Skip to main content

View Diary: The Dangers of Surveillance: Harvard Law point counterpoint (38 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  Do you know the story about how (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CharlesII, CroneWit

    the department of justice harrassed and pursued the author of the Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) encryption program?  They didn't want him to distribute it because they thought bad guys (people like you and me) might be able to communicate things secretly that way.  Made his life hell.

    Given that, it's hard to say that that's just the way the Internet is.  When the Internet started, people compared it to "The Wild Wild West" (that was the phrase that was often used) because people could get away with just about anything.  It's not surprising that they scrambled so hard and fast to catch up with the technology and what it allows.  Now they've surpassed us, the people who pay their bills.  

    I don't accept it.  You say what the NSA does is superfluous?  Fine.  Let's shave it down to just the essential nub then, if that's true.  No more of these fucking huge gigantic database centers that they're building, no more splitters at all the main backbone portals, no more FISA court, and no more secrecy.  Do it all out in the open.  

    •  The private data collection, too, Dumbo (0+ / 0-)

      A lot of why the Internet is broken is to accommodate private interests.

      Buy a wrench and the next thing you know you're served with ads on tools. Ads for tools show up in your mailbox. Restoring privacy would be awfully easy. Browsers could have ad preferences by keyword. Then no identifiers are required.

      All that spam? That's by design. The people who do that usually have to forge IPs and otherwise commit fraud. But there's no money to prosecute them. Interestingly, Big Pharma uses spam to push consumption of their products.

      Viruses. Is there any reason at this point that there are so many zero day exploits? You'd think that software could be tested before release... and maybe re-written to be simpler and more secure. But that would cost money. And, by the by, really secure software would make it harder for law enforcement to use Trojans, for adware and spyware to be served, and so on.

      Are cookies really necessary? Fifteen years ago, we didn't think so. They were regarded as a form of illegal spying. It's possible to customize the look and feel of a website using cookies that customers consciously put on their computer.

      Encryption should be standard, especially for wireless networks. But, gee, then law enforcement might have to focus on a limited number of suspects to decrypt. Can't have that.

      There are a lot of reasons that the Internet is broken. I don't know that it's part of some conscious plan. But certain players benefit from a broken Internet. And so we never fix it.

      •  I'm not nearly as surprised by the (0+ / 0-)

        corporate internet tracking, businesses like adserver.  Why?  Because they are out in the open.  If they are doing shit that's not out in the open, THAT should be illegal, and the government, too, should have a vital interest in preventing that because it compromises the government as well.  

        But let me make a comparison for a moment.  In London, they have a new thing where they have put spy cameras all around the city focused on the street traffic.  It's monitored day and night.  If somebody mugs you, they have it on tape and often they can catch it in real time and send out a cop.

        That's very, very intrusive.  But it's still not really like domestic spying because EVERYBODY KNOWS.  They can see the fucking cameras.  I would oppose what they do fiercely, but there's a huge qualitative difference between that (and, by analogy, adserve) and what our own government is doing, collaborating with big vendors like Microsoft to put actual secret backdoors into our computers to spy on us.  And you know that if we find out about it and if we start looking for a way to remove those backdoors, they'll first deny doing it, and then they'll change the next backdoor so it's more insidious, less detectable, less removable.  

        There's a difference between that and what they do in London.  It's broken trust with the public that pays their bills.  And it's paranoia inducing, although paranoia might not be the right word because it suggests that there's something factually incorrect about the suspicions that they give birth to.  If the government can spy on all your activity through a computer backdoor, is there ANYTHING that you can feel secure about in your personal life that they can't intrude upon?  Because you honestly don't know.  You can be sure, if there's some way to effect such an incursion into that last bastion of privacy, they have brilliant guys thinking about how to do it.

        •  I think Richards laid out the issue pretty well (0+ / 0-)

          First, do people know where and when they are being surveilled? If they do, then they can plan to do stuff they prefer not being in the public domain somewhere/somewhen else?

          Second, even if they do know when/where surveillance is done, is it so pervasive that there's no real escape?  If so, then knowing is not enough.

          Third, even if they know when/where surveillance is done and even if it's not pervasive, is the benefit from surveillance sufficient to outweigh the well-known costs? Namely the mere existence of any surveillance inhibits spontaneity. This was Brandeis' point: that even photographing your kids playing makes them self-conscious about how they look.

          The London cameras thing is actually a pretty good test case. A privacy group has argued that all the cameras simply do not reduce crime. The Met admits that it takes 1000 cameras to solve one crime. They're effective in monitoring parking lots, but otherwise, not so much.

          I would say that the NSA is the same thing. Hundreds of billions of dollars spent on intercepts and they stopped at most a few dozen terror plots (most of which were not likely to succeed anyway). That would pay for a lot of on-the-ground agents.  

    •  The diarist you are responding to (0+ / 0-)

      has a diary up now in which he (imo) counsels complete passivity in regard to NSA's Full specturm Dominance surveillance, going so far as to posit that this surveillance is a part of the natural order of reality.  He is just trying to peddle that position in this diary.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site