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The Age of Technological Transparency

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the turn-off-chat-logging dept.

173

endychavez writes "Executives and politicians may be starting to realize that privacy is dead and secrets can no longer be kept in the information age. There is always a technological trail, and transparency is pervasive. Just ask Patricia Dunn and Mark Foley. In a piece at eWeek, Ed Cone from CIO Insight talks about the specific technologies that brought them down." From the article: "Foley may have thought his IMs were disappearing into the ether as soon as they cleared his computer screen. Instead, the messages were saved, and his career was ruined, and the House leadership is left to fight for survival. We talk a lot a about transparency as a virtue in the age of the web, and hold it up as a marketing technique and a better way to run an enterprise. Sun's blogging CEO, Jonathan Schwartz, is lobbying the SEC to allow more financial information to be disclosed online. Corporations are using all manner of web-techs to speak more directly to stakeholders. But transparency needs to be understood as more than a slogan or a strategy. It's a reality. It can be imposed on you by the Internet, whether you want to be transparent or not."

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173 comments

Privacy is a myth (4, Informative)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#16326923)

There is no guarantee of privacy anywhere in the Constitution- only a requirement that the evidence gathered can't be used against you in court.

It were a gentlemen's agreement. (1)

FatSean (18753) | more than 7 years ago | (#16326963)

Expectation of privacy was cobbled together by judicial decisions I believe. You are right, it is not enumerated in the Constitution.

They took it from us. They tricked the gullible majority with that old canard: "Sure, it gives the gov't the power to really fuck you up...but don't worry...we'll only use this power against 'bad guys'".

Re:Privacy is a myth (1)

Weston O'Reilly (1008937) | more than 7 years ago | (#16326981)

Did the article claim there is? A bit off topic (like the parent), but why are people always so quick to drag that observation out? Of course there's no "right" to privacy. Does that mean a completely transparent society is a *good* thing? It's legal to lie to your mother too - but should you?

Re:Privacy is a myth (2, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327371)

Now, it's been six or seven years since I last read the US Constitution (I'm British, so it doesn't directly affect me), but I seem to recall that the Bill of Rights made it very clear that it was not an enumeration of all rights that individuals had. If I remember history correctly, there was some dispute amongst the founding fathers as to whether it should be included at all, since people might start saying 'the Bill of Rights doesn't guarantee your right to X, so you don't have that right.'

Re:Privacy is a myth (2, Insightful)

Zenaku (821866) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327479)

God damn right. Why is it that the Brits understand our Constitution better than most Americans? The bill of rights is NOT an exhaustive enumeration of all rights, and a right can exist without being listed there. The bill of rights is merely a list of those rights the founding father's were specifically concerned enough to protect with a written "guarantee." (In quotes because it seems they no longer apply).

I'm getting tired of hearing "there is no such right" because the constitution doesn't specifically call it out. It doesn't have to.

Please note that nowhere in the Bill of Rights are you guaranteed the right not to be murdered, or the right to bear children, or the right to learn to read. That doesn't mean you don't have those rights.

Re:Privacy is a myth (3, Informative)

jfengel (409917) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327645)

There's an explicit statement that "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people." (the tenth amendment).

Unfortunately, that's been rendered effectively null by a vigorous reading of the Commerce Clause, "The Congress shall have Power ... to regulate Commerce ... among the several States". (Ellipses are for clarity, not to torture the syntax.)

Just about everything has been crammed into that. The original civil rights laws were justified on the idea that merchants have to sell you stuff no matter what your race because you might be from out of state (Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States et al. (1964)). California's in-state medical marijuana laws were overturned because legal marijuana, even in-state, affects the flow of marijuana elsewhere (marijuana being a fungible commodity).

So you can pretty much stick a fork in the idea that the 10th Amendment reserves you any rights that Congress can't take away. There are other places where you might derive a right to privacy (say, Amendment IV, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated"), but Amendment X won't help.

Re:Privacy is a myth (2, Informative)

Homology (639438) | more than 7 years ago | (#16328105)

> So you can pretty much stick a fork in the idea that the 10th Amendment reserves you any rights that Congress can't take away.

Exactly, it was proved once again when Military Commissions Act 2006 [zmag.org] was passed: rollback habeas corpus, use torture, and provide immunity for US officials from torture prosecution.

Re:Privacy is a myth (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 7 years ago | (#16328289)

Well, that one's still got the Supreme Court to get past. There's a chance that that it will be ruled unconstitutional, at least to the degree that it applies to Americans. But non-citizens never had any rights under the Constitution.

They do have some rights under the Geneva Convention, which is the law of the land of the US, and it's possible that the Supreme Court could find the two laws incompatible and chuck the Military Commissions Act. But you won't find that out for at least two years; the wheels of justice grind pretty damn slow.

Re:Privacy is a myth (1)

Dr Damage I (692789) | more than 7 years ago | (#16328705)

Signatories to the geneva conventions are bound by the geneva conventions even when engaged in conflict with a non signatory until the non signatory violates the conventions see third geneva convention wiki (article 2) [wikipedia.org]

I submit that the following acts constitute violations of the geneva conventions:

  • cutting off the heads of prisoners
  • not bearing arms openly
  • the failure of combatants to wear a mark, identifiable at a distance identifying them as such
  • not having a chain of command in which officers are responsible for the actions of subordinates

Insisting that the US remains bound by the Geneva conventions in its conflict with Al-Quaeda and its allies not only is not supported by the Geneva conventions but actively undermines the provisions of the Geneva conventions by removing the incentives created within the conventions for adhering to them.

Re:Privacy is a myth (1)

symbolic (11752) | more than 7 years ago | (#16329127)

How does it define "signatory"? If al quaeda isn't eligible to become a signatory (and I seriously doubt that it is), then your suggestion that the US is not bound might well be inaccurate.

Second, if this is already a part of the Geneva Convention, then why the need for all of this rediculous legislation?

Finally, I might point out - that the US erroneously decide (via it's commander-in-chief) that it is above the Geneva Convention, and pass all manner of laws to codify it - the fact is that with respect to the Geneva Convention, the US is a participant in an international theatre - As far as the rest of the world is concerned, it may still decide that the US is bound - local laws notwithstanding.

To illustrate your point (2, Funny)

megaditto (982598) | more than 7 years ago | (#16328609)

I regret to say that we of the FBI are powerless to act in the cases of oral-genital intimacy unless it has in some way obstructed the interstate commerce.

J. Edgar Hoover

Re:Privacy is a myth (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16327053)

That is incorrect.

The Bill of Rights is explicitly written to define government invasions of privacy illegal (mainly in the Fourth Amendment).

It says nothing about being "used against you in court." This is merely the means courts employ to limit, in practice, the abuse of such illegally collected information. Nonetheless, it is the unreasonable search and seizure itself which is Constitutionally forbidden.

Re:Privacy is a myth (3, Insightful)

Irish_Samurai (224931) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327253)

While I am all for privacy rights, I must ask the question. Are we entering an age where unreasonable Search and Seizure isn't required anymore to commit acts that the population perceives as an invasion of their privacy? Is it now possible for passive and non intrusive observation to yeild the same results? If so, do we need to define our privacy or attempt to limit passive observation?

Re:Privacy is a myth (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 7 years ago | (#16328475)

"Are we entering an age where unreasonable Search and Seizure isn't required anymore to commit acts that the population perceives as an invasion of their privacy?"

No. It's still unreasonable.

Re:Privacy is a myth (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#16328977)

That wasn't the question. The question is, have we now advanced technologically to a point where unreasonable searches and seizures are totally unneccessary, because all information about you is already in the public sphere rather than the private sphere?

I believe it is more complicated than you make it. (5, Informative)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327085)

http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/c onlaw/rightofprivacy.html [umkc.edu]

It starts off:

"The U. S. Constitution contains no express right to privacy. The Bill of Rights, however, reflects the concern of James Madison and other framers for protecting specific aspects of privacy, such as the privacy of beliefs (1st Amendment), privacy of the home against demands that it be used to house soldiers (3rd Amendment), privacy of the person and possessions as against unreasonable searches (4th Amendment), and the 5th Amendment's privilege against self-incrimination, which provides protection for the privacy of personal information. In addition, the Ninth Amendment states that the "enumeration of certain rights" in the Bill of Rights "shall not be construed to deny or disparage other rights retained by the people." The meaning of......"

Ninth Amendment: "I don't get no respect." (4, Interesting)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327299)

This is a good point.

I think what it boils down to is this: the Constitution isn't an exclusive document. It wasn't intended to mean, "everything is illegal, except for a few certain things." They enumerated the really big important stuff that they thought the Government needed to avoid, but they weren't giving Congress a carte blanche to trample on the other rights that people had always assumed that they had.

Unfortunately, the Ninth Amendment doesn't seem to get a whole lot of respect from the USSC or anybody else. It pretty much gets ignored; rather than drawing on the "pneumbra" and other IMO shaky legal arguments, I think it would have safe to just say 'hey, people have always had a certain right to privacy, therefore it's protected under the Ninth Amendment.' That makes it harder to chisel away at established freedoms, even if they weren't one of the top eight that made it into enumerated Amendments, or into the body of the Constitution itself.

Re:Ninth Amendment: "I don't get no respect." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16328165)

Perhaps the framers of the U.S. constitution should have used the approach of the British, namely: Rather than enumerating your rights, everything is considered legal except for when a law makes something illegal.

Bill of rights? We don't need no stinkin' bill of rights .

Re:Ninth Amendment: "I don't get no respect." (2, Insightful)

Pentavirate (867026) | more than 7 years ago | (#16329015)

Perhaps the framers of the U.S. constitution should have used the approach of the British, namely: Rather than enumerating your rights, everything is considered legal except for when a law makes something illegal.
They did. The bill of rights was merely a list of rights that the founders deemed so important that even the government couldn't make them illegal.

You have to be careful with the attitude that we have rights that aren't innumerated in the constitution because pragmatically anyone can misconstrue anything into a right (ie, I have a right to kill my kids because, as my father used to say, "I brought you into this world and I can take you out!"). The vehicle that was supposed to prevent congress from making laws against rights was voting them out of office. If a majority of people want everyone to have a right to a certain amount of privacy, than they shouldn't vote for people that would vote for those kinds of laws. Now you can argue how effective this vehicle is, but it doesn't change how the system was set up to work.

Re:Ninth Amendment: "I don't get no respect." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16329063)

Perhaps the framers of the U.S. constitution should have used the approach of the British, namely: Rather than enumerating your rights, everything is considered legal except for when a law makes something illegal.

The point of the US Constitution is not to describe what things citizens can or cannot do. Rather, it defines how the federal government works and what it is allowed to do.

That's part of the reason why the Constitution did not originally include a Bill of Rights. Alexander Hamilton's argument for that strategy is here. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Privacy is a myth (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16327233)

The Bill of Rights only lists a few rights that the founding fathers thought might most explicitly need writing down. They were very clear about not wanting people to become confused (or to be lied to) and think that the Bill of Rights enumerates the only rights they have. That's why it was reluctantly added as a set of amendments, rather than made a part of the main body. Please read the Federalist papers and other historical documents of the time.

Personal privacy is a natural right. Courts didn't just "make it up" any more than they might "make up" that you have a right to breathe. Some rights were considered by the founders to be so obvious that no reasonable legislature or court would infringe on them.

Government does not grant you rights. Rights come from right. Or if you prefer, truth, nature, or God. Government only restricts rights and/or takes them away.

The often repeated claim that "the right to privacy is nowhere in the constitution" advertises a deep ignorance of consitutional law by those who claim it.

Re:Privacy is a myth (2, Insightful)

thefirelane (586885) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327313)

There is no guarantee of privacy anywhere in the Constitution- only a requirement that the evidence gathered can't be used against you in court.

Only on /. would something this dumb be said. The constitution is not a computer program: "gee, you're right... you don't actually have a right to air"

So you're telling me the MLK's rights were not violated when the FBI threatened him with the release of his personal activities if he didn't do what the government said? Please.

It's simple, actually (1)

Travoltus (110240) | more than 7 years ago | (#16328759)

Privacy falls under the definition of 'life, liberty and pursuit of happiness'.

It may not be removed without due process and probable cause - defined as a) conviction of a crime; or b) you're actually suspected of a crime.

Re:Privacy is a myth (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#16329025)

Given the advance of technology to peer into every possible aspect of your life without a physical search, where does this mythical right exist?

Re:Privacy is a myth (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327421)

What?
Is your understanding of the constitution really that shallow?

Re:Privacy is a myth (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#16329087)

No, my understanding of language and technology is that great. It appears this so-called "right to privacy" was invented in the 1970s, and a little more than 30 years later, technology has advanced to the point where private spaces and private information have been de facto wiped out.

Re:Privacy is a myth (1)

regular_gonzalez (926606) | more than 7 years ago | (#16328067)

One could argue that it can be inferred from the 9th Amendment. However, one not even need stretch the point that far. The Supreme Court found an implicit Constitutional 'right to privacy' during Roe v. Wade.

The decision, written by Justice Harry Blackmun and based on the residual right of privacy [infoplease.com], struck down dozens of state antiabortion statutes.

Re:Privacy is a myth (1)

evil_Tak (964978) | more than 7 years ago | (#16328735)

Don't worry, it's only a matter of time until Roe v. Wade is overturned, and our (legal) right to privacy will go away again.

Re:Privacy is a myth (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#16329123)

Especially since it doesn't physically exist anymore anyway- it isn't THAT hard to get, say, your medical insurance records.

Re:Privacy is a myth (1)

Some_Llama (763766) | more than 7 years ago | (#16329175)

"There is no guarantee of privacy anywhere in the Constitution- only a requirement that the evidence gathered can't be used against you in court."

Can someone please mod this down into oblivion where it belongs? Plenty of supporting posts for downmodding in reply to this thread.

It just irks me that dis-(or just bad)information is being posted as the frist post.

Filtering (5, Insightful)

TheRecklessWanderer (929556) | more than 7 years ago | (#16326945)

Anything that catches stupid people is good. I used to tell people years ago, when I ran a computer store: "Don't put anything on the internet that you wouldn't be comfortable shouting across a crowded room." How hard is that to understand? If you can't figure that out, you have no business running a huge conglomerate like HP. Man, oh man.

Re:Filtering (1)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327189)

That's an oversimplification... so maybe that's why people find it "hard to understand". If I'm on my *personal* computer and I instant message a friend, I have an understanding that the content is destined to travel directly from point A (my IP address) to point B (the receiver's IP address). Yes, it will travel through other people's routers and networks on the way, but it's generally assumed that such traffic isn't subject to review by humans, in-transit.

Chatting over IM on the net is much more like carrying on a one-on-one conversation with somebody in an empty room, with the door closed. Could someone be eavesdropping with their ear against the door, or even spying with a hidden microphone in the room? Of course... but we regularly make the assumption that they're not. It's just not practical to go to great lengths to assure privacy in most cases. "Good enough" really is good enough in many situations.

Re:Filtering (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327349)

IM isn't point to point. It passes through a central IM server, which normally logs everything. Running a public IM server (AIM, MS IM) is a fantastic intelligence tool...

Re:Filtering (1)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327957)

First off, it doesn't have to. I've had IM chats where we established a "direct connect" type of chat session, bypassing any central server. It's just like doing the old /DCC CHAT command in IRC.

But even when it does, I still maintain that users should expect a reasonable level of privacy. If nothing else, through simple obscurity - because millions of sessions are flowing through a major IM service's servers each day. What are the chances your particular chat is being read by a 3rd. party? (I would hope that a respectable IM service hosted by a major company like Yahoo or Microsoft would have polices punishing employees who manually sifted through chat sessions and viewed them, too.)

Re:Filtering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16328215)

Your argumentation is flawed. "There are billion of webpages in Googles index. What is the chance that you pick just the one you picked." Add keyword scanning or fulltext indices and that 3rd party may find what interrests him, and if thats you...

Re:Filtering (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 7 years ago | (#16328423)

"I still maintain that users should expect a reasonable level of privacy."

Regardless of what they may expect, they're not going to get it unless they use reasonably solid encryption.

Got a secret? Don't put it in plaintext.

Incomplete analogy (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327651)

...and you are both carrying tape recorders, which you may or may not be aware of, may or may not know how to operate, and may or may not stay under your control for the indefinite future.

The point is that, whether you *expect* privacy in an IM conversation is irrelevant - unless you take certain active precautions, the data IS being recorded and CAN be accessed by others (not necessarily the govt.)

If someone violates your expectation of privacy they may be rude, immoral, illegal, or evil. That doesn't mean you are not a fool for allowing the data to exist to begin with. If I walk through the worst part of DC at night and get mugged, the muggers are criminals - but I am still stupid. I'd rather be careful and safe than self righteous (sp?) and vulnerable.

Re:Filtering (0, Flamebait)

hotdiggitydawg (881316) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327903)

If I'm on my *personal* computer and I instant message a friend, I have an understanding that the content is destined to travel directly from point A (my IP address) to point B (the receiver's IP address). Yes, it will travel through other people's routers and networks on the way, but it's generally assumed that such traffic isn't subject to review by humans, in-transit.

Garbage - there are plenty of IM services that are not peer-to-peer. And even if they are, you can bet that such traffic IS subject to review by humans. Ever heard of tcpdump or ethereal?

Sorry, but even Sen. Stevens has a better understanding of the net than you - at least he worked out it was a series of tubes. Chatting over IM is more like sending someone a postcard in another country. You're trusting the the postal staff at both ends (and the convicted fraudsters serving out their community service at the mail-sorting centres) not to do anything with the supplied information. If you send sensitive information that way, you're merely hoping that the signal gets lost among all the noise, and sooner or later you're gonna get burned. Security by obscurity does not work - security by trivial obscurity works even less.

Re:Filtering (1)

TheRecklessWanderer (929556) | more than 7 years ago | (#16328835)

It is an overslimplification, but that is the easiest way to describe it to end users. If you say, "well, probably no one will listen" then that is mostly correct". From what I read, the logs of the IM software was what was pulled, on the local machine, so anybody with logging turned on can have that happen to them if their hardware gets subpeoned (did I spell that right?). Your best protection from casual surveillance on the net is the sheer volume of IP traffic. But if someone is looking for you specifically, especially if they are connected to the right people, you are cooked. Come on, you know it's true. So, don't say anything on the net you aren't happy shouting across a crowded room.

Re:Filtering (1)

Pentavirate (867026) | more than 7 years ago | (#16329161)

It's also come to light that Foley's IM with the 18 year old former page was set up as something of a prank. The 18 year old kid was egging him on so that he could take the log and show his friends and laugh about it. Somewhere during the passing around, politicos got ahold of it and decided to use it against the congressman. As long as there is a log on either computer, you have no idea where your IM conversations are going to end up and who are going to read them. In fact, I regularly save tech support/customer support chat sessions in order to prove future failures were their fault should one occur.

Re:Filtering (2, Interesting)

vertinox (846076) | more than 7 years ago | (#16328173)

"Don't put anything on the internet that you wouldn't be comfortable shouting across a crowded room."

The problem with this is that companies are taking my information without consent and shouting it all day long over the PA system and bullhorns at a croweded Football stadium.

Most of this information I never put up on the internet myself... It wouldn't bother me other than the fact someone can take it and run my credit score into the ground and/or possibly get me arrested for things I didn't do.

Lessons Learned? (4, Funny)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#16326947)

There's a certain amount of irony in that the issue which gets the folks in Congress interested in technology, is watching one of their own get busted because he didn't understand that what he was sending over the "tubes" could be saved at either end.

I guess if you can't convince them that "knowledge is power," maybe we should work on "knowledge is not getting indicted."

Oh Crap (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16326951)

Does this mean all those chat room transcripts where I posed as an eighteen year-old 5'4" 110lb blonde cheerleader on AOL back in 1995 are still out there somewhere. . .?

Electronic trail (2, Interesting)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327013)

It's been happening for quite awhile. Nearly ten years ago, I had the displeasure of dealing with someone within our organization that was exploiting security holes to gain more access than they should have had. Once we were on to them, we were deluged with evidence - weblogs, files on the PC, program history, and more.

The moral of the story is stay squeaky clean, or assume that some day you'll have to pay the piper. Your wife could be looking at your browser history. Your e-mail could be hacked. Live life as if all your secrets were public knowlege.

It's strange to think that technology really could lead to a more moral society. Usually politicians are preaching the opposite.

Re:Electronic trail (1)

glhturbo (32785) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327369)

It's strange to think that technology really could lead to a more moral society

(SARCASM on)

What drove the videotape's use into the home: pr0n

What drive cable TV into the home: pr0n

What drive the Internet into the home: pr0n

What drove broadband into the home: pr0n

Technology NEVER will produce morality....

(SARCASM off)

Note to humor impaired: I'm not anti-pr0n, I just thought the sentence italicized above was hilarious....

Re:Electronic trail (1)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327837)

your wife could be looking at your browser history

If you cannot be honest with your wife, then change that or get a divorce.

Re:Electronic trail (1)

feepness (543479) | more than 7 years ago | (#16328223)

If you cannot be honest with your wife, then change that or get a divorce.

Spoken like someone with less than five years of marriage under their belt.

I can be perfectly honest with my wife. I'm just not interested in discussing how those pants make her butt look, or more specifically, discussing the incorrectness of my opinion of how those pants make her butt look.

Which is why the answer is always: "Just fine, sweetie. Just fine."

Blogging CEO? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16327049)

Sun's blogging CEO, Jonathan Schwartz

I wonder what Sun's non-blogging CEO has to say about this...

not just politicians and companies (1)

Keebler71 (520908) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327079)

I'd like to point out that it is not just the pols and corporations that are learning these lessons... The media as well has and will continue to be 'bit' by this. While they once held a monolpoly on information, recent doctored photos scandals (Lebanon), CBS (forged?) documents, etc.. have all placed added scrutiny to the media's analysis, sources and methods.

karma (1)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327099)

Foley may have thought his IMs were disappearing into the ether as soon as they cleared his computer screen. Instead, the messages were saved, and his career was ruined, and the House leadership is left to fight for survival.

Well, the bright side of all this is that it brings it home to these people that they need to understand how this technology works, because it's becoming a cornerstone of our society. Ted Stevens, for example, might actually take 5 minutes and find out how the intertubes actually works. (Hint: it's not a truck)

Re:karma (1)

Linux Ate My Dog! (224079) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327533)

The reverse hopefully might also happen: we will all learn that a humungous amount of people have secrets that are not currently socially sanctioned (fetishes, desires, habits, phobias, fears) and we could become a less puritanical and more understanding society as a result.

Many, many of the people wagging their fingers at Foley are probably also sighing in relief "At least they didn't find out about my...". Shame makes people suicidal, and act irrationally, and be vulnerable to blackmailers and abusive people. As a councellor I once worked with summarized: shame kills. Yes, a lot of us will experience shame as our secrtes are made public, but somewhere along the line there will be strength in numbers, and we as a society can move on from obsessing over details.

Where'd they get the IM records? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16327169)

Anyone have details regarding where they found the records of the IM conversations? I know this can be turned on, but I thought that it was generally off by default. The article mentioned that a fellow page helped newscasters get a hold of the conversations, but how?

Re:Where'd they get the IM records? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16327367)

It is my understanding that any online communication, whether email, or IM etc. is stored either on your system or the ISP's servers, or the cache servers (or all three). This is why web pages saved on Google's systems are available long after they are taken down by the original site. I friend was able to did up an email I sent him to his first website he put online in 1995. More than 10 years later he retrieved it.

I always say don't ever do or put anything online that you would not want the world to see. Because it will always be there.

Pre-guilt (1)

soundvessel (899042) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327171)

I don't want to defend the guy, but at this point we can't convict him and say "Foley may have thought his IMs were disappearing into the ether as soon as they cleared his computer screen. Instead, the messages were saved, and his career was ruined, and the House leadership is left to fight for survival." IMs can be forged, and the younger generation certainly knows how to forge an IM log. And the idea that multiple pages are reporting this says nothing of whether or not they collaborated on this, perhaps because they just didn't like the guy, or found him creepy.

Obviously his admissions so far don't bode well for him being innocent of the charges, but the media (and people in general) need to tone down the pre-guilt.

Re:Pre-guilt (1)

Aqua_boy17 (962670) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327345)

Well I would not want to defend him either, but his resignation in the middle of a re-election campaign could be considered a tacit admission of guilt by some.

That said, I've been amazed of the spin that the conservative media has been putting on this. For one thing, they're all questioning the timing and making this look like a liberal smear campaign. For another, why is everyone focused on outing the page instead of protecting the identity of someone who may have been a victim of sexual predation? Is this a campaign get to the truth or to discredit the source? Where are all of the conservatives yelling "won't someone think of the children?"

One thing is certain. It's a long way until November and the mud slinging is just starting on both sides.

Re:Pre-guilt (1)

soundvessel (899042) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327435)

I agree, it can be considered, at least in the public eye, as a tacit admission of guilt. But his resignation is all but executed the moment something like this comes out this close to an election. He could have been caught stealing staples from the office and have to resign. Nonetheless, it's not a legal admission of guilt.

Both conservative and liberal media have gone a little too far with this. I laughed at the Daily Show and Colbert Report, to be sure, but I almost felt guilty myself doing so.

Re:Pre-guilt (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327475)

Obviously his admissions so far don't bode well for him being innocent of the charges, but the media (and people in general) need to tone down the pre-guilt.

"Evidence of flight is evidence of guilt." Foley bolted as soon as the story broke on ABC Bews. No one -- not the Speaker of the House --- not Foley's own attorney --- has dared to challenge the authenticity of the IMs.

Re:Pre-guilt (1)

soundvessel (899042) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327527)

"Evidence of flight is evidence of guilt." Foley bolted as soon as the story broke on ABC Bews. No one -- not the Speaker of the House --- not Foley's own attorney --- has dared to challenge the authenticity of the IMs.

I definitely agree on the second point, no one has publically [I'm sure they are privately]. And someone (the media) should be. But that issue of protecting the minors also plays a huge role here.

As for the first point, just because it's a saying and is in quotes doesn't make it true. OJ Simpson took flight, but he was technically not guilty.

Re:Pre-guilt (1)

kupan787 (916252) | more than 7 years ago | (#16328121)

OJ Simpson took flight, but he was technically not guilty.

Probably the worst example you could have come up with. I think it is just about understood by everyone that OJ WAS guilty. I am sure there are a few people that take off running and aren't guilty, but why the hell would you do this. Why not come out publicly offering DNA or fingerprints if you know you didn't do it. Running is about the dumbest thing you could do.

Re:Pre-guilt (1)

soundvessel (899042) | more than 7 years ago | (#16328193)

I totally thought he was guilty, as a citizen. But what I thought doesn't mean anything in terms of whether or not he was guilty. Hence the use of "technically." And, likewise, I totally think Foley is guilty here. That doesn't mean a thing.

Re:Pre-guilt (1)

porkmusket (954006) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327501)

What the hell are you talking about? He's not going to trial, he's admitted what he did. The verdict is in, and he's guilty.

Re:Pre-guilt (1)

soundvessel (899042) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327643)

Show me the textual admission. Has he been booked in criminal court yet? Even if you're pleading guilty there's still a process to go through.

Did we learn NOTHING from the Sam Jain fiasco? (1)

bunions (970377) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327205)

honestly, those HP execs wouldn't have had all these troubles if they'd paid more attention to somethingawful and penny-arcade some years back.

Slashdot ACHING to cover Foley... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16327231)

The liberal burgeois editor tower of slashdot has been salivating over this story for so long...

They ache to be able to present it to the proletariate usersluts ....

Oh my ... news for nerds people... its not about Robots or Source Code anymore...

Its about another Marxist / MAOist front in the political war to control.

That's just the nature of information (1)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327241)

If you do enough shady crap long enough, you get caught eventually. You can be clever about it, but usually people get careless and/orinvolve one or more other parties.

If Folley had written letters to the boy on clay tablets or papyrus, using technology available at least since the age of the ancient Egyptians, he'd still have run the exact same risk. Because he would still have been acting like a creepy, hypocritical pedophile and still would have been committing statements proving that to a semi-permanent medium.

The basic problem is that people like to tell secrets and gossip, and so information leaks out. They drink and they brag, they're indiscreet, often they're outright stupid. We've had the exact same character flaw for a million years: we just cant shut up. It just gets disseminated more quickly now.

Re:That's just the nature of information (1)

DeadManCoding (961283) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327823)

While I agree that most people don't realize that their mouth is flapping when it's not supposed to be, not all of the human race has that problem. I realize it's an oxy moron, but some military positions do require a security clearance, which basically states that you can keep your mouth shut. Having been through the process myself, I can tell you that it's not easy. I was actually denied my security clearance due to personal reasons. Long story short, some people can keep their mouths shut, but meeting those people is far and few between.

The pretext is nonsense. (4, Insightful)

Jerk City Troll (661616) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327319)

... [S]ecrets can no longer be kept in the information age. There is always a technological trail, and transparency is pervasive.

That is silly.

Such a statement is analogous to declaring security dead because systems have been compromised in the past. Like security, the means to privacy must and are continuing to evolve. Adoption of these mechanisms may be a bit behind the curve, but that in no way means that privacy is “dead” for anyone or everyone. In the past, rotational cyphers, Enigma, and “security envelopes” were enough to keep your messages secure (for a while). These days, we have incredibly powerful tools for keeping our data private, we simply have to be willing to use them.

And that is happening. Who does not use strong encryption for conducting electronic commerce? Nobody. As for privacy in email and other forms of communication, eventually, after enough scandals like those recently at Hewlett-Packard, people will adapt to protect themselves. Then the baseline will be raised and those who would wish to violate privacy will resume efforts in advancing the sophistication of their tools. Then those on the privacy side will move on again. This cycle will repeat again and again.

Privacy is an arms race, in a manner of speaking, and just because privacy is behind at times in no way means that it is a lost cause.

Mod parent insightful (1)

Travoltus (110240) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327487)

Well said.

Now where are the Libertarians to oppose Government interference in the privacy/surveillance arms race?

*chirp* *chirp* *chirp* *chirp* *chirp*...

It doesn't matter if you delete your logs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16327427)

because they can be saved on the other side...

Re:It doesn't matter if you delete your logs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16327915)

you're blowing my mind!

Secrecy isn't dead. (2, Insightful)

Darlantan (130471) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327429)

Secrecy is no more dead than it has been for a long while. There are some people who just don't seem to understand the medium. Sending messages across the internet is not like passing a letter to a person across the table from you. It's more like passing a letter along through a chain of 20 people -- any of which can read it as they handle it. You don't send secret things that way, or if you do, there's this little thing called encryption that you might want to look into. Also, much like a letter, once it is out of your hands you can't gaurantee that it won't come up at some later time when you least want it to. Also, are you _sure_ you can trust the person you're communicating with? Can you even verify that you're talking with who you think you're talking to?

The same basic rules of secrecy that have always applied still apply today. First and foremost, if you want to keep something REALLY secret, keep it to yourself!

Privacy, however, is a different matter.

The chickens have returned home to roost (2, Funny)

Travoltus (110240) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327449)

The Republicans have spent so much time destroying our privacy and installing their surveillance state and now they have fallen victim to their own monster.

I suspect they will be huge champions of privacy after this.

Re:The chickens have returned home to roost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16328689)

The Republicans have spent so much time destroying our privacy and installing their surveillance state and now they have fallen victim to their own monster.

Thank Buddha that the Democrats have been working to protect our privacy [reason.com].

Or at least theirs. Like how Bill Clinton invited Ken Starr into his personal life [reason.com], and then whined about the unfairness of it afterwards?


REASON * April 1998

License to Grill
How the Clintons invited Ken Starr into their private lives.

By Virginia Postrel

Like just about everyone else in America, I believe Bill Clinton had a sexual affair--if not dictionary-definition "sexual relations"--with intern Monica Lewinsky. I think it's likely, though by no means a sure thing, that he lied about that affair in a sworn deposition. And I wouldn't put it past him to suborn perjury or obstruct justice, though the evidence at this writing is very murky on those serious charges.

The president has what is popularly known as a zipper problem. He appears to like the sort of women who are unlikely to head health care task forces or jet off to Davos, Switzerland, to lecture the world on the morally corrupting effects of capitalism. Given both power and charisma, Clinton seems to have ample opportunity to act on his impulses. And though it's unlikely that Lewinsky will be his final fling, he manages to hold his marriage together and even inspire ferocious loyalty in his wife. Power and charisma probably have something to do with that feat too.

Clinton also lies all the time--so much that he often appears unable to tell he's doing it. His State of the Union address was full of what Washington Post columnist James Glassman rightly calls "big, brazen, and undeniable" lies, starting with "two whoppers": that "we have the smallest government in 35 years" and that Clinton wants to spend any budget surplus on Social Security rather than new programs. The government has shrunk (modestly) by only one measure, the number of federal employees; it spends, taxes, and regulates more than ever. And Clinton is proposing so many new spending programs--without offsetting cuts--that he can't fund them without substantial new taxes on cigarettes and corporate income. Given his lies about policy, and about his past, it's not surprising that even his political allies disbelieve him about Monica Lewinsky.

Nonetheless, Clinton does not deserve his current round of legal troubles. To be publicly humiliated as a moral weakling, lacking both judgment and self-control--that he deserves. To be distrusted by both intimates and the general public--he deserves that too. But for sexual pecadillos and routine lies to lead to possible high crimes and misdemeanors takes more than just Clinton's personal flaws. It takes very bad policy.

There is one sense in which the president deserves what has happened to him: He and his political allies are the people who made it possible, who created the legal mechanisms by which his private life became a matter of public, legal record. In that bitter irony lies the one hopeful aspect of L'Affaire Monica. It may, finally, create a consensus to rein in legal excesses that threaten not just Bill Clinton but the liberties of all Americans. But if Republicans are seduced by scandal and Democrats by dreams of vengeance, it may make matters worse.

The "crisis in the White House" begins with the Independent Counsel Statute. From the start, many Republicans opposed that law for corroding the constitutional division of powers. Back then, of course, presidents were Republicans, so the opposition was easy to ascribe to partisan motives. But in 1994, when the statute was up for reauthorization, a Democrat was in the White House, and his party controlled Congress. The most vocal opposition still came from conservative Republicans, who turned out to be remarkably principled.

They were utterly unsuccessful. The reauthorized statute was passed by the Democratic Congress and signed by President Clinton. So, as columnist and former Bush speechwriter Tony Snow notes, the law still "compels courts to appoint an independent counsel whenever somebody produces a saucy rumor." Apparently trusting that their friends would always be the ones wielding it, Clinton and his allies left nearly unlimited power in the hands of special prosecutors. Whatever they may say today, they made Ken Starr possible.

All prosecutors prosecute. They are often quite fanatical about their jobs. They have minimal sympathy for the defendants they go after, and they can be quite ruthless in pursuing useful witnesses. But usually they have limits--of time, of staff, of money, of public patience. And they usually have bosses.

An independent counsel, by contrast, has infinite time, infinite resources, and no boss. And while each investigation is supposedly limited to a specific topic, those topics have a way of stretching like Mr. Fantastic. Starr's jump from Whitewater to allegations of perjury and obstruction of justice in the Paula Jones case is modest compared to the fishing expeditions by Donald Smaltz, the prosecutor who investigated former Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy on charges of taking gifts from regulated businesses.

As David Grann writes in a devastating New Republic piece, "Espy could be facing more than 100 years in prison for the appearance of impropriety, for simply taking gifts [without a quid pro quo]. To prove this, Donald Smaltz, the independent prosecutor, has spent more than three years and $11.9 million in taxpayers' money. He has trampled over witnesses who never even knew Espy, subpoenaed documents dating back to Jimmy Carter's term in office, and convicted a slew of low-level lobbyists and aides." All these actions, however abusive, have been well within the law. Independent counsels exercise power without accountability. No "vast, right-wing conspiracy" gave them that power. Democrats in love with government did.

That great affection for government power has expanded federal criminal law to make most Americans guilty of something. As Peter Morgan and Glenn Reynolds write in The Appearance of Impropriety: How the Ethics Wars Have Undermined American Government, Business, and Society, "Federal investigators and agency employees ask Americans about virtually everything these days. And virtually everything we say (sworn and unsworn, oral and written) is subject to federal criminal law. We remain relatively secure, however, because, again, federal prosecutors can't be bothered with prosecuting us...unless [we] amble a little further into the spotlight, questions are raised, and someone demands an investigation." (See "Good- Will Hunting," March.) Even if we survive such an investigation, it still costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend--a huge fine for the crime of angering one's political opponents.

The vast expansion of criminal law--something the president failed to bring up in his State of the Union address, lest it undercut his shrinking-government lie--is among the most important, and most threatening, trends of recent years. But Monicagate is not built on criminal law. It arises from the expansion of a civil offense: sexual harassment.

Media-savvy but legally unsophisticated liberal commentators
, such as radio talk show host Tom Leykis, make a passionate, and fairly persuasive, argument about Clinton's presumed affair: It may be bad, but it's a private matter. It's between Bill, Hillary, and Monica. It's none of our business. It certainly doesn't belong in court. "Why are we asking questions about the president's sex life?" asks Leykis. "Why is that relevant to anything? Why should the president be put in a position of having to lie about something that's none of our business in the first place?"

Why indeed? The tempting answer is, Because you asked for it. Demanded it. Screamed and yelled and waxed indignant. You dedicated the 1992 Democratic National Convention to the cause. Remember "The Year of the Woman"? It was a media frenzy. And the number one agenda item was a ban on any hint of sexuality in the workplace.

Writing cheap symbolism into real law is a dangerous thing to do. But Congress did it in 1994. Ratifying the view that sexual harassment is too serious a matter to be governed by normal legal constraints, the very same Democratic Congress that reauthorized the Independent Counsel statute rewrote the rules of evidence. The new rules allow a defendant's sexual history--not just previous allegations of harassment--to be dragged into sexual harassment suits. (The plaintiff's history, however, was made inadmissable.)

So the president of the United States can be asked, under oath, about his sex life. It doesn't matter if the sex was consensual or even if the woman made the first move. It doesn't have to be harassment; indeed, no one claims anything of the kind in
the Lewinsky case. But Congress chose to make every intimate detail fair game. And if, like many a cheating spouse, the president lies to cover up adultery, he is guilty of a serious crime--perjury, a potentially impeachable offense.


Appearing on the Today show, Hillary Clinton addressed herself to an audience of good-hearted political and legal innocents. As she solemnly described a "vast, right-wing conspiracy," her poised, serious, and righteous demeanor hid the paranoid lunacy that comes across in a flat transcript of her words. She portrayed herself and her husband as sympathetic victims of a fanatical prosecutor "who has literally spent four years looking at every telephone call we've made, every check we've ever written, scratching for dirt...."

Every telephone call they've made! Every check they've ever written! It's worse than an IRS audit. Think of the lawyers' bills. The poor Clintons. What a hellish experience, thought middle America.

Middle America was right. Having every aspect of your life interrogated by a lawyer digging for dirt is plenty terrible. It's awful that subpoenas can demand something as broad as a list of all the phone calls you've made in the past five years or every check you've ever written. There ought to be limits on such wide-ranging searches. And in most criminal investigations, subject to the usual constraints, there are.

But every day innocent people have to submit--under penalty of jail time--to such abusive demands. They aren't criminals, or even suspected criminals. They are just unlucky people caught up in civil suits: divorces, contract disputes, shareholder litigation, ordinary slip-and-fall cases. Sometimes they aren't even plaintiffs or defendants, but innocent bystanders who may have some knowledge of interest to the case. And, again, the Clintons and some of their most important political allies are firmly on the side of the abusers.

Thanks to the political clout of the plaintiffs bar, among the most generous of Democratic donors, there are virtually no limits on civil discovery. Trial lawyers can force you to answer just about any question in a sworn deposition, with no judge present to deflect intrusive irrelevancies. They can force you to take drug tests or to be examined by a psychiatrist. Since 1970, they've had the right to demand any private papers they want.

In a frightening chapter of The Litigation Explosion, Walter Olson describes the results in terms that foreshadow the president's current predicament: "The power to extract confessions and inspect private correspondence has long appealed to a certain type of ambition. Were it used with complete unconstraint, a certain type of justice might very well be served for a time. Every diary, dossier, and archive would be thrown open to inspection. Each of us could be made to answer questions about our past deeds and thoughts and whereabouts, with answers cross-checked against those of our boon companions and partners in mischief, with a new round of questioning to follow....

"Few of us would want to live in such a world for long (though we might consent to hang around for the first thrilling revelations). We value our privacy, although we wish we could change the guilty habits it shields; we respect the privacy of others, although we know it sometimes conceals real wrongdoing. Then, too, we fear that no one could be safely entrusted with the power of the inquistor. We would never in this country entrust such a power to the public magistrate, even in a time of emergency and civil disorder. It would too obviously be a weapon of tyranny. And yet somehow we have been led to entrust it to private lawyers."

As the Paula Jones and Whitewater cases cross, unconstrained civil discovery has indeed become a tool of the public magistrate. Its results cannot yet be called tyrannical, but they are definitely disturbing. And they will likely get worse, as we go from this scandal to the next.

The Clintons and their allies armed their enemies with devastating legal weapons, naively thinking that those weapons would always be in friendly hands, useful against evildoers and the dreaded "right wing." They are now learning the lesson of what used to be called liberalism: Don't assume you'll always be in charge. Any power you give to government can and will be used against you, too, someday.

booyah, hole in one (1)

Travoltus (110240) | more than 7 years ago | (#16328951)

Well said. I can't find one error in what you posted. Clinton did set America up for this.

Sadly, the Republicans have not learned this lesson, either.

The USAPATRIOT Act and the REAL ID Act will be especially onerous in the hands of the Democrats, as they will have had more time to actually plan to use it maliciously (as will the Republicans, but they may lose Congress and not have the power to wield it as wickedly as they want).

Re:The chickens have returned home to roost (1)

Software (179033) | more than 7 years ago | (#16328741)

I suspect they will be huge champions of privacy after this.
As much as I'd like to think so, I doubt this will be the case. I don't think the Republicans would like to be seen as doing anything that might appear to favor Foley. Plus they're just too committed to increasing surveillance of the general public. All in the name of terrorism, of course. Or protecting the children from the Foleys of the world. Or something.

Standard of Proof (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16327535)

While there's a point (nothing's ever really deleted), it's, well, wrong. Yes, there exist lots of records out there. What the article misses is that most types of records can be FORGED. E-mail headers. MAC addresses. Some kinds of IM. And that's what a clever person can forge, let alone what someone with access to someone else's account can fake. Or someone who hacks into a box can plant.

The only way any of these logs out there can be considered "proof" of anything is if they're coupled to a strong identification scheme, one in which the user actively participates. Frankly, I don't see that happening soon.

The next generation of privacy will come out of people smart enough to forge the records that people who don't understand technology take as gospel fact.

A series of tubes (1)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327567)

Foley may have thought his IMs were disappearing into the ether as soon as they cleared his computer screen
Actually from my understanding, most Senators are under the impression that the internet is a series of tubes [boingboing.net] for sticking your penis into.

This has been my mantra for years. (0)

csoto (220540) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327577)

My colleagues have bemoaned the efforts by others to "expose" their doings, with the very astute observation that "they could come to the wrong conclusions just exactly what we do." My argument has been that they ALREADY make judgements about you, based on what limited knowledge they can acquire. It's far better to "be transparent" and tell your story the way YOU want it to be understood. They may not buy it (see the other article about Scoble blogging ;), but at least you have a chance to give "your side" of a "discussion" that's happening whether you want it to or not.

Privacy is an illusion.

Miniscule Payback... (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327585)

"Executives and politicians may be starting to realize that privacy is dead and secrets can no longer be kept in the information age. There is always a technological trail, and transparency is pervasive.

Starting to? No, they realized that long ago -- what they are finally realizing is that they are no longer immune to the effects their legislation has created.

The more bullshit that the administrations, Congresses, and Houses create, the more the community will buck against. We might be fighting the war differently than we would have (or should have) but we are fighting it.

I consider this a miniscule bit of payback for the warrantless wiretaps and the "Patriot" Act.

This is proof positive ... (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327613)

When the world relies on computers, geeks collectively rule the world. Of course, most of them never use that power, since they'd much rather go home and kill off some demons or spend quality time with their children, but a well-placed geek could have just about every leader in every field (excepting geekdom of course) by the balls.

And no one is concerned? (2, Informative)

vinnythenose (214595) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327625)

Having evidence on your hard drive these days is pretty much a guarantee of guilt. However, people seem to forget that should someone want to, it is relatively easy to plant information.

You ever piss off a pscyhopathic computer geek and you're screwed.

You'll turn on your computer one day to find illicit files all over the hard drive with timestamps ranging back through history. It'll look like you've been collecting whatever it is for months.

Or hell, someone doesn't like you, they forge their log files on their computer and claim you were sending nasty IM stuff, when the authorities don't see the matching logs on your computer, they will just assume that you cleared them out to protect yourself.

Yup, those timestamps are obviously immutable written in stone and never lie.

I don't blog, I don' IM... (1)

flyingrobots (704155) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327633)

Call me old fashioned, but I don't do these things, I don't have an MySpace account, I don't do any of this stuff. FOR THIS VERY REASON.

I interact with my friends in person. It's a lot more fun and fulfilling.

I don't have to live online, I find and network with folks just fine using very simple tools (phone, visits, post office, and some email). I have emails, sure, and I have some postings here and on news groups. But I try to say only those things that need to be said.

If you have something to say that is potentially embarrasing, don't use the internet.

You can still have privacy. Just don't say things that you want to keep private....

When will they learn...? (2, Interesting)

filesiteguy (695431) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327731)

You know, first it was some Chinese emporer trying to burn the bamboo parchment, then it was Nixon trying to erase tapes (remember those?) from his private discussions. Then it is Ley trying to shred documents and emails. Now it is congressman trying to hide behind the idea that the net is fleeting.

My guess is that in fifty or so years, some senator will be brought down not knowing the two way VOIP product was archiving everything at some central server.

Maybe he should have talked to Senator Gore, who invented the thing. He'd know where all the super sekret filez are kept.

Bad example using Foley (1)

Dan East (318230) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327743)

Foley may have thought his IMs were disappearing into the ether as soon as they cleared his computer screen.

That's a pretty stupid assumption. Why would he think they disappeared? Um, if they disappeared then what would be the point of sending them? He was sending messages to a recipient completely outside his control. They guy obviously got thrills by pushing things to the limit, and flirting with being discovered. It was only a matter of time before one of the recipients simply forwarded the messages onto someone else. IM isn't exactly the most secure medium available, but that is completely a moot point in this case - it's not like the messages were even intercepted by a 3rd party.

The only reason there is "technological transparency" is because of a lack of technical understanding and competence by end users. People that really want to be "technologically opaque" can certainly do so.

Dan East

Re:Bad example using Foley (2, Interesting)

wdhowellsr (530924) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327889)

Now it turns out the IMs might have been a prank by the page involved. He has lawyered up with Timonthy McVeigh's old lawyer (which can't be good considering McVeigh was executed) and was supposedly goaded into creating the fake IM's. That is the scarier problem since emails and IM's or almost any computer information can be faked, time-stamped and passed off as real by anyone reading this post. I don't think we have seen the last of the dirty tricks on either side of the aisle. It's funny, I always thought fake photos and videos would be the bane of the Criminal Justice system, it turns out it fake data files.

Who says transparency is a virtue? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 7 years ago | (#16327801)

We talk a lot a about transparency as a virtue in the age of the web

Speak for yourself.

Personally, I'm not at all convinced. I value my own privacy. Perhaps more objectively, I recognise that no-one is perfect, and if you dig hard enough you can turn up dirt on anyone. I also recognise that most people in the world are basically good, decent people, and I would prefer to respect a reasonable level of privacy and live in a world where we saw the good in people. You can't do that in a world where everyone's whole life story is computerised, often against their will and without their knowledge, and the media delight in data mining on anyone of any conceivable interest (or at least, worth a few more sales).

Now, governments on the other hand, they should have no right to privacy; on the contrary, IMHO they should be required to justify any attempt to withhold information from the public to an independent authority. Businesses should also be subject to much stricter openness requirements than individuals.

breaking on drudge (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16327861)

That initial chat exchange was promulgated by the pages as a joke, a prank. They set the guy up and egged him on. http://www.drudgereport.com/page.htm [drudgereport.com]

So, the page was 18, not a minor, plus they set him up. Scandals inside of scandals here. I think all involved are retarded deluxe, but I am not seeing many crimes now, just stupidity.

Re:breaking on drudge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16328169)

it's all fun and games until someone resigns and confronts their alcoholism and related behavioral problems

A different kind of transparency (1)

m0nstr42 (914269) | more than 7 years ago | (#16328261)

The headline made me think of a totally different and wholly more positive thing. I think we're approaching an age of technological transparency in another sense as well; being that technology is becoming more and more transparent to the user. You no longer need to understand unix to profficiently utilize a computer for day-to-day tasks. You don't need to know anything about the technology behind antilock brakes or active stability control to benefit from a safer automobile. Information transfer is ubiquitous, and the general public knows only a minimal of communication technology. Most of the best technologies are the ones you don't even know you're using.

The Hobgoblin of My Little Mind (2, Insightful)

XLawyer (68496) | more than 7 years ago | (#16328287)

How to be consistent? One man's treasured "transparency" is another's outrageous "death of privacy". Certainly no technical distinction exists between my IMs, your IMs, and Foley's IMs. Nor is there a technical distinction between the way Foley's secrets were exposed and the way anyone else's could be exposed.

As a U.S. representitive wasn't he aware... (1)

ivanmarsh (634711) | more than 7 years ago | (#16328313)

That recent legislation requires your ISP to keep a record of your internet traffic?

Recommendation: Deniable Encryption (4, Informative)

arodland (127775) | more than 7 years ago | (#16328847)

Use a tool such as Off-the-Record Messaging [cypherpunks.ca]. You get authentication to protect you against man-in-the-middle attacks, strong encryption, and a clever scheme that makes it so that if someone does manage to break a key and read a conversation, or if one of the parties to the conversation snitches, it still can't be proven that you've said anything in particular; the key material for authentication is published after the fact, so that while it's valid at the time you're having the conversation, afterwards anyone could forge a message that would pass authentication. So if someone comes out and says that you said X, and that they have logs and packet dumps to prove it, you can "prove" that you actually said Y, and that you have logs and packet dumps to prove it, and from a mathematical perspective both of your claims are equally credible -- either or both of you could be presenting a forgery. Fun!
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