Monday, June 10, 2013

Guess I'll repeat the obvious - this national security panopticon thing is a problem

Even though I trust Obama far more than Bush, I don't trust him or the hundreds of other people with access to total information about everything (slight exaggeration) to use it sparingly and only for good. And while I don't like to assume facts for which we have no evidence, the recent disclosures of government spying seem unlikely to be the only spying that's done on the general public. No abuses of the information have been disclosed, but that doesn't mean it hasn't happened, and given enough time and enough people with access to the information, we can assume it will happen at some point.

What exactly to do about it seems far less clear to me. And as much as we environmentalists wished that the public knew more and cared more about our issues, we do a lot better than the civil liberties people do with the public.

One aspect of this issue is that the private corporate panopticon isn't much better than the government one. I've made a distinction in the past between the "reasonable" libertarianism that I sometimes identify with versus "simplistic" libertarianism that sees liberty in black and white terms. This is another case where simplistic libertarians, who see no threat from corporate information-gathering while acknowledging threats from government, just don't make sense. That corporate information is too ripe a target for government not to try to get.

We need some European-style privacy laws.


Anonymous said...

Ever since the french secret service (yes there is one) switched to linux (or something like that, not off-the-shelf linux anyway), I've been sceptical of security on my computers. I went as far as not using the netbanks at all, or never buying anything over the net. Now I've broken this habit. But anyway, this is somewhat a problem for net-based business in Europe, and I guess the fines MS has got from the EU arise from the same suspicions (why should I tell an american intelligence service what I want to buy as an european from europe made by europeans for european use only for a price that's only available for europeans in europe).

I'd like a comment from Julian Assange about this, and he even doesn't need to tell how he organised wikileaks.

Signing as anonymous because sometimes it's fun.

cRR Kampen said...

What's the news?
Doing anything, anything at all, on internet is like shouting in the streets. There is no privacy whatsoever and the spies will spy so they spy.

Discussion and uproar now will have only one effect: everyone will get more used to it. That is all.

dhogaza said...

Encrypt anything you care about. Use SHA256 or better. If you're engaged in illegal activities, assume that anything you put up on google docs etc is available to law enforcement. Be aware that web servers keep access logs. Etc etc.

I'm all for increased privacy laws, or even a decreased patriot act ...

Hank Roberts said...

> corporate information is too ripe
> a target for government not to try
> to get.

And government is too ripe a target for corporations to try to get.

And "well managed information" is too ripe a target for the government-corporate-controlfreaks to try to get.

If you build it and it's good enough they'll off you and take it.

We need some European-style privacy laws.

J Bowers said...

And don't forget the enablers: 107th Congress, 108th Congress, 109th Congress, 110th Congress, 111th Congress, 112th Congress, 113th Congress. Credit where credit's due, and sorely missing from the worldwide conversation as far as I can tell.

I really can't understand the shock and awe at this, when it's just a natural result of over thirty years of gradual backdoor neoliberal rule. Look up the East India Company and read some Dickens: your classical liberal's/neoliberal's/anarcho-capitalist's/pseudolibertarian's notion of how the universe was always meant to be.

old_salt said...

Today I notice that certain Congressman, including supposed liberals, are now calling the leak to be treason.

I find it ironic to find that the spy agencies get so upset when they are the observees, not the observors. As they keep telling us--this is a new world.

Aaron said...

And, government data bases of all kinds are very, very expensive for what they do.

There is no objective way to audit these databases for cost effectiveness. These databases likely have high rates of both false positives and false negatives.

John Mashey said...

I've been busy, so haven't followed all this in detail, and it's been a while since I've vistred NSA, CIA, DSD, etc.

Can somebody explain what they think "direct access to Google, etc servers" actually means?

Anonymous said...

The most disconcerting question is who owns the trapdoor keys to the collection software?

Transparency would begin with identifying the principals of the firms that developed it.