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Representatives from AOL, Microsoft, Google, Verizon and Comcast talk to US government
June 2, 2006 2:59 PM   Subscribe

Newsfilter. Surveillenve of everything you do online: "It was clear that they would go beyond kiddie porn and terrorism and use it for general law enforcement." Offline: "I'm John Doe, and if I had told you before today that the F.B.I. was requesting library records, I could have gone to jail." Previously, here. On your phone? We've already discussed that, too.
posted by |n$eCur3 (36 comments total)

Tor, anyone?
posted by mullingitover at 3:06 PM on June 2, 2006

Worse is that, since Congress is incapable of defending the Constitution, the Justice Dept. has figured out it can do whatever it pleases. They're so full of bravado that they have pretty much admitted they don't care much about privacy if it gets in their way.

Today they say they are investigating suspected terrorism and child pornography, tommorow they've said they have no problem applying their new-found surveillance program to investigating any other kind of crime whatsoever. Who knows what thoughtcrime will be illegal tomorrow, especially when the legislative branch can't even enforce the laws on the books now?
posted by Mr. Six at 3:20 PM on June 2, 2006

i bet it's already happening--they seriously believe they can do whatever they want, Constitution and laws be damned.
posted by amberglow at 3:30 PM on June 2, 2006

I remember the heady days of ca. 1995 when the Internet was going to promote world democracy and vanquish despotism because its architecture is inherently decentralized and "information wants to be free". No mere government could ever control The Internet. Oh, we were so young and naive back then...

Now I just take it for granted that my government, established "by, of and for the People", is really an enormous, rapacious, unyielding Other that wants to cage me. For my own good. And no silly Internet is going to stop them.
posted by oncogenesis at 3:31 PM on June 2, 2006

and isn't all internet thru phone lines already being swept up?
posted by amberglow at 3:31 PM on June 2, 2006

We have to kick the bastards out of both houses of Congress. That's the only way this is going to change.
posted by etaoin at 3:42 PM on June 2, 2006

I remember blue ribbons.
posted by hyperizer at 3:42 PM on June 2, 2006

The Justice Department is not asking the Internet companies to give it data about users,

...they gathered that the department is interested in records that would allow them to identify which individuals visited certain Web sites and possibly conducted searches using certain terms.

Aren't these two statements completely contradictory?

And what a bold concept from the Justice Department; combining "the Terrorists are coming!" with "Won't someone please think of the children?"

posted by quin at 3:50 PM on June 2, 2006

/what's Tor?

I’m just glad they’re not going to use this to go after their political enemies or people who speak out or attempt to organize. That’s not going to happen. I mean planting child porn on someone’s computer? That’s impossible. Manufacturing financial records to show donations to ‘terrorist’ connected charities? Nutty. Really, we have to trust them on this. It’s for our own good. History will vindicate all of this and make it clear.

“Gonzales began the discussion by showing slides of child pornography from the Internet.”

Is it just me or is that thoroughly revolting? I mean these children have been sexually exploited - and they’re reiterating it to make a point? What the hell is going on in their heads?
posted by Smedleyman at 4:00 PM on June 2, 2006

"“Gonzales began the discussion by showing slides of child pornography from the Internet.”"

He can be arrested for that, right? I'm damn sure that if I gave some sort of speech on the importance of surveillance in child pornography and started off with a few "examples" I would get arrested.

Whew. I should be arrested for that sentence.
posted by graventy at 4:08 PM on June 2, 2006

This is Tor. Hopefully more people will begin to use it, which will speed it up, which will lead to even more using it, etc.

I never thought I'd need to route all of my internet traffic through it, but the times they are a changing.
posted by truex at 4:08 PM on June 2, 2006

He can be arrested for that, right?

No. The president said it was ok.
posted by MikeKD at 4:10 PM on June 2, 2006

I have in my noggin plans for using Bonjour and trust circles to make it largely unnecessary to communicate with third party servers in order to share information with one's friends and acquaintances. Alas, I lack the programming chops to just whip up a complete solution within weeks.

But I'm fairly certain someone else will.

The number of people for whom I would want a direct IP address to their machine numbers no more than a couple thousand (ie. family, co-workers, friends, and a shipload of MeFi folk). With the number of people having high-speed access, and thus a fairly stable IP address (mine hasn't changed in many months), it is not really necessary to do a lot of lookup: try the known IP address; if it's wrong, try a few of the previous IP addresses; if it's still wrong, ask a few co-trusted friends. Likewise, when one's IP changes, contact everyone and let them know it's changed. As final fallback, resort to emailing the new IP address.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:30 PM on June 2, 2006

How does that protect you from being spied or reported on by your ISP, five fresh fish?
posted by event at 4:38 PM on June 2, 2006

posted by IronLizard at 4:39 PM on June 2, 2006

Nah -- then he's vulnerable to man-in-the-middle. He needs to share keys along with the IP addresses. He might as well just use Tor.
posted by event at 5:11 PM on June 2, 2006

You know, that name is bothering me, because I fail to see how a noted publisher of Science Fiction and Fantasy would help secure Internet Traffic from the US Government.
posted by eriko at 5:13 PM on June 2, 2006

TOR stands for The Onion Router.
posted by quin at 5:16 PM on June 2, 2006

"This all comes down to a matter of trust and, the bottom line for me and I suspect for a lot of you as well: I don’t trust the Bush Administration to do the right thing with this much power over this kind of information. Law enforcement measures must be tempered, always, with the concern for justice, fairness and individual rights. The Bush Administration has shown over and over again that it does not deserve that trust."
posted by homunculus at 6:07 PM on June 2, 2006

How does TOR avoid man-in-the-middle? One's ISP is still privy to the dataflow from the router to the internet.

My idea is more about identity and privacy: the idea that I can be very sure I'm in communication with your computer, and that eavesdroppers don't know what we're saying.

We swap fresh public keys, then use them to encode our private-between-us "public keys". We expect certain IP addresses to correspond to these private "public" keys, and are suspect when changes are requested or the patterns of use don't add up. We can fall back to our trust circle of shared friends for further confirmation (asking them to act as middleman, perhaps). Stuff like that.

Nothing's going to be impregnable, but it can be made difficult.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:27 PM on June 2, 2006

"'I'm John Doe, and if I had told you before today that the F.B.I. was requesting library records, I could have gone to jail.'"

Everyone remember to watch for the "We haven't been asked for membership records" sign to disappear.
posted by Mitheral at 6:28 PM on June 2, 2006

Most of my idea is driven by a strong dislike for third-party servers for such simple things as chat, email, and link-sharing between friends. Almost all the time, my buddy is going to be at the same IP address as last time. There's no need for Microsoft, AOL, etc., to know that I've requested a name< ->IP look-up.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:29 PM on June 2, 2006

FFF: Try Hamachi

Also, think about what happens when Wimax becomes a reality.
posted by Freen at 8:39 PM on June 2, 2006

How does TOR avoid man-in-the-middle? One's ISP is still privy to the dataflow from the router to the internet.

Well, it routes a bunch of other traffic through your system too, supposedly giving you deniability.
posted by gsteff at 11:30 PM on June 2, 2006

Does anyone have hour-by-hour graphs of Tor traffic? If Tor usage patterns are different than overall net traffic, then those of us with 95th percentile billing can host routers quite cheaply. I wonder if the Community Cololocation Project would be interested?
posted by ryanrs at 1:16 AM on June 3, 2006

As far as the VOIP phone discussion goes, what about Phil Zimmermanns Zfone? This is a solution that will allow you to apply encryption to your phone calls. In addition, there is alwyas his PGP program, which can give you some HD Privacy through encryption.
posted by owalt1 at 6:45 AM on June 3, 2006

are all these workarounds still using the isps? they'd have to be, no?
/wants a non-techy solution that everyone can now use

and when internet thru electric lines comes, will it be as easily collected?
posted by amberglow at 8:59 AM on June 3, 2006

The use of kiddie porn rather than child porn is simply insidious.
posted by mischief at 9:44 AM on June 3, 2006

and when internet thru electric lines comes, will it be as easily collected?

Sure. Your local electric company monopoly becomes the ISP and point-of-illegal-eavesdropping, instead of the local [cable|telecom] monopoly.
posted by Mr. Six at 10:09 AM on June 3, 2006

So if I want to send my neighbor to jail, I can now just log on to his unsecured wifi network, do a little web surfing, then sit back & grab the popcorn?

And yeah, trust. That's a slight issue with me, too & it's funny how I seem to recall that trust used to be an issue with the American "Right." It's amazing what they'll give up for the sake of pure power. (I.E. they'd better hope they're able to retain it, lest a corrupt, untrustworthy "leftist" grabs power after they've dismantled our constitution because then it'll be their web surfing habits that fall under scrutiny.)
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:10 AM on June 3, 2006

The use of kiddie porn rather than child porn is simply insidious.

How do you mean? "Child porn" could, in some jurisdictions, include even pictures of 18 year olds. Whether "children" that age are capable of making an informed, consensual decision regarding their participation is readily debateable. "Kiddie porn," at least to me, speaks of children who are plainly too young to consent.

One of the things I want with my direct-IP-address system is secure email that can be readily identified as not spam ('cause it's coming from trusted friends.)

Maybe I'm the odd one out, but there really aren't all that many people with whom I communicate. Basically a handful or two of friends, a couple of mailing lists, and some businesses. Most of my comms could easily be handled with a direct secure connection that doesn't involve any third-party lookups.

Maybe I make far too big a deal of the fact that a third party DNS can track my habits.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:55 AM on June 3, 2006

This is yet another reason why I'll continue to hang on to the 4 vintage manual typrewriters in my attic, besides their being cool contraptions, that is. I may very well need them soon.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:22 AM on June 3, 2006

look what else they're trying to get under "children's safety": our DNA: ... While the debate goes on, some in Congress are working to expand the database a bit more. In March, the House passed the Children's Safety and Violent Crime Reduction Act.

Under the broad-ranging bill, DNA profiles provided voluntarily, for example, in a dragnet, would for the first time become a permanent part of the national database. People arrested would lose the right to expunge their samples if they were exonerated or charges were dropped. And the government could take DNA from citizens not arrested but simply detained. ...

posted by amberglow at 11:59 AM on June 3, 2006

fff: people frown when I use ;-P.
posted by mischief at 1:07 PM on June 3, 2006

State Secrets Defense Shields Administration From Accountability
posted by homunculus at 11:55 AM on June 5, 2006

Remedial NSA eavesdropping course
posted by homunculus at 12:10 PM on June 6, 2006

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