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An Epidemic of Snooping

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the audit-and-audit-again dept.

Privacy 163

Travoltus writes "Privacy advocates are frequently confronted with the rhetorical question, 'If you don't have anything to hide, you don't have a good reason to worry about losing your privacy, right?' This AP story uncovers a vast, distributed, decentralized epidemic of snooping into databases of personal information by workers at major utilities, the IRS, and other large organizations. In a number of cases these incidents have led to real harm. One striking example involves now ex-Mayor of Milwaukee Marvin Pratt, who had a pattern of being late paying his heating bills. This fact was leaked to the media by a utility worker and may have led to Pratt's losing a bid for re-election. As one can imagine, the harm becomes much greater when this same snooping is done by Government officials to deal with political enemies, or by corporations to uncover whistleblowers."

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Q&A (5, Insightful)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542550)

How's this for an answer:
I do have stuff to hide. It's just not illegal stuff.

Re:Q&A (2, Insightful)

morari (1080535) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542684)

Some of mine is illegal. Only a patriot like myself would be willing to break such unjust laws however.

Re:Q&A (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22542928)

Some of mine is illegal. Only a patriot like myself would be willing to break such unjust laws however.
It sounds to me that you hate freedom. Those laws were put in place to restrict you actions thus making sure you have liberty.

Re:Q&A (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22543150)

While I agree with your principle, the Kohlberg Stages of Moral Development [plts.edu] explain why most people do not understand the argument you just made.

Re:Q&A (5, Funny)

statusbar (314703) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542844)

I don't have anything to hide! I live at #4-1131 burnaby st in vancouver, I own 3 macintosh computers, 2 linux servers, a video camera, MIDI equipment, a large screen plasma tv, a ps3 and an xbox 360.

I have loads of dvd's and I blog about all of my favourites.

On wednesday I will be going on a trip for a few weeks and although I don't have an alarm system I have a pet cat. I'm getting my friend Kim to come over every day at noon to feed my cat.

I am a trusting person and I'm SURE that no one would take advantage of this information and break in and rob me while I'm gone!

Once again, I have nothing to hide!

--jeffk++

Re:Q&A (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22542914)

You and your cat can goto hell! I'm not going to risk my life after you post this information to all these potential burglars and rapists!
-Kim

Re:Q&A (1)

ccb621 (936868) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542952)

You forgot this [google.com] .

Re:Q&A (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22543094)

What if I go to your house and kick your cat and tell Kim she's a bitch? Then how will you feel about privacy?

Re:Q&A (1)

CBravo (35450) | more than 6 years ago | (#22543300)

You're not done yet. Please answer the following questions too:
-what do you earn monthly
-what is your best kept secret up to now
-when did you last have sex, and how was it
-describe in detail your most embarrasing social encounters

tell me the answers to those questions and I'll come back with a few more.

Re:Q&A (3, Insightful)

statusbar (314703) | more than 6 years ago | (#22543404)

---- Whoosh ----

Someone didn't get the joke.

Do you really think I'd be so stupid as to post real information?

I thought people would get the hint that it was a joke by saying "I'm sure no one would rob me -- look at all the stuff I have!"....

In my opinion, people who violate their own privacy deserve what they get (or lose, as it may be).

--jeffk++

Re:Q&A (1)

CBravo (35450) | more than 6 years ago | (#22543896)

oh please, I did... But to stay OT: the examples you gave are not really 'heavy' secrets that people usually really want to keep. That is why I replied.

Re:Q&A (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 6 years ago | (#22544774)

This is why I've never put up a personal web page.

Enough people are able to find out enough information about me, do I really want to volunteer any more? I realize that I may control what information I put up, but am I really good enough to put up ONLY the information I want to release, and not leak something I don't want to? For instance, a lot of people put up vacation photos. They may thing they're only talking about where they've been, but they're frequently leaking information about their family - the number of members, their appearance, sex, age, etc. If their family car is in a photo, they've leaked a general idea of where they live, the car, clothing, and gear may leak something about general income level, etc.

Re:Q&A (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22543314)

I like cat ribs... they are tasteful... Just like chicken...

Re:Q&A (3, Insightful)

lee1026 (876806) | more than 6 years ago | (#22543416)

Curiously enough, a truly privacy-free world would be better for the person in question. It would easy enough for him to find out who robbed him if no one had any privacy. If we are allowed to assume that all people are rational actors, then no one would rob him.

Great (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 6 years ago | (#22543826)

Lets go with mandatory GPS implants then

Re:Q&A (3, Insightful)

werewolf1031 (869837) | more than 6 years ago | (#22544126)

If we are allowed to assume that all people are rational actors, then no one would rob him.
Therein lies the principal flaw with your proposal. If you need it explained to you further, then you Just Don't Get It... and you're part of the problem.

Re:Q&A (5, Insightful)

MindKata (957167) | more than 6 years ago | (#22544268)

"A truly privacy-free world would be better for the person in question"

That's true only in a utopian world of total equality. But it has two major problems. First the world doesn't work like that, its got a hierarchy. Secondly, a lot of people in power would consider this kind of open, flat, everyone equal, utopian world, as their idea of a dystopia, not a utopia. They want power. They don't want it flat and open. They want to be higher up than others. They want to be the centre of attention. They want more money than others. They want more power than others.

So that kind of totally open world is a scifi only utopian world, that cannot ever exist in a world that has some people who also seek power and that will never change. Plus these people who seek power ultimately make the rules, so they will not allow it to go that far, where everyone becomes equal.

Political ideologies are ultimately driven by the psychology of personality types, as with all human patterns of behaviour. These personality types will continue to exist, regardless of how technology evolves in the future. So the personality types will shape what technology is allowed or disallowed and how it is used.

I am sadly convinced however that Big Brother in becoming inevitable. Too many people want the power it gives over others. Its becoming a scramble for who can grab as much of that new power faster than others. The examples of Google's chess moves show this to be true. Google's "do no harm" PR smoke screen marketing theme is sounding more hollow, every new move Google makes. Their goal is to become some kind of marketing version of Big Brother, but with the total knowledge they are building up, they will also have immense political power as well. Google data mine everything they have. Each new chess move of Google reminds me of the saying "The road to hell is paved with good intentions". Google is becoming Big Brother. Yet few people seem to be able to see its slowly happening.

Given the kinds of personalities that can easily dominate in corporations, its hardly surprising.
http://science.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=448546&cid=22377974 [slashdot.org]

So I think the question is becoming not if we will have a Big Brother, but what the form of that Big Brother will take. Google definitely are becoming a marketing Big Brother and others are racing to try to grab some of what Google are grabbing for themselves. Then again, its not simply just marketing products. Marketing of anything can be helped with market research. So selling ideas just as selling products is still selling. So marketing a product or marketing a political ideology using these kinds of new technologies is going to happen, regardless of what that ideology the people want to market. The more market research that can be grabbed, the more power it gives to the people with that knowledge

Knowledge mining is the new gold rush and with it brings power over others. Its the nature of the game. But that has existed in some form, for centuries. But now we have the ability to monitor and mine everything people are interested in and what their thoughts are when they for example post emails etc... Not only that, the Internet is a growing database of these ideas on blogs etc... Give it say another decade or two and imagine what kinds of data mining can be done on archived data, to work out what people think thought out their lives.

Its like the old saying, "Knowledge is power".

Re:Q&A (1)

kvezach (1199717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22544414)

If we are allowed to assume that all people are rational actors, then no one would rob him.

If we are allowed to assume that all people are rational actors, hardly anyone would bother voting, either, since the chance of altering the outcome with a single vote is so incredibly small. Clearly this is not the case.

Re:Q&A (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22543526)

I don't have anything to hide! I live at #4-1131 burnaby st in vancouver, I own 3 macintosh computers...
Based on your address (gay section of Vancouver) and your ownership of more than one Mac, I take it the fact that you're a homosexual isn't something you care to hide.
 

Re:Q&A (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22544236)

Someone forgot the logical extension to that status that may be worth hiding: HIV positive but currently symptomatic (HAART regimen costing >$50,000K/annum). Stay tuned for mutations and 'weight loss'.

To know a person is to know the contents of their medicine cabinet.

Moderation is used by those who can't handle the truth.

now look what you've done.... (0, Troll)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 6 years ago | (#22543810)

These are slashdot posters. You will probably come back to find that Kim has been shut in the utility room and the cat has been raped.

Re:Q&A (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22543842)

Woah. I grew up in 1141, next door (the big ugly brown building on the other side of that huge tree). There was a totally hot girl who used to live where you... umm, hi son?

Re:Q&A (1)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 6 years ago | (#22544838)

I own 3 macintosh computers, 2 linux servers, a video camera, MIDI equipment, a large screen plasma tv, a ps3 and an xbox 360.
Only a terrorist would own an xbox 360.

Re:Q&A (1)

Domo-Sun (585730) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542942)

Privacy permits us to feel less anxious. Consider the life of a celebrity. Seems humans need to hide a little to be sane.

The whole argument is a false dilemma between 1) You're either hiding something or 2) you have nothing to fear (trust us wit total access). The Nazis used this sort of reasoning and it demonstrates there's always something to fear with overwhelming powers brandishing trick logic.

Re:Q&A (3, Insightful)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 6 years ago | (#22543848)

It has more to do with the selective use of information to create a false image, also useful to know when a person does not have a legally effective alibi. And as beneficial to the corrupt is the blackmail of parents by the disclosure of the behaviour of their children, whether that behaviour would reflect badly on the parents or just to protect the future of their misbehaving children.

So the whole thing about privacy is not what you want to keep secret, but about those people who want to keep secret from you but simultaneously want to know everything about you and your family. Why do all those freak privacy people pry into everybody lives, is it really so effective to tailor marketing campaigns, so they are my psychologically targeted at specific individuals, and thus drone like they a forced to mindlessly buy products, or perhaps where you can not effective manipulate the parents directly perhaps more effective psychological manipulation can be targeted via their children.

Isn't the typical view of a arse hole slime ball portrayed as someone who tells you all the private information about yourself whilst you know nothing about them and how they can manipulate that information, as it has been viewed for thousands of years, yet suddenly with the advent of the googlites et al. your private email is a postcard, your web searching is something to be used to target you even your medical records will be under the auctioneers hammer, your privacy for sale to the highest bidder.

So the real question is not about what right we have to privacy, but what god damned right those arse holes have to invade it, collate it, digitally anal-yse it and to manipulate it and thus seek control over your, what, shopping habits, and maybe voting habits. To gauge over the long term how the right assemblage of messages can most effectively manipulate your behaviour and choices, and thus in affect eliminate any real free conscious choice.

Re:Q&A (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 6 years ago | (#22544328)

show them the business end of a 12 gauge shotgun and tell them if they cross the threshold they are going to get a load of double ought buck,,,

Easy Answer (5, Insightful)

SRA8 (859587) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542558)

A co-workers once made the same statement to me regarding warrantless wiretapping -- why hide anything if you are not guilty. The response is simple:
- Do you have a daughter?
- Would you mind preparing a binder with photos of her, along with all her diary entries, emails and phone conversations and sending a copy to every police officer in the city?

This will shut up most people. -----------
/. Mathematics:
+1 Insightful for encouraging killing of Muslims
-1 Troll for Muslims responding to such messages

Re:Easy Answer (2, Funny)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542612)

So then what do you say if the response is "Sure. I trust the police."?

Re:Easy Answer (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542660)

Move on to the people at the Megan's Law site.

Re:Easy Answer (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542666)

Inform them that it will sit on a shelf behind the desk where they process suspected rapists and child molesters.

They'll get it then. If they don't, they're beyond help.

Re:Easy Answer (1)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542686)

Certainly, you could eventually construct an argument with enough absurdities to convince anyone, but does that really answer the original question?

Re:Easy Answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22542898)

Evidently you are one of the idiots that "doesn't get it!"

Re:Easy Answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22542998)

Or perhaps you're falling prey to a number of intellectual fallacies, without even the capability of recognizing such a trap. For shame.

Re:Easy Answer (4, Insightful)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 6 years ago | (#22543096)

If you truly think you have nothing to hide, you must lead a terribly boring life.

Re:Easy Answer (5, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 6 years ago | (#22543114)

Yes, it does. The original logical fallacy is that if you have nothing to hide, you should not worry about snooping. The reason it is a fallacy---the reasons we should all worry about snooping are:

  1. Bad people can get the information. Even relatively trustworthy businesses have their information stolen by hackers, etc. Can we really trust the police to do a better job at information security than major internet stores? I don't think so. Some bad person snags a copy of that information, and suddenly this person's daughter has a stalker.
  2. Information can be embarrassing if seen by others even if it is not anything illegal. The things this person's daughter keeps in her diary aren't embarrassing as long as the only people who see them are her friends, but if some perv read her diary while... doing that which shall not be named... every night, that would be completely different. She'd be horrified at the very thought.

The point was that it's not about whether you trust the police to do the right thing and not abuse the information. It's about whether you trust the police to have the most private information about yourself---information that could be extremely embarrassing or even dangerous if leaked more broadly. And of course, if you have a clue, the answer is no. People have to earn that sort of trust, and they have to earn it as individuals. Granting that level of trust blindly to any group of people, including the police, is foolish.

Re:Easy Answer (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 6 years ago | (#22544430)

The point was that it's not about whether you trust the police to do the right thing and not abuse the information. It's about whether you trust the police to have the most private information about yourself---information that could be extremely embarrassing or even dangerous if leaked more broadly.
Actually, it's both. Private information can only safely be trusted to parties that are both competent and benign. Here in the UK we have had cases in the past of police manipulating or even fabricating evidence (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birmingham_Six [wikipedia.org] ) for example, so even if most of us can trust most of the police most of the time, we can't all trust all of the police all of the time (and that applies double for other agencies). But, as you say, competence in maintaining the security of the data (not to mention competence in interpretation of the data) is another important issue.

Easy Example (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22544492)

I have a family member that works for an insurance company and she uses the companies gov database access for date screening.

Re:Easy Answer (3, Interesting)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 6 years ago | (#22543222)

So then what do you say if the response is "Sure. I trust the police."?
That the police are humans like you?

That the police probably really may watch Jerry Springer with a beer when they're done at work?

It's not that they're super humans, nothing says they can actually handle the power they have in terms of this.

I *know* that every now and then, these sort of regulations are broken at hospitals, why would the police be different?

Re:Easy Answer (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 6 years ago | (#22544524)

So then what do you say if the response is "Sure. I trust the police."?
Show them the statistics of the level of crime (especially sexual predators) among law enforcement.

Re:Easy Answer (1)

JoshJ (1009085) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542688)

In theory, I like the approach of actually going through and giving these anti-privacy people exactly what they're asking for.

Re:Easy Answer (5, Interesting)

erlehmann (1045500) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542810)

I like the approach of actually going through and giving these anti-privacy people exactly what they're asking for.

I did his at school. When I urged people to encrypt their communication, several said they had nothing to hide. So I started Wireshark and proceeded to read some of their more interesting instant messages to them and everyone who was interested.

Kind of bothered some of them, but instead of learning crypto basics, they yelled at me. I do not understand this behaviour, can Slashdot explain ?

Re:Easy Answer (5, Insightful)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542900)

We can sure try!

People are stupid!

Nobody likes a Nerd, or to be proved wrong (3, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 6 years ago | (#22543838)

Nobody likes a Nerd, or to be proved wrong. You put them in the position of being proved wrong by a nerd. Surprised they aren't happy? (Written by a nerd who has come to learn that that a discussion on quantum randomness and free-will is not what everyone looks for on a first date!)

Re:Nobody likes a Nerd, or to be proved wrong (4, Insightful)

Stanislav_J (947290) | more than 6 years ago | (#22544198)

Kind of bothered some of them, but instead of learning crypto basics, they yelled at me. I do not understand this behaviour...

Nobody likes a Nerd, or to be proved wrong. You put them in the position of being proved wrong by a nerd. Surprised they aren't happy?

It's the difference between the few souls in this world who think rationally (like the nerd) and most of humanity which tends to let emotion rule the day (like those students).

I am in the former category. And I do not mind being proven wrong. In fact, I welcome it. I want to understand life, the universe and everything a little better each day, and the clearer and better informed my thinking, the more useful and accurate my knowledge becomes.

Many people, however, seem to have a huge emotional stake in being "right." They cannot possibly begin to admit the thought that they might be wrong -- I dunno, maybe it's a basic self-esteem thing. That's why almost a decade into the 21st Century, we still have people who believe such things as the universe being created in 6 days, or that the moon landings were faked, or that Barry Bonds just worked out a lot.

My experience has been that most discussions of this sort go something like this:

Other guy (we'll call him "Joe") states a misinformed opinion.

I show Joe the error of his argument and point out his factual errors.

Joe pauses, then merely repeats the same line of "reasoning." (The last two steps may loop several times in succession with Joe becoming more and more flustered.)

Joe at some point abandons any pretense of rational argument and, having quickly exhausted his arsenal, starts to use phrases like "you just don't understand" or "that's just the way it is" or the like. (Optional phrases include "But God says it, so I believe it" or "Well, that's what my mother taught me -- are you calling my mother a liar?")

Final phase has Joe (a)attacking my character and the circumstances of my birth, usually accompanied by various words and phrases on the FCC's no-no list.

This is why it does not pay to argue about anything with anyone. When warning signs of the early phases of the above conversation begin to appear, quickly change the subject. When someone prefers to wallow in ignorance, there is little you can do. Pressing the issue will just make you an asshole in their eyes, and in extreme cases may result in the proverbial and venerable knuckle-sandwich being applied to your nose.

Re:Easy Answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22543088)

I'm still having trouble convincing my family/friends that passwords are a Good Thing (tm), and running as root is evil. I can't imagine having a real conversation involving cryptography!

Re:Easy Answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22543108)

anyone care to point out some crypto basics as a response to this?

Re:Easy Answer (1)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 6 years ago | (#22543124)

Admitting that you are correct implicitly requires them to accept that they are wrong.

Re:Easy Answer (4, Insightful)

misanthrope101 (253915) | more than 6 years ago | (#22543256)

Well, yes...they meant other people. People never mean "I want to give away all of my privacy." It's just when they dismiss privacy as superfluous, they have a mental picture right then of someone, probably a minority (if they themselves are a minority, it will just be a different minority) doing something shady, probably involving kiddie porn or something similarly without redeeming merit. If we actually started randomly selecting people and posting their entire browsing/chat history online, people would just get pissed without going through the intellectual effort to articulate why that is wrong.

They want their own privacy and that of their friends, and by extension for those they admire, but not for anyone else. The entire concept of rule of law, that we need to find rules that can apply to everyone yet still maintain law and order, is alien to them.

Re:Easy Answer (1)

JoshJ (1009085) | more than 6 years ago | (#22543460)

The approach is not to teach them about cryptography. (Remember the concepts of UI design! The algorithm should be transparent to the end user!) The approach is to go "well, you could make it so that I can't do that. Here's how." and show them PGP or whatever.

Re:Easy Answer (4, Insightful)

jimbojw (1010949) | more than 6 years ago | (#22543636)

Pointing out security flaws is never a good idea - especially by way of demonstration. Just look at that kid with the boarding pass generator [slashdot.org]

The unfortunate truth about vulnerabilities is that those who report them are rarely rewarded, often interrogated, and occasionally imprisoned.

Re:Easy Answer (2, Insightful)

Crash Culligan (227354) | more than 6 years ago | (#22543644)

erlehmann: Kind of bothered some of them, but instead of learning crypto basics, they yelled at me. I do not understand this behaviour, can Slashdot explain ?

Easily.

They were relying on "Security Through Apathy" as their primary defense. And you, you nasty, naughty person, blew through it as if it wasn't there at all.

That they're relying on bad people to just look the other way is, in their minds, not a problem at all. Which obviously is a problem, but not to them. From here, it's turtles all the way down.

Okay, I doubt I cleared up anything, but at least for a moment, it was fun mocking them.

Re:Easy Answer (2, Insightful)

makak (861541) | more than 6 years ago | (#22544002)

Just some thoughts then, to try to answer that question.

Even though the information itself might have not been anything they had any real need to hide, your act of snooping is invasive in itself. They trusted you to behave responsibly and you failed, it's as simple as that.

You personally seem to think that such an invasion of privacy is something bad. This means that you would (by your own standards) hurt someone just to prove a point. I'd say this is not a quality i generally admire in people (And I might very well tell that to someone doing so)

Remember that it is never the victims fault, it is the perpetrator who performs the act. Their failure to defend against privacy intrusions does not justify your behavior anymore than my failure to take self-defense classes justifies someone assaulting me. Just because he follows up the beating by handing me a leaflet to the local gym doesn't really make it ok.

My response... (3, Funny)

TFer_Atvar (857303) | more than 6 years ago | (#22543518)

Mind if I follow you into the bathroom?

Misread the title (1)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542598)

I misread the title as "An Epidemic of Spoofing" and, seeing the binoculars, assumed that this was some hyped up article about how privacy advocates are destroying the credibility of the Internet.

Re:Misread the title (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542690)

Misread the title
I thought we were past having to do that.
We're supposed to be a perfect representation of a million monkeys pounding on a million keyboards by now.

Nothing to hide, nothing to fear... (0, Offtopic)

MacDork (560499) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542602)

If you don't have anything to hide, you don't have a good reason to worry about losing your privacy, right?

I'm so glad you feel that way, I'll be right over with a camera to video you shagging the misses. We can put in online for the world to see... nothing to hide, nothing to fear, right?

the immediate and obvious problem with spying (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22542606)

is that when politicians have access to spy on people... who are they going to abuse it against? They're political rivals.. ohh but they'd never do that.. A President hasn't got impeached and resigned from office from doing just that..

Personal story (4, Interesting)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542610)

I knew a girl who had a cop look up her name and address from her car's plate just to flirt with her. She was a bit freaked out by it.

Re:Personal story (4, Informative)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 6 years ago | (#22543858)

Before we were married, my wife used to be a secretary in a police department. When she met me she once said "well, of course I knew you must be OK because working fore the police is like having twenty big brothers. As soon as they know I am going out with someone they check his record and let me know if there is anything dodgy".

Oh come now... (3, Insightful)

Pyrion (525584) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542614)

Who the hell is going to believe that he lost his bid for re-election because he was frequently delinquent in paying his utility bills?

Bear in mind that we live in a nation that's over nine trillion dollars in debt. Whoever believes horseshit like the above has no sense of scale.

Re:Oh come now... (1)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542856)

Hey, it all depends. If it was a close race before the info got leaked, that may have changed a few voters minds. It may not have been the sole reason, sure... but it could influence some voters.

But you never know what voters will do. One of the city councilmen in the city I live in was shown to have been delinquent in paying property taxes and business taxes (as in "oops, last year's taxes weren't paid, and this year's are late"), and he still got re-elected.

Re:Oh come now... (2, Insightful)

RodgerDodger (575834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22543172)

Not knowing how that information was used, it's hard to say. OTH, if, say, his opponent was portraying him as being disorganised and incompetent, having the fact that you can't even keep track of when to pay your gas bill may be yet another nail in the coffin. Certainly, a good attack campaign could take that information and run with it.

Conform Citizen! (1)

stox (131684) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542620)

There is nothing to worry about, we are only here to help you.

Encrypted files? (1)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542626)

Darned if I can't find the link, but I remember reading about people being required to turn over their encryption keys to police in "routine" checks, even though there was no evidence of wrongdoing. If they refused to do so they were charged with something, and I think this was at the boarder or something similar.

Re:Encrypted files? (1)

quanticle (843097) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542770)

The Supreme Court has upheld the right of Customs to confiscate laptops and other electronic devices at the border without any probable cause. I don't know if they can force you to give up encryption keys to the laptop, but that might be what you're thinking of.

Re:Encrypted files? (3, Informative)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542974)

You don't have to give them the keys. Then again, they don't have to let you in the country. And if they do let you in, they'll probably never give the laptop back.

In any event, I read one article about a girl who did give them everything they wanted. This was years ago and she never got her laptop back anyway...

Re:Encrypted files? (1)

fmobus (831767) | more than 6 years ago | (#22544630)

Can an US citizen be denied entry in USA? Is this possible at all?

Evil corporations (3, Funny)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542628)

Why must evil corporations go out of their way to violate the privacy of others? I would never do such a thing. Now excuse me, for I have some other things to do today, such as this [starmagazine.com] and this [gossipreport.com] . Oh, and I have a date tonight and I want to get to know her [background...ateway.com] . I even picked the movie [imdb.com] !

Slashdong is teh sexy! (1)

Fruity McGayGay (1005769) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542634)

I have an extra Boyzilian waxing 10% off coupon if any of you bears want to use it.

Causalitie's unfair. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22542638)

"One striking example involves now ex-Mayor of Milwaukee Marvin Pratt, who had a pattern of being late paying his heating bills. This fact was leaked to the media by a utility worker and may have led to Pratt's losing a bid for re-election. "

It can also lead to problems with getting and retaining good credit.

What I like to do (4, Funny)

Xenkar (580240) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542650)

What I like to do to those "If you have nothing to hide" people is tell them the truth. I make sure to tell them about all of the weird fetishes I wank off to, my thoughts on the whole "don't eat your own boogers" conspiracy, and whatever twisted thoughts are going through my mind at the moment.

My right to privacy isn't for my sake, it is for everyone else. Their fragile minds can't handle the onslaught of awkwardness I bring down upon them.

Good ! (1)

aepervius (535155) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542918)

I make sure to tell them about all of the weird fetishes I wank off to.

If you have nothing to hide...

Now let me make some popcorn up for us, and tell us more about your weird fetishes you wank on :).

Perfect response to "nothing to hide" people: (4, Insightful)

erlehmann (1045500) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542758)

"Everyone poops, but it takes a special person to do it in public."

(Dunno where I read it.)

There's a couple of reasons. (5, Insightful)

thezig2 (1102967) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542772)

First, things that are legal are not always socially acceptable. Your weekend bar escapades and porn habits are probably quite legal, but it may not be in your best interests for the outside world to know about your attraction to midget transvestites.

Secondly, and more importantly, things that are legal and/or acceptable now might not be in the future. Look at drug use, for example. There was no point in hiding it back in the 70's, because "everybody did it", and now it's coming back to haunt people (like politicians). People shouldn't be scrutinized because they have the brains to foresee that stuff they're doing today might bite them in the ass later.

Re:There's a couple of reasons. (1)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542956)

If you are relying on security through obscurity, then you'll eventually get bitten. If you are getting stupid in the club, eventually people will find out.

Not that I'm saying we should tell everyone everything; it's just that if you do something in public, people will blog it.

Also, I really don't see past drug use haunting anyone. GWB did coke and even had a DUI. No one really gives a shit. It's when a politician tries to hide that it becomes an issue.

If you are open and honest about your dealings, then you'll never get blindsided.

However, being open and honest *should* be a personal choice. If I choose to use the same screen name on 50 web sites, that's my choice. If you use an annonymizer and bugmenot, that's your choice. No one should be *forced* to lay their life book open for everyone to see...

knowledge is power (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22542780)

knowledge is power. If you give someone too much power(knowledge) they will eventually abuse it.

Re:knowledge is power (2, Funny)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 6 years ago | (#22543400)

"All power corrupts, absolute power ...is even more fun" -- Simon Travaglia (BOFH)

Nothing to hide? (2, Insightful)

bogeskov (63797) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542846)

I may have nothing to hide, but I do have a lot to loose.

Re:Nothing to hide? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22542920)

You have a lot to loose? Then hurry up and set it free!

devil's advocate (0)

LodCrappo (705968) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542878)

i'll admit right now that i didnt rtfa. but.. working on the premise is that some guy lost an election because the public found out he doesn't pay bills on time, isn't it possible that if everyone's bill paying habits were public knowledge that his behavior would have been much less interesting or exceptional? I'd bet there are tons of people in all walks of life that have for whatever reason failed to pay bills on time, but since that knowledge is not public this guy stands out. so maybe the real problem is the privacy of everyone elses habits, not that his were exposed.

How to answer this questions (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542922)

"yes i do have shit to hide, no it doesn't mean i've done anything wrong or that you should be allowed to know"

why is this concept hard to grasp?

I have nothing to hide either... (1)

Swiftouch (1086947) | more than 6 years ago | (#22543054)

They are right...those who say that they have nothing to hide. There is privacy, data security and physical security. Data security is keeping data safe that could be used maliciously. And then there is privacy that is personal info about habits and the character of a person. I believe in secure data and physical security of a building, parking lot, safety deposit box, etc, but I don't believe in privacy. If you are a celebrity, you better be willing to blow off the intrusions because you KNOW people are going to intrude. People can be downright rude, mean and nasty.( they can also be good, but honestly the vast majority of us are somewhere in between and somewhat unpredictable at times) If you're running for mayor and you have trouble paying your power bill there's no way in hell I'd vote for you. So yes, that could have swayed a number of votes. In this case it was both a privacy and a data security breach to a point. It wasn't an actual breach of data but a violation of ethics in using data that the employee had access to in a malicious way. I do NOT support that kind of ethics violating behavior and the employee should be fired or at least disciplined harshly. But on the other hand the person running for mayor should have had the good sense to pay his bills on-time. Shouldn't our leaders be held to a higher standard? Hopefully now after reading this story we will do a couple things. 1. Not put ourselves in a situation to get fired by using secure data in an illegal way. 2. Not steal, cheat, or lie period at anything. At one point in my life I felt it was alright to lie to get my way in minor areas of my life. Gradually I've eliminated lying altogether because I realized that lying was getting the better of me and I was lying more and more about things to cover up my laziness. It's better to tell the truth no matter the harshness of the reality. Humans use lying to achieve lazy goals that they don't sometimes consciously think about. And they also tend to over exaggerate at times as well. Which is another form of lying. If we have done our best we should never think it's the right thing to do or to even consider lying in order to make another person happy. That's all i have to say. Thanks for reading. Now go and do the right thing.

Here He Comes To Save The Day (4, Funny)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 6 years ago | (#22543068)

I'm pretty sure the video my girlfriend made of me chasing her around the apartment dressed as Captain Cocktastic doesn't actually violate any laws (There's nothing on the books in Canada about good taste as far as I know).

On the other hand, I doubt whether having it posted on the internet would help my political career all that much, if I had one. Unless I was running in Toronto/Rosedale, of course.

Nothing New (0)

logicnazi (169418) | more than 6 years ago | (#22543116)

I think it's ironic that this is being described as a consequence of vast computer databases. While it's probably true that computers have increased the incidence of curiosity snooping by making it less trouble to look up records I suspect this sort of thing has been going on forever. The real contribution of computers is to record access and expose the snooping.

How seriously to take this and what can be done about it are both interesting questions. Fundamentally it's a difficult problem because there is no obvious moral barrier that people cross when they engage in this behavior. I mean suppose you work at the utility and regularly pull up client's records for valid purposes. It isn't going to seem like a harm to anyone to pull up one more record. I mean does it really make a difference that you pulled up the mayor's form out of curiosity rather than for a business reason? After all it was just luck that you weren't assigned to deal with that record anyway. Worse given the difficulty in preciscely definining what you want to prevent it makes it hard to prevent with mandatory access controls.

Now I share the immediate intuition that something is bad about these voyeristic breaches of privacy but I can't exactly put my finger on what if anything is wrong with it. True, someone might use the information to my detriment (share it etc..) but that's equally true about anyone viewing my information whether voyeuristicly or not. I mean consider two companies A and B. Company A's policies mean that in the normal course of buisness only one person will ever examine your data but someone at company A is curious so another person peeks at your information. On the other hand company B has a policy where each month they assign each of their customer service reps to review a random selection of accounts for errors so after the course of 20 years a fairly large number of people have thumbed through your file. To the extent that we want to conceal information or avoid identity theft the company that has more legitimate reasons to examine your data may very well be a higher risk than the one that lets the voyeur look at your recrods. So is it snooping that we want to eliminate or do we want to minimize access more generally?

Argument all ready debunked... (5, Interesting)

Secret Rabbit (914973) | more than 6 years ago | (#22543164)

... again and again and again and ...

I'm always amazed just how often this and other nonsense comes up. Then I remember that today's people have attention spans of chronically depressed Lemmings and it all comes rushing back... along with that deep sickening sinking feeling.

At any rate, here's a good essay (found it linked to on Schneier's blog) that destroys the argument:

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=998565 [ssrn.com]

Just used it on my parents a couple days ago. Spread it around!

Re:Argument all ready debunked... (1)

SportyGeek (694769) | more than 6 years ago | (#22544434)

Mod parent up. This is a great piece and I was going to post if myself if it weren't for my tardiness.

It's not really surprising... (3, Insightful)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 6 years ago | (#22543182)

The reason privacy safeguards need to be in place is because the people working at the IRS and other organizations are just regular people too. They are not "better" at handling power than anyone else.

Alicia (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22543250)

Allow me to introduce you all to Alicia. She's a middle-aged woman of a -- shall we say, "healthy" build - with a slight self esteem problem. Her appearance, while not all together unpleasant, did not turn heads as readily as the appearance of Brooke Burke does. Nonetheless, she was pretty in her own right and had many, simply adorable personality quirks. One (the most notable of which) being that she was addicted to a substance the household term of which being "Drain-O." She thought it had the most celestial taste of any liquid concocted by the ingenuity of man and paid homage to it in the form of repeated quaffing. She took the regular hospital trips all in stride and learned to enjoy the spongy pudding and moisture-deprived bread they served to patients. It wasn't too long after her discovery of this delightful beverage that her family committed her to a psychiatric ward where, in spite of their claims of loving her, they insisted that her access to all forms of cleaning supplies be prohibited.

It was absolutely preposterous, this claim that the liquid plumber be so "hazardous" to Alicia's health. Their accusations were unfounded and highly questionable. It became more and more apparent to Alicia that the real reason anybody would forbid her such a simple pleasure was pure jealousy. The petty mortals who did not know the joy of this thick, oozing ecstasy lashed out at her heavenly escape. It was a typical human response observed in the Brazilian slums and American Democrats.

The subsequent brain washing rituals proceeded, month in and month out while Alicia's attire was limited to straight jacket and uncomfortable hospital gown. People who you'd think of as respectable - people with Ph.D's and upstanding Christian backgrounds - would engage themselves in this jealous attack on Alicia's hobby. How could these people live with themselves - brandishing this double-standard living?! In the light of public, they appear to be honest, respectful people but within the closed doors of their institution of employment, they torment the innocent and otherwise joyful people.

"No, Alicia, you can not have any gray bottles today." Was all she ever heard - like it was a sin. Alicia was a fine Christian woman who read the bible regularly and never missed Morning Mass (barring the obvious: illness and days when the pastor was speaking on an indecent subject). An occasional Drain-O was not like fornication or gluttony! It was a benign pleasure and anyone refusing her of it was a proponent for injustice.

Speaking of carnal sins, it was only after a period of two years living in the asylum that a particular volunteer had taken a liking to Alicia. He communicated as much to her when he brought her food, or when he found her in a situation of privacy. Of course, he did not bear any brownie points in Alicia's book - he being employed in the system of anti-Drain-O-Indulgence that she loathed so fervently. Her disinterest in his adoration seemed to frustrate him and there were days when he avoided her as a result of it. As time wore on, his heartfelt gaze transitioned very gradually into the eyeing of a starved tiger. At first Alicia ignored it but when the unrequited love grew beyond this man's ability to cope, his messages of aggravation became more blatant. As blatant as white, gooey surprises on Alicia's breakfast tray and unspeakable photographs delivered haphazardly to her at night. To further chafe at Alicia's decency glands, her complaints to the Warden were dismissed as the ravings of a mentally unstable woman.

Mentally unstable indeed! She was committed because of a human incapability for empathy not because of instability in her mind. Alicia did not appear to herself as an insane person: Insane people ran about with foam dribbling from their mouths and blood dripping from their chain saws, screaming "NEEEEWWWWWBBBBIIIIEEEEEEEE!" all the while. Alicia had never exhibited such behavior - nor even entertained the idea. Insofar as she was concerned, she was not insane. She felt assaulted in the most essential way when those who so frequently claim (at needle point, mind you) that their primary concern is Alicia's well-being would abide such stomach-churning indecency.

Three such years proceeded and Alicia found that her appetite diminished as the "Special Sauce" on her meals turned diseased and frothy and the imagery of mail call turned from unspeakable to down-right sick. At this point, the humiliation was too much to bear. She resented her family for committing her to this hell-hole and resented herself the indulgence that led to her being here. She would do anything - even give up the Drain-O if it meant she could get out. She lost plenty of girth in those years and it wasn't until a surprise visit from a state representative that things changed. Alicia savored that day when the police dragged half of the volunteers away in hand cuffs and news of the scandal reached the general populous.

For many, the new option to have filial visitation was a morale booster and the remodeling of the facility helped improve spirits. Alicia had grown very weak - too much so to display much excitement over the many changes that took place around her. Many people sang praises and danced about and Alicia would have joined them had she the calories to burn on such frivolities. Many patients shook hands of new volunteers gleefully while Alicia stayed in her corner, transfixed by the pattern in the carpet before her.

"Hello." A friendly, virile voice said.

Alicia's reply was the same to him as it was to everyone - in that it wasn't.

"I'm Doug. What's your name?" He asked gently.

Like he deserved to know. The last worker here that showed the least bit of interest left Alicia with little to live for - he would have to work to earn her trust.

The long silence was broken by another patient shouting: "Her name's Alicia. She likes to drink from the Mister Yuck bottles."

What a dork - going on like he knew everything about it. If Alicia had her way, that particular patient would have had his testicles fed to him in the form of a Wendy's frosty. If she had the energy at that particular moment, she might have indulged such an idea.

"She's depressed because her boyfriend got thrown into jail."

That one baked it for her. Alicia stood upon legs feeble with atrophy and swung a bony arm at the patient's face. He whined like a 3-year-old under the angry but impotent slugging that nearly fractured Alicia's arm.

"You're a dirty fucking liar!" She howled hoarsely. "I hated that bastard! I'm glad he's gone!"

The patient she was bludgeoning wanted to reply with, "That sounds like the typical break-up dribble to me." But she punched him soundly in the throat and he didn't speak for days afterwards. The blows had left Alicia's arms riddled with bruises and her knuckles were wet with runny, sickly blood.

Doug restrained her, careful to not injure her in the process and told her to "Sshh!"

"He wasn't my boyfriend! I hated him! He was a sick pervert!"

"I believe you, Alicia! I believe you." He whispered until she calmed down. His reassuring voice seemed to work for her better than any sedative had and she went quietly back to her room without escort.

The weeks proceeded and Alicia found herself "working" with Doug: Discussing why she was there, in that institution, and what it would take her to get out. Alicia marveled at the way the hospital's environment had improved and spent long nights considering why exactly she would want to leave. Outside of this place, she would have to work for food and shelter - here, it was thrown upon her. Such convenience should not carelessly be discarded. Now, with the staff having changed so dramatically, there was little reason to show any "improvement." Alicia kept a pretense up; although she had completely forgotten how wonderful Drain-O had tasted and even began to wonder what it was about it that she liked so much, she mentioned it regularly in her conversations with Doug and insisted that she still craved it every other day or so. Such was the price of her livelihood in this wondrous institution.

As her residency in the ward began to feel more absolute, Alicia grew comfortable. She enjoyed her semi-daily visits with Doug and the subjects of most of their discussions. Of all the people who claimed to really care about her, he was the only one Alicia believed. He gave her a reason to eat again - no matter how much it hurt. He gave her a reason to go through physical therapy and rebuilt her muscles to a functional level. In time, Alicia found that she didn't bruise as easily and she no longer had to take pills for her thyroid problem anymore. It was all because of him, that angel sent by the state to redeem the residents of this institution. Alicia spent long nights thinking and dreaming about Doug and the possibility that he would take her out of the hospital - to a castle far away from civilization and her horrible family. Castles don't have plumbing and therefore, there would be no temptation to buy Drain-O anymore. And there, she and Doug could live happily ever after. Many a greasy-fingered night was filled with only the whispering of his name and the mornings after were always pleasantly filled with his counseling sessions. Things were really starting to look up.

On one particular morning, Alicia adjusted her attire to reveal whatever cleavage her meat-deprived body could muster. She sat and patiently waited for Doug to enter the room, wearing his nice suit and handsomely carrying that clipboard that he always had with him. Right on time, he arrived with his chipper, "Good morning, Alicia. How are you today?"

With a suggestively-raised eyebrow, and eyes ogling his "package," she replied, "I'm good, baby. How're you?"

Her mode of inquiry went like water off a duck's back and he answered, "I'm doing well, Alicia." As he began scribbling something on his clipboard.

Perhaps she didn't make it obvious enough to him that she was feeling amorous, so she decided to reassert herself by tugging on Doug's tie and tracing her lips with her tongue. As she dragged his adorable mug closer to hers, he said in a stiffly professional tone: "Alicia, I don't feel comfortable with your behavior right now. Would you please stop?"

"Oh, fine." She threw his tie over his shoulder and pouted.

Their history of meaningful conversation did not reflect on the day's session and Alicia seemed to be disinterested in everything he had to say. She shifted in her seat and stared at the ceiling most of the time, only answering Doug's questions with a flippant, "Yeah, yeah." After the allotted hour had expired, she went irritated back to her room to sulk.

Here she was offering herself to him, thinking that he had possibly reciprocated her feelings and he brushed her off like she was some teenage hooker. As she was stewing, she heard the latch on her door click and she quickly sat upright, adjusted her hair and waited for Doug to enter. It wasn't him, though. . . it was a nurse with dinner. Phooey! At first, Alicia wasn't hungry but as the aroma of the meal reached her, she decided it wouldn't hurt to eat a little bit.

As the night wore on, Alicia realized that she couldn't stay mad at Doug - she loved him way too much to stay mad for very long. And that night, she spent like every other, thinking of him, wishing he'd join her in the moments of love. After exhausting herself, she fell asleep and dreamed of him, lying beside her . . . the soothing sound of his breath serenading the silence. The warmth of daylight woke her and she lay in bed, pretending he was with her, enjoying the after-glow. All she could think about in the proceeding day was of her eventual meeting with him. Some of the nurses grew cross with Alicia's anxiousness to get the day on: "Let's eat lunch now! Get the visitors out! It's time for bed! Hurry, hurry!" Nobody had to tell her twice when it finally was time to call it a day and she rushed off to her bed to sleeplessly anticipate the morrow. Morning came, and before breakfast was served, Alicia bolted for the meeting room.

"Good morning, Alicia." Dough greeted her ever-so politely as she stepped in. "How are you today?"

See! He really does care about me! "Wonderful, Doug. How are you?"

"Good! Glad to hear it. Now, let's get started."

Alicia paid specific attention to the shifting of her hips as she approached Doug and said, "Oh, let's not do that right now." She found her finger twirling in Doug's hair as she straddled him like a lap dancer.

"Alicia, please!" He stood up abruptly. "I don't like what you're doing."

With tear-filled eyes, she looked at his face - hoping to see sarcasm . . . but he was serious. Her lip quivered as she asked, "B--but why?"

"I'm a happily married man, Alicia. And you are a patient. I feel it's best for our relationship to be a purely professional one."

She rushed forward and embraced him, "Oh, Doug, you don't mean that!"

"Yes, Alicia," he said as he pulled away and held her by the shoulder's at arms length, "I do mean that. Now, please, let's get to work."

"No!" She howled as her vision blurred with tears. "You can't do this to me, Doug!" And she threw his clipboard and briefcase off of the table beside her. "It's not fair! Why, why?!" Her thrashing constituted the need for restraint and an injection.

It didn't make any sense. Alicia knew - she just knew that Doug really did love her. He was just in denial. Then again, if he stayed in denial, it wouldn't matter what he really felt. Everything began to fall apart and in time, she decided to take a count of how many people really did love her? Not her family, obviously. Not even herself. It seemed like the only source she had for relief was a friend she'd abandoned long ago.

"I'm sorry," she whispered into the darkness. "I'm sorry I left you behind."

The next day, late in the afternoon, a nurse was returning a mop to the closet of cleaning supplies. She gasped and dropped the mop at the sight of Alicia's body lying next to an empty, gray bottle.

The case for privacy and anonymity (2, Insightful)

Ferret55 (589859) | more than 6 years ago | (#22543362)

"if you don't have anything to hide, you don't have a good reason to worry about losing your privacy?"

If a person is an upstanding member of the community that has done nothing wrong in any way, is law abiding, upright, honest and noncontroversial in their actions why should (s)he worry about revealing everything there is to know about (her)himself? Why should this person's privacy be protected? some may assert that the government should be allowed to distribute personal records about people so that they can do their jobs better and make crime more difficult. Right? WRONG! Privacy and its onus on the individual is misplaced and misguided. Privacy and anonymity is to ensure that people are protected from those with malicious intent, privacy and anonymity is never intended to help a person break the law. This is the case people use against privacy.

Privacy and anonymity is not to protect people so they can commit crimes, it is to protect the individual from the many criminal and malicious elements, whether they be political, criminal, mundane or otherwise.

Privacy protects against embarresment and shame of personal secrets, these may be medical ailments (such as that real severe case of haemorroids you got several years ago) and be through no fault of your own, or perhaps the stigma of a family member(goddamn you Uncle Joe! why did he have to do that to the poor horse, again, and again, and again!) with a criminal history or to protect against discrimination (ie. you're too old, fat, black, white, asian, feminine, masculine, ugly, beautiful... whoops maybe not that last one).

Anonymity protects free speech and future reprisals connected with said free speech being employed.

Anonymity protects whistle blowers that see others commiting a crime and allows the person to do the right thing and report the crime safely without jeopardising their job security or become victimised as a result of their actions. (wikileaks yeah!)

Privacy and anonymity protects against Identity theft, the act of stealing another persons identiy can devastate a persons credit history, with resolutions being either difficult or even impossible.

Privacy and anonymity can insulate an individual against premeditated crimes like stalking, premeditated rape or assault or other such crimes, can all be prevented it the person wishing to commit a crime against a person they have met either casually or online are not able to look up the persons personal details in the future and track them down.

Privacy protects against harassment either from other individuals or from companies that make irritating phone calls or send personalised junk mail. If privacy and anonymity were respected we WOULDN'T NEED "do not call lists" or white/black lists! To clarify, cold canvassing is a different story but usually a purchasers identity is bought for a business and they use that to profile and selectively call those most likely to be interested in a product. This happens ALOT.

Privacy and anonymity protects an individual from persons in high office in government that may target a particular individual or group for political reasons.

It doesn't matter who it is, privacy and anonymity should be respected by all individuals, groups, agents, organisations, companies and governments, only you can be trusted fully with your personal details and all the above mentioned should should respect the privacy of others and only release personal information about a person with their consent. In a world that hardly respects privacy to begin with, we have everything to hide. For a law abiding citizen that just wants to live their life their own way ALL the above resonings for privacy and anonymity apply!

Nothing to hide (1)

jandersen (462034) | more than 6 years ago | (#22543388)

We all need privacy - I mean, would you feel comfortable with knowing that there might be a camera in your bedroom? Or in your bathroom? There has to be a limit somewhere, a space where can be alone. Some people may not mind crapping in public (this was apparently what the Romans did, more or less), or knowing that their minds could be read electronically (the technology to do so is getting closer each day); but having a safe haven somewhere is a fundamental need for all living creatures, I think.

So, "I have nothing to hide" is simply not true. I have lots to hide, and I would prefer to have a say in what I have to reveal to others, if it's not too much trouble.

Two personal examples (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22543596)

Some years ago, I had a very strange medical problem. A very severe auto-immune response. The doctors ran through the gamut. Rheumatoid Arthritis, Rheumatic fever, Lupus, Lyme's Disease, Lymphoma, Steve Johnson syndrome, eventually long shots, like HIV, advanced STDs. Nothing, nadda, zilch.

Eventually it was concluded it was a rare allergic reaction, just the right combination of things.

Well, about 3 weeks after the hospitalization, guess what comes in the mail?, a big splashy vivid orange package for fucking Rituxan (a lymphoma/arthritis medication). Is that any of my neighbors fucking business? No it's not.

A far more insidious (in my book) example. I racked up some debt taking care of my mother when she was dying. Anyway, for Valentine's, I send my girlfriend flowers at her work. Three days later, guess what? Creditors calling her work, asking for my girlfriend, and asking about my whereabouts. When asked how they got this number, they replied "We heard you were dating".

Outside of that one credit card transaction, there was no other paper trail connection to us otherwise, anywhere on earth. It's obvious they used the records to call her and harass her at work. That's not fucking right.

Now let's extrapolate that. Let's say I was a married or taken man, and that was not my wife? Would they have the right to potentially destroy a family or otherwise cause such destruction in someone's life?

Sure, some people will say, they would be getting what they deserved, but it misses the point, I'm of the mind that if business is allowed to get that personal, then it's a two way street, including grievous, personal harm in return.

Re:Two personal examples (1)

balloonhead (589759) | more than 6 years ago | (#22543864)

it's never lupus

the "nothing to hide" argument (3, Interesting)

axx (1000412) | more than 6 years ago | (#22543676)

On this subject, this was posted last summer, so some of you probably read it. Quite worth the read though, it makes valid points.

"I have nothing to hide" and other misunderstandings of privacy
http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/07/10/2054219 [slashdot.org]

Lead by example..? (2, Insightful)

phelix_da_kat (714601) | more than 6 years ago | (#22543794)

Definitely.. The arguement that you should have "nothing to hide" is not the point.. the example above of making your daughter's (well anyones diary) available is a good example. It may not be incriminating, but it is private (and hence potentially embarrassing to that person). Also, if these proponents of "nothing to hide" are so keen, why don't they put up their WHOLE life stories and personal details on MySpace/Facebook and see what happens (not that I have anything against these sites - apart from the stories of privacy and misuse of data by 3rd parties). The fact that a 3rd party can misuse this information is terrifying.. its like a divide between those who can snoop versus those who cannot. If a cop said to you, "oh you don't need a lawyer, you have nothing to hide".. would you? Even if you are not guilty, you would still want a lawyer to make sure due process is carried out and the cop is not "bending the rules".. The thing is, everyone has something to hide - it does not mean its wrong..

People are the worst... (4, Insightful)

SystematicPsycho (456042) | more than 6 years ago | (#22543804)

I'm an Oracle DBA and from what I've seen sometimes people don't even know they're breaking the law. The worst case of data theft without people knowing is when they take an export of production data to development for testing. You're not allowed to do that! I've seen organisations not even know what data they have or that it should be audited. And when it was audited the level of auditing was totally insufficient. Mainly because some clown set it up and didn't understand the requirements from management, or management let some clown set it up and didn't understand the requirements themselves but were glad to hear "it has auditing enabled".

I hope this doesn't come across the wrong way but since alot of companies have been outsourcing their systems to India data theft has increased (google for 'inda data theft'). for example - http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/10/05/india_exposed/ [theregister.co.uk]

Heh, I saw someone on the Oracle forums post a question, "how do I take an export of Production to import to my home PC" and judging by the name... and he even mentioned he's allowed?!
http://forums.oracle.com/forums/thread.jspa?messageID=2289794&#2289794 [oracle.com]

Some do it right, though (1)

cheros (223479) | more than 6 years ago | (#22543880)

I've been involved in testing a data scrambled for a European bank for exactly that purpose. They used a product that did a reasonable job, and with a few small changes we ensured that pattern analysis to rebuild the original source wouldn't work.

I've also dealt with both gov and financial people that understood the dangers of unauthorised access, some wnet so far as to insist on checking audit was correctly, which is IMHO a very intelligent form of self preservation - few realise that logging can also prove that you did NOT do it, a sure boon for the current trend of considering someone guilty until they prove themselves innocent..

A Word on Privacy and Human Dignity... (4, Insightful)

flajann (658201) | more than 6 years ago | (#22543958)

The problem with having private details of your life exposed are multifarious. You can't always expect to know how the information may be used against you in the future.

One case in point that I often beat to death (among those who know me, of course!) is the case in California, where "Megan's Law" resulted in quite a few gays being put on the list because they were considered "sexual offenders" by an earlier set of laws, and their names remained in files sitting around in the office of the bureaucrats for years.

Do we all have stuff to hide? Yes! But what is wrong with that? Just because we have stuff to hide doesn't mean that it's "illegal" -- just that we don't want the entire world knowing about it as all. People tend to judge you on the basis of their own morality, and their own expectations. If you happen to simply not "fit in", you could be harassed by the very private information on yourself were it to be exposed.

So the whole sneaky argument of "do you have anything to hide" becomes a semantic one, one in which we all

privately answer "yes" to, but because of the implication we are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Even the very question is in and of itself an invasion into our privacy. That very question turns privacy upside down and invites further inquiry. Instead, the question should be answered with a question -- the same question -- thrown back at the person asking it. And if said person says "no", then start asking that person really private questions and see how they respond. Questions like, "do you do cunninglingus with your wife" or similar. That act, by the way, is still considered illegal in some states!

So, the truth is, if you are human at all, you have something to hide. That is nothing to be ashamed of. There is nothing wrong with that. Privacy, by its very definition, is all about "hiding" details of your life you don't wish the world to know -- and of course, is nobody's business, anyway.

So, really, the question is really saying "Do you have anything to be private about", and nearly everyone of course will answer "yes" to that. If you have something you wish to keep private, then you have something you wish to keep hidden. Period.

Compartmentalisation and Shrouding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22544746)

One database issue I've thought about lately is due diligence in hiring. If a person submits a resume, that resume should be completely parsed and stored in a database and the original destroyed by someone who has no contact with anyone involved in checking data, verifying the data or analyzing the data. While all the data should (in theory) be verified, doing so without historical databases is difficult. Most of this verification probably does not need to be done in a way where the identity of the person the information is about.

For instance, say there is an address in a resume. Did that address exist at the time the resume said it did? If the address is for a business, did the business reside at that address when it said it did. If there is a phone number associated with an address, was that association in effect when the resume said it did?

If electronic databases are available, all of this can be done by program. It may be possible to manually do a bunch of this, but most organizations wouldn't prefer to do things that way. But in a manual verification, each piece of information needs to be tagged in some way with the identity of the person who submitted it. This could easily be some random string made up when the information is checked out, and is only used again to check in the results of the verification. After that, this random string is forgotten/destroyed.

If all of the anonymous information in a resume checks out, then a person starts to verify information that requires the person's identity. Did they actually take the course specified at the time they said they did? The check-out/check-in of the data from a database works better, as the view needed only needs to consider the data in question, not the entire record. And it is better done as, check all the persons taking courses at institution A; instead of checking all the courses done by person A. Of course, the institution in question can help in shrouding data by assigning random strings to organizations seeking to check information that act as one-time student IDs. The checks for registration are then done against the shrouded IDs.

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