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Privacy Advocates Protest FBI Warning of 'Going Dark' In Online Era

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the don't-let-the-backdoor-hit-you-on-the-way-out dept.

Privacy 135

CWmike writes "CNET's Declan McCullagh reported last week on the FBI's argument that the massive shift of communications from the telephone system to the Internet 'has made it far more difficult for the agency to wiretap Americans suspected of illegal activities.' The law has already been expanded once, in 2004, to include broadband networks, but still excludes Web companies. The FBI says its surveillance efforts are in danger of 'going dark' if it is not allowed to monitor the way people communicate now. Not surprisingly, a range of opponents, from privacy advocates to legal experts, disagree — strongly. On key tech hitch with the plan, per ACLU attorney Mark Rumold and others: There is a difference between wiretapping phones and demanding a backdoor to Internet services. 'A backdoor doesn't just make it accessible to the FBI — it makes it vulnerable to others,' Rumold says."

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135 comments

Backdoor for others (5, Funny)

shoehornjob (1632387) | about 2 years ago | (#39980539)

'A backdoor doesn't just make it accessible to the FBI â" it makes it vulnerable to others.

Speaking of backdoors I've got these cool new Sony disks for your computer......

Piss off, FBI (2)

Scareduck (177470) | about 2 years ago | (#39980557)

No. No goddamn panopticons.

Re:Piss off, FBI (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39980631)

Slashdot on government surveillance: "Piss off, government! Respect my right to privacy!"

Slashdot on Google surveillance: "So what if they archived people's emails and passwords for two years, and their CEO said only criminals have something to hide? They're just a poor, innocent company! Give them more of my personal data, I say."

Re:Piss off, FBI (1)

mrbester (200927) | about 2 years ago | (#39980711)

Just because the FBI's strawman argument worked to extend them powers they didn't really need doesn't mean your one will be as successful

Re:Piss off, FBI (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39980751)

You don't seem to know what "strawman argument" means--using a given topic to point out a double-standard isn't a strawman. If Slashdot is truly taking a stand against unnecessary surveillance and violations of privacy, then it must take that stand equally, even against companies to which they may be emotionally attached because of their association with Linux.

Re:Piss off, FBI (5, Insightful)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 2 years ago | (#39980791)

A corporation is not a government. Google does not wield the power of life and death over its users. See the difference? I can choose to not participate in the google universe, i cannot choose to exclude myself from the government's control.

Re:Piss off, FBI (2)

Trepidity (597) | about 2 years ago | (#39981301)

I don't see them as inherently different, but more of a continuum depending on how easy it is to exclude myself. The U.S. government is among the hardest to exclude myself from, so I agree on that. But when we get to lower levels of government, many of them are considerably easier to avoid than many large corporations are. For example, it is quite easy to avoid the Pittsburgh city government; just don't move to or work in Pittsburgh.

Re:Piss off, FBI (3, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | about 2 years ago | (#39980815)

If Slashdot is truly taking a stand

Slashdot does not speak for me. I certainly do not want to be "represented" by a collection of nerds and trolls in any point of view - I am perfectly capable of taking my own stand where I choose.

Re:Piss off, FBI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39981009)

There have always been Google-lovers & Google-haters on Slashdot - if anything I've seen the tone regarding Google become more critical during the past few years: hardly anybody was worried when Gmail was launched; after the Wave, Buzz and Google+ launches they got flamed by many. There is no single /. mindset.

Re:Piss off, FBI (4, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | about 2 years ago | (#39980785)

Slashdot on government surveillance: "Piss off, government! Respect my right to privacy!"

Slashdot on Google surveillance: "So what if they archived people's emails and passwords for two years, and their CEO said only criminals have something to hide? They're just a poor, innocent company! Give them more of my personal data, I say."

Yeah, it's funny how geeks on Slashdot can actually differentiate between a private company recording snippets of non-encrypted data broadcast over radio waves by the public, and a concerted effort by the government to create backdoors (and a massive new security vulnerability) to let them do intentional surveillance of citizens. It's almost as if they are two completely separate issues.

(and instead of the public complaining to the Wifi industry for letting AP's default to non-encrypted communications and complaining to web service providers for allowing passwords and other sensitive data to be sent over non SSL connections, they blame Google for capturing the data. If you're sending passwords and other sensitive data in plain text over Wifi, Google is the least of your worries, they're not going to use your captured password to hack into your online bank account).

Re:Piss off, FBI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39981383)

The government still buys the data, either way.

Two Wrongs Fallacy. A lesser of two evils is still evil.

While it's also wrong that wifi wasn't really secured well by wifi industry, etc., Google shouldn't have hacked into people's data.

Two wrongs fallacy, non sequitur.

Re:Piss off, FBI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39981953)

because really, the google data captured is really pretty pointless...i mean 1 sec of unencrypted wi-fi traffic while driving by, so what? is that really a massive privacy violation?

it's not the same as ongoing monitoring all people, which is what FBI are after.

Re:Piss off, FBI (0)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 years ago | (#39980793)

Slashdot on Google surveillance: "So what if they archived people's emails and passwords for two years, and their CEO said only criminals have something to hide? They're just a poor, innocent company!

That's completely different. They're the Job Creators so that means they get to fuck you seven ways from sunday and you've got smile and say thank you.

Say, you're not a liberal, are you?

Re:Piss off, FBI (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39982037)

No, the difference is that if I choose not to use Google and block them from tracking me, they aren't allowed to throw me in jail or break into my home at night and shoot me "because I thought he had a weapon"

Re:Piss off, FBI (5, Insightful)

infolation (840436) | about 2 years ago | (#39980999)

One is a free, voluntary service that you can sign up to, at the expense of your privacy.

The other is a law, that applies to everyone, whether you like it or not.

Slight difference.

Re:Piss off, FBI (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | about 2 years ago | (#39981137)

Last time I checked, using Google services was still a choice. I certainly don't remember being asked if I wanted to be tracked by my government, nor the existence of any competing products to choose from as alternatives.

Re:Piss off, FBI (4, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 years ago | (#39981263)

Google wants to invade your privacy to target you with advertisements that you are more likely to click on and there-for more likely to make them money.

The FBI wants to invade your privacy to levy fines on you, or put you in jail or even to death. Add to that that the FBI has a well recorded history of being used and abused by elected officials and corporations to manipulate, defraud and terrorize people and you can see why some are concerned.

Do I like what Google is doing? No... but that's more of a "I wish they didn't do all that, it sucks" thing... What the FBI is doing scares the living shit out of me and makes me think we're one bad election away from the iron grip of some totalitarian nightmare.

Re:Piss off, FBI (1)

dbet (1607261) | about 2 years ago | (#39981445)

People are willingly giving information to Google, not the FBI. If I give someone my phone number, I know they're going to have it, store it, and possibly use it. I don't expect them to give it to anyone else who might ask for it.

But it's more than that. The FBI is making the argument that communication between citizens must be accessible to the government.

Re:Piss off, FBI (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | about 2 years ago | (#39982225)

Slashdot on government surveillance:...Slashdot on Google surveillance

Are you suggesting a POV on the part of Slashdot's editors? Or on the part of /. members/commenters? Because I see plenty of "Piss off, Google, respect my privacy" sentiment here.

Re:Piss off, FBI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39982341)

In fact, all of "Piss off, Google, respect my privacy" comments are written by this guy. That's why he knows for sure that there's just one anti-Google poster and unknown number of pro-Google posters.

What he doesn't know, though, is that all pro-Google comments are written by a single poster as well, who spends all days hunting out "crowds of anti-Google shills".

Those two make up for 95% of /. comments. The rest is a few mad and lonely trolls like APK, random spambots, secret agents communicating via steganography and a community of almost sentient AIs unaware of each other artificial naSegmentation fault

Re:Piss off, FBI (1)

iter8 (742854) | about 2 years ago | (#39982299)

WTF? No matter what the story is about, over the past couple of weeks an AC makes one of the first posts decrying the evil done by Google. Slashdot headline: "Bad People Kick Kittens." First post: Slashdot cares about kicking kittens, but what about Google driving around taking photos of kittens? Is someone paying to trash Google on /., or does some lone guy just hate Google and lurk on /. all day just to bad mouth them?

So sad (4, Insightful)

bky1701 (979071) | about 2 years ago | (#39980561)

Unconstitutional efforts to spy on citizens ended by progressing technology. I will have a nice little cry for the FBI tonight, right after my nightly one about RIAA lost profits due to piracy.

Re:So sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39980669)

I love how on Slashdot what the FBI is doing is unconstitutional spying, but when Google has secret deals with the NSA, intentionally bypasses web browser privacy controls to track users, and drives vans down neighborhoods to sniff network traffic, it's no problem. No outcry or anything. This place has become like some libertarian fantasy hellhole...

Re:So sad (1)

bky1701 (979071) | about 2 years ago | (#39980687)

Or, shockingly, there might actually be different opinions, which happen to manifest in specific ways on specific topics, even though they are held for different reasons. For example, if you pulled your lazy ass over to my user page, I think you'd be hard pressed to find me to be a libertarian.

Re:So sad (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39980735)

If you watch the moderation for any given topic, it always skews a certain way and punishes anyone who speaks out against the conventional wisdom. Because a limited pool of users controls the filtering of opinions, there is in fact an overall viewpoint that is enforced rather than a diversity of ideas.

I can't help seeing the outrage to "unconstitutional spying" on the part of the government and then wondering why absolutely anybody who speaks out against Google's privacy violations on Slashdot earns themselves a permanent -1 account. But if you watch closely, you'll see this over and over on this site, and it's mind-boggling.

Even this conversation we're having, which on any other site would just be another standard thread with differing perspectives, will see my posts modded down to -1 (just watch).

Re:So sad (2)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 2 years ago | (#39980827)

Because my fellow man (which is what government in the US is supposed to be, the whole 'we the people' thing) spying on me willy-nilly using Monopoly on Violence is not the same thing at ALL as the shopkeeper next door keeping records of what i buy to use in his marketing and optimization research.

Re:So sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39981053)

So people should have their accounts sneakily destroyed because you believe their opinion is wrong? I guess you feel pretty sure about your self too?

Well you're wrong. Before 9/11, the supreme court decided that, while it wasn't acceptable to spy on US citizens, it was ok to do so by purchasing the data mining that was done by corporations. So all that google data is being sold to the government anyway.

I've witnessed accounts being destroyed by the people who run the site before too, for not agreeing with whatever hacker stance or opinion they had on a topic, even though they were wrong. Mysteriously, their old comments start getting modded down, out of nowhere.

Re:So sad (3, Interesting)

rocket rancher (447670) | about 2 years ago | (#39981063)

Because my fellow man (which is what government in the US is supposed to be, the whole 'we the people' thing) spying on me willy-nilly using Monopoly on Violence is not the same thing at ALL as the shopkeeper next door keeping records of what i buy to use in his marketing and optimization research.

Really? You need to take a broader view, then. Let's start with your shopkeeper's surveillance of your spending habits. He knows what you buy, when you buy it, and exactly how much you spend in his shop, along with all of your other neighbors. Some simple analysis allows him to predict quite accurately what you are going to buy and when you are going to buy it. So he jacks up those prices on D-1 and lowers them again on D+1. The Walmart grocery store in my neighborhood appears to be already doing this; the variance I get in the price of a Red Baron pizza correlates too strongly with payroll dates for the lower middle class neighborhood I live in for it to be a coincidence. But hey, according to you, it's *different* -- I guess you believe the monopoly on violence only includes armed force, and not the "Monopoly on the only grocery store within miles" kind of violence. FWIW, boutique retailers have been doing this for millenia -- each customer gets a unique price, determined by the shopkeeper's ability to assess the depth of the customer's pockets. Thanks to your benign "marketing and optimization research" the guy who sells you food is going to be able to do the same damn thing...

Re:So sad (1)

TrekkieGod (627867) | about 2 years ago | (#39981813)

Because my fellow man (which is what government in the US is supposed to be, the whole 'we the people' thing) spying on me willy-nilly using Monopoly on Violence is not the same thing at ALL as the shopkeeper next door keeping records of what i buy to use in his marketing and optimization research.

Really? You need to take a broader view, then. Let's start with your shopkeeper's surveillance of your spending habits. He knows what you buy, when you buy it, and exactly how much you spend in his shop, along with all of your other neighbors. Some simple analysis allows him to predict quite accurately what you are going to buy and when you are going to buy it. So he jacks up those prices on D-1 and lowers them again on D+1. The Walmart grocery store in my neighborhood appears to be already doing this; the variance I get in the price of a Red Baron pizza correlates too strongly with payroll dates for the lower middle class neighborhood I live in for it to be a coincidence. But hey, according to you, it's *different* -- I guess you believe the monopoly on violence only includes armed force, and not the "Monopoly on the only grocery store within miles" kind of violence. FWIW, boutique retailers have been doing this for millenia -- each customer gets a unique price, determined by the shopkeeper's ability to assess the depth of the customer's pockets. Thanks to your benign "marketing and optimization research" the guy who sells you food is going to be able to do the same damn thing...

Why is that bad? That seems rather smart.

Here's what I find unacceptable. When companies sell the information they gathered from their business relationship with me to others. As long as they keep it to themselves, what they do with the information they acquired from me should be used to increase their profits. That's certainly what I'd do.

Re:So sad (1)

vertigovegan (2635771) | about 2 years ago | (#39982591)

I heard a story about how a store called to reveal how some girl was pregnant just from her shopping patterns. They figured this out by data mining, and her father was pissed. These companies say they can figure out stuff like this. That means they can figure out that you have AIDS and you're gay, or that you have cancer or herpes or whatever. That information is sold around and then insurance companies and drug companies can exclude you from clinical trials that would save your life because they think you'll mess up their numbers or cost them too much. Or how about voting? That's kind of tracking for profit is unethical.

Re:So sad (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39982259)

Coincidentally, I am actually producing an estimate for a potential Red Baron campaign right now, so let me help you understand the difference.

It is much easier to tell when to lower the price than when to raise the price, because of the existence of competitors. The raised price on Red Baron pizza you see at Walmart is actually the normal market price controlled by competition at the high end of the demand spectrum. When the lower middle class have spent most of their money, that is when the price lowers because the demand has dramatically lowered at those times. When other stores hold onto their stock for the next round, Walmart is able to know when it is appropriate to lower the margin, and still make money by selling enough volume.

The difference is this: both Walmart and their competitors market to when people have the money to buy it, but only Walmart (and others like them) know when people do NOT have the money to buy it at the high end of the demand spectrum. Knowledge of the marketplace is used to IDENTIFY what market demands ALREADY exist. Knowledge of the market is very different from leveraging one market into the next, and monopoly abuse. Granted, Walmart has a market leverage effect, raising prices, but also has the opposite effect by applying market knowledge to lower prices. The market knowledge is what lowers prices. Nothing wrong with market knowledge.

Market analysis can be done using statistical analysis that operates on anonymized customer information, like the product I work on, so the shopkeeper doesn't need to be shipping his customer's personal information around. On the other hand, the Monopoly on Violence uses personal information ONLY because it is personal, and as centralized as it possibly can. The shopkeeper has an incentive for his data to not be shared too centrally, because it could get into the hands of his competitor. The shopkeeper sees his customer database as proprietary.

The Monopoly of Violence is only repelled by the political movement to restrict prosecution only to warranted information that is collected through normal business practices. There must be a direct line of warrant from actual damages. Otherwise, fishing expeditions for thought crimes and political reasons become practical. The only reason why "probable cause" is even allowed for a warrant is because of that relationship to actual damages. What "warranted" means is not JUST probable cause, but also because damages have occurred from a directly related event. The police should be investigating CRIMES not LIVES.

Re:So sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39982267)

Maybe you should take a broader view.

If you asked me when any particular person was going to be at a location, I'd go first with when its crowded. If people aren't shopping before payday, a store can cut costs by not having as much staff there on the off days. And offer its customers discounts when it does so. Having a bunch of people come through on payday is less convenient for the store than having a more even number come through every day. You pay for your convenience. The FBI isn't interested in your convenience. Just their own. You have less control over their convenience than you do the store's.

If you really do live in a place where the "only grocery store within miles" constitutes a monopoly, you live somewhere in a very low population density. You still have choices. Have some, most, or all of your food shipped to you. Drive some extra miles to another store. Go to a farmer's market. Or spend a day eating some instant ramen and go to the store on its "cheap" days. But the shopkeeper isn't knocking on your door and taking you to the store at gunpoint. The FBI can "offer" you alternative residence in just that fashion. You don't get a choice. You just get an opportunity to defend yourself after the fact. Assuming, of course, they don't break the law while they're breaking the law.

Re:So sad (1)

LordLucless (582312) | about 2 years ago | (#39982537)

Some simple analysis allows him to predict quite accurately what you are going to buy and when you are going to buy it. So he jacks up those prices on D-1 and lowers them again on D+1. The Walmart grocery store in my neighborhood appears to be already doing this; the variance I get in the price of a Red Baron pizza correlates too strongly with payroll dates for the lower middle class neighborhood I live in for it to be a coincidence.

Price fluctuates with demand you say? Egads, you should write a paper!

Re:So sad (2)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 2 years ago | (#39980921)

I have watched the moderation and I have observed that you are wrong. I have noticed that the moderation on any given topic tends to skew according to which side gets on with mod points first.

Re:So sad (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39980931)

Your posts should be modded down. They don't offer any perspective or opinion about the topic at hand except to whine about slashdot. Perhaps if you simply presented your point of view regarding the topic instead of talking about how slashdot is unfair, you might not be modded down so much.

In other words you can say you are for or against this. You can tangentially bring up that you are for or against this with Google but when your post puts words in others mouth you are adding nothing to the conversation. You are in effect trolling and worst of all you seem to not even realize it.

Re:So sad (2)

Z34107 (925136) | about 2 years ago | (#39981969)

If you watch the moderation for any given topic, it always skews a certain way and punishes anyone who speaks out against the conventional wisdom. Because a limited pool of users controls the filtering of opinions, there is in fact an overall viewpoint that is enforced rather than a diversity of ideas.

Funny, elections work the same way.

Re:So sad (2)

bky1701 (979071) | about 2 years ago | (#39982139)

"I can't help seeing the outrage to "unconstitutional spying" on the part of the government and then wondering why absolutely anybody who speaks out against Google's privacy violations on Slashdot earns themselves a permanent -1 account."

Really? Because I badmouth Google pretty often (not always, because unlike you probably think, it is not always warranted), and lo and behold, actually would be one of those "limited pool of users" getting mod points. Maybe you should stop being an asshole, and you'll stop being modded down. That probably starts with not whining about your posts being modded down while insulting the whole site with claims easily proven false ("libertarian fantasy hellhole" when it is clear slashdot is more polarized, but about as equally distributed, as everywhere else)... but then, I guess that's just more "conventional wisdom" for you to rage against.

Pretty much any time I see a post here complaining about groupthink/whole site having specific political idealogical/site idolizing some specific company (the proportion of Macbois is disheartening, but far from a defining characteristic), my automatic response is they are probably doing one of the following:
1. Presenting their ideas poorly.
2. Holding easily discredited ideas.
3. Acting like assholes.

Considering you're posting anonymous and I can't really see anything beyond your complaining, I have to assume your issue is probably #2 and #3. Maybe you should think about if you're the reason you are being modded down, rather than blame it on everyone else. After all, no one is forcing you to be here if it is that awful.

Re:So sad (1)

sir-gold (949031) | about 2 years ago | (#39982691)

If you actually looked at how mod points are distributed on slashdot you would see that it's always a different random group of people with mod points. You can't cry "mod abuse" when the mods are anonymous and random

http://slashdot.org/moderation.shtml [slashdot.org]

look under the history part, it explains where mod points come from. If you get modded down, its because the mathematically "average" user disagrees with you and believes you should get modded down

Re:So sad (2)

roman_mir (125474) | about 2 years ago | (#39980913)

Google is not your Friendly Bureaucratic Institution, it's just a company that you don't have to deal with and can voluntarily abstain from.

Constitution, by the way, doesn't apply to private entities, it's the law above the government, not above individuals and their businesses.

Re:So sad (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about 2 years ago | (#39981107)

Google is not your Friendly Bureaucratic Institution, it's just a company that you don't have to deal with and can voluntarily abstain from.

Not so much.
Anyone sends you an email from a google account? You've been opted in. Visit most any web site? Google Analytics has you in its sights. Yes, you can turn off or block a lot of it. But I'd be very surprised if you can block *all*, without seriously compromising the whole web surfing experience.

Re:So sad (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 2 years ago | (#39982109)

That statement of course also applies to Yahoo, Sympatico, and pretty much everyone else, including your ISP. It's damn near impossible to stay completely anonymous and still communicate with others.

Re:So sad (1)

nthwaver (1019400) | about 2 years ago | (#39981121)

Google is not your Friendly Bureaucratic Institution, it's just a company that you don't have to deal with and can voluntarily abstain from.

In the myopic libertarian fantasy world that comes from being rich, yes. But many ppls' only access to telecom is their Android phones, as that is by far the most economical way to get phone + internet in one bill.

I suppose you'd be telling 19C midwestern farmers to just sell their crops by carrier pigeon because "the railroads are a private company".

Re:So sad (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 2 years ago | (#39981415)

I use an old simple Nokia, so you don't get any sympathy.

Re:So sad (1)

nthwaver (1019400) | about 2 years ago | (#39981549)

And you're posting to /. from your "old simple Nokia" now? If you pay separately for internet through DSL, broadband or dial-up, or even have reliable access through school or work, I am not talking about you.

Re:So sad (2)

roman_mir (125474) | about 2 years ago | (#39981643)

getting sidetracked much? Google is not a monopoly in search, that's first. Secondly, android is not a monopoly in phones. Thirdly you have no choice with the FBI, unlike with Google. The constitutional argument has nothing to do with Google, as Constitution applies to the government, it's the law above government, not above Google. Lastly: the Constitution does not allow the federal government to spy on people without a warrant through any means, including forcing private companies to give up this information.

Re:So sad (1)

nthwaver (1019400) | about 2 years ago | (#39981741)

The point is that libertarians who have completely reasonable analyses of government intrusion in their lives - given that they are wealthy enough to avoid all other kinds - are very shitty at linking this to the myriad "private" forms of intrusion faced by poor folks. If you're going to fight for privacy, fight for everyone, not just those who can afford it.

All this in defense of Anonymous Coward's comment, but not to sidetrack further. Now back to our regularly scheduled neckbearding.

Re:So sad (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 2 years ago | (#39981819)

myriad "private" forms of intrusion faced by poor folks

- people are using Google for free otherwise, and it is the payment they are making to the company, that their information is collected and used for advertising.

As long as this information doesn't make it into the hands of the government thugs there is no issue that you are making it out to be.

Unconstitutional (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39980685)

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Re:Unconstitutional (1)

Mathinker (909784) | about 2 years ago | (#39980797)

Frankly, it doesn't mean that much any more, it seems. So no matter what he thought it meant, you're probably right.

Cry me a river (3, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#39980585)

CALEA was basically a hand out to law enforcement, letting them sit back and eat doughnuts instead of going into the field when they need a wiretap. Now they are complaining that they do not get a similar hand out when it comes to the Internet, and dishonestly claiming that they do not want to revive the cryptowars? No thank you, FBI -- we are not going to give up secure communication systems or plant backdoors all over the Internet just because you long for the "good old days" when wiretapping-on-demand was enough to violate our privacy.

Re:Cry me a river (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 2 years ago | (#39980691)

too late. the big carrier grade comms companies (you know, the ones with the C and J as their first company letter) already have a rape-fest in providing back doors to 'law enforcement' (and I use that term VERY loosely given how irresponsible they are).

wire tapping, data collection, even hardware based pattern triggering and trapping. its all part of modern comms gear. little known secret: you can't SELL (in some sense, even develop) gear unless its wiretap friendly.

we have already lost this war. the vendors are rolling over (have been for over 10 years) and they like the money they get from selling to spooks and enabling their spy-fests.

laws or not, the vendors have been given the message and they seem actually HAPPY about it. go figure ;(

Re:Cry me a river (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#39981135)

'Wiretap friendly'?

"Hey baby, wanna come over to my one time pad? I've gone some new insulated alligator clips that you ought to see."

Oh for the Cold War (5, Funny)

AnaxagorasZ (2573529) | about 2 years ago | (#39980599)

I miss the days back when the only reason that our righteous free country would spy on our citizens or suspend our rights was to try to catch people working for evil governments who did things like spy on their own citizens and violate their rights. Back when it was easy to tell who were the good guys and who were the bad guys.

Re:Oh for the Cold War (4, Interesting)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 2 years ago | (#39980663)

The 24 hour news cycle did not create the machinations we now see exposed. They have always been there, it only seems magnified because we see more now. The FBI has ALWAYS spied on us extra-judiciously. From day one it was built, its purpose is to catalog and amass information about the american citizenry. Just read the first 2 paragraphs of J. Edgar Hoover's wiki if you have any doubt at all. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J_edgar_hoover [wikipedia.org]

Re:Oh for the Cold War (2)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 2 years ago | (#39980693)

Back when it was easy to tell who were the good guys and who were the bad guys.

Well, if you run out of one set of bad guys, you need to find or create a new set, right?

Re:Oh for the Cold War (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39980771)

Using the same criteria, we can still tell who the bad guys are.

With all these small chips... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39980615)

With all these small chips in our Civil Liberties and the growth of Government power and surveillance, does anyone get this feeling that maybe a couple of decades from now, folks will be looking back and shaking theirs heads and saying, "If we only knew back then that it would come to this."

Re:With all these small chips... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 2 years ago | (#39980719)

I'd rather guess they will look at the communist countries of the days of yore and ponder why exactly we first fought and then copied them.

How's this for an idea? (4, Interesting)

gman003 (1693318) | about 2 years ago | (#39980653)

First, the FBI gets a warrant for a particular "wiretap". This should be absolutely mandatory for what I'm about to propose.

Then, off a specific warrant, they go to whichever company the warrant lists, and either:

a) Install a packet-sniffer in front of the web server, logging everything to disk, which is then physically taken by the FBI as evidence - just like a conventional phone wiretap. This avoids the whole "anyone could use the backdoor" - if "anyone" can install hardware on the network, the 'security' is already broken so badly I had to use scare quotes.

or

b) go to the company, literally add code on a case-by-case basis to log a particular set of user's actions. This could include real-time alerts, if necessary. Oh, and the FBI is either the one doing the coding, or they pay standard rates for the service's programmers to do the job. This, again, avoids the security issue implicit to a government-mandated backdoor, by moving the "backdoor" from the computer level to the organizational level. It also does privacy better than a), because by being in the application layer instead of the network layer, it can be smart enough to only log the suspected users, not everyone.

This seems totally reasonable. The FBI gets the data they need (face it, there are always going to be times when they're justified in listening in on "private" communications), the internet companies only have to do anything if there's actually enough of a case for a warrant, there's no backdoors for a hacker to exploit, and, if the judges do their job right, everyone's privacy is maintained unless there's enough evidence to justify violating it.

And thus, by being at least mostly reasonable, it is guaranteed to not happen this way.

Re:How's this for an idea? (1)

mmmmbeer (107215) | about 2 years ago | (#39980697)

You can't expect people to agree to a reasonable compromise without completing the fighting and name-calling stages first.

Re:How's this for an idea? (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 2 years ago | (#39980877)

Its not reasonable. Private enterprise should not have to bear the burden of doing law enforcement's job. We should not be telling people how to build systems so that the FBI can track it easier, that is an undue burden from the state. This is a situation that the FBI cant win unless they rig the game and suspend a lot of civil liberties. The end game here is full panopticon and then everyone encrypting everything. Anyone skilled in modern communication systems can craft messages that would be IMPOSSIBLE to detect because the noise-to-signal ratio is astronomically high, hardware is dirt cheap, and anonymous access points are easily available.

They want this to spy on everyone and not be bothered with things like civil liberties.

Re:How's this for an idea? (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about 2 years ago | (#39981103)

Where, exactly, did you get "private business bearing the burden of law enforcement" from what I wrote?

The FBI would either a) install a relatively simple network device themselves, requiring at most a few minutes downtime, b) write some basic logging code themselves, or c) compensate the private-enterprise-programmers for doing (b).

Re:How's this for an idea? (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 2 years ago | (#39981153)

You forget the burden of not being able to design systems that do not include their technology. If I want to design a completely secure and anonymous system, i cant because the FBI wants to be able to see everything. The idea that every communication avenue MUST be able to be wiretapped is abhorrent in the extreme.

Re:How's this for an idea? (4, Interesting)

gman003 (1693318) | about 2 years ago | (#39981287)

Look, if it's a data stream, you can record it. I'm not saying everyone should have an API that the FBI can use. I'm not saying we need to record absolutely everything so the FBI can look at it.

What I'm saying is that if the FBI needs to record something and they have enough evidence to get a warrant, they can come in and write their own damn code to log it, we'll put it on the server for as long as the court order says, and then as soon as they're gone we revert the code back to the way it was. Or, the FBI can log every packet themselves, and *they* get the fun task of sifting through billions of TCP packets to find the ones used by Ahmed ibn Badguy.

And if the system *is* anonymous-by-design, well, "that's literally impossible" is generally considered a valid reason to refuse a warrant. I know if the FBI knocked on my door and handed me a warrant for "whatever is 40km beneath the property" and a shovel, I'd call up the judge and tell him that, unfortunately, the laws of science trump even the US Constitution.

Re:How's this for an idea? (1)

catmistake (814204) | about 2 years ago | (#39981505)

The suggestions in this thread sound like a pain in the ass. If the metaphor is a phone tap, wouldn't it be a shitton easier, if the warrant is granted, just to install surveillance software on the computer of the person of interest? Unless the suspect is using internet cafe's, another suggestion is to install hardware at the suspect's location, between the suspects router and the Internet, logging everything. I never remember hearing about where the detectives get their phone tap warrant, and then have to install software on the phone company's digital telecommunication switches hoping to catch the suspects calls; I'd expect, they just tap the line, or clone the cell phone, and record all communication.

The FBI needs competant technical consultants, not ridiculous and mythical backdoors on servers and operating systems.

Re:How's this for an idea? (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about 2 years ago | (#39981609)

Well, there's a lot of reasons.

First, installing something on the suspect's computer *generally* can't be done stealthily. If the FBI knocked on my door, handed me a warrant, and installed spyware on my computer, I sure as hell won't be doing anything even slightly suspicious on my own computers - a quick hop to the library, or to a friend's house, and then use *theirs*.

They may also not know where the person is. Say they're trying to catch Steve McBadguy, who's "on the run". They know he tends to log in to his Facebook from public computers while he makes his way towards some country with no extradition laws. They could put a tap on every public computer between here and Uzbekistan*, or they could put a tap on one specific Facebook account. I believe I speak for everyone when I say the latter is better for *everyone* - more privacy for us, and less work for the FBI.

* Fact: The United States does not have an extradition treaty with Uzbekistan.

Re:How's this for an idea? (3, Informative)

sir-gold (949031) | about 2 years ago | (#39982639)

the FBI can install spyware on a computer just as stealthily as they can bug a room.

Re:How's this for an idea? (1)

catmistake (814204) | about 2 years ago | (#39982699)

the FBI can install spyware on a computer just as stealthily as they can bug a room.

I agree completely. They've been in the domestic stealth business for a good long time now, and have quite a bit of stealth capital, over half a century's worth, way more than any gang, which has none, or some arrogant crew of thieves that think they're invisible. What's new here is the computer software and hardware technology, and its seems kind of obvious the individuals (if not the FBI itself) in charge fear computer technology like its black magic. If they'd just hire a damn competant consultant, hopefully a patriot, if not a convicted hacker, they wouldn't need stealth and no one would need to enter anyone's room. In the easiest option I can think of, all they'd need is the suspect's email and a decent clever phishing attack: spoof someone in their addressbook, "dood... someone posted your picture on facebook... wtf? [LINK]." -- and they're pwned.

Re:How's this for an idea? (2)

Adrian Lopez (2615) | about 2 years ago | (#39980907)

... go to the company, literally add code on a case-by-case basis to log a particular set of user's actions.

If I were running an online service I wouldn't want the FBI coming in and adding their own code to mine. If the FBI wants any of the data on my system then let them either get a subpoena that I can execute with a certain degree of deliberation (see here [sparkfun.com] for one example), or a search warrant that allows them access to all of the data named therein. No need for the FBI to install special code that is potentially just as dangerous as a backdoor.

Perhaps, the question is .... (1)

PPH (736903) | about 2 years ago | (#39980681)

... were the surveillance capabilities that the FBI used to have appropriate? The fourth amendment of our Constitution protects an individual against searches and seizures without a warrant. A warrant that describes what is to be seized and from where. I don't think our founding fathers had anything like sitting and listening for a conversation (or other communication) in mind. Particularly since it is impossible to describe in a warrant an event that hasn't happened or a record that hasn't been created yet.

End fishing expeditions.

Let's not forget what this is really about (5, Informative)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 2 years ago | (#39980689)

The FBI can get a warrant if they've got evidence, but they want to snoop without them.

Does Not Add Up (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39980695)

If they can already tap a broadband connection, they can see all the data anyway. Backdoors will only lead to people moving to TOR or something similar. Its only a quick download these days.

Information wants to be free (1)

biodata (1981610) | about 2 years ago | (#39980713)

Who would have thought the FBI will help by mandating a backdoor that will free all information for everyone once it's hacked?

Transient vs Persistent Data (2)

Adrian Lopez (2615) | about 2 years ago | (#39980743)

The purpose of wiretaps is to capture information that is transient in nature and therefore lost after transmission. Online services are a different beast altogether, the data being more permanent in nature and therefore better suited to the traditional subpoena / search warrant model. Building surveillance capabilities into online services is like building surveillance capabilities into people's homes: invasive and unnecessary.

FBI = tool of the police state. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39980761)

The FBI is not the "friend" of the average person.

The FBI is a tool government uses to retain power.

The FBI can and will lie, fabricate evidence, and engage in all sorts
of illegal behavior in order to achieve a goal.

If you trust the FBI is interested in doing anything for your benefit as a
private individual, you honestly have no idea what the FBI is really about.

All this crap the government is trying to feed us about how we need to sacrifice
freedoms in order to be safe from terrorism is complete and utter bullshit.

The government KNOWS a lot of people are fed up with how the show is being run,
and it is ready and willing to take extreme measures in order to retain its power.
The FBI is one of the tools which will be used to that end.

Missing the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39980773)

Actually, what's happened is that we peaked in availability. There was a point in the past where no one would have any idea how to get a hold of information about your whereabouts or if you put an envelope in a drop box two cities over with no return address it was as good as anonymous.

From 1996 to 2006...ish people started using the internet for a lot of stuff, and they did it largely unencrypted. Recent years have marked a shift towards encrypting everything (google using https for gmail by default and others), and because it's no longer as easy to analyse traffic patterns or see exactly what people are doing, they are worried it will go back to how it was: hard to track.

It's not that it will go dark, it's that it will once again become difficult. And frankly? That's fine. Right now we don't need more people watching us, we need people protecting us from the watchers.

America .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39981133)

Land of the free.

Unless you're a terrorist. Only problem being that everyone is a potential terrorist, so best treat everyone with suspicion.

uh-oh (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 years ago | (#39981253)

Privacy Advocates Protest FBI Warning of 'Going Dark' In Online Era

Everybody knows once you go dark, you never go back.

Dear FBI... (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#39981327)

Good luck. I can, right now have a heavily encrypted communication with several people over the internet that you will not be able to decrypt when the information is the most valuable to you. This is your own fault. You did not pressure Congress to fund the Sciences heavily to make sure we had the best and brightest here in the USA working for you. Instead you let them go off on their hunt on the constitution. You let the Fear engine get away from you and let the CIA have the ball with their Terrorism Bogeyman.

Now it's too late. Even a 13 year old kid in a basement has the tools he needs to make a secure encrypted communication channel that would take you months or even years to crack. Long after it was valuable to do so.

Want to fix it? Go to congress and scare the bejesus out of them, Get them to dump 20 to 30% of the Defense budget into Science and research. If we start now you can get back on top in about 10 to 15 years. It is the only way. If you dont, the bad guys will win. Get off your asses and scare the shit out of congress to get the funding, because if you actually talk to them like they were educated men, you will be wasting your time.

The only plots they foiled were their own (2)

kawabago (551139) | about 2 years ago | (#39981339)

Since the only domestic plots the FBI foiled were ones they set up themselves, the military recently killed foreigners planning attacks from the middle east so I think we really don't have to worry that much about terrorism. People on planes have shown that they will react and subdue a would-be terrorist so that isn't a big concern. As far as I can tell, the whole terrorist ball of wax is just a make work project for law enforcement much like the war on drugs.

Isn't this "A Good Thing -tm"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39981635)

"the FBI's argument that the massive shift of communications from the telephone system to the Internet 'has made it far more difficult for the agency to wiretap Americans suspected of illegal activities.'"

Or, exactly as DARPA intended it to be!

can't they just get the data from the NSA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39981729)

I mean, NSA already scans E V E R Y T H I N G on the internet. Let's consolidate our loss of privacy once and for all...

Veterans Prosthetic Implants (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39981753)

A pianist is walking around with two chips in his head, in order to be able to open his hands again.

Other people have eye-chips, hippocmpus, ... all sorts of things all over.

Should anyone have the power to control you like a THX1138 cop?

Someone needs to ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39981807)

Someone needs to call these assholes (FBI/Federal Gov/Politicians) out for what they are. Traitors. Traitors to their country. Traitors to their oath. Traitors to their constituents.

Because that is what they are.

All for nothing! (2)

Shavano (2541114) | about 2 years ago | (#39982077)

If you really want to keep your communications from the FBI, you can still always use a third-party local, secure ecryption system that the government can't easily crack. So they'll end up knowing anything they want to know about the people who don't think they have anything worth hiding from the government and NOTHING about whatever communications you choose to hide from their scrutiny. Well, they might know when it occured and maybe with whom, but they won't be able to crack the content. And if enough people object to their prying eyes, they'll find that they've driven most communications to use an ecryption method that neither they nor their proxies can crack in any reasonable time, so there will be a huge volume of "suspect" data: so much that they can't tell the difference between routine chats between business partners and chats between members of a terrorist cell discussing their evil schemes.

The internet is more than a phoneline (1)

sir-gold (949031) | about 2 years ago | (#39982589)

Allowing the FBI to wiretap the phone system was, at most, a minor inconvienience. Allowing tapping of the Internet is a much larger violation of privacy

Because phone taps had a physical location, you could control exactly who had access to it, just by securing the building.
Internet taps have no such limits, "secure" FBI accounts can be stolen and passwords can be hacked and nobody would even know until it was far too late

The only time a phone tap can "spy" on you is when you are on the phone, and we only really use the phone to talk to other people.
The internet on the other hand, is always on and contains multitudes more information than a simple phone call, including things that the police would normally need a separate warrant to look at, like the contents of your personal diary (on cloud storage) or a live video feed of the inside of your house.

Internet taps also remove the burden of individual warrants, With a phone tap you could only tap and record the single line that the warrant covers. The type of broad internet taps the FBI wants would be the equivalent of permanently tapping and recording every line at the exchange, and saving the recordings "just in case"

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