(1) I break laws I don't know about
(2) I do things which might be misinterpreted as breaking the law or as being immoral
(3) I do things which are considered immoral by most people, but which are not illegal.
For these reasons, I cannot act autonomously or creatively without privacy.
So even if you haven't broken the law or done something that could be misconstrued as such you are still at risk.
All this lack of privacy does is increase the size of the haystack while keeping the number of needles constant.
But hay looks a lot like needles and plenty of 'hay' will end up being prosecuted for stuff the needles get away with.
Less privacy means more solved crimes, but it also means many more false positives.
The 'if you've got nothing to hide why do you want privacy' crowd seems to be completely oblivious to this, until they end up being hauled in to the station for something they had nothing to do with themselves. That's when reality kicks in and suddenly they switch sides (but by then it's obviously too late).
We live in a society that is predicated on fear, fear of crime, of terror and so on. And most of us are willing to trade their freedom for security all too easily.
If you want absolute security, you should realize that that is only possible in a society that has more in common with a prison than with a park.
Robert Heinlein wrote a whole bunch of books around this theme, if you like SF and you haven't read those book yet I suggest you do so, there is some really good stuff in there.
I have the perfect real-life example of exactly that
Portland-area lawyer Brandon Mayfield was arrested in May 2004 because his
fingerprint matched one found on a bag of detonators near the train station in
Madrid in the March 11 2004 bombing, which killed 191 people. But Spanish
authorities said the fingerprints belonged to another man, an Algerian.
A US federal court later threw out the case against Mayfield, and the FBI
expressed regret for the "fingerprint-identification error". As a former
Army officer, Mayfield's fingerprints would be on file with the government.
A law enforcement official said the fingerprints were not on file because
of any crime or as part of the government's terrorism databases.
The lawyer is lucky that the Spanish found the actual bomber. There are probably many such cases where the absence of privacy caused horrible damage to innocent people.
The one I'm thinking of (but not sure what the title is) features a park that is a reclaimed stretch of highway where people are free to do as they please in a society teeming with surveilance. The park is supervised by cops eyes, floating cameras that double as little weapons platforms.
A tinkerer brings them down and chaos ensues.
Nice insight in the human mind in there, and how thin the veneer of civilization is.
That's why I couldn't find the title :)
It must be 15 years since I last read those and it was in pretty quick succession while quite ill.
"(3) I do things which are considered immoral by _some_ people, but which are not illegal."
Once, stealing an apple from an orchard was kiddie mischief, punished by a spanking from the owner. Now it's a criminal activity, which gets you taken away from your parents if you run into the wrong police, or 'children safety' officer. Writing about stealing an apple when you were eight won't cause employers to blink currently (at least, I think). Who knows how moral values will have evolved ten years from now?
You don't have to look further than the cases of teens currently being branded as sex offenders for sending each other photos of themselves.
Perhaps we just haven't hit the magic number of glaring errors and perversions of justice that will bring change.
Yes, there have been miscarriages of justice, and there have been abuses of the legal system (particularly in the US, which in my studious and considered opinion has a dumb legal system that encourages such actions by the big boys with vast legal warchests). Of course these things are bad and legal systems that allow them would be better if they had stronger safeguards to protect the innocent.
But if you look at the big picture, there are a lot of people (mostly young ones) growing up with this unhealthy attitude that anything you can physically do is OK and you can take what you want for free because you'll get away with it. Shielding those people from being held accountable, on a pretense of defending privacy, is not going to make society any more enlightened, it's just going to raise a generation of people who don't think about anyone but themselves.
I'm arguing, simply, that the RIAAs lawsuits are chock full of injustice: a flawed core conceit (that IP addresses can identify individuals), lawbreaking (unlicensed PIs) and piles of collateral damage (file-sharing grandmothers?).
It's not that I think file-sharers should be able to violate copyright law. It's that I see no evidence that the public is particularly motivated by injustice to seek change.
The problem I have with this argument is that, despite all the legal chicanery, the chances are that most people the RIAA are going after really did do it. I understand the desire not to punish the innocent, and the reaction of the public when such stories make the headlines, but don't forget the other perspective: big media companies may adopt naive policies in an attempt to reduce piracy, but the guys running them are staring at 10 people, knowing that 9 of them are ripping them off, and listening to lawyers telling them they can't have any money back because no-one can prove to some practically unachievable degree of certainty who the 10th is.
> It's that I see no evidence that the public is particularly motivated by injustice to seek change.
This is a big problem with a lot of legal issues relating to modern technology and the new abilities it gives us. The implications of fundamental shifts like having the Internet or being able to store and analyse vast quantities of data probably won't be fully understood even by interested parties or expert observers for several years.
The average guy on the street will probably never appreciate some of the subtleties in any given area of law, even if it does affect him, because unfortunately people don't always think things through and research the facts before forming opinions. For example, how many people in any given copyright debate on a geek-friendly forum will ignore the fact that big business is mostly owned by institutional investors who run things like pension funds?
Mass copyright infringement is not a "victimless crime", and it doesn't just hurt "those big studios who were ripping us off for years". It hurts people's savings accounts, and pension funds, because when profits are reduced at the big media companies, the values of the investments goes down. At this point, someone traditionally trots out the old "illegal copy != lost sale" argument, again invoking something that while true some of the time is clearly not true of a lot of illegal ripping. And so the argument continues, with the critics using individual cases that appeal to emotional responses, wilfully ignoring the big picture because it's "just greedy businesses taking the hit, not real people".
This is why it is important for laws to be made by people who have spent the time to look at the facts, think through the implications, and then adopt a policy that is consistent with principles the general public support when fully aware of the implications. But it is then incumbent on those who make the laws to justify them on demand to a sceptical public, and right now this is where the copyright brigade are failing miserably.
Unfortunately, our legal system isn't supposed to tolerate that sort of process. 'Better guilty men go free than an innocent man be punished' and all.
Very real, very serious consequences are befalling innocent people. Very real laws are being broken in this process with little to no repercussion.
If my store is looted during a riot, we don't simply round up 10 people without proper evidence and due process, just because it's extremely likely that 9 of them really are guilty. That just is not how our system is supposed to operate.
Got a reference for that? It seems unlikely on the face of it.
This whole process could be triggered by a small child throwing a pencil, and if none of the bureaucrats speak up on behalf of common sense, things can quickly escalate until there are serious investigations into whether the child needs to be removed from the home.
Certainly in the UK more kids assault teachers than get arrested for it; far more than get charged.
If the kid does something that looks to the law like assault to their teacher then what do you think is proper punishment? "Don't do that again!"?
When a kid does violently assault a teacher then this strikes me as more than sufficient cause to investigate the child's home-life and upbringing to ensure they're not themselves subject to similar abuse.
In inner cities (in the UK) police will just confiscate it in most cases (if it is a small amount) as they have more important things to do. In the sticks though they will process you fully as they have less to do.
It gives the state the power to come and arrest you at any time, for any reason, as they will probably find something in your history to convict you of. Yes, most of the time they won't bother, just like insurance companies won't bother checking your illness history for discrepancies, until you become 'inconvinient' to them then they can find any reason to arrest (or deny coverage in case of insurance companies).
In general, as applied to any institution, the rule is to make complicated processes and regulations, such that any particular individual the institution controls, has a very high chance of breaking some of them. That makes it very easy to selectively enforce laws and the institution can choose to enforce based on any reason, legal or not, since there is always a legal 'cover' -- the 'official' broken rule (law).
EDIT: changed "rate" to "chance" in last paragraph
Personally, I like the soundbite I first saw a couple of years ago: if I have nothing to hide, why do you need to watch me?
My favorite is "mopery". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mopery
When a co-worker (ex-cop) told me about this, I nearly died laughing at the insane genius of such a thing. He said that, basically, a cop could always find some reason to roust someone they didn't care for, even if in the long run the charge didn't stick.
When you enter a regime where every infringement can be caught, the balance of the laws are broken. Very badly, in fact. Over the centuries we have been allowed to delude ourselves into thinking the law actually says what it seems to say because it was utterly physically impossible to completely enforce them. Our generation is going to have to re-discover the idea that even a broken law isn't worth enforcing unless there's a compelling social reason to do it.
You can already see the movement forming, if you know where to look; the current manifestation is a small movement towards re-enshrining the idea that a violation of the law must be accompanied by "criminal intent". (Which, among other effects, is the end of "ignorance of the law is no excuse", which also has to go. That only applies to natural or moral law; ignorance of the illegality of murder is no excuse. Ignorance of the illegality of importing orchids damn well is an excuse!) But it is small and has a long way to go.
Copyright law was not meant to make it completely impossible to copy anything, ever; it was meant to prevent large-scale infringement on either a personal or business level. It was never really designed to go after every infringer for creating mix CDs of music they already own copies of, even though a strict reading of the law says that's illegal. But where's the social harm in that? (Bearing in mind I said they owned legal copies already.)
The laws don't say what they appear to say, there are hidden caveats based on the physical possibility of enforcement, the humans involved in the justice system, and the impossibility of turning 250% of the population to the task of law enforcement. Until we make these caveats explicit, the law will increasingly become the anti-lottery, winning you the right to a randomly destroyed life for no good reason, and you can't not buy a ticket.
Imagine how badly that would be abused if it were a law.
The difference with something like the "condoning" rules is that they essentially take away the right to remain silent from the 5th amendment. Of course, they can get away with it because they are just rules at a school.
Also, why not have absolutely draconian consequences for the legal transgressions of the makers and enforcers of laws.
For example, if you are charged with a serious felony, but later released because you are actually innocent - lack of privacy almost ensures that your life is ruined anyway, even though you are innocent, because the media loves to blow everything out of proportion - but rarely seems to go back and correct their earlier stories when you've been found innocent, or if they do, most people have already read the sensationalized news condemning you and the damage is already done.
So, without even breaking any laws or doing anything wrong, without privacy you might find your life ruined anyway.
 How to be Invisible, by JJ Luna, http://www.amazon.com/How-Be-Invisible-Essential-Protecting/...
I strongly recommend people with viewpoints on either side of the argument to go read D. Solove's essay on the subject over at http://crysp.uwaterloo.ca/courses/pet/F07/cache/solove.pdf - it's quite short and a great read.
His "Understanding Privacy" work is a fantastic book which develops this and his other essays, and provides a great methodology for understanding the scope of - and breaking down the harm inherent in - modern privacy problems. I studied it for my Master's in Cyberlaw, and would highly recommend anyone with an interest in IT / cyberlaw / philosophy to track down a copy and read it.
Also, there are moral issues. Abortion is legal in many jurisdictions, but many people will still treat it as homicide. Am I really under any obligation to argue about abortion with a potential employer or suffer the consequences of not sharing the employer's opinion? I think not. Keeping professional duties and private opinions separate is my right and it is necessary for any company to remain functional.
If there is a law that you could break without knowledge and without harming anybody then this law is against common sense and should be abolished.
Upholding privacy as a way to get around stupid laws is like suppressing exceptions in computer programs so that errors would not manifest themselves.
Because no one is bothered there is no incentive to fix it.
When it comes to laws we don't need privacy as much as we need common sense and latitude.
I know its fun to rag on public officials on Internet forums. But most of the ones I know have been fairly decent people who are just doing their jobs. There're a few bad apples, but there're a few bad apples in any population. Even the TSA officials (which gets my vote for "worst government bureaucracy") were very apologetic when they confiscated my toothpaste.
I think that you're more likely to get absurd institutional behavior - like confiscating toothpaste - when you deny latitude in employee judgment. The TSA screeners have this massive rulebook that they have to follow, and they risk losing their job when they deviate from it, even if they personally believe the rules are stupid.
Same with the private sector. Companies that have the best reputations tend to be those that empower their employees to solve the customer's problem, like Virgin or Nordstroms. Companies with the worst reputations tend to be those where the employees can't do anything but follow the playbook, like most telecoms.
So I am claiming that loss of privacy that I perceive inevitable in face of modern and upcoming technology is not necessary bad thing because it may create the demand for fixing some stupid rules that may cause some of us harm.
Problem is that it's much easier to ignore bad rules than it is to fix them. You're assuming that if everyone had to abide by the bad rules, they'd get fixed. I'm not sure that's the case - the examples I gave indicate that when you force employees to abide by bad rules, they just start acting badly.
When I was younger, I used to find it very frustrating that the rules said one thing but the way everyone acted was something else. We even have a word for that: "hypocrisy". But as I've gotten older and occasionally even been responsible for creating some of those rules, I've started realizing that the rules are an abstraction. They're there to set expectations. They aren't followed exactly because they can't be followed exactly, and if you try you end up with absurdities like confiscated toothpaste. I'm not so certain that fixing the laws will work, both because it's difficult and because it's quite possible that the reason the laws are broken is because they can't take every situation into account, not because their authors were stupid.
If there is a strong asymmetry between law makers and people who must respect the law (such as in case of employers and employees) people will obey because they have no choice. But even then they will vote with their legs leaving environment that is governed by stupid laws. In case of state and citizens in democracy there is no such strong asymmetry because government must maintain appearance that it works for the people.
> it's quite possible that the reason the laws are broken is because they can't take every situation into account, not because their authors were stupid.
Same thing with computer programs or any complex system but it should not stop us from striving for improvement and inventing tools that may make such improvement possible.
I think that surveillance is one such tool that allows to monitor how much harm enforcing given law can cause and may lead to fixing the law.
I would, for example, never consider moving to the UK with their surveillance, etc., but they obviously have a large populace that disagrees.
Trying to force people into doing something they just don't want to do never works.
Privacy is nice because it doesn't require large numbers of people to act sanely.
This could be said about a lot of people who did incredibly horrific things. Virtually no one, no matter how evil they appear to everyone else, really thinks of themselves that way. They always justify their actions in some way (e.g. "The world will be better off without this race", "no one else is smart enough to see what I see, so fudging a little bit is completely justified. They are too simple minded to understand anything else", etc.).
In regards to rule following, people fall into one of two categories: "Rule followers", people who follow what the rule says, and people like myself who follow the sense behind the rule, not the words specifically and even then only if it makes sense .
People from e.g. your TSA example are clearly "rule followers". Here is an article that outlines some of the issues with following rules to this degree: http://www.scribd.com/doc/6433397/The-Authoritarians
Basically, if you can get people who will blindly follow rules you can accomplish just about anything with them. It's also a very handy justification for highly antisocial behavior. Of course people in my category can also use shaky justifications to engage in poor behavior but I can't claim "I was just doing as I was told".
I have plenty of "rule follower" friends (whom I constantly annoy with my heretical suggestions that rules are just guidelines). But at the end of the day we can only judge people's actions based on what they did (rule follower or not). Not how friendly they are doing it. Jeffrey Dahmer's neighbors thought he was nice enough.
>and they risk losing their job when they deviate from it, even if they personally believe the rules are stupid.
If everyone would avoid rules that are, from a common sense point of view, stupid then their job wouldn't be "at risk". They couldn't be replaced with anyone who wouldn't do the same thing.
>Same with the private sector. Companies that have the best reputations tend to be those that empower their employees to solve the customer's problem, like Virgin or Nordstroms. Companies with the worst reputations tend to be those where the employees can't do anything but follow the playbook, like most telecoms.
 e.g. I don't stop at a stop sign if I can clearly see that I can go without impacting anyone else. For me stop sign means "the other people have the right of way, don't impact them". I find following the letter of the law "all four wheels to a full and complete stop" irritating, insulting and of little or no value.
I can digest your "rules as guidelines" approach, but blowing stop signs because you feel like it is just stupid.
Because none of us have perfect perception. Because we get distracted, sometimes at the wrong moment. Because sometimes we just don't perceive an oncoming car. Motorcycle riders are painfully aware of this fact.
We're supposed to stop at stop signs in order to make absolutely sure there's no oncoming traffic. Slowing down and glancing to each side doesn't cut it, and if you think it does, you've got some growing up to do.
I _always_ stop and look every way.
Implicitly you assume that your senses are infallible and that you will _always_ detect any other vehicles entering the intersection; you may someday be wrong. Several times: I have stopped at an apparently empty intersection only to, a split second later, observ a vehicle enter and leave at high speed without slowing or stopping. Had I merely driven through the intersection I would have been "T-boned" and would likely not be here today.
Of all laws that one could choose to _not_ obey, the traffic laws are among the poorest choices.
The increase in perceptive capacity between slowing to 2-3 ft/sec. vs coming to a complete stop is negligible (and allows one to stop completely if the situation warrants it).
I respectfully disagree. While I try to drive legally, as a pragmatic measure because I value my driving licence, I have less respect for traffic laws than just about any other kind.
Let me be very clear: I am all in favour of promoting safe and considerate driving, and I have nothing against punishing those who do drive dangerously or inconsiderately, including punishing them severely if this is proportionate to the likely consequences of their actions. I just don't feel that the kind of arbitrary, black-and-white laws that we have today are really helping that goal.
In my country, the speed limit on our fastest roads is 70mph. If you do 71mph, even on clear roads with a well maintained vehicle on Christmas morning, then technically you are a criminal. On the other hand, if you drive past a school at 29mph, in the wet, just as the kids are coming out at the end of the day, with parked cars obscuring your view everywhere, then you are unlikely to be prosecuted unless you actually hit someone, because you're under the 30mph limit. The idea that your driving might be considered dangerous (and this might reasonably be argued in court) if you're not breaking some arbitrary technical limit doesn't seem to occur to prosecutors, and the penalties for generic dangerous driving type offences are often laughable; you can get less penalty for killing someone through absurdly dangerous driving than you can for many much less serious crimes not involving the use of a car.
Similar problems apply with:
- banning hand-held mobile phones (yes, they're dangerous, but so are hands-free kits to almost the same degree),
- drunk driving (more than a certain blood alcohol threshold and you're dangerous enough to throw to the wolves, but just under and you're fine, even though people's tolerance varies greatly and someone slightly under might in practice be driving much worse than someone slightly over),
- mandatory bus/cycle lanes (so entering them even when you can see they are completely clear for a long distance is illegal, even if it's just to pass a vehicle in front waiting to turn the other way, and traffic is required by law to queue up behind the waiting vehicle instead),
- red lights for turns that don't cut across any other traffic (so you have to wait even in the middle of the night, on a completely clear junction),
- and, yes, complete-stop-no-really-we-mean-it-lines, for similar reasons.
The problem with such laws is partly that they are designed more for ease of automatic enforcement than in the interests of justice, and partly because as a consequence of the repeated black-and-white approach, many drivers increasingly take the view that if something is not explicitly proscribed by law then they can do it, and even if it is proscribed they can still do it if they think they can get away with it.
Wouldn't it be better if we had traffic laws that were actually in sync with what most experienced drivers would consider reasonable behaviour, and then used actual police officers for enforcement, giving them actual powers to stop and challenge people who are actually driving dangerously or inconsiderately? But of course that's too expensive and requires difficult things like making a real case in court using real evidence that somene's behaviour was actually harmful, so cameras it is.
And in my experience most traffic enforcement seems to be against the latter kind of behavior. (Well, except the cops who sit at the bottom of a hill where the speed limit drops from 35 to 25, because their town needs revenue.) I've never known someone to get pulled over for speeding when they're driving traffic speed on a highway, even if there's a cop right behind them. I think people should and do get pulled over if they're weaving or blindly zooming through red lights.
Isn't it interesting that something as clear cut as traffic laws could spawn such a debate? Pretty good evidence, IMHO, that laws are not clear-cut and there's room for judgment calls in a lot of them.
> Pretty good evidence, IMHO, that laws are not clear-cut and there's room for judgment calls in a lot of them.
The unfortunate thing, IMHO, is that so many of these laws are clear-cut. It would be much better, again IMHO, if there were fewer prosecutions, but those that took place went to a real court where a proper judgement could be made, taking into account all the facts of the specific case.
Sort of buying more time for the hero to make his appearance and fix everything.
On the one hand, I agree with the sentiment that the US Government (at the very least on a Federal level) has deteriorated to a point that it actively prevents itself from being repaired -- it doesn't want fixing. The addition of a two-party system, big media, and citizenry at large careless or clueless about how to protect and expand their liberties, and there's not really anything anybody can do about that.
I don't think, though, that simply accepting bad law as irreparable damage and trying to mitigate its area of influence is a viable long-term course of action. Letting government get progressively worse little by little can result in either a) prolonged suffering for many, until conditions get so bad that the government is disassembled (by civil unrest, economic collapse, population decline, or war), or b) another North Korea, a state frozen in time in total control with little chance of popular revolution, subsisting by the "grace" of other nations that haven't collapsed into political black holes.
One way or another, I expect that the current state of the State will only get worse before getting better. How much worse depending on how long Americans put off the task of figuring out how to start fresh on a new government. One with better antivirus capabilities.
Consequently, I will never take a job for which a piss-check is a condition of employment. For one thing, that is self-incrimination, from which I'm protected by the 5th amendment. And I'm not signing away my constitutional rights to work for some totalitarian employer.
But: private companies are not bound by the 5th amendment. The Constitution and Bill of Rights covers only what the government may or may not do.
Consider who got the piss test started: Ed Meese, Attorney General of the U.S. at the time. Purely contradicts the Fifth.
In this sense, privacy can harm freedom because it allows government to expand its claims without public resistance. Privacy has enabled the government to make most American teenagers potential felons because they share music. If there were less privacy, if the government knew and prosecuted all the file sharers to the full extent of the law, the resulting public backlash would cause the law to be repealed. The best way to change an unjust law is to enforce it.
Say there is only a 0.1% chance that in the next year Google’s servers have a search history leak
Sounds like meaningless speculation; and what does "leak" entail. Even if 0.1% of the data is leaked there is a pretty low chance that his data will be included - or if it is, obvious.
between all their sharing of data back and forth with the US government
Im not sure what this refers to; all data given under a subpoena should be a matter of public record at some point (at least it is here) and I was not aware Google handed out any other data to the government - if he has evidence of that it would be good to see it.
A Google search you made tipped off your local American authorities that you are breaking 16 USC 3370. Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200. Instead go to prison for 1 to 5 years after laying out up to $250k on a fine, unless you get an understanding judge.
Is this a scenario that exists? Answer is no. Of course I support the argument that this set up should never exist in the future - but I've not seen a suggestion Google would roll over to this lightly anyway.
Unfortunately this guy takes a good point to a somewhat surreal extreme - while that is often useful for pointing out flaws in things, his fruit example points out flaws in the law (which you could fall foul of in any number of ways beyond google searching) rather than making any specific point about privacy.
EDIT: any specific rebuttals? Did I get any facts wrong?
Are you kidding? It would, of course, be covered by a National Security Letter (or whatever they're calling them these days), and illegal to even talk about. I have zero doubt whatsoever that the FBI, CIA, NSA and anyone else who wants it has full access to everything Google stores.
I can only speak for here; but a subphoena through the normal courts probably wouldnt - I cant see it being any different over there.
As to the CIA/NSA etc. having allowed access lets see your evidence - otherwise your just propagating paranoia...
and anyone else who wants it has full access to everything Google stores.
Whom else are you referring to? Dont you think such a massive conspiracy would be fairly quick to come to light if it was that accessible ;) conspiracy theories are usually the root of their own downfall - case in point.
Well, I'm not actually American, but seeing that Google is, and that's where they store all their data, and as such both they and it is subject to US law, I was speaking for there.
a subphoena through the normal courts
Why on earth would they get a subpoena? Do you know what an NSL is? Not that they even need that, apparently. Have a read of this:
Dont you think such a massive conspiracy would be fairly quick to come to light
None of this is conspiracy, though it might have sounded like that even 10 years ago. It's common knowledge. Most privacy-conscious individuals I know, including myself, have been operating under the assumption that interested government organisations have full access to anything stored by any business or government entity, with only the sheer volume of data providing any kind of anonymity.
I must have missed the memo. Why is it common knowledge - how do we know? (Im not one to take anything on faith).
The very existence of the NSLs, however, kind of sweeps all these pleasant ideals of due process and transparency off the table. They're a legal warrant for any information whatsoever, can be signed and validated by any FBI field officer, and the recipient is legally obliged to keep the fact of their receipt a secret. There have been hundreds of thousands of such letters issued.
Better yet, the FBI has gotten sick of writing the letters, and the recipients know they have no chance of resisting giving up the information, so nowadays they're not even writing them. See the above article. And as a commenter on that piece writes, if you believe for one second that the FBI has mended its ways since 2007, I have a bridge to sell you.
There are no barriers whatsoever to law enforcement or national security services getting whatever data they want, whenever they want, with no oversight whatsoever. And if you extrapolate a little, taking into account developments such as the NSA's new $2b, 65MW data centre in Utah, I bet the intelligence agencies have full bulk data access and probably a replication of all major email and social networking providers' data for mining purposes.
I don't think any of this could be called a conspiracy theory any more. It's just the reality of world we live in. We might not know all the details yet, but the writing is very clearly on the wall. I congratulate your skepticism and lack of credulity - we sure need more of that in the world - but most or all of this is real and happening right now. The new system was called TIA, then it was called ADVISE. Its current codename is unknown, it was supposedly cancelled, but whaddya know, that data centre is still being built, and another similar facility in Texas. What do you think they're for?
Remember, ECHELON was a "conspiracy theory" too once. The very nature of classified activity is that we don't know all the details while it's going on. But we can sure connect the dots. And there's an awful lot of dots.
> I imagine the other three-letter agencies have their own versions whose existence is not yet on the record.
> We might not know all the details yet, but the writing is very clearly on the wall.
This is what I'm talking about; some of that is clearly bunk (the replication thing). As is your suggestion of unadultered access to Google and other companies with their knowledge.
As someone who works in law enforcement you would imagine that I would notice some of these things. Especially as I also work in computer security too.
But I dont see it Im afraid :)
> There are no barriers whatsoever to law enforcement or national security services getting whatever data they want, whenever they want, with no oversight whatsoever.
This is pretty incorrect - at least in the US law enforcement areas I am fairly familiar with (FBI, CIA). Beurocracy is a killer even in the world of hush.
NSLs are a fact. TIA/ADVISE is, or was, a fact. The massive expansion of data centre capability is a fact. What do these facts point at? You could claim there's no certain conclusion and you'd be right. But you must admit that taken together they do not exactly paint a rosy picture for your data privacy online.
Let me concede that I am most decidedly not law enforcement and readily admit I have no first-hand information from LEOs in the US or the UK. But I do have some little experience with the national technical means in your lovely little sun-and-surveillance-drenched colony Down Under and, well, why d'ya think I'm so paranoid ; )
I'd be so screwed if everything I've done came out.
Today, I'm a pretty law abiding citizen (if I break it, it is in ways that hurts no-one).
I was a rather confused and angry teenager growing up though, and did a lot of things I shouldn't have.
I really take offense to the notion that that should have fucked me over for the rest of my life.
There is such a thing as wanting to start with a clean slate.
Make exception for pedos, etc, if you want, but don't use them as a justification to screw everyone out of privacy.
For fucks, sake.
You'd probably find, if you removed my clothes, nothing remarkable really. That doesn't mean that because of that, I should walk around in the buff.
I.e. "In Toronto, it is illegal to drag a dead horse down Yonge Street on a Sunday."
Also, he's disclaimed up the top that
To the police and future employers:
1. I don’t really do illegal things. I’m actually a pretty top notch guy.
2. Some of the stories in the article may be embellished/fabricated. I do have to say that, right?*
It's always been fairly easy to dig up dirt - even felonies - in peoples' pasts. All you need to do is find one of their childhood friends, act all buddy-buddy, and buy him a few beers. Then as in now, these usually only get prosecuted if somebody has a vendetta against you.
Think of the times that people commit crimes right in front of a police officer and walk away. Haven't you ever driven a few mph over the speed limit when a cop pulls up behind you, think "Oh shit, there goes my insurance premium" as you pull over - and then watch him speed past you, because he's got something more important to do than write you a ticket? When I was in college, the campus police would regularly turn a blind eye to underage drinking right in front of them, as long as no property was being destroyed and nobody had alcohol poisoning. When teachers show a movie to their class, does anybody actually believe that they've acquired public-performance rights to the movie?
In polygraph tests, questions on these sorts of crimes are asked as a control, on the assumption that everybody lies about them. The theory is that a normal person will be more nervous about the little crimes that they're sure they must've committed at some point in the past (even if they can't remember exactly when), but will know they didn't commit the particular crime they're being accused of. A real criminal will be more nervous about the big crime they just committed, and all the petty misdemeanors pale in comparison to that. Makes me wonder if polygraphs give false results for those saints who don't actually do anything wrong.
It's not lack of information that stops most people from being prosecuted for giving our mothers a couple of pain killers, it's that most of the people doing the prosecution figure that they would do the same thing.
To expand on your underage drinking analogy, it's the difference between being seen by a member of campus police and being seen by all members of campus police, including the really uptight one and a range of other people (potential employers, etc.), continuing for years after the actual night of drinking.
The employer issue is already like that, at least for software engineers. I don't care if a potential employer wants to turn me down for something they saw in a FaceBook photo, because there're plenty of other employers who don't give a damn.