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Privacy, Part Two: Unwanted Gaze

JonKatz posted more than 14 years ago | from the can-new-software-save-the-"Inviolate-Personality?" dept.

Technology 194

Can pseudonymous downloading, "snoop-proof" e-mail, digital pseuds called "nyms," PDA-like machines, allegedly untraceable digi-cash and other changes in software and the architecture of cyberspace, restore some privacy and restore the idea of the "Inviolate Personality?" Part Two in a series based on Jeffrey Rosen's new book, "The Unwanted Gaze: The Destruction of Privacy in America." (Part Two; Part One here.)

In The Unwanted Gaze: The Destruction of Privacy In America, law professor and columnist Jeffrey Rosen first blames expanding sexual harassment and gender discrimination law for wanton destruction of individual privacy. Cyberspace is second on his list.

A growing number of lawyers and scholars, including Rosen, say they now believe that fundamental changes in Net architecture are necessary to protect constitutional values and restore the notion of the "inviolate personality" to the private lives of Americans. These would include copyright management systems to protect the right to read anonymously, permitting individuals to pay with untraceable digital cash; prohibiting the collection and disclosure of identifying information without the reader's knowledge, or using digital certificates to create psudonymous downloading.

To Rosen, author of Gaze, cyberspace is posing a greater menace to privacy by the day. He details the l998 forced resignation of Harvard Divinity School dean Ronald F. Thiemann, who downloaded pornography onto his university-owned home computer. A Harvard technician installing a computer with more memory at the dean's residence was transferring files from the old computer to the new one and noticed thousands of pornographic pictures. Although none of the pictures appeared to involve minors, the technician told his supervisor. University administrators asked the dean to step down.

Harvard justified its decision by claiming that Divinity School rules prohibited personal use of university computers in any way that clashed with its educational mission. But the dean was using his computer at home, not work. And no student or colleague suggested he had improperly behaved in any way as head of the Divinity School. His work was never questioned. It's ludicrous to suggest that the school would have fired him if he'd been downloading sports scores or bidding for furniture on eBay. But although he'd committed no crime and performed well in his job, he was forced out in disgrace, while his intimate communications were discussed in public. Even in a supposedly freedom-loving and prestigious university, what Justice Louis Brandeis dubbed the right of every citizen to an "inviolate personality" -- the part of our private thoughts, communications and explorations once thought beyond the reach of exposure and dissemination -- that is private could be invaded and voided.

The Harvard case also underscores the blurring of boundaries between home and work caused by technology. Millions of employees and workers criss-cross between their employer's equipment and their own for work and personal communications.

The one serious omission in The Unwanted Gaze, perhaps because Rosen is a member of the Washington journalistic elite, is his unaccountable failure to consider the media's role in growing assaults on the idea of privacy. Journalism has become a prime instigator of the destruction of privacy.

Until recently, politicians were permitted the right private lives, along with other citizens, as long as their private behavior didn't compromise their work. But journalism has been breaching that tradition for years, considering even the most private details of public people, now considering even themost private d etails of public officials' lives to be its business, justifying intrusions like the Lewinsky story in the name of investigating character and protecting the public. The contemporary press, which should be defending the right of individual's to historic privacy protections, is demolishing the idea of the inviolate personality, particularly for public figures. This has driven countless people from public service and discouraged many more from entering.

Because the Net is the planet's largest and fastest Xerox machine, as well as the world's greatest new marketing opportunity, it constitutes a particular menace to privacy and is escalating its erosion. Personal information can be - is -- gathered and transmitted more rapidly and comprehensively than has ever been possible.

Corporations busy stealing their customer's private information are now eager to appear concerned about it. In June, more than 30 major technology companies -- AT&T, American Online, Microsoft, Hewlitt-Packard among them -- went to the White House to announce a Net protocol designed to serve as an automatic privacy-protection agent -- the so-called P3P-compliance. But a number of privacy addvocay organizations, including the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility and Junkbusters derided P3P's claim to being any kind of real privacy-protection.

Many of these critics referred to what's known as the "VCR syndrome," which holds that in a country where most people can't figure out how to program their VCR's, overly technical solutions to privacy concerns are doomed. Despite the White House-generated hype, this leaves the idea of privacy in trouble.

The idea of the "inviolate personality" is one of the greatest and newest freedoms in history. In our time it's not only being nibbled to death but obliterated, and almost all of us are willing, even enthusiastic participants.

Rosen believes that changes in Net architecture and new encryption technologies ("snoop-proof" e-mail) could in a few years restore Justice Brandeis' ideal: the right of every individual to determine "to what extent his thoughts, sentiments, and emotions shall be communicated by others." Others agree. A professor in the United Kingdom sent me this e-mail in response to Part One of this series: "... one of my students has just completed a thesis that describes a system that allows you to send messages across the system that are guaranteed anonymous. The system assumes the use of PDA like machines but can definitely be made to work. Privacy of content can of course be obtained by encrypting the messages. (Up to a point etc ...) My student's system is a simple analogue of the public phone system. So it can work since the phone system allows anonymity."

Despite the clear and logical reasoning of his book, Rosen isn't persuasive on the idea that new software will protect our thoughts and secrets. The threshold of privacy referred to by Brandeis and outlined by the Constitution's framers has been nearly wiped out by the media, by gender-discrimination and harassment rulings, and by rabidly invasive and corporately-funded information-gathering software.

Rosen makes a great case that the idea of the inviolate personality has nearly been killed off. He fares a bit more poorly with the idea that it will magically be restored in a matter of a few years with digital cash and a handful of encryption programs.

"Already," writes Rosen, "user-friendly Web sites are spring up that give you the benefits of encryption without the hassles of having to understand the difference between public and private keys. A site like ZipLip.com, for example, allows you to send encrypted e-mails for free without leaving any records that can be subpoenaed or searched."

Rosen writes about the technology of anonymity and pseudonymity being developed bycompanies such as Zero-Knowledge.com, which is based in Montreal. For a modest fee, says Rosen, you can buy a software package called Freedom, which allows you to create five digital pseudonyms, or "nyms," that you can assign to different activities, from discussing politics to surfing the Web.

Should free citizens in a democratic society have to spend money for "nyms" to preserve the privacy they ought to be -- and once were -- accorded in law? How many millions of computer users will even know of this new technology, or have the money to use it?

Rosen's implication is that even if software caused the problem, then software will clean up. His assurances seem a bit "gee-whiz." But to ignore them cynically on that basis, or to trust them completely, ignores the history of technology. What people can create, others can and will undo. Technology that can be used will be used. In an otherwise powerful book, he also glosses over powerful incentives for eliminating privacy in cyberspace. First, the megacorporations dominating media, business and government will continue to aggressively explore ways of tracking potential customers as Net use grows. Secondly, law enforcement agencies like the FBI have been fighting for decades for the right to deploy tracking programs like "Carnivore" (see part one) and are hardly likely to back off. And finally, powerful institutions -- the entertainment and movie industry, professions like law and medicine, and entities like the U.S. Congress itself -- will inevitably seek to regain the primacy they had -- until the rise of the Net -- over copyright and culture, as well as the setting of social and political agendas. It seems naive to think that "user-friendly" Web sites are going to save the inviolate personality people once had, and are entitled to have again.

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This is not a flame. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#917971)

I don't mean to alarm you, but your website hasn't been updated since June 10. So, until you publish somethiing new, please remove the URL from your sig - it's embarassing.

At least link to the /. threads that are relevant. If you feel strongly enough about an issue to post a comment, you should reference it on your site.

There are privacy issue brought up on /. every day. Your stale material doesn't convey the immediacy of the problem.

Thank you.

Wanking - the Chineese home of the GPL (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#917972)

Since you so desperately need it, Mr "Bash RMS because it's cool to"

Since 1984, RMS has been working on writing software for, and promoting the GNU project. A project to provide software which is not only royalty free (free like beer), but that allows the user to modify, pass on and generally screw up said software (free like speech).

The GNU project has always had the aim of replacing UNIX with a workalike system (it could be argued that this is the aim of emacs alone). By the early 1990s GNU was providing a complete set of development and user tools to run on top of many commercial operating system. The only part missing was the kernel.

GNU have been working on their own UNIX like kernel. Built on top of the Mach Microkernel, HURD aims to compete with the most advanced and modern operating system kernels to date. However, development (which of course had to be done using entirely GNU tools) has been slow and even now HURD is not ready for any sort of production system.

In the early 1990s Linus Torvalds, appeared from nowhere with a working rewrite of the Minix kernel written under the GPL, Linux. The Linux kernel is heavily based on tried and tested designs, old technology. However, it works, is fast and incredibly reliable. This was the spark on the arms dump that was GNU. Suddenly there was available a completely free operating system with all source code and a range of user and development tools.

In media terms it appeared overnight. One minute there is a bunch of obscure hackers writing compilers for UNIX, an OS that had not even been heard of by most computer users. The next, there are a few distributions of "Linux", providing the kernel alongside sets of GNU tools.

Linux took off, picked up by many students wanting to get their hands dirty with something that they could work on and learn about it was propelled into teaching institutions, ISPs and the hands of even more hackers. By 1998, Linux was being touted as "the last best hope" against Microsoft just as the Apple Macintosh had been before they went into their long dark period of flaming Powerbooks and buggy Finders.

Linus Torvalds will not be remembered in history as an innovator, he will be remembered as in implementor. As his discussions on Minix with Andy Tanenbaum show, Linus wasn't concerned with new technology, taking advantage of powerful hardware or dealing with the problems of tomorrow. He seized the opportunity to apply textbook principles and build an OS kernel using 60s concepts. Linus should not be hailed as a great hero, who boldy coded where no man had done before. The reason that Linux is now

Next came the ugly bits. Industry wasn't interested in an operating system written by "hackers" thrown together from whatever was available. They refused to provide device drivers for Linux, mainly because they were concerned that they might give away trade secrets by providing free source code under the GPL. Throughout the 2.0, 2.1 and 2.2 kernels, Linux changed constantly. Providing binary only drivers for it became impossible (was this on purpose). Companies had no choice but to provide code t

Source code was released under a variety of licenses. There was GPL code, BSD code, XFree86 code, Apache code, Artisticly licensed code and all sort of other weird things. The only common factor was that each provided source code and allowed users to at least distribute untampered versions of source code and binaries.

So, in an effort to tidy up the situation, the "Open Source Movement" began. Fronted by ESR and Bruce Perens it brought together all code fitting a common denominator of source code availability and freedom of copying under the banner, "Open Source". Initially, opensource.org claimed to, and did, act as a marketing campaign for the GNU project. It generated amazing amounts of publicity.

However, when opensource.org started to class software such as QT under the same banner as GCC and other GNU software, RMS took issue. He denounced open source as not being purely free software and distanced himself from the movement.

Open source is the power hungry brat child of GNU. Concerned with short term publicity and gain, they abandoned the principles that have given GNU such a strong foundation. After RMS split from opensource, there were various other internal squabblings, most visibly over the use of the trademark "Open Source". Next came the talks at Microsoft from ESR and the killing he made by being on the board of VA Linux. In the space of a few months he managed to suddenly move from the editor of the Hacker's

In a sense, ESR not only distanced himself from the hacker ideal. But showed software developers and marketeerers just what potential for cash-in existed in open source software. Since then, it seems, open source has been the latest and greatest buzzword. Everyone (even Microsoft) has either released open source software or talked about it. Suddenly, there is a vast amount of code available to normal users.

RMS argues that it is wrong to call the "Linux distributions" "Linux". Instead he favours GNU/Linux, to show that the system is comprised of both GNU tools and the Linux kernel. This will probably never happen as the term "Linux" is so well established in the media now (when HURD comes along, things may be very different though). A much better name for most of today's Linux distributions would be opensource/Linux. For example, Mandrake comprises binary only versions of software such as netscape w

Recently there was a Slashdot interview with RMS where questions were submitted by users. The story carried a health warning. RMS is accused by many of being a zealot who wants to see all programmers starve. He is not.

RMS provides a much needed figurehead for the FSF. A group devoted to providing and fighting for free software. Much like Marx, Machiavelli or Neitsche everything he says should be taken with a pinch of salt for life in the real world. But without these people, without the purist ideals they promote we would be stuck in a realistic world of pragmatists ready to sell out at the first opportunity, hardly role models.

The salvation of society in non-anonymity (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#917974)

I love this kind of discussion, it's exactly the kind of thing where everyone and their uncle will wail at the top of their lungs that the world is going to hell and (in my humble opinion) be wrong.
Everywhere and anywhere one chooses to look, North American society is degrading at an ever accelrating rate.
Men, Women and children are being beaten, stolen from, harrassed and abused in more ways than any of us can begin to imagine.
Frustrations run higher and higher everyday, and the common view of one's place in society seems to be "I've got mine, and I don't care if you've got yours"
People that take this view, and with it, undermine the rights and freedoms of others do so often with perfect impunity.
Thus, the cop can beat the Afro-American on the street for no good reason, Husbands can beat their wives, Mothers can molest their children, and children can beat each other into hospitals on the school yard.
Why does this impunity exist? Simple:
Because they are ANONYMOUS.
In his book "The transparent society", Larry Niven (I think... I read it a while ago, so don't blast me for getting the name wrong, the title is what matters) argues this very point in an extremely creative way.
At first, he examines the words "anonymity" and "privacy", and defines them.
As the work continues, he draws parallels between the words, examining how they are similar and different, and in what context.
The idea that he arrives at is that "Privacy", "Freedom" and "Anonymity" are infact not the same at all, though most of modern society would belive it so.
One of the final conclusions that Niven arrives at is this: Anonymity allows members of a society to undermine the laws they agree(d) to uphold.
Because chances are no one will know they've committed a crime under the law, they continue to commit crimes.
Because these people can undermine the law and thus the safety and property of their fellow members, they infact infringe upon what "Freedom" and "Liberty" truely are.
Niven concludes with the idea that in order to protect Freedom, Anonymity might not be allowed.
So abolish anonymity: Place video cameras in the streets, on the freeways, in stores and bars and... everywhere.
And make sure that authorized people are watching them...
But:
Make sure that everyone know's WHO IS WATCHING THE CAMERAS.
Think of it like this:
If Bill Clinton had known that he was being watch by Security Guard John Doe the night of his escapade with Monica, and everyone in the country knew that Guard John Doe was watching Bill Clinton that evening, then the courts would have known
a) which video tape to watch,
b)which Guard to question to corroborate,
c) whether or not Bill did it on the desk or the couch.
Further, Rodney King's attackers might have had an incentive to treat him fairly, instead of abusing their positions as law enforcemnt agents, because they would have known that Officer Jane Doe of Internal Affairs was watching, and that the whole state knew that Jane Doe was watching.
In the end, North Americans will continue to insist that their anonymity keeps them free.
I would argue the opposite. That North Americans are not free because some one IS WATCHING all of this happen, we just don't know who.

Privacy and personal sovereignity (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#917975)

A lot of people confuse privacy with personal sovereignity, the power to decide what you will do with your own life, control over your body and that sort of thing. The courts in fact may have ruled the woman's right to abortion based upon the right of privacy, but actually what they were ruling on was her right of personal sovereignty, to control herself. As proof of that, in many states it's not entirely private the fact that you had an abortion, but you have a blanket right to one.

The important thing about privacy is to recognize that there's always a tradeoff between it and accountability. Account demands light, privacy demands shadow. And whenever people get a choice between privacy and accountability, they always seem to choose privacy for themselves and accountability for everyone else. Especially those they don't trust.

Re:But most consumer-abusive Internet Edge. (1)

Ranger Rick (197) | more than 14 years ago | (#917976)

Going by the name, I would expect that someone fed all of JohnKatz's stuff to MegaHAL [uwa.edu.au] or somesuch.

:wq!

Re:But most consumer-abusive Internet Edge. (1)

Ranger Rick (197) | more than 14 years ago | (#917977)

Neat! You have it published somewhere? Or are we allowed to look? :)

:wq!

Re:Long reply (1)

phil reed (626) | more than 14 years ago | (#917978)

Basing something on a book is technically copyright violation. You did ask for permission, didn't you?

Grow up. Fair use is still legal.


...phil

Untracable cash (2)

phil reed (626) | more than 14 years ago | (#917979)

One of the perceived problems with untracable cash is that the government fears the establishment of an underground, untaxable economy. That was one of the unspoken reasons for the reluctance of the government to approve high-level encryption.


...phil

Re:Untracable electronic money (2)

phil reed (626) | more than 14 years ago | (#917980)

Applied Cryptography [counterpane.com] has a good overview of the protocols required to handle digital money.


...phil

Re:Untracable cash (2)

phil reed (626) | more than 14 years ago | (#917981)

With cash, you have physical objects to track. You can follow somebody around, watching them lug bags of currency. With encryption, all you've got is data, and if you're careful (data floods to confound traffic analysis, that sort of thing), it can be much harder to trace. All you might be able to figure out is that money magically appeared someplace, which is pretty much the same as with physical cash, but you've got less chance to follow it around.


...phil

Re:PGP (2)

SoupIsGood Food (1179) | more than 14 years ago | (#917983)

Hello. The quote was mine, and taken far out of context.

<em>This would be news to professional cryptographers.</em>

My info comes from the spook side rather than the big-brain side of the equation. I'm no cypherpunk, but it sounded like it was not brute forced, but required a lot of time on the big iron regardless.

It's not easy -or- cheap, and despite what Katz wrote, I was using it as an example as to why personal encryption was secure. Yes, they -can- break it, but it's too damn expensive to be used in routine law enforcement, and since everyone still remembers J. Edgar, it's doubtfull the FBI will get the funding to crack crypto.

SoupIsGood Food

Harvard Divinity School dean firing (1)

martin (1336) | more than 14 years ago | (#917987)

OK so what have happened if decorators's clearing out a room had found hundreds of porn mags?? Or even lots of books promoting devil workship.

10c says he'd have got fired...

same sort of material, different medium.

How do you MAKE people care? (3)

Uruk (4907) | more than 14 years ago | (#917989)

I don't know that you can.

People have given a lot of lip service in the past year to the idea that consumers on the internet really value their privacy, and are willing to take a stand against companies that abuse it. But I don't see it. I am one of those people, and I'm sure that a lot of people on slashdot are too, but I don't see that in the general IE using, priceline.com and ebay.com surfing general public. I don't think they're capable of caring, because for the most part, the technology used to track them isn't very well known. Of all websurfers, what percentage would you say even know about doubleclick, much less know what it is that doubleclick does?

I figure that while 98% of the population continues to be oblivious to the problem, market droids will never stop exploiting customer information on the net. You can't make people care about issues, particularly when they're not informed about them.

These Katz articles in that regard make me feel like he's preaching to the choir on this and other topics.

Remember the good old days? (2)

PD (9577) | more than 14 years ago | (#917996)

In the good old days, people with a lot of money were usually able to stay out of trouble with the law.

Nowadays it seems that to stay out of trouble you need to know how to upgrade your own computer!

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

A Way to do Anonymous Banking (2)

sterno (16320) | more than 14 years ago | (#918001)

It ocurred to me that one of the fundamental problems with financial anonymity is that in order for it to work properly you must have a way to actually get money into some sort of bank or what have you. Of course banking laws require banks to gather all sorts of information about you before you can open up an account. Well, I have an idea for a way around this.

Set up a company that would sell smart cards in varying increments that would be usable for any on-line transaction (basically they can just do an electronic fund transfer or send a check to the destination). The smart cards would be sold like calling cards are today and would be readable through a reader that could be picked up for a modest sum. Once you had the card there would be no way to attach the purchases you made to your identity as long as your identity couldn't be attached to the card. That is to say, if you went to a store and paid cash, there is no connection to you and thus you can spend knowing full well you won't be tracked.

---

Re:Untracable electronic money (2)

Kaa (21510) | more than 14 years ago | (#918002)

That I wanted to know was if anyone could think of a good anonymous algorithm for exchanging money online

Search on the net for "David Chaum". Also, Applied Cryptography has some useful algorithms.

David Chaum tried to set up an anonymous electronic money system. His company was called Digicash (AFAIK). He failed. I think the main reasons were:

(1) There is no burning need for anonymous electronic money among the general public.

(2) Governments dislike this idea very much for obvious reasons.

(3) Chaum kept the technology very close to his vest and was unwilling to seed/share it widely so that it jumpstarts.


Kaa

Re:A strong media is good for us (4)

Kaa (21510) | more than 14 years ago | (#918003)

I have to disagree that the increasing intrusion of the media into the lives of politicians and public figures is a bad thing, at least for the rest of us. These people accept that they are to have their lives scrutinised to a far greater extent than normal people - it's part and parcel of being in the public eye.

What you say is true, but there is also the price to be paid. A lot of people who would have made excellent leaders and public figures avoid stepping into limelight for precisely that reason: they do not want their private life ripped to shreds by nasty people looking for any dirt they could find.

As usual, it's a matter of balance: allow people in power to hide their business and corruption will flourish. Strip them of any privacy and no decent person will want to become one. Hard separation between public and personal might help, but it's somewhat unnatural and not likely to work well. I don't think there is a good solution.

Kaa

Re:Long reply (4)

Kaa (21510) | more than 14 years ago | (#918004)

Basing something on a book is technically copyright violation.

No, it's not. Even leaving aside fair use, ideas are not copyrightable. So don't pretend to be a hard-ass lawyer.

Who controlls the digital certificates?

So-called "certification authorities" (CAs). Who they would be is a subject of much debate.

Bah humbug. They own the computer, they dictate how it's used. Simple as that.

Not as simple as that. The poster correctly points out that finding, say, baseball statistics on the same computer would not have caused any problems at all. This is actually not a privacy story (other that the obvious moral: don't put personal stuff on other people's machines). This is a story about puritanical attitudes to sex and maintaining a facade of respectability.

But inappropriate use of company resources has always been a reason for firing somebody.

Don't be anal-retentive. Receiving a personal email on a company machine is, technically, inappropriate use of company resoures. Ditto reading Slashdot and a bunch of other stuff. I can assure you that a company that will fire people for sending/receiving personal non-offensive emails at work will soon find itself with a severe personnel problem. Send/receive a sexually explicit message, though, and things can get ugly very quickly. So, again, it's mostly not about privacy but about attitudes to sex.

However, people lost there individuality to the collective many moons ago

Speak for yourself.

The price of popular culture is losing yourself.

Is it really? Sometimes I eat at McDonalds, occasionally I listen to bubblegum pop music (so, shoot me), and I have been known to watch popular movies. So how does it make me lose myself?

Kaa

Behold the Individual (1)

Alex Pennace (27488) | more than 14 years ago | (#918005)

Find a human, any human. Inside that human's noggin are his most private thoughts. Other reasonable persons understand that it is not good to coerce these thoughts out of someone if he isn't willing to share, even if they suspect those thoughts aren't kosher. Be it the details on how to make an atomic bomb, rob a bank, or an image of a naked 12 year old, those thoughts are basically safe in the head.

Humans are toolmakers. We construct implements to increase our abilities. And now we have evolved from stone tools to computers. Data quietly sitting on a hard drive is just like data in your head: it is harmless by itself. Thinking about robbing a bank is not the same as actually doing it.

As any real crime must involve other physical evidence, society has no legitimate need to seize this very personal data. But as history shows us, society will happily trample on individual rights whenever it sees fit.

You have the right to private thoughts. Don't let the mobs violate you, protect your private information with strong cryptography.

Freedom of Information Means Loss of Privacy (1)

scruffy (29773) | more than 14 years ago | (#918006)

I thought one of our mantras was that "Information wants to be free". There is no fundamental difference between information about you and information about any other subject. Once it has been made available, there is very little you can do.

Clearly, we can make some headway toward reducing availability, e.g., European privacy laws. However, it will be all but impossible to keep personal information private. If someone wants to find the dirt on you, they will find it. We need to have the laws (and the culture) in place so that when the information escapes, that it won't be used inappropriately, e.g., anti-discrimation laws.

Re:Dean's Firing. (2)

Claudius (32768) | more than 14 years ago | (#918008)

I couldn't agree with you more regarding use of University facilities for pr0n downloads. A suggestion to the Harvard Divinity School (and to any organization who distributes computers for people's home uses) would be to do as the U.S. Department of Energy does, and that is, put a sticker on every machine that explicitly states the usage policy. This makes issues of perceived privacy easily resolvable by most anyone capable of logging in. Quoting from their policy:

"Notice to Users. This is a Federal computer system and is the property of the United States Government. it is for authorized use only. Users (authorized or unauthorized) have no explicit or implicit expectation of privacy."

No ambiguity here.

Using the company (or university) resources to surf pr0n is, in my mind, akin to using a company car to drive to the pr0n shop to pick up a few vids. If someone sees you and reports you to your organization, I don't see how privacy can keep you from getting fired if your organization so chooses.

Clarification needed. . . (2)

SMN (33356) | more than 14 years ago | (#918013)

"Harvard justified its decision by claiming that Divinity School rules prohibited personal use of university computers in any way that clashed with its educational mission. But the dean was using his computer at home, not work. And no student or colleague suggested he had improperly behaved in any way as head of the Divinity School. His work was never questioned. It's ludicrous to suggest that the school would have fired him if he'd been downloading sports scores or bidding for furniture on eBay. But although he'd committed no crime and performed well in his job, he was forced out in disgrace..."
I think a little clarification may be needed hear - it appears to me that this man was not "fired" - he was "asked to step down."

Now, while I know those are more or less equivalent, it's important to note that he complied with the university's request, which leads me to believe he did not contest it. Were he to feel as strongly about this issue as Jon does, he would wait until he was formally fired and then take the University to court. This implies that he consented, and it appears that Jon is (as usual) creating an issue where there is none.

Furthermore, I object to the use of the statement "But the dean was using his computer at home, not work." Jon said that there was an understood agreement that "rules prohibited personal use of university computers in any way that clashed with its educational mission," - regardless of whether or not that rule was intended for these circustances, it _was_ a rule, and he _did_ break it. I'll reference some real (read: non-geek) culture here - these seems somewhat analogous to Les Miserables, in which the protagonist stole a loaf of bread to save his sister's (?) life, and was imprisoned for it. While the rules may not always be intended for such circumstances, they still do.

And I probably gave Jon a little too much blame/credit for repeating Rosen's ideas here, but that's out of habit.

Summary (2)

SMN (33356) | more than 14 years ago | (#918014)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I just read through that whole embellished rant (it wasn't easy, believe me) to find that it just expressed one simple idea:

New encryption in the not-too-distant future will allow us to break rules and look at pr0n on Harvard computers without getting caught. Oh yeah, and we can do legal stuff in private, too, but that's not important.

Geez, Katz, if you wanted to appeal to us geeks, you could have saved a lot of time. I suggest that your next article be composed of just a few, simple words:

Proactivily utilizing encryption means pr0n at work!

I have issues with Jeffrey Rosen (2)

/ (33804) | more than 14 years ago | (#918015)

I've met Rosen briefly, and I've gotten him to sign my copy of Unwanted Gaze, and this is only my own opinion, but there is something a bit phoney about the man. I kept getting the impression that he was someone who, while he was genuinely interested in the topic he was writing about, he came off as someone who really wanted to write a book and therefore did precisely the amount of research necessary to appear to know what he was talking about without actually getting a clear grasp on even some of the important details. I watched an interview with him the other day, and he was completely confused about whether it was Intel who was responsible for putting serial numbers into PIII chips and whether Microsoft was responsbile for their unique ids inserted into MSOffice documents, claiming it was Intel who was responsible for the latter. And this doesn't even begin to address the logical errors encountered within the first few chapters of his book.

Actually, I could express the exact same opinion of a certain other columnist on slashdot, but that would be rude.

Re:A Way to do Anonymous Banking (2)

TurboJustin (34296) | more than 14 years ago | (#918016)

7-11 sells these. They're called internet shopping cards or something like that, and work as a credit card (Amex I think)..

Re:but i hate pennies... (1)

georgeha (43752) | more than 14 years ago | (#918026)

Could you at least make them electronic Quarters? Pennies are rapidly being phased out by inflation. I doubt even quarters would be usefull or long lasting at this point.

But then how are you going to get the Freshman women drunk, if you don't have real quarters?

George

When is a troll not a troll? (1)

georgeha (43752) | more than 14 years ago | (#918027)

Maybe when the troll makes a higher point, engages in a Socratic discussion, provides a koan-like illumination, or even acts as a devil's advocate.

So many of the slashbots think anyone who espouses anything remotely controversial is a troll. Boy, I'd love to see a Slashbot debate team.

On one side, Linux is good.

Taking the other side, Linux is great.

Shame, shame, shame on Jon Erickson, some of his posts make us think about our assumptions, and make us clarify our thoughts to defend our opinions.

Go away Jon Erickson, let us rot in the stink of our own reflections, Linux is doubleplusgood, Open Source is doubleplusgood, free MP3s are doubleplusgood, Microsoft is bad, war is peace.

As Ben Franklin said, I may not agree with what Jon Erickson says, but I will defend to his death the right for him to say it.

George

Dean's Firing (3)

jyuter (48936) | more than 14 years ago | (#918030)

Harvard justified its decision by claiming that Divinity School rules prohibited personal use of university computers in any way that clashed with its educational mission. But the dean was using his computer at home, not work.

It's irrelevant if the Dean was at work or not. It was the universities computer, and I far I can tell, most religions would consider pornography to "clash" with an educational mission. Reading sports scores might not be one of the principles of the Catholic faith, but it certainly isn't a cardinal sin.

On this one, I have to agree with the university for sticking to its policies. The Dean should have known about them and clearly violated the rules. If it would have been on his own computer in his house, then you'd have a legitamate complaint.





Being with you, it's just one epiphany after another

A view from Europe (4)

DaveHowe (51510) | more than 14 years ago | (#918037)

Hmm. here in .uk, we have learned to our cost that, once the government gets used to having access to personal data on its citizens, it is very reluctant indeed to give it up. in particular, the .uk government are in the final stages of passing a bill with the following characteristics:
  1. Any government official (including local government, police inspectors and Tax/Customs) can self-issue a notice requiring your ISP to give up emails and/or HTTP traffic logs to them.
  2. Notices don't expire
  3. Notices can come with an attached "gagging order" that makes it an arrestable offence (5 yrs emprisonment) to tell anyone a notice has been served on you
  4. Gagging orders do not expire
  5. Notices can require you turn over a secret encryption key; if you are a company employee with access to the key (for example, a .uk technician with access to the .us based ordering system for a major multinational can be ordered to download the key from that system on the .uk government's behalf)
  6. If you have the authority to order the production of the key (for example, a UK resident CEO of a US company) they can serve a notice on you to do so
  7. If you fail to produce the key (and forgetting / losing the key is no defence unless you can prove it in court) there is a 2 yr jail sentence in your future.
  8. Once they have the key, no-one is liable for its safety or for any losses you suffer as a result of its disclosure
  9. What few safeguards exist are in a Code of Practice that can be re-written by the government at any time; in addition, there are no penalties for failing to follow the Code of Practice.
  10. The target (and/or recipient) of the notice is not required to be suspected of a crime; it is enough that the official is investigating a potential crime
  11. the "economic well-being" of the UK is a valid justification for notices - so trade unions, human rights organisations and foreign multinationals competing against government-lobbying firms are all valid targets with no further justification required
It shouldn't be too surprising to hear that three ISPs have already announced they are planning to move their servers overseas; the largest .uk worker's union and indeed most of the Trade Union Council are planning on following suit.
--

Sex (2)

The Queen (56621) | more than 14 years ago | (#918043)

You are absolutely right.
Why is Internet filtering so popular? Not because parents don't want their kids visiting the National Democratic Party homepage (which sometimes gets blocked - I love that) but because they don't want them finding pr0n. People have sex. People think about sex. Anybody who pretends otherwise is full of it.

The Divine Creatrix in a Mortal Shell that stays Crunchy in Milk

Unwanted Gaze. (1)

goodlogin (57753) | more than 14 years ago | (#918047)

Im an unwanted hetro, what about me ?

Re:but i hate pennies... (1)

daveman_1 (62809) | more than 14 years ago | (#918051)

Hopefully you are not serious. There are many people out there, myself included, who never actually spend a dime of the change they receive. However, I do not simply throw this money away. It makes its way to a change jar that sets atop the dresser at home. Now a penny here or there isn't worth much... If you happen to save up those pennies over a period of say six months though, you will know their true value. Cumulatively, I do not believe I would just be willing to tell someone that they could just keep sixty or seventy of my hard earned dollars. If we can't respect the value of the smallest portion of currency, that being the penny, then don't be surprised when that $.65 drink at the soda machine now cost $1.00 or perhaps $2.00, since we don't use small increments anymore. Or the $1.50 fee at the ATM suddenly becomes $2.00. You can bet that Sam Walton knew the value of a penny. It all adds up. Look at your expenses by the month or year, not by the moment. It will help you to appreciate those pennies. But again, I hope you were just kidding.

Re:KAATTZZ Wassup?! (1)

daveman_1 (62809) | more than 14 years ago | (#918052)

I wish I understood even some of what you just wrote.

Encryption does not ensure privacy (1)

ReconRich (64368) | more than 14 years ago | (#918053)

Many people, especially journalists, seem to have this idea that public-key/private-key encryption somehow provides privacy. The ONLY thing that this form of encryption provides is a (sort of) secure channel between endpoints; it tells you Nothing about the endpoints. There are many digital signature schemes, but they all rely on the fact that the public key you see in netspace, is in fact, the public key of the person or institution with whom you wish to communicate. Ask Nike's webmaster; netspace can be manipulated. Furthermore, reversing ANY public-key/private-key encryption system can be no harder that problems in NP, for which it can not be shown that there is not a tractable solution. Quantum computers are theorized to solve all NP problems in tractable time. Claims made about the NSA over the last few years imply that they have at least good heuristic solutions to NP problems, if not a theoretical / quantum solution. What does this mean ? It means that privacy probably can't be enforced between endpoints unknown to each other (i.e. they do not share a secret unknown to others which can be) by technological means (or any other... If you don't know who you're talking to ...) The only mechanism for persons who do "know" each other, would be encryption based on a shared secret (Private-Key encryption). These systems do NOT avoid the VCR Syndrome (at least yet), and, because they require SOME extra effort, probably wouldn't be used even by people who could. Never mind that most private-key solutions probably have the same NP characteristics that Public-key/Private-key systems have (although it is NOT demostrable for the entire class, as Public/Private systems are), heuristic, theoretical, or quantum means are effective.

All In All there are no secrets. and those interested in acquiring them will acquire them.

-- Rich

userfriendly . . . (1)

abiessu (74684) | more than 14 years ago | (#918054)

But userfriendly [userfriendly.org] sites already exist!

Re:I have issues with the Harvard Dean... (1)

themassiah (80330) | more than 14 years ago | (#918055)

*SNIP* I've worked as a lowly PC tech and have been in a similar position, finding stuff on a work computer that should not have been there. It is **NOT** an "invasion of privacy" when there's a bunch of adult oriented .jpgs sitting in a C:\windows\temporaryinternetfiles folder. *SNIP*


So do you consider it your ethical/moral duty to do a hard drive check of every computer you administer when it comes through? Honestly, I think it's the same as keeping bank statements or something on your computer. Granted it's the property of the University, but if we put you in the same situation (replacing memory, IIRC), why would you go perusing through the hard drive? I guess my quandry is this . . . does your rights as an OWNER of the files (in the case that you created them) or your rights as a licensee to use them (in the case of downloading them) override the campuses property rights?
Here's an interesting paradigm...

The university owns a shelf in your office.

Now you put a vase on the shelf.


Does the university own the vase? Of course not, you paid for it, it's your property.

Now let's say that you put a CD on the shelf. You've licensed the right to listen to the music by paying for it. Does the universities right to "control" the shelf supercede your right to excersize your rights? If a University official comes in, they have no right to inspect the CD. It's not theirs.

people that care already practice (1)

kootch (81702) | more than 14 years ago | (#918057)

The people that give a crap about their privacy already practice encryption when needed, and know what their privacy rights entail. Using your office computer to surf for porn or conduct illegal activities is not included in those rights.

People that care about their privacy turn off cookies, encrypt their email, and don't leave private information at places that don't guarantee their privacy.

For the people that don't wisen up and safeguard their privacy, they deserve to have their credit card info stolen and their identities profiled.

Putting laws in place will be just as bad as giving agencies the right to spy on us. One might take away our freedom and privacy, but the other takes away our responsibility to ourselves.

If you don't want your info spread around the internet, safeguard yourself. Don't rely on the government to safeguard you. You have the right to bare arms, as well as to arm bears. If you believe in your own personal rights, take personal responsibility for your own protection. If not, stop whining to the government to protect you.

Re:Offline privacy (5)

Pfhreakaz0id (82141) | more than 14 years ago | (#918058)

I have a pretty simple solution for this: a few times, I've swapped cards with someone! I just approach them as we exit the store if they are in line in front of me and I notice them use the card. I just explain "hey, do you know they use this to track buying habits? I'm kind of a privacy freak and don't like it, let's swap cards to confuse 'em. This isn't even my card, I have no idea whose it is!" The first time, I did it with a guy I knew. Since then, I've swapped it three more times. I also have two people I swap doubleclick cookies and the like with occasionally.

I think the best way to protest this crap is not to stop shopping there. If you complain to the manager and say "I won't shop here anymore, they just look at you like you are nuts and say "fine" and since the VAST majority of folks don't care, your boycott has no effect. Instead, do things like this to undermine the effectiveness of the data, so the fabulous things these companies are selling don't really come to pass.
---

Re:Untracable cash (2)

hodeleri (89647) | more than 14 years ago | (#918059)

the government fears the establishment of an underground, untaxable economy

What is the difficulty of people doing this with cash? I'm certain that we've all heard (or known) people who got paid for working "under the table" and the government isn't able to tax that transfer or even see it if enough people keep there mouths shut. It will be far easier to carry around big bags of $20s than it will be attempt to hide your transactions online. If you really want high-level encryption you can just download it from some other country that doesn't have export restrictions. When there is a traceable record of communications and money transfers it is far easier for someone to step in and say "you people are doing wrong" than for under the table back-alley transactions that leave no records.

--
Eric is chisled like a Greek Godess

Re:Harvard Divinity School dean firing (2)

hodeleri (89647) | more than 14 years ago | (#918060)

No. He would not have. Part of almost any computer policy any work you work (probably the place where you work too) says that company resources may not be used for personal use. Lets see:

  1. He had a university computer
  2. He was using it for personal use (and quite a bit no less, thousands of pictures!)

End of story. It does not matter if it was a laptop he was hauling around with him or if he was in his office. He was using company property for personal use. Violation of policy and grounds for termination.

--
Eric is chisled like a Greek Godess

Re:Untracable cash (2)

hodeleri (89647) | more than 14 years ago | (#918061)

There is a flaw in your logic. How do you know what is in the bag? How do you know it isn't somebody's gym bag full of dirty laundry? There is no way you can tell unless you invade somebody's privacy, and there is no reason to invade privacy unless suspicious things start happening.

Being online just gives new methods of doing the same thing poeple have been doing for Millenia. It has been demonstrated that some things are always going to be able to slip around the backs of whoever the authority is.

--
Eric is chisled like a Greek Godess

Transparent Society (4)

hodeleri (89647) | more than 14 years ago | (#918062)

Here's a rather fascinating interview with David Brin (probably picked up from slashdot earlier) that I found a fascinating read. Its about having the light shine both ways.

Link is here [lycos.com]

--
Eric is chisled like a Greek Godess

Keysniffers?. (1)

rakslice (90330) | more than 14 years ago | (#918063)

s/sneak into my place, put keyboard sniffers/park a tempest-equipped listening van nearby/

Re:PGP misinformation (1)

Ranger Bob (92127) | more than 14 years ago | (#918064)

I'd say a *much* bigger key.

Re:Privacy == Suspicion (1)

Ranger Bob (92127) | more than 14 years ago | (#918065)

So what you're sayin is, [law enforcement believes] law-abiding citizens should have nothing to hide and therefore only criminals use encryption. I agree that law enforcement believes this, I'm just restating...

Privacy == Suspicion (2)

pongo000 (97357) | more than 14 years ago | (#918066)

Unfortunately, until the use of encryption become the norm, rather than the current exception, law enforcement agencies will continue to devote special attention to individuals who insist on using encryption to protect their privacy. It's a well-known fact in law enforcement circles that only people who have something to hide use encryption.

Re:Long reply (1)

Harri (100020) | more than 14 years ago | (#918071)

A Christian orginization has every right to fire one if its employees for partaking in strongly objectionable material with company resources

Do they? If they have expressly permitted the use of resources for personal purposes, do they have the right to fire when the particular personal purposes don't suit them?

If he was doing something illegal, I could understand. If he was doing things in public, like

soliciting sex in the company car

and thereby tarnishing their image, I could see the point. But just because the people in a Christian organisation have a clearer common morality than an IT organisation, do they have the right to foist all aspects of that morality on what their employees do in private, and more importantly, do they have the right to spy on those employees without telling them, in order to make sure their morals are up to scratch?

Re:Long reply (2)

Harri (100020) | more than 14 years ago | (#918072)

...my employer has every right to watch what I'm doing at work (like this post), whether by a physical boss with eyes or with an electronic monitoring system

When you say "right" I assume you mean "legal right", which is all too different from "moral right"... I can't comment on the legal side of it, but there are certainly moral issues.

1. Is it reasonable to give me a computer for my home, tell me that I can use it for personal things as long they don't "clash with its educational mission", and then snoop on that personal use without informing me that they are doing so? Are they entitled, for example, to read my private correspondence with my doctor, or my diary, or anything at all just in order to check that it doesn't Clash with the Mission?

2. I'd interpret "clashing with its educational mission" to mean actively interfering with the department's activities or doing something which would affect the man's ability to do his job. Not "clashing with the morals of the employer". Surely if you can be sacked for your morals, you should be told before you sign the contract. Perhaps he was. I wouldn't want a job like that!

Re:A strong media is good for us (1)

sredding (107116) | more than 14 years ago | (#918073)

Having journalists who are unafraid to dig into the private lives of politicians means that there is a far greater chance of scandal and corruption being uncovered and exposed, something which can only benefit society in the long run - who wants corrupt leaders?

One day, we may find a perfect leader, a man (or woman) that has never erred in judgement and never made a mistake or acted inappropriately, an enviable example of what is best in human beings and what is attainable in a civilized society.

I hope I'm there when they nail his wrists to the cross and crucify him.

Gimme a break. It's one thing to worry about abuses of power that injure children or violate the rights of others. It's an entirely different issue if the president has consensual sex with an adult female outside of his marriage. Somewhere, there is a balance. Until we find a system that will accept human frailties and weaknesses, we will be left with politicians that are forced to do whatever it takes to maintain the illusion of sainthood.

Re:but i hate pennies... (1)

B'Trey (111263) | more than 14 years ago | (#918076)

Actually, it might be better to use fractions of a cent.

In the story concerning Deja.com linking to advertisements, there was discussion of the fact that banner advertisements don't seem to be effective and of alternative ways for web sites to stay afloat. What if each search on Deja were to cost say, 1/10th of a cent? Would you still use it? Assuming that the payment was transparent, or nearly so, I certainly would. Same thing for Slashdot and most of my other regular sites.

Pennies are a pain because they're large and bulky and fill your pockets. Digital cash takes up no room, so there's no incentive to use larger units.

PGP is insecure? I question the validity of this. (1)

ruebarb (114845) | more than 14 years ago | (#918080)

I question this statement by Jon Katz. I doubt the NSA has the technology to break the keys generated by PGP in a reasonable amount of time.

I would be much more likely to believe the NSA has resources to sneak into my place, put keyboard sniffers and steal keys from my computer before I think they'd decrypt a message from , oh, say PGP 6.53 with one of the larger key sizes.

This also doesn't forget the fact that the NSA can probably tell WHO is sending encrypted messages, so there is a privacy issue there, but I don't think it's that big. I want an encryption I can use on a floppy disc and send from my Library without having to deal with getting PGP from home.

RB

What privacy were we accorded, and when? (1)

jonesvery (121897) | more than 14 years ago | (#918082)

Should free citizens in a democratic society have to spend money for "nyms" to preserve the privacy they ought to be -- and once were -- accorded in law?

Hmmm...let's take a little stroll down a listing of (partial) files released by the FBI under the Freedom of Information act...

Black Panther Party-Winston Salem, NC [fbi.gov]
Brecht, Bertolt [fbi.gov]
Chavez, Cesar and United Farm Workers [fbi.gov]
Clergy and Laity Concerned about Vietnam [fbi.gov] DuBois, W. E. B. [fbi.gov]
Einstein, Albert [fbi.gov]
Gay Activists Alliance [fbi.gov]

I have the sneaking suspicion that most of the privacy that we, as "free citizens in a democratic society," may once have been accorded was due to the relative difficulty of violating that privacy...

As technological developments eliminate that difficulty, we find that privacy dissolving. Now do we think that the issue is the technology or our commitment to the rights of the individual?

Hmmm...

PGP and the NSA (3)

Signail11 (123143) | more than 14 years ago | (#918084)

The algorithms that PGP uses with reasonable length keys are almost certainly not breakable by the NSA in trivial lengths of time (I am not discussing the actual implementation used by any specific version of PGP). The "programmer"'s quote establishes that he or she is obviously incompetent and probably does not work for any defense-related contractor. Jon Katz's use of the quote reveals that he is clueless, but we all suspected that already.

Hash function: PGP in its latest incarnations uses SHA-1, RIPEMD-160, and MD5 in that order of preference. SHA-1 was designed by the NSA and is almost unanamously regarded as the best public hash function today. The expansion function makes it very difficult to control and restrict bit changes within the hash function itself. Even if the NSA were able to create arbitrary collisions on SHA-1, this would not affect the security of the encryption algorithms, only the signature component of PGP. RIPEMD-160 seems reasonably designed; MD5 has serious weaknesses in its compression function. Luckily, almost nobody uses these two hash functions anymore.

Symmetric algorithms: A brute force attack on any encryption algorithm with prudently chosen keylengths (>128 bits) is impossible today and for the forseable future, even with customized hardware. The NSA has cryptanalytic techniques, even decades old, that the academic cryptographic community has not yet discovered. To give some trivial examples, let's look at double transposition, codes, and rotor machines. Even today, the analytic techniques used for the solution of double transposition (without multiple anagramming or known plaintext) were redacted from Friedman's Military Cryptanalytics. The state of linguistic and textual analysis is far more developed in military cryptanalysis circles; centuries of code reconstruction have seen to that. Moreover, the details of attacking advanced rotor machines (essentially anything more sophistocated than the Enigma/Hagelin machines) are still classified. The NSA has shown an ability to design algorithms so fragile that they apparently have precisely the strength they were designed for (visit Skipjack). Nonetheless, if the NSA can break academic algorithms (such as CAST, 3DES, and IDEA), they would be wise to avoid disclosing this fact on something as insignificant as a non-national security related criminal investigation.

Public key algorithms: Without QC, it's impossible that a 1024-bit RSA key will be factored using current algorithms. Even if an extension to GNFS that reduces the hueristic complexity to that of SNFS, 1024-bit RSA keys would require a large enough matrix reduction step that there is probably not enough memory in existence in the world today to do it (even with Balanced Block Lanzcos). It would even be more difficult for the DL problem; the matrix step would require entries to be mod p, rather than mod 2.

Off Topic: but on the issue of harassment.... (2)

xianzombie (123633) | more than 14 years ago | (#918085)

Just a lil somethin' FYI.

IIRC, in the millitary, sexual harassment can be defined (by some individuals, but it varies according to who you ask), that even looking at a person for more than 5 seconds can be defined as sexual harassment.

Oi, they days when the millitary was trained killers, now looking at a person for too long can get you demoted, jailed, fined, dischared, etc. Not that its really likely that those would happen for just looking, but there are some real pricks who could and would take it that far

Re:Untracable cash (1)

Malk-a-mite (134774) | more than 14 years ago | (#918089)

"What is the difficulty of people doing this with cash?"

It's not very hard at all, but much like making a copy of a friends CD - it's not a problem until millions of people have easy access to it.
Much like the recent problems the MP3 community is running into, everyone has been aware of the market for such things. But with the avent of the PC and the WWW it has made it much easier for the average user to be able to do it.

It's no longer finding some guy that your brother's ex-girlfriends once knew who had a closet full of - it's now just of matter of typing it what your looking for in any search engine.
That is where I believe these fears are coming from.

Malk-a-mite
-----
.sig file missing, what's a .sig?
-----

Privacy (2)

Kondoor (135852) | more than 14 years ago | (#918090)

I have come to the realization that anything I do online isnt really private. Your ISP can intercept your email. People can sniff packets if your on a LAN. I use PGP if I really feel the need but, thats maybe once a month. Phone calls are still fairly safe but who knows if your tapped. If people are really all the worried get in your car and meet someone in a park or somewere private and have a conversation.

Katz' pieces are nothing but.....Karma from Heaven (1)

efuseekay (138418) | more than 14 years ago | (#918093)

It's almost certain that a post have to be anti-Katz to gather Karma for those Mods who are anti-Katz!

Let the Karma-fest begins!

---

Re:Dean's Firing (1)

Prof_Dagoski (142697) | more than 14 years ago | (#918097)

More to the point, people in public leadership positions like this have scrupulously separate their private life from their public life. If he'd been downloading to his own computer and hired a technician to do this upgrade, it'd have been no problem; it'd have been private. Because he's downloading porn onto a computer supplied by his university, he's making his activities public because any technican servicing the computer is answerable to the same organization that the dean answers to. The moral of this story is if the company gives you a computer watch what you put on that thing because the company owns it, and has every right to inspect it at any time. It would be a serious breach in privacy for a company to inspect the computer bought and paid for by its employees with their own money. Now, this is exactly what Nortwest airlines did when their employees attempted to organize a sick out. The Northwest Airlines incident represents one of the most serious erosions of the distinction between a private and public life.

PGP misinformation (1)

josu (144992) | more than 14 years ago | (#918099)

"... Right now, it's widely known that the NSA can crack [the supposedly secure e-mail program] PGP, and do so in perhaps as little as one day ...,"

Use a bigger key.

Untracable electronic money (2)

grahamsz (150076) | more than 14 years ago | (#918103)

I had a brief discussion about this something like 8 levels deep in another dicussion but I thought it might raise some interesting points.

What I wanted to know was if anyone could think of a good anonymous algorithm for exchanging money online (or on smart cards as the previous discussion was).

My mind heads along the lines of having electronic pennies, each worth one cent each which are merely strings of text electronically signed by your bank.

That way any peice of software can verify that a penny is actually a real one, but without access to the banks secret key there is no way to make more.

Unfortunately i'm struggling to find a way to stop pennies being circulated at the same time... does anyone here have any thoughts or other schemes for anonymous online cash?

Re:Untracable electronic money (2)

grahamsz (150076) | more than 14 years ago | (#918104)

Having read up on this stuff I think it could be done quite well. Given that as every day goes by it becomes easier for transactions to be online I dont think thier are any big problems with multiple spending. The mechanisms to detect it whilst maintaining anonimity mean it would be practical to exchange small amounts offline (bus & taxi fares seem like a good example) but most stores and individuals could no doubt afford an IP connection to do the transactions properly and securely.

Our university used to have a system like this (mondex) which they are now getting rid of due to lack of interest. Unfortunately mondex was very closed source, had at least one known security flaw (if you broke a link in the chip it would turn off encryption! however i never did get to put my card under a tunnelling ion beam to do so, and since the service was only available to students no stores in the city took out the machines needed for transactions.

What would be a big step forward is if an open source solution would emerge. This could be coupled with cheap $25ish smart card readers and we'd soon be headed in the right direction.

Assuming users could quickly and easily get their cards online (Why not just have little slots next to cashlines that you just swipe your card through to do the necessary processing) we'd have the basis of a wonderful system.

My only grievance with this system is it is still very reliant on the existing financial network. In that respect closed source cards have something of an advantage although i'm not sure if it's the way to go.

I have issues with the Harvard Dean... (2)

yankeehack (163849) | more than 14 years ago | (#918107)

Jon, I don't agree with you on your point about the Harvard Dean being asked to step down for looking at porn at home on a university PC.

I've worked as a lowly PC tech and have been in a similar position, finding stuff on a work computer that should not have been there. It is **NOT** an "invasion of privacy" when there's a bunch of adult oriented .jpgs sitting in a C:\windows\temporaryinternetfiles folder.

If I were the tech in the same position, working on a university owned computer, I would have reported it to my superiors. No sense in losing one's job over someone's stupidity.

The incident you described just illustrates how much non-computer literate people don't understand about their machine's capabilities.

Re:Untracable cash (1)

SquadBoy (167263) | more than 14 years ago | (#918109)

You mean like in The Diamond Age

But most consumer-abusive Internet Edge. (1)

Virtual JonKatz (172139) | more than 14 years ago | (#918113)

In media, by acquiring and powerful entities that these voiceless in fact, a malevolent government confrontation with the bottom of press can't claim anything he acknowledge a bank robber commits a closet utopian, fixated on MS sites include chickclickers.com and corrupting, that marketers can be deployed. But the case. Personal privacy a free-coupon/quilting Web Site Privacy Survey, conducted by the movie chain wants to believe we surrender our privacy.

With government agents and whacked-out rebels -- gave it easy to access to the NASDAQ panic, these silly restrictions on young men in the one of millions of American society. Soon enough, it's for online media company, which is who download MP3s; go to be interrogated about obsessive online displays. The big story lines ... but by the group is that has gone through digitalized toll booths.

The hapless magazine seems to grasp that go much interest in issues like Quake, Machinima could rebound, after Colorado, images that left alone again.

The press was more about it is colorful, offensive. Magic doesn't even a few weeks, we'll have a teacher and foreshadows what they anticipated the warning that way or even expect to her private speech, recognizing that convergence ought to oppose it. I bat a community of violent and ideas.

Selling criticism, cultural lives. Via the culture.

good grief (1)

Golias (176380) | more than 14 years ago | (#918114)

Can pseudonymous downloading, "snoop-proof" e-mail, digital pseuds called "nyms," PDA-like machines, allegedly untraceable digi-cash and other changes in software and the architecture of cyberspace preserve privacy and restore some privacy and the idea of the "Inviolate Personality?"

Good grief, was that all one question?

Take a breath, Jon.

Re:good grief (1)

Golias (176380) | more than 14 years ago | (#918115)

A Harvard prof gets fired for doing Pamela Anderson downloads on a school-owned computer, and a Canadian company is selling a BS "privacy" product... This somehow warrents a Part Two to the summer book report that was submitted yesterday!?

Here's a clue: the lack of privacy on the Internet is not News For Nerds, it's News For Newbies.

Privacy is what you make of it (4)

Fjord_Redd (176519) | more than 14 years ago | (#918119)

First off, i don't necessarily agree with Rosen's first claim that sexual harassment is the leading cause of the violation of personal freedom. Sexual harassment, which can go against both sexes, is just another form of plain old harassment, which has been going on for centuries. People have learned to either learned to adapt to it and ignore it, or go off the deep end and sue whoever looks twice at them.

But enough of that. I see the internet as provding more freedom than the real world can. In the internet, through chat rooms and MUDs / MOOs, a person can REcreate themselves to be whatever/whoever they want to be. Most everyone wants to be someone else, a more gregarious character or someone without physical limitations. In the physical realm, this is not possible. The internet provides a place where we can be all that we want to be.

That true freedom also can be a form of privacy. In this other self you create, you can be as private as you like. You need not include all your actual personal identifications. False information flows abundantly on the internet.

--

Re:but i hate pennies... (1)

chorder (177607) | more than 14 years ago | (#918120)

Could you at least make them electronic Quarters? Pennies are rapidly being phased out by inflation. I doubt even quarters would be usefull or long lasting at this point. Why don't we, the technologically enabled and future focused agree, as new consumers, to say "Keep The Friggen Change" and just start rounding up to the dollar.

Just a thought.

A strong Media is as good as a strong Government (1)

chorder (177607) | more than 14 years ago | (#918121)

A strong Media is a good thing, when it works properly and within its limits. Just as a strong Government is a good thing when it works properly and within its limits. Neither one EVER works properly or within its limits... If the media gains access to private information that they have no right to be accessing then they should be watched and guarddogged as much as we watch and guarddog the Government.

I have to disagree that the increasing intrusion of the media into the lives of politicians and public figures is a bad thing, at least for the rest of us.

You've made somewhat of a mistake here. There is no 'rest of us', there is only us, and the systems we have put in place. If the system enables illicit intrusion into the lives of politicians, then it enables such intrusion into the lives of so called 'private' individuals. If the media is going beyond its bounds or if government agencies are going beyond their bounds in digging up info on politicians, then they are doing for individuals, and that is simple fact.

These people accept that they are to have their lives scrutinised to a far greater extent than normal people - it's part and parcel of being in the public eye.

Monica Lewinski did not volunteer to throw herself into the public. Okay, so she's not the best example, some might claim she was a media whore to begin with, but lets move on to her friends and family. I'm sure they had no intention of having their lives poured out onto the senate floor by a government snoop when they became aquaintences of a certain White House Intern. Its a slippery slope, and it doesn't stop with people in the so-called 'public-eye'. It leads to all of us, and that is why Katz and Rosen call for a greater divide between us and our systems in place.

Re:Offline privacy (1)

chorder (177607) | more than 14 years ago | (#918122)

One interesting thing about the distinction between Online and Offline privacy is that soon there will be no distinction. Web-Based shopping isn't the extent of Online monetary data exchange. 'Offline' supermarket tracking and loyalty cards would not be possible without technologies developed for or in conjunction with the internet. I'd go so far as to call any transaction done with a loyalty card, a digital id number, or even a credit card, is really an Online transaction.

These technologies put you Online, they correlate digitally reproducable data (your cc#, the store id, the $ amount of purchase) with a database containing personal information (cc companies require a name and ssn). This correlated data is stored in a computer. That computer may not be readily accessable through the internet, but it is most certain being passed over copper wires and optical fibers, and it is most definately online. The data is there, and it is matched to you, and with the right kind of access, interception capabilities, or coercion (governmental, monetary), all of that data, not just the data collected from the internet, can be made available.

We are numbers.

/me starts burning his fingerprints with acid and de-magnatizing his Visa card...

Copywrite (1)

Egyptian (178469) | more than 14 years ago | (#918123)

Basing something on a book is technically copyright violation. You did ask for permission, didn't you?

Not copywrite violation, I'm afraid. Copywrite protects the actual text, not the idea, processes, and concepts contained within. If the law were otherwise, public discussion of a book would be verboten.

Read your copywrite law more carefully.

Nevertheless, there is some danger with processes, however simple and commonsensical in that they are currently patentable. I could discuss them to my heart's content, but if they were patented and I used them to earn money, I would be in big shit.

The Tip of the Iceberg. (4)

Alarmist (180744) | more than 14 years ago | (#918124)

Katz isn't saying anything new, but that should hardly be a surprise by now.

We have known for some time--practically since the end of the Second World War (and to a certain extent before)--that the cloak of privacy is shrinking, and eventually it will be gone.

Already, the powers that be are training the public for the day when anyone can turn on a television or go to a website and watch the daily activities of a total stranger. Witness the success of shows like "Big Brother." The groundwork was laid years ago, and though people deride their banality, soi-disant "reality shows" like "Cops" and even (dare I say it) "The Real World" have been preparing people for this for years. Voyeur shows like "Big Brother" were simply the next logical step.

Eventually, the common citizen will have to conduct his or her life under the unblinking stare of the camera, not knowing who will be watching or when. I suspect that eventually, everyone will be watching everyone else. We will all be the stars of our own little Truman Shows.

And when this is in place, then they will have won. Intelligence agencies such as the FBI and NSA can be dealt, however ineffectually, because they can only do so much. The scenario I describe is akin to what's going on with distributed computing processes: you don't need just the best or the brightest to work on the problem. Every extra set of eyes helps.

We know that large segments of a population can be stirred up by mentioning a few key issues. How hard would it be for a fundamentalist figure to convince conservatives to spy on one another (and others) for evidence of sin? How hard would it be for some government official to say, "It's for the good of the children"? When you have a large body of motivated people working towards a common goal, little can stand against them. It is up to us, those who know and can see what is going on, to make sure that they act for the good of all, rather than for ill.

Fight the Power. Close your blinds and stay out of others' business.

I've lost my privacy... Long live privacy (1)

ignatiusst (184670) | more than 14 years ago | (#918126)

Online Privacy. Now that's an oxymoron if ever one existed. Speaking as an American citizen, I am pretty sure that, when it comes to the individual's rights online, the United States is one of the more totalitarian regimes on the market today.

I am of the opinion that individual rights will be placed further and further below the concerns of corporate and government concerns. Privacy online will be completely eliminated in the name of national security or (worse yet) capitalism.

Is that really a bad thing (Well, it probably is, but let's assume for now that it isn't...)?

What if marketers and spies openly kept track of ever online move we made? Am I going to stop surfing for porn, cracks, and political muckraking? Naw -- I know they are surreptitiously keeping track of me now, and I still go to the good websites... Maybe once everyone knows and accepts that tabs are being kept on them they will just lose their inhibitions, drop the façade, and loosen up.

I hope so, anyway.

Re:A Way to do Anonymous Banking (1)

Big_Breaker (190457) | more than 14 years ago | (#918127)

A company is already doing exactly that. I forget the name though.

Re:How do you MAKE people care? - you don't! (1)

Howl (193583) | more than 14 years ago | (#918128)

Privacy is mostly a superstition. The net does not add much to the lack of privacy. If you want real privacy you need to not use credit cards, not get a drivers license, not buy a house, never notify the post office of a change of address, not subscribe to magazines, not have a bank account. In other words not participate in the modern world.

The amount of data available on individuals from informations services like ussearch.com is amazing. None of this is realted to web use, it's all just database marketing and public records.

all this has been going on for a long time and people frankly don't care. Yes if you ask them a loaded question they will react but absent that stimulus they will happily ignore the issue.

John (one of the founders of TRUSTe)

Encryption (1)

egerlach (193811) | more than 14 years ago | (#918129)

Jon quotes a professional who says that NSA can crack PGP, so to speak. This is by no means true. Take a look at the distributed.net effort, which has now been running for 1000 days, and is only 28% through the keyspace for a small RC5-64 decryption. The fastest computers in the world (clusters or no) don't run much faster than this effort.

If NSA wants to spend 1000 or so days cracking my email, they're more than welcome to.

(They still couldn't do anyting cuz I'm in Canada, but they can still try)

Re:PGP misinformation (1)

egerlach (193811) | more than 14 years ago | (#918130)

Heck no!

Increase the keysize by one bit, and you've just doubled the key space. Say, go from 128-bit to 256-bit, and you've increased the keyspace by a factor of:

340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,45 6 (Thank you Maple!)

That's a big keyspace increase.

Re:Long reply (4)

Sodium Attack (194559) | more than 14 years ago | (#918135)

Basing something on a book is technically copyright violation.

Pretending you know something about copyright when you obviously don't is technically stupidity.

Limited Freedom (1)

GungaDan (195739) | more than 14 years ago | (#918138)

I was gratified to see Rosen/Katz mention Freedom (from ZeroKnowledge). Unfortunately Freedom does me precious little good since it's not yet available for anything other than win9x, and I'm not about to relive that nightmare. Perhaps they thought they'd start by offering protection to the most vulnerable, but let's face it - if you're using win9x, you're obviously not too concerned about privacy/security in the first place.

Huh, what? (1)

Vain (195850) | more than 14 years ago | (#918139)

Unwanted Ga.... Oh! Gaze!

*laughs and shakes his head*

Less caffienne, more sleep.

Moderate up! (1)

Jon Erikson (198204) | more than 14 years ago | (#918142)

Informative! Informative! More, more! I can't believe I ever thought he was serious. Thank you, mister AC, for enlighening us all.

---
Jon E. Erikson

A strong media is good for us (2)

Jon Erikson (198204) | more than 14 years ago | (#918143)

I have to disagree that the increasing intrusion of the media into the lives of politicians and public figures is a bad thing, at least for the rest of us. These people accept that they are to have their lives scrutinised to a far greater extent than normal people - it's part and parcel of being in the public eye.

Having journalists who are unafraid to dig into the private lives of politicians means that there is a far greater chance of scandal and corruption being uncovered and exposed, something which can only benefit society in the long run - who wants corrupt leaders?

There was a case in Belgium IIRC where a paedophile ring had been running for years thanks to press cover-ups from people in power. This sort of thing is a direct consequence of having a press whose ability to speak is curtailed, and is not something that any freedom-loving person would want.

I've lived both here and in the US and both countries have a vocal press who aren't afraid to dig out and publicize political scandal and corruption. Sure it may look bad at the time, but who knows what goes on in countries where the press can't or won't let people know what's going on?

---
Jon E. Erikson

The Public Eye, and Acceptance (3)

LionKimbro (200000) | more than 14 years ago | (#918144)

Looking for a technology to preserve privacy is about as ineffective as looking for a technology to enforce copyright laws.

Increasingly, our privacy is disappearing, and this is not necessarily a bad thing. [businessweek.com]

Acknowledging this, we must predict that the world is going to become a bit more exposed. Cases such as the one involving the man at the university, fired for viewing porn on the school internet, will become more common.

I would hope that we, an increasingly online global community, would seek to make ourselves beacons of tolerance and acceptance towards others, rather than desperately clinging to our privacy, out of fear of what others may do to us.

Recently, on Slashdot, I have read that because my anime watching friends and I thought that Lime and Cherry in Saber Marionette J are cute (yes, they are young, and yes, they are sexual), that we must therefor be child molesting pedofiles, and that we should be prohibited from watching anime, at least in the Western hemisphere. This would be very amusing, if people just weren't so serious about it.

But I refuse to hide behind a wall of privacy (one that will be as effective as copyright law at that), and distribute Aa Megamisama and Ranma 1/2 episodes to my friends under the digital table.

I think it would be better to promote tolerance and acceptance in this world.

I believe that there is lots of hope for our society, and by extension, me and you. American Beauty was voted as the most popular film last year. This movie is about many of these issues: Tolerance, Acceptance, and even Privacy. Because people liked that movie, I believe that we will be able to become a more tolerant society.

Please consider re-considering privacy [businessweek.com] , and please consider promoting tolerance and acceptance.

Here's What We Need (1)

adipocere (201135) | more than 14 years ago | (#918145)

For us to remain truly private, forget about all of that fancy online business. We need real-world privacy to back it up.

The scenario: I set up an account with PayPal, maybe I've send them a money order from the Post Office (which has probably videotaped me buying the money order). I send it off to PayPal, I agree on some eBay transaction for something I really don't want people to know I have, like "Dildo-Wielding Herpes She-Males" or whatnot.

The problem: How do I get it to me? It has to show up somewhere, doesn't it? A Post Office box? They want to see a drivers' license. Mailboxes, Etc.? Not only do they cost more, again, they want to see ID.

Anonymous surfing, posting, etc., these things are possible, if not now, eventually, with Fling and ZeroKnowledge (and, hey, good luck making that happen on your NAT'd DSL connection from your Linux box), but what if I want to buy something? How can I set up bank accounts under fake names? ISPs can trace me down to a phone line, that has an address attached to it.

It all boils down to getting a fake identity made, birth certificate on up. From there, your drivers' license (photo taken with optional disguise kit) and a social security card. Then, a bank account, work up a little credit, and so forth. Backstop by trying to plant records in a school system. "Sure, I was there in 2nd grade."

Anonymous cash is great if I am buying porn-time online, but if I want to receive tangible goods, it's going to have to reach my hot little hands somehow. Same problem with snailmail, how do you get replies back?

Until these issues are addressed, we are not going to have privacy.

Re:Encryption does not ensure privacy (1)

nestler (201193) | more than 14 years ago | (#918146)

ReconRich writes: Quantum computers are theorized to solve all NP problems in tractable time

Quantum computers are not some panacea to solve all of the worlds hard problems. They are good for a select few problems (search, factoring, discrete log, basically). They are not faster on all problems. Specifically, there is no quantum algorithm for solving even one of the NP-complete problems, nor is there a quantum algorithm for doing quick brute-force keyspace searches.

Also, arguing that public key crypto is somehow weak because it is tied to the problem of P vs. NP is not particulary scary to most theoreticians. I think quantum computers will be viable before P is found equal to NP, and even quantum computers will take a LONG time to be able to handle modern key sizes.

Long reply (1)

11223 (201561) | more than 14 years ago | (#918147)

Can pseudonymous downloading, "snoop-proof" e-mail, digital pseuds called "nyms," PDA-like machines, allegedly untraceable digi-cash and other changes in software and the architecture of cyberspace preserve privacy and restore some privacy and the idea of the "Inviolate Personality?" Part Two in a series based on Jeffrey Rosen's new book, "The Unwanted Gaze: The Destruction of Privacy in America." (Part Two; Part One here.)

Basing something on a book is technically copyright violation. You did ask for permission, didn't you?

In The Unwanted Gaze: The Destruction of Privacy In America, law professor and columnist Jeffrey Rosen first blames expanding sexual harassment and gender discrimination law for wanton destruction of individual privacy. Cyberspace is second on his list.
A growing number of lawyers and scholars, including Rosen, say they now believe that fundamental changes in Net architecture are necessary to protect constitutional values and restore the notion of the "inviolate personality" to the private lives of Americans. These would include copyright management systems to protect the right to read anonymously, permitting individuals to pay with untraceable digital cash; prohibiting the collection and disclosure of identifying information without the reader's knowledge, or using digital certificates to create psudonymous downloading.

Who controlls the digital certificates? It only works if there's a way for a real life->online id translation.

To Rosen, author of Gaze, cyberspace is posing a greater menace to privacy by the day. He details the l998 forced resignation of Harvard Divinity School dean Ronald F. Thiemann, who downloaded pornography onto his university-owned home computer. A Harvard technician installing a computer with more memory at the dean's residence was transferring files from the old computer to the new one and noticed thousands of pornographic pictures. Although none of the pictures appeared to involve minors, the technician told his supervisor. University administrators asked the dean to step down.

Well, gee. It's a business computer:

Harvard justified its decision by claiming that Divinity School rules prohibited personal use of university computers in any way that clashed with its educational mission. But the dean was using his computer at home, not work. And no student or colleague suggested he had improperly behaved in any way as head of the Divinity School. His work was never questioned. It's ludicrous to

Bah humbug. They own the computer, they dictate how it's used. Simple as that. This isn't about privacy or lack of it - my employer has every right to watch what I'm doing at work (like this post), whether by a physical boss with eyes or with an electronic monitoring system. I can be fired at any time for any reason relating to inappropriate use, even if it's excessive eBay watching.

suggest that the school would have fired him if he'd been downloading sports scores or bidding for furniture on eBay. But although he'd committed no crime and performed well in his job, he was forced out in disgrace, while his intimate communications were discussed in public. Even in a supposedly freedom-loving and prestigious university, what Justice Louis Brandeis dubbed the right of every citizen to an "inviolate personality" -- the part of our private thoughts, communications and explorations once thought beyond the reach of exposure and dissemination -- that is private could be invaded and voided.

Well, gee, it's not a case of him doing it on his own computer. It's a fscking university-owned computer! If it was his own, there would be a problem. But inappropriate use of company resources has always been a reason for firing somebody.

The Harvard case also underscores the blurring of boundaries between home and work caused by technology. Millions of employees and workers criss-cross between their employer's equipment and their own for work and personal communications.

*snip*

The idea of the "inviolate personality" is one of the greatest and newest freedoms in history. In our time it's not only being nibbled to death but obliterated, and almost all of us are willing, even enthusiastic participants.

Gee, if there's anybody with a personality, I'd agree with you. However, people lost there individuality to the collective many moons ago, before the 'net - it's called popular culture. The price of popular culture is losing yourself. Your choice can be to live a hermit life; then you have yourself and your privacy. As soon as you give up yourself to the culture, though, then it will eat you. It already ate most people's brains, now it spies on their "privacy". Big deal. I'm so sorry for you.

Re:Long reply (1)

11223 (201561) | more than 14 years ago | (#918148)

It depends. Is it a book review, or an essay based on the concepts that he presents? He should have asked for permission, because Jeffrey Rosen has the power to claim that it is a copyright violation. This isn't so much a book review as a multi-page summary of the points of the book, which is a little too much.

Re:Long reply (2)

11223 (201561) | more than 14 years ago | (#918149)

He worked in the *Divinity School* - if you can glean anything from that name, you'd notice that they probably have a pretty strong objection to that type of stuff.

Note that employers also can take away your company car for speeding, or fire you if you get into an accident with it. A Christian orginization has every right to fire one if its employees for partaking in strongly objectionable material with company resources... no different than being fired for soliciting sex in the company car.

If it was his home computer, it might have been different, but not much. He signed on to work with a *religious orginization* and as such needs to hold himself to the morals of that orginization... or find somewhere else to work that's not connected to a religious orginization.

Blame the media? No, blame the buyers (1)

Benwick (203287) | more than 14 years ago | (#918150)

Katz rightly points out the media's role in this piece, but ignores the economic underpinnings. If there is more demand among consumers for a newspaper that uncovers more facts, then there is a competitive advantage in a journal's reporters further demolishing the walls of privacy (snooping for scoops). The change here has to come from the public: losing their shock at sexual conduct would be a good start; but real change would come if people ceased to buy rags that so blithely cross the bounds of privacy. Unfortunately, a quick glance down supermarket check-out lines reveals that this is a very unlikely thing. And libel laws don't help--the standard being that "actual malice" is required to prove libel of a "public figure", so Monica Lewinsky unwittingly become public pinata #1 despite never having deliberately transgressed into the public eye. I'd look forward to a day where nobody would give paparazzi jobs and where People magazine would have no buyers. Until then, the people can take the blame for intrusions of privacy. To put it glibly: change begins in your wallet!

Re:But most consumer-abusive Internet Edge. (1)

Benwick (203287) | more than 14 years ago | (#918151)

In media, by acquiring and powerful entities that these voiceless in fact, a malevolent government confrontation with the bottom of press can't claim anything he acknowledge a bank robber commits a closet utopian, fixated on MS sites include chickclickers.com and corrupting, that marketers can be deployed. But the case. Personal privacy a free-coupon/quilting Web Site Privacy Survey, conducted by the movie chain wants to believe we surrender our privacy.

Huh?? Not since reading Allen Ginsburg have I seen such good spelling in flagrant opposition to the rules of grammar. It's very poetic but what the hell does that all mean???

Re:But most consumer-abusive Internet Edge. (1)

Benwick (203287) | more than 14 years ago | (#918152)

Aha--it all makes sense now. Usually bad grammar goes hand-in-hand with bad spelling, or post-structuralist philosophical treatises. And this didn't look like Jacques Derrida to me... Now I know.

Re:Offline privacy (1)

ilkan (203487) | more than 14 years ago | (#918154)

What's really pathetic are the stores that obscure your atm/visa number on the receipt, and then print it in cleartext right underneath. Clue <= 0.

Potential PGP weaknesses and the NSA (2)

rxmd (205533) | more than 14 years ago | (#918156)

You are right in so far as PGP is not crackable by a brute-force assault in reasonable time at present, at least when key lengths are large enough.

In theory, however, the key generation mechanism or even the encryption algorithm of PGP may show flaws (as we have seen recently with PGP 5.0 on Unix where key pair generation was not as random as it could have been). This happened in spite of PGP being open source all the time. In theory, the NSA or whoever might exploit these

And since PGP is open source (more or less), its weaknesses, if they exist, are openb for exploiting them - flaws are much more easily discovered than in other products that would need reverse engineering. Of course, this very same open source principle adds to the security to some extent because flaws can be discovered "benevolently" and "publicly", so to speak, but this is no guarantee against the possibility of someone discovering a flaw all by himself and not sharing, but keeping the knowledge, thus gaining the ability to decipher encrypted messages. (No matter if it's the NSA or whoever.)

Offline privacy (3)

91degrees (207121) | more than 14 years ago | (#918157)

Strangely enough, a lot of people who are concerned about their privacy on line seem to only care about it online. For years, Supermarkets have been correlating and cross referencing our buying habits, for more carefully targetted advertising, using loyalty cards.

They manage to convince people that this is what they want. How long will it be before they can convince us that online web tracking is also what we want? People are remarkable forgiving when you give them 1% of what they spend back.

Always will be another way (1)

BobTheWonderchicken (209244) | more than 14 years ago | (#918158)

No matter what software comes out to preserve our privacy it a way around it will come out. It is difficult to create a fix that nobody will be able to over ride. In this age of technology most don't want to give up their privacy, but it is more and more difficult to keep it.
Kate

Re:Untracable electronic money (1)

Kickasso (210195) | more than 14 years ago | (#918159)

Struggle your way to your keyboard, and type "google.com" in the URL field of your browser. From there, search for "anonymous cash algorithm". If you for some mysterious reason can't do that, here [google.com] is the link, prepared personally for you, by yours truly. Enjoy the math.
--

Re:But most consumer-abusive Internet Edge. (1)

Kickasso (210195) | more than 14 years ago | (#918160)

The answer is here [tuxedo.org] .
--

Re:PGP misinformation (1)

Kickasso (210195) | more than 14 years ago | (#918161)

Bzzzt! Wrong.

Public-key cryptography is different from "normal" (symmetric) cryptograpgy. What you say is applicable to symmetric crypto. PGP is public key. It uses symmetric algos on session level only.

One does not need to do an exhaustive search of all 256-bit numbers to break a 256-bit PGP key. That is why people routinely use 1024-bit or even 4096-bit public keys.
--

You are completely misguided (1)

Steve Richards (211082) | more than 14 years ago | (#918162)

I have to disagree that the increasing intrusion of the media into the lives of politicians and public figures is a bad thing, at least for the rest of us. These people accept that they are to have their lives scrutinised to a far greater extent than normal people - it's part and parcel of being in the public eye.

What are you saying -- that our leaders have fewer rights than we do? How are we ever going to get decent leaders if we remove all possible incentives to take leadership roles?

Having journalists who are unafraid to dig into the private lives of politicians means that there is a far greater chance of scandal and corruption being uncovered and exposed, something which can only benefit society in the long run - who wants corrupt leaders?

Now here you go completely off track. What is a leader supposed to do? Lead, obviously. And how the hell is a leader supposed to lead if he is constantly hounded by the media and has no support from those under him? A government depends on the support and respect of those that it leads, and, as a strong government is absolutely crucial to protecting the interests of the people, it is vital that it not let its credibility be undermined.

There was a case in Belgium IIRC where a paedophile ring had been running for years thanks to press cover-ups from people in power.

This is most likely as a result of Belgium's punishments for pedophilia being overly lax.

This sort of thing is a direct consequence of having a press whose ability to speak is curtailed, and is not something that any freedom-loving person would want.

No,it's not, it's a result of having incompetent rulers. Rulers must have total respect, and strict punishments must apply to them as well as to the people: they cannot be treated any differently, and must be incentivised to act rightly.

I've lived both here and in the US and both countries have a vocal press who aren't afraid to dig out and publicize political scandal and corruption.

You'll notice that the US (you don't mention your current country of residence) government gets no respect from those it governs, crime there is on the rise again after beginning to trend downwards towards barely-acceptable levels for five years, and that the US is universally despised in the international community.

Sure it may look bad at the time, but who knows what goes on in countries where the press can't or won't let people know what's going on?

Well, it's quite obvious what happens in countries where the press is allowed to run wild and destroy the foundations that the nation is built upon: they quickly degenerate into cesspools of crime, scandal, and apathy.

Privacy vs.Convenience (1)

yossarianc (213232) | more than 14 years ago | (#918164)

As long as it's easier for the mass majority of people to not use encryption (or even know what it means) then it is for them to use it, then there will be companies/people which exploit it.

People have been told for years to not give out their social security #'s unless absolutly necessary, but the majority of people still place it on any form which asks for it, regardless of who it is for. It's easier to comply then to ask what they could possibly need the # for.

Also, the strength of these online info grabbers (huge amounts of information) is also their weakness, as they allow for huge amounts of disinformation to be taken in. Don't like that online vendors are taking and saving your info? Then screw up their system a little bit...transpose a few numbers, etc... Read Robert Heinlien's Friday. Laws will be years coming, and due to the nature of the internet, hard to enforce. In the end, the only thing that will make a big difference is educated individuals. Where non-physical privacy invasion is concerned, it should be left up to the individual, not the government.

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