What "the rest of us with a clue" always misses is how to explain this to people.
You always leave it short of the conclusion. You always say "They have access to all your Febook data!!1" wiithout ever explicitly listing the evil consequences.
If you want people to pay attention, tell them the bad stuff that's going to be done with their data.
Heck, tell me. I'm not part of "the rest of us with a clue".

Re:The problem is... (1)

Caerdwyn (829058) | about 2 years ago | (#39479797)

Or, to paraphrase in a manner that applies to everything from politics to "light" beer:

Everybody gets what the majority deserves.

depends on what you call privacy (2)

msheekhah (903443) | about 2 years ago | (#39479159)

If I post something to an online site and I allow them to save cookies, then it's my fault if they find out demographic information on me. That I can handle. If I subscribe to a free email account and they mine that information for demographic information, I guess I'm okay with that. It's free. If either of those companies sell that information to the government to keep better tabs on me, it's my fault for using free online services. If they tap my phones or spy in my residence, that is a breach of privacy. The other is a breach of private non-critical data.

Re:depends on what you call privacy (4, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 years ago | (#39479237)

The problem with this argument is that many people who use these technologies do not understand how they work, and may not realize what they are exposing.

Is that their own problem? I suppose. One way to look at it is "evolution in action"... the unaware will be preyed upon. But I think there is a place in society for protecting the innocent from active predators, which are what these companies really are.

I am not an advocate of laws that are intended to protect us from ourselves. But to protect people from others who actively seek to intrude and invade? Sure, no problem.

Re:depends on what you call privacy (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#39479291)

Is there such a thing as paid web email?

Re:depends on what you call privacy (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 2 years ago | (#39479455)

Yes, and most of them are designed for the privacy conscious person such as Swiss Mail.

Re:depends on what you call privacy (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#39480361)

Oh right. Or spamcop.net. I used to visit them all the time but haven't lately. Maybe it's time to open an account.

Re:depends on what you call privacy (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | about 2 years ago | (#39479565)

If you use a free fitting room in a clothes store, and they take photos and video from hidden cameras while you change, it's ok right, cause it's free and you expect that.

If you leave your car in a free parking zone, and there's a guy there hiding a tracking device on the more expensive cars, that's ok right cause it's free and you expect that.

If you let your kids go to the local playground and there's a guy there asking them questions about where they live, and when you go to work, that's ok right cause it's free and you expect that.

I guess you think that the word free is like a magic incantation that makes everything ok.

Re:depends on what you call privacy (4, Insightful)

rtb61 (674572) | about 2 years ago | (#39479965)

If you pay for it but it's in the contract are they 'free' to monitor your every internet reaction. See the way you react to adds, which generate a positive reaction and which do not. Conduct experiments trialling different styles of adds to see which more effectively manipulate your choices. Test to see if targeting influential people in your life can get them to motivate your decisions. See which lies are the most effective in tricky you about the veracity of adds. See if exposure to actions on the web can influence your choices. See if distortions about your actions on the web can influence your choice. Conduct continual experiments and trials whilst you are connected to the internet upon an automated basis. Target you whole family in a similar fashion especially minors. Target you with automated forum responses to question and challenge your beliefs. Target you social connections with automated responses designed to manipulate your choices. Use your image and voice in product recommendations for free. Use all content you have generated for free. Create man in the middle distortions in your social contacts.

Are you 'free' to harangue your local representatives to enact legislation to ban all that activity. The legislate the only personal data that companies are allowed to keep is what is required for account keeping purposes. That when this data is no longer required for account keeping purposes it is destroyed. That companies are permanently banned from collating and data mining personal data. That 100% truth is required in all advertising regardless of delivery method and that all false product associations are banned.

It's new, the old car analogies don't apply (3, Insightful)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 2 years ago | (#39479167)

Wiretapping laws came about because wiretapping was seen as an invasion of privacy, you were in effect joining a real-time conversation that would not normally be recorded.

All digital communication is inherently recorded, so in some twisted sense it's more like dumpster diving and less like wiretapping to snoop in e-mail.

Similarly for GPS tracking, that's just like old-school tailing a car, but cheaper and more clandestine - what's not to like?

The rules need to be rewritten, give it 30 or 40 years and it should settle down, it's all still very new - judicial time runs much slower than internet time.

Re:It's new, the old car analogies don't apply (5, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 2 years ago | (#39479213)

All digital communication is inherently recorded, so in some twisted sense it's more like dumpster diving and less like wiretapping to snoop in e-mail.

No, it's more like your mail carrier reading your snail-mail.

Which is also an illegal invasion of privacy.

The rules don't need to be re-written. The old ones work just fine as long as we don't throw out all reason as soon as "on a computer" is added.

Re:It's new, the old car analogies don't apply (3, Insightful)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 2 years ago | (#39479361)

All digital communication is inherently recorded, so in some twisted sense it's more like dumpster diving and less like wiretapping to snoop in e-mail.

No, it's more like your mail carrier reading your snail-mail.

Which is also an illegal invasion of privacy.

The rules don't need to be re-written. The old ones work just fine as long as we don't throw out all reason as soon as "on a computer" is added.

When I started using e-mail (early 1990s), I and everyone I e-mailed with understood that e-mail is not a sealed letter, it is a post card, if you want a sealed letter, you need to use crypto - even ROT-13 is some measure of privacy. It seemed reasonable enough, the BBSs I used (and ran) in the 1980s were open like that and you could pretty much assume that the sysop knew everything you typed, including your password.

Even in the mid 1990s, ISP e-mail was handled on systems that pretty much resembled BBSs, my first dialup ISP was a couple of servers in some guy's garage. It rapidly grew into mass virtual machines in clusters on server farms, but the lack of privacy implications remain - if somebody wants to look, it's all too easy to do.

Re:It's new, the old car analogies don't apply (2)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 2 years ago | (#39479677)

When I started using e-mail (early 1990s), I and everyone I e-mailed with understood that e-mail is not a sealed letter, it is a post card,

Not exactly. It's more like a letter with a very thin envelope. It takes a minimal amount of effort to read, but it can't just land in front of you so you read it on accident. A mail server admin still has to intentionally read the email.

You have a legal expectation of privacy for a letter. This is separate from how easily your privacy could be illegally violated.

Re:It's new, the old car analogies don't apply (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 2 years ago | (#39480025)

When I started using e-mail (early 1990s), I and everyone I e-mailed with understood that e-mail is not a sealed letter, it is a post card,

Not exactly. It's more like a letter with a very thin envelope. It takes a minimal amount of effort to read, but it can't just land in front of you so you read it on accident. A mail server admin still has to intentionally read the email.

You have a legal expectation of privacy for a letter. This is separate from how easily your privacy could be illegally violated.

The BBS system I ran in 1985 echoed every single character typed by the user to the server screen, passwords and all. Most BBS software was like that at the time. Modern e-mail moves by in such torrential floods that you might expect some privacy from the sheer volume of other mail moving along with yours, but at any number of points along the way, the stream of characters that is your e-mail can be displayed "for diagnostic purposes" by the simplest of equipment or software.

If you want a thin envelope, use encryption - something based on AACS [wikipedia.org] would make a humorous political statement, most famously illegal to decrypt, but most 8 year olds who know how to use Google can figure it out.

Re:It's new, the old car analogies don't apply (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39479693)

When I started using e-mail (early 1990s), I and everyone I e-mailed with understood that e-mail is not a sealed letter, it is a post card

Because at that time nearly everyone who used email was technically savvy enough to understand at least the basics of how email worked. Besides, the postcard analogy is a poor one, because intercepting someone's mail (sealed or not) is a federal crime even if you forward it to the original recipient untouched.

Re:It's new, the old car analogies don't apply (1)

gknoy (899301) | about 2 years ago | (#39479925)

Yes, but I'd be surprised if it weren't completely legal for the government to read your postcards: after all, if you wanted it private you'd have put it in an envelope.

Privacy is a social agreement (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | about 2 years ago | (#39479477)

The rules don't need to be re-written. The old ones work just fine as long as we don't throw out all reason as soon as "on a computer" is added.

The thing is, the old ones don't work just fine. If you pause to consider why privacy matters, the implications of actions that might have been seen as acceptable or a minor social faux pas twenty years ago could be profound today, and it is the implications that we really care about, not the actions themselves.

For example, consider Google's Street View project. When the privacy debate around their data collection flared up, some people defended them on the grounds that the cars were only driving down the street and photographing things any passer-by could see from a public place. Leaving aside the fact that this turned out not to be true, there are still many practical differences between the two scenarios.

For one thing, the individual in the street can themselves be seen. Being in a public place is a two-way deal, and if you're going around peering in through people's windows, you're going to attract unwelcome attention.

Even if you do, your presence is temporary. What you see isn't being recorded for all time, and certainly not in a searchable form or a way that can easily be corrolated with many other data sources.

Anything seen is seen by one private individual, not a vasty corporation with potentially a global audience.

Even if we accept as reasonable an individual taking a photograph in a public place that potentially diminishes someone else's privacy, perhaps because the latter person wasn't the subject of the photo and appeared in the background only coincidentally, such photos are still typically only for private, personal use, not being collected by a commercial entity that exists only to exploit anything it can for profit.

And finally, building on that idea of corrolating data from different sources, we get the kicker: one individual walking down the street can only see as much as, well, one individual walking down the street. This fundamentally and naturally limits the implications of anything they might see or do, even if their actions are unpleasant. Google, on the other hand, have vast resources and were conducting systematic surveillance on a national and even international scale.

Many of these distinctions also apply in other controversial privacy cases today, even those that aren't based on direct physical observation: mass surveillance by the state, for example, or the kind of insidious data mining operations going on at places like Facebook.

In short, privacy today needs to take into account not just the scale of any one "invasion", but the cumulative effect of all "invasions". In a world where the Internet provides quick and easy communication of any information from anyone to everyone, where some organisations have resources so vast that they didn't realise downloading that Internet was meant to be a joke, and where data storage and mining capabilities allow the co-ordination and interpretation of thousands of data points about any given individual in an instant, that means minor invasions are a much bigger deal than they used to be.

There is no reason we should tolerate this, and arguing the inevitability of technological progress is a weak straw man. Technology is neutral, and it's how we choose to use it that matters. After all, the technology has long existed for someone to kill you before you even heard the shot, yet we don't see an epidemic of sniper murders, because murder is wrong and (almost) everyone accepts that. For those whose values are incompatible with that societal norm, there are rules and penalties to act as a further deterrent. The same goes for any crime; absolute prevention is very rarely possible, but between the moral standards of the general population and imposing laws on disproportionately powerful entities like governments and megacorps we keep unwelcome behaviour in check.

The problem with privacy is just that it's too subtle an effect for most people to understand the risks until they become the victim themselves, and we haven't quite reached that tipping point yet (though potential employers routinely snooping people's Facebook profiles might be a real step closer). Thus the laws to protect it lag behind the technology, which is particularly unfortunate in this case because it's a Pandora's box situation. I suspect an entire generation will have to accept the consequences of this social mistake for the rest of their lives, but will make damn sure their kids know better.

Re:Privacy is a social agreement (3, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 years ago | (#39479555)

The problem with your argument is that you are making the classic mistake of thinking that ANY of these things are new issues. They are not. Not even close.

"Anything seen is seen by one private individual, not a vasty corporation with potentially a global audience.
Even if we accept as reasonable an individual taking a photograph in a public place that potentially diminishes someone else's privacy, perhaps because the latter person wasn't the subject of the photo and appeared in the background only coincidentally, such photos are still typically only for private, personal use, not being collected by a commercial entity that exists only to exploit anything it can for profit."

And how is this different from take a public picture of somebody, then putting it on the cover of a national magazine? See, we already had rules about that, and they cover situations like this just fine.

Similar things can be said about the rest of this. There really isn't anything new here, and if you think there is, then you don't know your history very well. Many of the very same copyright issues that are being slammed around right now, for example, were hashed out in public and in court -- some real knock-down, dragouts as they say -- well over 100 years ago. People keep saying that things are different now, but if they read the actual court decisions from back then, they just might change their minds.

Re:Privacy is a social agreement (0)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 2 years ago | (#39479673)

For one thing, the individual in the street can themselves be seen. Being in a public place is a two-way deal, and if you're going around peering in through people's windows, you're going to attract unwelcome attention.

Have you ever seen a Google Street View car? [thecarconnection.com]

Re:It's new, the old car analogies don't apply (0)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#39479323)

The rules need to be rewritten

I guess asking people to:

  1. Understand some basics about computer networks
  2. Use encryption to protect the privacy of their communications
  3. Not install every trendy plugin they hear about
  4. Not sign up for every trendy website their friends mention to them

Must be asking too much of them. The problem is not that we have too few laws, it is that most people still think about things as if they were in the mid-20th century. People have no clue how email works, so they assume it is like a faster version of postal mail. People have no idea how Facebook works, so they assume it is like a social-oriented version of email (and by extension, postal mail). Eventually, people will start to understand that there are computers out there and that those computers can record what they do, and then they will start to follow basic privacy-preserving practices.

The problem with laws that regulate websites and other Internet services is that they make it harder for people to run a server out of their garage or their dormroom. Laws assume that computer users and computer service providers are two distinct classes that can be regulated separately; on the Internet, that is not true (or at least such a view runs counter to the overarching philosophy of the Internet).

Now, I just know that someone will jump in and talk about how this is all just the natural order of things, how computers are "growing up" and becoming more organized and how we must follow the same pattern that we always follow and how people are not generally capable of figuring out how to use PGP or OTR or ABP...

Re:It's new, the old car analogies don't apply (2)

turbidostato (878842) | about 2 years ago | (#39479945)

"The problem is not that we have too few laws, it is that most people still think about things as if they were in the mid-20th century. "

I wish that was the case. No, the problem is that as soon as "but on a computer" or "but in the Internet" is thrown into the equation people magically tend to go into dummy mode.

"People have no clue how email works, so they assume it is like a faster version of postal mail."

No, the problem is that people do NOT assume that e-mail is like a faster version of postal mail. Because if they really assumed e-mail being much like postal mail only faster, do you really think they would allow for government to sneek into e-mail without a warrant? If they thougth it worked like postal mail, do you think they'd allow for an employer to gain the right to read correspondence explicity directed to your personal address?

Facebook: do you see people allowing employers to sneek into their family photo albums?

Software: do you see people allowing new cars being sold without legal guarantee?

Computers: do you see people allowing the employer to sneek into the personaly assigned closet without a very strong reason?

Re:It's new, the old car analogies don't apply (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 2 years ago | (#39480073)

I suspect some of the most secure servers out there are run privately, from dorm rooms, etc. Of course, we don't know about them because they're, well, private.

Maybe after 10 or 20 years of GeoCities/MySpace/Facebook, somebody will launch a similar useful site with real security and privacy built into it from the start - the trick will be getting investors to believe that the business model can work, since everything that's made big visible money on the Internet so far has depended on insane traffic volumes driving advertising revenue. The private site will, by design, carry much less traffic and grow much more slowly.

Re:It's new, the old car analogies don't apply (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 2 years ago | (#39480075)

Making it difficult to run a server out of their garage or dormroom... Well, don't laws also make it harder for someone to run a simple mom & pop store that sells widgets in a small town, and make it harder to hire someone to clean your house since you need to withhold taxes, etc? Why should digital enterprises get a free pass on all this stuff?

Re:It's new, the old car analogies don't apply (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 2 years ago | (#39480145)

Now, I just know that someone will jump in and talk about how this is all just the natural order of things, how computers are "growing up" and becoming more organized and how we must follow the same pattern that we always follow and how people are not generally capable of figuring out how to use PGP or OTR or ABP...

I think the year was 1997 or so, I got the idea that e-mail clients sucked and I could do better. Automatically displayed photo attachments were the latest gee-whiz feature. I bought a (physical) book on SMTP protocol, and promptly got distracted by something else...

At the time, I thought a popular, free, e-mail client with easy to use built-in support for PGP, might just gain enough traction to offer a "freemium" version like Eudora was doing. Who knows, if I had actually delivered it, I could have changed the world. It's still out there, up for grabs, IMHO most e-mail software still sucks. Today I'd go at it with Qt - a nice slick Quick interface, cross platform at launch. All I need is about $2M in funding and I think it's got a chance - think Kickstarter can swing that? /jest

Re:It's new, the old car analogies don't apply (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 years ago | (#39479341)

"All digital communication is inherently recorded, so in some twisted sense it's more like dumpster diving and less like wiretapping to snoop in e-mail."

Not at all. First, it isn't "inherently recorded", any more than your snail mail is "inherently copied" when it is put in a bin at the post office. It is quite possible to relay things like email, and even put them in temporary storage, waiting for the email client to pick them up, without "recording" them in any other sense. When my email client gets my mail, it is deleted from anywhere else.

Now, having said that, you are your own worst enemy if you use the IMAP email protocol, rather than the older POP3, because IMAP inherently does put your email in control of the server, and by default keeps copies of the emails on the server, even those that are "deleted". You can change those settings, but most people don't.

To sum it up: there is no real sense in which electronic communications are "inherently recorded" by any middleman, at all, any more than a telephone conversation, unless you count temporary storage, which should be set up as just that... temporary, and wiped when a file is deleted.

"Similarly for GPS tracking, that's just like old-school tailing a car, but cheaper and more clandestine - what's not to like?"

And this is yet another false argument. GPS tracking is, indeed, inherently worse and more intrusive than an "old-school tail", in several ways. Thankfully the courts, unlike you, have recognized this fact.

The rules don't need to be rewritten at all. In fact they continued to work fine, right up until people started messing with them just before the turn of the century, giving "authorities" more control. THAT is the problem here, not the technologies.

None of the basic issues have changed. Emails need be no different from telephone conversations. Nor internet sessions. ISPs could (and should) operate like common carriers, such as the old-school telephone companies. That would solve much, right there. Many of these privacy issues would disappear overnight.

Re:It's new, the old car analogies don't apply (1)

tqk (413719) | about 2 years ago | (#39479895)

To sum it up: there is no real sense in which electronic communications are "inherently recorded" by any middleman, at all, any more than a telephone conversation, unless you count temporary storage, which should be set up as just that... temporary, and wiped when a file is deleted.

You haven't been reading the news? The NSA is already setting up a datacentre to record all of that traffic. Add to that, they don't believe they have "intercepted" that data unless and until an NSA drone actually accesses that data. They're lobbying Congress for approval, last I heard.

Re:It's new, the old car analogies don't apply (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 2 years ago | (#39479915)

"All digital communication is inherently recorded, so in some twisted sense it's more like dumpster diving and less like wiretapping to snoop in e-mail."

Not at all. First, it isn't "inherently recorded", any more than your snail mail is "inherently copied" when it is put in a bin at the post office.

Maybe not necessary, but as it has always been implemented, SMTP, IMAP, POP and otherwise, it is stored on each server while they wait to copy it to the next server, and it is stored for a long time on the receiving server waiting for the final (usually human) recipient to acknowledge receipt and request deletion - I have always set my clients to automatically delete received messages after 15 days, during which time, I assume that my ISP is backing the, almost always unencrypted, e-mail up on their disaster recovery system.

To sum it up: there is no real sense in which electronic communications are "inherently recorded" by any middleman, at all, any more than a telephone conversation, unless you count temporary storage, which should be set up as just that... temporary, and wiped when a file is deleted.

Have a look through: RFC5321 [ietf.org] and predecessors, those are the rules your e-mail travels under, whether or not they should be amended to ensure privacy is another debate, this is the way things have worked in e-mail for 30 years. Nothing guarantees privacy, an obliquely related quote from the transport standard:

SMTP mail inherently cannot be authenticated, or
      integrity checks provided, at the transport level. Real mail
      security lies only in end-to-end methods involving the message
      bodies, such as those that use digital signatures (see RFC 1847 [43]
      and, e.g., Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) in RFC 4880 [44] or Secure/
      Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (S/MIME) in RFC 3851 [45]).

Know anybody who uses digital signatures or PGP in regular e-mail conversations? I know exactly one, a geek celebrity who presumably doesn't want people making up quotes attributed to him.

"Similarly for GPS tracking, that's just like old-school tailing a car, but cheaper and more clandestine - what's not to like?"

And this is yet another false argument. GPS tracking is, indeed, inherently worse and more intrusive than an "old-school tail", in several ways. Thankfully the courts, unlike you, have recognized this fact.

If you didn't recognize the sarcasm, I apologize... "What's not to like" comes from the perspective of people who "do" law enforcement, and, thankfully, in January of this year, SCOTUS came out on our side [thehill.com] for once.

None of the basic issues have changed. Emails need be no different from telephone conversations. Nor internet sessions. ISPs could (and should) operate like common carriers, such as the old-school telephone companies. That would solve much, right there. Many of these privacy issues would disappear overnight.

Old school telephone lines could be, and were regularly, tapped, with and without warrants - information gained from a warrantless wiretap can not be used to prosecute nor get a warrant, but it certainly did happen. Open and publicly auditable police protection isn't likely to come about any time soon, we certainly have never had it in the past.

E-mail needs to grow up, I use G-mail because it serves my needs, and my needs do not include private e-mail conversation.

What I find horrifying is the security theater that goes around supposedly "sensitive" information handling. Footers on unencrypted e-mails instructing the recipient to destroy the message if it is not for them, VPNs with single (obvious) passwords for the entire company, automatic screen saver activation regarded as if it's Fort Knox grade security - anybody who has enough physical access to mess with your system because the screen saver is not activated also has enough access to slip a keystroke logger into your USB keyboard connection, same logger, indefinitely powered by USB, can also be accessed wirelessly and used to log in with a remote keyboard and mouse when nobody is around.

Your privacy will get respected when you start standing up for it, posting stuff you don't want "outed" on Facebook is just about as smart as putting it on a bulletin board at a public library, with a blank sheet of paper over it, hoping nobody you don't want to will lift the paper up and look. Anything you send unencrypted to your ISP might as well be printed on a bumper-sticker on your car. Stop "over-sharing" and you'll get a lot of defacto privacy right now, with no changes in the laws required.

Re:It's new, the old car analogies don't apply (1)

green1 (322787) | about 2 years ago | (#39479345)

This is yet again a case of lawmakers completely forgetting old rules just because something happens in a new medium.

Would you get away with having someone stand 1 foot away from a private conversation? then why do you think you should get away with listening in on their phone line? what's the difference?

Can you get away with opening people's physical mail? what makes email any different? (and every other online service is either like a bulletin board everyone can read, which is fair game to all, or like private physical mail to select people which is not. There really isn't any in between.)

GPS tracking, sure, no problem, as long as you don't touch the car in any way to do it (if you attach something to my car, 1) I can do whatever I want with it, 2) I can charge you with vandalism/trespass/etc)

The rules ARE being re-written, but that's the last thing that SHOULD happen. people need to stop writing completely new laws just because the same activity happens in a new medium, the old laws should be just fine, interpret them in their original intent.

There would be a huge public outcry if these new laws allowed opening everyone's physical mail and wiretapping every person's phone conversations, but for some reason just because it happens "on the internet" people don't fight back. THIS is what needs to change, not the laws themselves.

Re:It's new, the old car analogies don't apply (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about 2 years ago | (#39479379)

The rules need to be rewritten, give it 30 or 40 years and it should settle down, it's all still very new - judicial time runs much slower than internet time.

As a person born and grown under the communist regimes in East Europe, I cannot stop but wonder just how will it settle down in 30-40 years time... it's not like it cannot evolve in the unpleasant direction much faster than 30 years (except USSR, the rest of the countries in Eastern Europe had the regime imposed to them in a matter of 10-12 years. Imagine if US of A would start muscling the world in this direction... for the sake of the children, against terrorists and to protect their entertainment industry... it's not like UK or Australia haven't already fallen into the pattern).

Re:It's new, the old car analogies don't apply (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 2 years ago | (#39480201)

it's not like it cannot evolve in the unpleasant direction much faster than 30 years

True, hopefully the US has enough checks and balances to reverse the unpleasant direction (which I feel we have been moving slowly in for 30 years now) before it gets too bad.

Good quote from the article.. (1)

n5vb (587569) | about 2 years ago | (#39479171)

In an effort to find the needle, we're burning down the haystack.

I might add that burning down a haystack to find a needle in it not only destroys the hay, but makes the needle useless..

Re:Good quote from the article.. (2)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 2 years ago | (#39479211)

In an effort to find the needle, we're burning down the haystack.

I might add that burning down a haystack to find a needle in it not only destroys the hay, but makes the needle useless..

Useless, or harmless? There are those who would see the disempowered needle as a victory (they don't care about hay, anyway.)

Re:Good quote from the article.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39479483)

If it's a titanium needle, it's sheer brilliance.

They've always been spying on us (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#39479181)

It's just that in the past that information was in different locations, like the phone book (name, address, phone) or state government (birthdate, annual income), or federal government (SS number, lifetime income). Companies have always sought to find information on us, from Arbitron measuring how many people listened local stations, to Nielsen adding PeopleMeters to boxes. Now Google and Facebook are doing the same, but more directly through the net.

Re:They've always been spying on us (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | about 2 years ago | (#39479641)

Companies have always sought to find information on us,

I disagree. This is pervasive only due to advertising. If you put aside the requirements of advertising, you'll find that companies have very little need for information about their customers, basically they just need enough to make a transaction work, an address only if something must be sent or delivered, and credit card data if it's not going to be a cash transaction.

So the evil ultimately resides in the needs of advertising, and the solution lies in making companies accountable for their activities.

Re:They've always been spying on us (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 2 years ago | (#39479957)

Companies have always sought to find information on us,

I disagree. This is pervasive only due to advertising. If you put aside the requirements of advertising, you'll find that companies have very little need for information about their customers, basically they just need enough to make a transaction work, an address only if something must be sent or delivered, and credit card data if it's not going to be a cash transaction.

So the evil ultimately resides in the needs of advertising, and the solution lies in making companies accountable for their activities.

Companies have always sought to find information on us,

I disagree. This is pervasive only due to advertising. If you put aside the requirements of advertising, you'll find that companies have very little need for information about their customers, basically they just need enough to make a transaction work, an address only if something must be sent or delivered, and credit card data if it's not going to be a cash transaction.

So the evil ultimately resides in the needs of advertising, and the solution lies in making companies accountable for their activities.

I worked for a company that made a very technically complex product, it cost, all told, $600 to make, and sold for $15K, yet, the company barely broke even. Why? Because it cost $14,400 per device to successfully market and sell one - they sold tens of thousands per year, shipped a FedEx truck full of promotional materials out every single day, and had hundreds of sales reps beating the bushes to find "the next customer."

For many companies "advertising" and potential customer information are simply, everything.

Re:They've always been spying on us (1)

turbidostato (878842) | about 2 years ago | (#39480011)

"This is pervasive only due to advertising."

Not advertising but marketing. Forget about advertising and companies still will want to know what's the average income of your neighborhood, if there's a majority of any ethnic, if they are young or old, how many children on average, if they have degrees or just basic education, if you have a big car or if you prefer your weekly buy on saturday or friday...

Advertising is just the most visible side of the marketing iceberg.

Re:They've always been spying on us (1)

w_dragon (1802458) | about 2 years ago | (#39480061)

Even if cable were advertisement free there would still be value in knowing what people watch. If people don't watch a channel then the company can drop it from a package without losing customers, saving money. Similar with stores, if you regularly buy 3 products from the same aisle they may want to split them up so you browse more of the store. Advertising increases the value of your information, but it is not worthless without it.

Privacy is no fantasy (4, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | about 2 years ago | (#39479223)

It simply has to be fought for and lately it seems it will require some very real bloodshed. The government of the U.S. and all of the other major free society governments of the world are hell bent on stripping away privacy in order to defend intellectual property and to assure themselves of better control over the people "they serve." The last time we saw these kinds of problems, there was a revolution in the US. The next time we see it, it may be a global "civil war" against the tyrants of the nations of the world.

I'm sorry to all the business people out there who believe their right to "grow and proper" outweighs the needs, rights and the very nature of humanity but they don't. You don't have the right to unlimited profits. You don't have the right to sell data you have collected about people to other businesses or governments. You will all find this out before too long "French Revolution" style.

I just hope we have enough "fathers of the new world democracy" or whatever we end of calling it to write a new constitution guaranteeing everything the US constitution guaranteed and adds to it all of the lessons we have learned since that document was written. Among these should include bits like "There shall be no law which impedes, restricts, hinders or limits the rights of humanity, its arts or its legacy."

Frankly, I'm getting to the point where I feel we have little else to lose. And when that happens, a special kind of hell will break loose all over the globe.

Re:Privacy is no fantasy (0)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 2 years ago | (#39479391)

Facebook, and similar concepts - including e-mail, need to grow up to address privacy concerns.

Facebook could work quite well as an encrypted, strongly private system. One big reason it's not is because that would have slowed adoption. Same for encrypted e-mail (plus, Google would feel bad about snooping encrypted e-mail, so Gmail won't do it.)

Re:Privacy is no fantasy (1)

turbidostato (878842) | about 2 years ago | (#39480047)

"Facebook could work quite well as an encrypted, strongly private system."

Facebook is basically a giant marketing data collecting tool. Without the ability to collect your data how exactly could Facebook work?

Re:Privacy is no fantasy (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 2 years ago | (#39480383)

"Facebook could work quite well as an encrypted, strongly private system."

Facebook is basically a giant marketing data collecting tool. Without the ability to collect your data how exactly could Facebook work?

Sorry, I meant to say "work for the users," how the owners of this new, privacy respecting Facebook like system make money is a little less obvious... I'd say it's one of the problems with today's Internet that still needs to be solved: how to make money without exploiting your user's private data.

Re:Privacy is no fantasy (1)

Twinbee (767046) | about 2 years ago | (#39479465)

I think 99% of people are FAR more content than what you're portraying. I'm not saying you don't have some partially good points, but at least I would prefer targeted ads than weight-loss or build-your-abs crap. Yeah they might earn a bit more revenue, big deal. Some things you really do gain on the roundabouts and lose on the swings.

Re:Privacy is no fantasy (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 2 years ago | (#39479531)

The American revolution started with a tiny minority. And when things started rolling, attention came to what terrible things the British government did which brought more people to support the revolution... it grew and grew and grew. The incident in Tienanmen square called attention to the desires of many, many people in China.

Global activism calling attention to tyrants and human rights violations is growing all over the globe with common themes. The US government is identifying protestors as terrorists of a low calibur... but still classifying them as terrorists enabling their new "anti-terror" laws to be used against them and others.

Perhaps the people affected at first are a minority. But as more attention is given to them, people will begin to identify with the victims more and more creating ripples and waves of sympathizers and supporters because they realize "we are next."

I'd love to blame this on politics and greed... (0)

Narcocide (102829) | about 2 years ago | (#39479227)

...but we all know who started it; MySpace and FaceBook.

Indoctrinate the children into an environment where even the unwanted breaches in privacy just make you more popular (or at least more talked about) then this type of downhill slide into a complete lack of respect for personal information is practically inevitable.

Once the politicians and corporations realize how popular you can make it to be irresponsible with your personal data and just how much easier that makes it to harvest said data then basically everyone is on board with it.

By the time society as a whole catches up in understanding (the "Oh my God, what has science done?!" factor) its already too late for anyone to do anything about.

Re:I'd love to blame this on politics and greed... (0)

Narcocide (102829) | about 2 years ago | (#39479383)

MySpace and FaceBook shills spending mod points on me today? I'm honored. Hey guys, how you doing? :)

Re:I'd love to blame this on politics and greed... (4, Insightful)

mlts (1038732) | about 2 years ago | (#39479489)

For a long time, people didn't care about privacy. They didn't care that some ad agency was writing down what websites they visited as long as they could get to whatever Internet sites.

Now, people are starting to feel the consequences of no privacy. Companies making point scores based on people's Internet postings, the fact that an arrest for *anything* will be a career ender [1], even if it is just PI and a 4 hour stint in the drunk tank. The wrong like on Facebook gets someone branded as a potential racist for 7 years.

A few years back, at first was a joke about people losing jobs due to FB posts. Now, this is routine, as well as the fact that the police can become involved if the wrong thing is posted in minutes. It is scary that one thing stated in anger and stupidity can mean not finding work, but more dire consequences such as expulsion from a school, or jail/prison time.

Will this change? I doubt it. I'm watching the threshold for getting arrested, getting a felony, or even life in prison become ever more trivial. Especially anything related to drug possession.

I can tell I'm getting older when it actually took some doing to be arrested in school when I was there (something that really was a felony). Now, it is common to read about some high school kid whisked from the school grounds and to jail because they backtalked a coach (which is considered assault in some areas), or that they decided to skip a class and went to jail due to curfew laws. What are we teaching kids when their friends get hauled off to jail and the person's chances of a job in the future nixed? Yes, fear of authority, but definitely not respect.

I'm just waiting for a convergence of hardware DRM stacks, data mining, "anti-piracy" laws, and IP address geolocation where new computers will shoot taser probes at the person using them, and keep them doing "the fish" until the cops arrive, the second they type a suspicious or angry post.

[1]: I've asked about that when I got through a round of interviews at one place and others who I know were more qualified than I didn't. The HR droid said something along the lines of, "You can buy an acquittal. If a cop considers someone guilty enough to pull out the handcuffs, they are a criminal and will remain a criminal for the rest of their lives, and they will not ever see a job here."

Re:I'd love to blame this on politics and greed... (1)

turbidostato (878842) | about 2 years ago | (#39480115)

"For a long time, people didn't care about privacy."

You will have to rrrrreally go back in the past to find a time when people didn't care about privacy. Just for the most comically obvious sign, when was the last time that shitting in public was socially acceptable?

People has felt that there are issues that are nobody else's business basically since always.

Re:I'd love to blame this on politics and greed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39480547)

I should have been more clear. Online privacy wasn't a concern for most people for over a decade. First came websites, then blogs, then social networking sites where people are encouraged to tell all for anyone to see. At those times, there were few consequences because neither the police, employers, nor insurance companies were grinding through every single typed symbol looking for stuff to prosecute/fire/jack up rates on individuals.

Now, the second shoe has dropped. People can pay grievously for a comment said in anger.

Sorry, Charlie! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39479245)

I'm not giving up on my demands for tough laws (and enforcement) to restrict the collection and use of personal/individualized information.

Old-fashioned, my arse.
We have relatively new laws governing the use and release of medical information, where people generally agree privacy is important and the lack of privacy can be detrimental.
Just because /some/ of us can't imagine how damaging the collection and distribution of personal/individualized information is--or could be some time in the future--doesn't mean the rest of us should be complacent.

Beware what you share. (0)

inkrypted (1579407) | about 2 years ago | (#39479251)

If you put your telephone number or address on Facebook, Twitter, Or Google + your not concerned with privacy. If later you decide that this was a bad decision and decide your privacy has been invaded your an idiot for sharing that much in the first place. Think long and hard (Giggity) about what you decide to share with any of these services because it can come back to bite you.

Re:Beware what you share. (0)

schrodingersGato (2602023) | about 2 years ago | (#39479375)

I'd have to agree with you. People need to take some (most) of the blame for this. No one forced your to join Facebook, twitter, flickr, etc. and you had to know that these were not services being sold with the guise of anonymity. Yes companies are using tracking cookies and algorithmic hocus-pocus to profile your habits, but these can be circumvented with little effort. If you want to share everything, fine. But your info is now essentially public.

One major problem (1)

jd (1658) | about 2 years ago | (#39479305)

...with a lack of privacy is that there's a lack of accountability. If an institution gets incorrect data on you, it's not that institution's fault - it's not their data - and even if they fix it it will break again because the bad data is still out there. There's no central authoritative source when there's no privacy, which means that nobody is at fault when mistakes are made, and nobody is responsible for cleaning the mess up.

There's a whole raft of other problems, but I fail to see how reliable data could possibly be an impediment to anything - let alone progress. Quality and reliability are surely the pillars on which sustainable progress is achievable. Eliminate privacy, you eliminate the only means by which progress is possible.

Yeah, I know, TFA says nothing about privacy being an impediment, but TFS (the "fine" summary) does and I suspect far too many buy into the whole idea.

Reality TV era that we live in... (1)

VinylRecords (1292374) | about 2 years ago | (#39479321)

Maybe it's different in other countries but in the U.S. people barely seem to care about personal privacy. Between Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Myspace, and so on, people seem more than willing to put their private lives and information out on the internet. And if you look at the type of news that Americans read most often, it is celebrity gossip, tabloids and paparazzi that stalk famous people and report on their every movement.

We put our political beliefs on our t-shirts and bumper stickers. Wear our sports teams on our hats. And now we can share those things on Twitter and YouTube. I think I'm the only employee at my work that doesn't have a LinkedIn, Myspace, Facebook, or a Twitter.

Between Jeremy Lin, Tim Tebow, Kim Kardashian, and the 15-minutes-of-fame type reality TV show people, we have an endless cycle of gossip news available online and on your television. And people seem to love it. The more invasive the questions are at a sports press conference with Tim Tebow the better. The more we can dig up on Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries the better. Whitney Houston having cocaine in her system was more reported than anything else in the last week on the mainstream news.

The Slashdot crowd is the exception not the rule. When most people are all about getting themselves more friends on Facebook and more followers on YouTube the "geeks" are holding onto their privacy. Personal privacy is simply not cool in America. When America stops everything because Tim Tebow is coming to the Jets (I hope everyone at /. has familiarized themselves with the Wildcat Offense) they are there for the spectacle and not for the actual sport.

Sure no one wants their credit card information online. But too many people in the U.S. seem to think that putting their email, phone number, personal likes and hobbies, thousands of pictures of themselves, and so on, all over the internet, is not only okay but it is preferred. It's fun for them.

pedantic (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#39479349)

Dear author:
Puleeze. Science fiction (scifi) and fantasy fiction are separate genres. Everybody knows this most basic fact! To use the adjective "scifi" to describe the noun "fantasy" is Not correct.
Signed,
    Comic Book Guy

privacy is a type-0 concept (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39479389)

A type-1 society requires global surveillance - in order to maintain strict controls on type-1 assets and technologies. And all the "bad" things that people think will happen as a result of privacy going out the window (such as book burning, anti-subculture and people being spirited away in the night, probably wont happen, or at least not very much anyway). Oh well, I guess privacy is a small price to pay for the Age of Abundance.

To be completely fair (1)

LittleBigScript (618162) | about 2 years ago | (#39479431)

My two cents:

Companies which ask for Facebook login information are wasting money on non-work related information gathering. In other words, the company has too much money and is spending it on a non-recoverable cost center. Potential employees who deny access are saving the company money and should be the preferred hires. When I took a computer ethics class in my bachelor of science degree, I was amazed there were people in the class were willing to play cop and "get him" without any evidence that the suspicions are affecting job performance. I was even more amazed at the majority of the class who were against the searches and would said they would not assist an employer by writing software to do so, but began to do so in class when it was re-framed as an "interesting exercise" to demonstrate competance. The IT and IS fields are becoming the Catch-22 of legal responsibility.

We missed one step along the way (1)

holophrastic (221104) | about 2 years ago | (#39479471)

There were never any laws stopping someone from watching the outside of your house. There never needed to be. Long ago, the only ones who could were your neighbours, and long-distance enemies camping out. Either way there were very easy deterents. But when remotely operating camperas and such appeared, the law said supported my right to see the outside of your house. So I was allowed to aim a camera at your house. That camera later became infrared and could see through walls. But you posted a photograph of your living room online, so you had no expectation of privacy for your living room, even to my camera. It spiralled like that a few times to wind up here.

The problem is that there was no old law not because people should have the right to view other people's houses. There was no old law because there didn't need to be -- it wasn't an actual problem. When it became a problem, well, our laws are based on precedent. In this case, a lack thereof.

The real law should have been aimed at objectives, like supporting privacy not as an abstract concept but as a control over something. That something can become public but the control over that something should never have been.

We see this in commercial IP all the time. "reserve all rights", duplication rights, publication rights, and more. But those never existing to the outside of your house. So I could publish the outside of your house any way I choose. The result is this.

Or maybe (3, Insightful)

koan (80826) | about 2 years ago | (#39479487)

Maybe the right to privacy we were told so much about has simply become old-fashioned, a barrier to progress.

Just maybe the generation growing up is more accepting of the intrusions, the same way manners and morals dissolved over the years, compare TV in the 1950's to TV today to see a graphic example of this.

For the record you can maintain your privacy, just learn to think like this; that everything done on the Internet is like shouting in a restaurant so don't post or discuss things you wouldn't yell in a restaurant.

There isn't a problem at all (1)

losttoy (558557) | about 2 years ago | (#39479513)

Only slashdot visitors get all worked up about privacy invasions. As far as I can tell, the rest of the world is pretty happy openly letting everyone know of their social, economic, emotional, physical, geographic or mental status. People want to share all this information. We get a kick out of it. Remember that thing about humans - Humans are social animals. Somehow, we want humans to unlearn their biological craving to share information and close themselves in? Good luck!

What companies? (1)

specific (963862) | about 2 years ago | (#39479515)

Which companies have asked employees for their FB data? I haven't seen a single company mentioned in any of these articles, except FB. Is this all just a big FB commercial?

John Mayer approved (1)

kakyoin01 (2040114) | about 2 years ago | (#39479543)

Instantly thought of "Your Body is a Wonderland" with that title.

On a more relevant note, it's very apparent nowadays that privacy is becoming less and less of a guarantee and more of a perk in society today. I somewhat agree and disagree with this personal data trend. On the one hand, I'd like to think that this means people will be more willing to be themselves and be more honest and open with others (e.g., based on experience, we in America hardly even associate with our next-door neighbors). I personally would love to not have to be so cryptic and secretive about my information. However, on the other hand and being the cynic I am, I know this is only going to lead to even bigger identity and privacy problems.

Still, asking for a Facebook username and password is tantamount to invasion of privacy. If companies want to check someone's Facebook, there are plenty of options for allowing others to look at a specific profile without the need of a password or even a username. Digital personal information is still personal information, and this sounds like a "good vs service" kind of problem. Something tells me that this is only the beginning...

I don't think so, Tim. (1)

kheldan (1460303) | about 2 years ago | (#39479571)

Maybe the right to privacy we were told so much about has simply become old-fashioned, a barrier to progress

Memo to Mr. Venezia:
GO TO HELL!

The premise is bad... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39479697)

You fucking morons giving up your privacy should go suck a bag of dicks.

In the U.S. week keep electing politicians (1)

companydroid (2498456) | about 2 years ago | (#39479841)

who drone on and on about there being "No inherent right to privacy" in the Constitution. Problem is these same idiots are more than eager to construct nearly impenetrable walls of secrecy on behalf of their corporate donors.

All Your Base Are Belong To THEM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39479879)

"For the adversary, if the cipher(s) are random, they have to try to attack all combinations. "

No, all they have to do is one or more of the following:

- Install pinhole wireless camera(s) aimed at the workstation/keyboard and/or at something which reflects towards the target area, example: a tiny camera aimed at your tv screen or other surface which is positioned in such a way where it can, by reflection, capture your keystrokes and other work at your workstation

- Hardware keylogger or special blackop device inserted around or in a targeted hw device, recent announcements of special devices which go directly into the wall socket/power strip which are made to look like something innocent like an air freshener, etc.

- Laser microphone for keyboard clicks

- Stand outside or b.s. their way inside for sniffing of the keyboard

- TEMPEST attacks

- whitelisted or unable to be found malware slipped in through any number of online vectors

- poisoned router and/or modem firmware with commercially supplied backdoor(s)

- Powerline analysis (smartmeters may ease the lubrication)

- Attacks on wifi from within or outside

- Attacks on wired connections from within or outside / spliced connections

- Force a kernel/memory dump (usually easier on Windows systems) which is logged to disk unless you disable it and possibly sent in part or in whole to Microsoft unless you disable this

- social engineered or otherwise manipulated individuals friendly and allowed inside said workstation area or invited in under the disguise of a religious group or other spoofed organization to plant devices or otherwise access the workstation

- discovering your TC password written somewhere in your environment or on your person (missing time, medical procedures where you're "under", otherwise out of the workstation area during a sneaky entry and exit)

- new electronic or other bugged/poisoned gifts sent to you and you place within your workstation environment, simple envelopes or magazines, books, with a miniture bug(s)

- that slut or stud you brought home with you for a one nighter

- more and more and more

Given wikileaks' exposure of some of the vast companies foreign and domestic willing to sell spyware software and hardware if THEY want your (you meaning anyone and THEY meaning any determined enemy) TC password, they already have it or will obtain it, and it won't be through brute force.

&

what of:

"modified coins?"

You visit a store to buy something,
an evil person arrives before you,

slips the cashier through a handoff or fake prearranged (or real) transaction,

one or more "special" coins, containing a video and/or audio "bug", maybe with a nice wire which wraps around inside of the modified coinage several times,

convinces or through some other motivating factor(s) (or by chance) the cashier to give you said coin(s) for change during your transaction,

evil person exits the store and the fun begins.

How often do YOU check YOUR coins to make sure they are really the real thing or do you just dump them in the same room as your computer(s)?

Interesting Timing (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | about 2 years ago | (#39480135)

Maybe the right to privacy we were told so much about has simply become old-fashioned, a barrier to progress.

The "right to privacy" you've been "told so much about" didn't really come into play in the United States until the Supreme Court was looking to overturn states laws banning contraception in Griswold v. Connecticut. Currently, we're looking at a GOP presidential primary where at least one of the major candidates would like to see that overturned outright, to be able to ban contraception specifically and other privacy protections generally.

mind reading technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39480227)

If you think its bad that your surfing activity gets tracked online, consider the mind reading technology that's currently being developed. you can read more about it here:
http://www.bringbackprivacy.com

Never will be old fashion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39480377)

Unless 600000 iterations make a truth.

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