05 February, 2007

Internet Privacy - The real need

OK this one is probably going to chap some people off. Sorry if it does.

These are the real privacy items we should be working on and advocating instead of defending a pervert by attacking private property rights.

We have a lot of smart people out there and if we keep providing secure and difficult to trace communications we can help solve problems for people that actually have to worry about the government spying on them.

Last time I checked protesters that go to Washington aren't being dragged off and having their fingernails pulled out. If they do get arrested it is because they are damaging other peoples property or physically intimidating, threatening and spitting on people who dare to disagree with them. Hell, even then they aren't being arrested. Apparently they can stymie others rights but because they are part of the "in" Hollywood crowd their rights are more important. One visit to Kos, DemocraticUnderground, or MyDD will quickly show you that free speech rights are alive, well and unchallenged in the US even on borderline insane writings. They have done a good job at pushing the intellectually weak conformists into their camp. It is almost like watching a few dozen nearly identical goths walk by. Each of them comfortable in their (pseudo)intellectual superiority, artistic originality and nonconformism.

In Iran, China, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Russia, ... The list goes on. People do get arrested for what they say. In many countries they get tortured and killed for criticisims and even the potential of thoughts that are mearly implied in their words let alone the outright hostility that can easily be found in the conformist camps.

But I digress into a political realm that has the possibility of loosing me half of my readers.

There is a dire need to improve privacy on the Internet in the world. What we really need to do is provide secure anonymous access to communications.

A great list of tools is here.

We also need to help people in these countries know how they can be watched and tracked with existing systems so they can avoid falling into traps.

People should know that it is trivial to track posts and browsing back to the entry point to the Internet. If the government owns the network this is even easier. Anytime you browse a site or send an email it can be tracked back.

They should know that if you want to draw their governments attention to data they are sending around, placing it in a steganographically altered image is the digital equivalent of turning on a a flashing neon "Interesting Data Here" sign.

We should teach people how to use wireless access, burst postings and mail and easily managed mac address wireless cards to help keep themselves anonymous.

We should quietly but consistently pressure organizations and companies to help defend the privacy of their customers by making policies that help them protect their own data as well as data owned by the customer. Clear data property rights will help here not only by directly protecting the customers and company but also by allowing them to leverage existing treaties to defend their (the companies) positions in draconian countries (when they have the guts to stand up). We should reject policies and EULA's that give data ownership to others than the individuals that create the data or pay for its creation. (ironic that that statement is on blogger huh)

This ownership and defense of individual intellectual property rights will also serve dividends here in the form of increased privacy from the very concerns that Wired inaccurately portended to defend.


Anonymous said...


There's a good number of people working on exactly what you are talking about, and I've done more than my fair share of reporting on those efforts.

But you continue to misconstrue my posts and you on the Ziegler case.

Ziegler is represented by Montana's Public Defenders Office.

You also either cannot or will not wrap your brain around how the the decision in the case centers on the relationship between an employee and the federal government. In fact, the decision actually strengthens a property owners' rights. But, it seems, you are so wrapped up in libertarian ideology you can't help but see the federal government impinging on property rights. In that sense you aren't much different from the crowd who believes we are living in a Big Brother world (a knee-jerk belief I've repeatedly criticized).

Nothing about the new decision in Ziegler reduces the rights of business owners. The Fourth Amendment doesn't apply to interactions between private parties. The finding that Ziegler had a reasonable expectation of privacy applies only to searches by the government or their agents.

If Ziegler's employer had made copies of the hard driver or taken the hard drive and turned it over to the feds on their own, there were be no problem.

I wrote about the case because it was about a principle, not because I'm interested in the particulars.

It's good you bring attention to the need for secure and secret communications for citizens of repressive regimes.

But, really, go back and re-read the posts and my long comments back to you in the comments.

Ryan Singel

Jim C said...

I am glad you took the time to comment. I had to write another post to properly respond.