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Today's fear, uncertainty, and doubt brought to you by the internets.

Internets: Serious Business! These last few months have seen an increase in the attacks on the participatory culture of the web. The mainstream establishments, both political and corporate, have been looking with a cautious eye towards this new developing place. So far we've established that blogs can get you fired, keep you from getting a job, give pedophiles a place to ruminate on snatching your children, threaten journalistic integrity *snicker*, endanger the marketing , product planning, and product life cycles for automobile manufacturers, can infect your computer with virii, and have all sorts of negative consequences. The internets (both of them) can cause your children to be charmed, seduced, and addicted by readily available porn, and can also provide access to extremist radical and fundamentalist groups, prompting Congress to discuss more restrictive legislation (NSFW), but only for the porn. It has even been claimed that the web has given "Al Qaeda wings". P2P is blamed as causing record loses by the music industry, despite their investments in local station marketing payola. The FEC has held public hearings attended by both hemispheres of the blogosphere (amazingly in near-agreement) discussing the regulation of political speech online. The figureheads of a certain political party fear that their affiliated slice of the blogosphere may be too far-left. Newspapers and TV are leading the charge, with the internet standing in for pharmaceutical scares, yo-yo diets, and missing white women. The question is, how will the libertarian-minded digerati respond to this very real attack on the essence of web culture?
posted by rzklkng on Jul 29, 2005 - 34 comments

Blogging unanonymously

Domains by Proxy is a fairly popular service run by GoDaddy that aims to protect your personal info from whois requests. The domains by proxy homepage has links to law enforcement and civil subpoena policies, making it sound like you actually have to do something deemed illegal by a judge or officer to get outed. One blogger found out something as simple as a letter from a local lawyer was enough to reveal all his personal details in a whois request, without ever being notified beforehand. Might be worth reading up on EFF's guide to anon blogging if you ever start a whistleblower site.
posted by mathowie on Jul 18, 2005 - 26 comments

Stealing Osama's Identity

Security, the TSA, and the No-Fly List You would think that our National Security apparatus would be like the TV series "24", with the most ingenious and sophisticated technology available. You would be wrong. Disclaimer: TSA is not an intelligent intelligence agency. Here's a blurb from the resume of the designer(Kenneth Mack) of the application the airline industry uses for *PDF* managing their employee data and the cross-checking them with the no-fly list:
- Sr. Developer: Developed a program [for Goddard Technologies] that uses the "No-Fly List" Excel spreadsheet, provided by the FAA and the database of badged employees to permute the name combinations. It takes into consideration multiple first and middle names, with Soundex and the various "initial" combinations. This program reduced the time for comparison from 3 days to 10 minutes.
The scary yet interesting part of all of this is that the No-Fly List is nothing more than a password-protected spreadsheet (see this PDF). One would guess our Government's geeks would know that it's a bad idea to send email attachments containing social security numbers and dates of birth, unencrypted, over the internets, even if they might be terrorists.
posted by rzklkng on Jul 15, 2005 - 30 comments

Parents are fighting back

Leave My Child Alone! --a new group teaching parents how to stop the very intrusive recruitment tactics of the military, including getting their kids off the Pentagon's list of 30 million potential recruits,: (...a joint effort of the Defense Department and a private contractor, disclosed last week, to build a database of 30 million 16- to 25-year-olds, complete with Social Security numbers, racial and ethnic identification codes, grade point averages and phone numbers. The database is to be scoured for youngsters that the Pentagon believes can be persuaded to join the military...), and getting your kids off the School district records lists (School districts are required under Section 9528 of the No Child Left Behind Act to release student records to military recruiters or risk losing funding, but they are also required to inform families of their Opt Out rights. Notification varies wildly across districts, and it's a bit of a crapshoot whether families know or not.)
More on this from Bob Herbert here: The Army's Hard Sell
posted by amberglow on Jun 29, 2005 - 68 comments

Private vs pubic shutter control

The ongoing battle on shutter control continues between military, commercial and non-profit NGO entities, just as Google Maps finishes adding the rest of the world to its site (even if the detail is lacking). And when Israel restricts the rest of the satellite imagery companies to 2-metre resolution, for whatever reason, should the rest of us expect the same level of privacy as commercial and military satellites continue on an exponential path to greater resolutions?
posted by Rothko on Jun 18, 2005 - 19 comments

a failure for the Fourth Amendment

LossofPrivacyFilter: 1) Patriot Act Expansion Bill Approved in Secret, which now provides a new ‘administrative subpoena’ authority (that) would let the FBI write and approve its own search orders for intelligence investigations, without prior judicial approval. ...Flying in the face of the Fourth Amendment, this power would let agents seize personal records from medical facilities, libraries, hotels, gun dealers, banks and any other businesses without any specific facts connecting those records to any criminal activity or a foreign agent. ..., and from the Justice Department: 2) Most health care employees can't be prosecuted for stealing personal data, and finally, 3) Citibank admits losing 4 million customer files.
These 3 examples all within the past few days--any others i missed?
posted by amberglow on Jun 8, 2005 - 31 comments

technophobia?

Technophobia? or ignorance? or mendacity? A Minnesota appeals court has ruled that the presence of encryption software on a computer may be viewed as evidence of criminal intent. The specific crime here aside, why is encryption - and by extension privacy - viewed as something seedy?
posted by Smedleyman on May 27, 2005 - 10 comments

Backscatter Technology at Airports

"It shows nipples. It shows the clear outline of genitals." Fact: airport security is not effective against a determined terrorist. Response: "backscatter" imaging. Your trip through security will look like this. The security personnel will see something like this. It's safe! It's effective! Except for fat terrorists ("a weapon or explosives pack could be tucked into flabby body folds that won't be penetrated by the scanner") and people with guns in their body cavities.
posted by Gordon Smith on May 24, 2005 - 102 comments

Oh hell no!

Take action and FAX your Senators (for free!) in opposition to the RealID bill up for voting tommorow on May 10th. Do it now, don't wait. Bury your Senators in protest of this terrible legislation. (via BoingBoing, Slashdot, IM, and more. Spread the word.)
posted by loquacious on May 9, 2005 - 103 comments

Click Click

"The number of secret court-authorized wiretaps across the country surged by 19 percent last year, according to court records which also showed that not a single application was denied."
posted by knave on Apr 29, 2005 - 20 comments

Google is not your friend.

Google is watching you.... "My Search History lets you easily view and manage your search history from any computer." Given the continuing concerns about Google's respect for privacy, is this a good thing?
posted by jefgodesky on Apr 21, 2005 - 43 comments

A New Approach

Unexpected Features in Acrobat 7: A company called Remote Approach offers a feature to PDF authors to allow them to track the dissemination of their documents. Linux Weekly News reports, "After doing a little research, we found that Adobe's Reader was connecting to http://www.remoteapproach.com/remoteapproach/logging.asp each time we opened the document."
posted by knave on Apr 13, 2005 - 36 comments

Freaky cool or just freaky?

Google Maps now does satellite images which is pretty cool (zoom all the way in), and what everyone predicted they would do with the Keyhole software company they bought. The part that freaks me out is finding my own house with my own car in the driveway, taken last fall (by the looks of construction in the neighborhood). I guess it's time for all of us to have our Streisand moment and wonder when satellite imagery has gotten too good. [via]
posted by mathowie on Apr 4, 2005 - 132 comments

AIM owns you.

"You waive any right to privacy." AOL has just updated the terms of service for Instant Messanger, which include agreeing to the new requirement that AOL owns everything you write, has the right to reproduce it at will, and that you waive all requirements for prior approval to do so.
posted by XQUZYPHYR on Mar 13, 2005 - 72 comments

the odd couple

wolves join federal sheep board (via dailyrotten)
posted by Tryptophan-5ht on Mar 6, 2005 - 16 comments

I spy with my little eye encrypted darknets on the horizon

we have talked about darknets before. The motivation exists. Some solutions exist, speculation is prevalent. What would it take for you to become faceless.
posted by sourbrew on Mar 1, 2005 - 6 comments

Heck... it works for our cattle

Brittan Elementary, a rural Californian school, has begun requiring their students to wear RFID tags manufactured by Alien Technology. This was done without parental consent and is mandatory. The ACLU is less than enthusiastic.
posted by cedar on Feb 13, 2005 - 28 comments

No, He's Not Your Puppy, He's Your Narc

Canadian Couple Offers Drug Dog for Hire (Reuters link)
A couple bought a dog trained to sniff drugs for $20,000 and now they will hire it out to sniff around your kid's stuff to see if they've been doing drugs within the last 30 days for a mere $20 a sniff (they also have a sliding scale for businesses that need them).
Where to draw the line between concern and obsession for keeping one's children safe? Some sites are keeping tabs on the infringement of children's rights including privacy. Which begs the question, Do Children Have a Right to Privacy?
posted by fenriq on Feb 4, 2005 - 46 comments

Love is complicated. Megan's Law database is simple.

In California, a registered sex offender uses the Megan's Law database as a source for potential dates. He searched for men in the database, and then sent several men a letter looking for sex or friendship, explaining how they could look up his profile in the same system. Turns out that it is illegal for a registered sex offender to access the database of registered sex offenders. (first FPP for me)
posted by stevil on Feb 4, 2005 - 64 comments

Goodbye Carnivore?

Carnivore, the gold standard for conspiracy theory, has apparently been mothballed. An interesting element of this is that Carnivore has been removed from service not because it is invasive of civil liberties, but rather because it has failed to perform against commercially-available monitoring technologies. Of course, since we do not know what those technologies *are*, it may be that they have built into them considerations of individual rights to privacy that Carnivore could not be altered to respect. However, given the drift of the US on matters of data privacy, this seems unlikely... So, what are the programmes that do it better than Carnivore? What do they have to offer that Carniviore doesn't, or is it just the ISPs are now offering information straight to the government? And does this mean that it is no longer fashionable to append long strings of exciting-sounding nouns to emails? (Apologies if this is old news to the more plugged-in - this report has only just been released under FOI)
posted by tannhauser on Jan 16, 2005 - 27 comments

Your prescription is their business.

Just Say No To Drug Stores. As we've previously discussed, drug companies aggressively market to doctors and consumers. In September, the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse sued supermarket chain Albertsons for allegedly violating consumer rights by being paid to promote the products of pharmaceutical companies such as AstraZeneca with calls and letters based on personal prescription history. If you've been pitched by your drugstore, the PRC would like to know (confidentially, of course).
posted by melissa may on Dec 7, 2004 - 3 comments

Who is watching Big Brother?

Who is watching Big Brother? Last week, the Australian Privacy Foundation held its annual Big Brother Awards, with biometric passports winning the prestigious "Orwell" for the most invasive technology (other countries' Big Brother Awards here). Not long before, Privacy International and the Electronic Privacy Information Center released their 7th Annual Survey on the state of privacy in sixty countries, claiming that threats to personal privacy have reached a level that is dangerous to fundamental human rights. Are we edging closer to Room 101?
posted by UbuRoivas on Nov 29, 2004 - 6 comments

Interactive Pre-Recorded Voices

A Marketing and Promotional Urinal Screen - I mean - WTF? Is there nowhere I can go and not be bombarded by advertising...now when I go for a 'slash' I can be detected 'visiting' the urinal, and a pre-recorded voice can 'interact' with me while I read the graphics. Honestly, I never, ever, ever wanted to interact whilst standing at a urinal...please don't make me start interacting in there!
posted by mattr on Nov 11, 2004 - 21 comments

Property values to increase!

Touching yourself at home with the blinds open hot Canadian debate topic!
posted by shepd on Nov 2, 2004 - 18 comments

Ubiquitous morality

All watched over by machines of loving grace is Adam Greenfield's take on the consequences for designers of ubicomp. Setting moral guidelines seems critical in these early days of technological encroachment-- but how long can decency hold out against the promise of profit? I was forwarded a recent email from the CEO a major bookseller that made it clear that it's possible for them to track everything I do in their stores and online, and thank goodness they choose not to take advantage. But how long will that last? And with homeland security crumbling our civil liberties, article's like Adam's that remind us about our responsibility are even more important than ever.
posted by christina on Oct 30, 2004 - 7 comments

crime

Identity theft is epidemic.
posted by semmi on Oct 25, 2004 - 17 comments

Truly meta

Truly meta. We've had posts about outing gay politicians. We had a post about Dick Cheney's gay daughter. We had a Metatalk post about revealing blogs that the author might want to keep private.

Now they're all tied togther in the story of a politician's possibly gay daughter being outed by a blog that she might or might not have been keeping private. My head hurts.
posted by Armitage Shanks on Sep 27, 2004 - 29 comments

BugMeNot Registration

BugMeNot.com now requires registration. For employees, partners, affiliates or legal representatives of any site which enforces compulsory user registration to view content, that is. It should only take a moment.
posted by brownpau on Aug 11, 2004 - 28 comments

Intercepting E-Mail

E-mail snooping is legal. A U.S. federal appeals court set an unsettling precedent last week by ruling (PDF) that an e-mail provider did not break the law when he copied and read e-mail messages sent to customers through his server.
posted by homunculus on Jul 7, 2004 - 15 comments

We know where you live!

Reason magazine uses individualized data to give its subscribers a '1984'-style surprise. The idea surfaced a year ago at a cocktail party: What if you opened your mailbox to find a national magazine with your name on the cover and the headline "They Know Where You Live!" — under an aerial photo of your house? And what if, when you turned the page, the editor's note and the advertisements included details about your neighbors? (LA Times/Reg. Rqd)
posted by ColdChef on May 20, 2004 - 23 comments

Why does Scalia hate America?

Why does Scalia hate America? Justice "Fat Tony" Scalia orders reporters to erase tapes of one of his speeches. Aren't public servents supposed to be public?
posted by skallas on Apr 8, 2004 - 28 comments

milkshake

Restaurant Industry Warns Members to Beware Strip-Search Hoax. "If anyone requests a manager or other employee to order someone to disrobe, ignore their request because it is a privacy invasion." Anyone want to supersize their sexual assault?
posted by squirrel on Apr 7, 2004 - 10 comments

FBI adds to wiretap wish list

Proposal to have companies rewire their networks to support easy wiretapping by police "A far-reaching proposal from the FBI, made public Friday, would require all broadband Internet providers, including cable modem and DSL companies, to rewire their networks to support easy wiretapping by police. The FBI's request to the Federal Communications Commission aims to give police ready access to any form of Internet-based communications. If approved as drafted, the proposal could dramatically expand the scope of the agency's wiretap powers, raise costs for cable broadband companies and complicate Internet product development." Read more about the FBI's proposal at Cnet.com. or MSNBC. But where is the actual proposal?
posted by fluffycreature on Mar 15, 2004 - 8 comments

Your call is important to us

The DOJ wants to tap your IMs, your email, your VOIP calls, and your Web browsing -- and they want you to pay for it. The Justice Department is seeking to expand its ability to monitor online traffic by forcing broadband providers to make their services "wiretap-friendly," and a petition filed with the FCC this week says you will foot the bill. Get ready for CALEA 2.0. "As a means of espionage, writs of assistance and general warrants are but puny instruments of tyranny and oppression when compared with wire tapping," the prescient Justice Brandeis observed in 1928.
posted by digaman on Mar 13, 2004 - 15 comments

who is watching the watchers of the watchers?

Docusearch settles claim for 75K with family whose daughter was killed by a stalker who purchased her personal information from them -- a killer whose intentions were described on a Googleable website. The NH Supreme Court determined last year that Docusearch, the company who sold Amy Boyer's work address and SSN to her killer could be held liable for her death, even though some of that information was publicly available. An "Amy Boyer's Law" intended to increase privacy by restricting the display, sale or use of SSNs received negative reviews by privacy organizations and ultimately was removed from an appropriations bill. In a statement, Amy's parents encourage others to use the Internet to keep track of who may be keeping track of their kids. "If only we had typed our daughter's name into any search engine, the Amy Boyer Web site that was posted by her killer would have come up, and we could have called the police...This may never have happened."
posted by jessamyn on Mar 11, 2004 - 6 comments

I haven't been invited, damn.

Do no evil... it looks like Orkut would like to 0wn your data. And although the piece is heated, everyone did get incensed over Microsoft's near-identical passport policy. And I know you invited types like Orkut...
posted by bonaldi on Feb 5, 2004 - 28 comments

Privacy for Domain Owners? Who Needs It?

Seven years in jail and a $150,000 fine. That's what domain owners will get if HR 3574 makes its way into law. HR 3574 will require all domain owners to make their current home address, telephone number and email address publicly known. Mr. Haughey's stalkers need no longer fear how to find him.
posted by ed on Feb 5, 2004 - 27 comments

what are your bits worth?

How much is your personal information worth?
personal data toolkit [ via newstoday ]
posted by specialk420 on Feb 5, 2004 - 13 comments

Is Privacy an Urban Myth?

Howard Dean seems to be on record as stating that citizens should be required to use a government-issued ID before they can log on to the Internet. He also seems to say that PC manufacturers should be required to add card-readers to all of their PC products to facilitate this. Read for yourself and draw your own conclusions.
posted by DWRoelands on Jan 27, 2004 - 38 comments

Some skin scrapings too?....

Hello Gattaca : "The federal government is planning to overhaul its employee drug testing program to include scrutiny of workers' hair, saliva and sweat, a shift that could spur more businesses to revise screening for millions of their own workers."
posted by troutfishing on Jan 16, 2004 - 31 comments

He Sees You When You're Sleeping...

Big Brother Really Exists, And He's Not Who You Think He Is. While most of those in the privacy realm have been focusing on keeping the government from spying on its citizens, the government has made an end-run: Letting the private sector do it for them. ChoicePoint, an Atlanta-based spinoff from credit agency Equifax, now has more than 200 terrabytes of data on us, and as previously noted, they're not always very good at it. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
posted by darren on Dec 10, 2003 - 25 comments

Disney respect

newspeak from disney: we at the Walt Disney Internet Group are dedicated to protecting your privacy and handling any personal information we obtain from you with care and respect. How is your personally identifiable information used and shared? The Walt Disney Family of Companies may use your personally identifiable information in many ways, including sending you promotional materials, and sharing your information with third parties so that these third parties can send you promotional materials. [...]As another example of Operational Uses, we may share your personal information with the Walt Disney World © Resort telephone reservations center [...] The Walt Disney Family of Companies may share your personal information with companies that offer products and/or services under brand names of The Walt Disney Family of Companies. [...] use of personal information shared with them under this Privacy Policy is subject to the same opt-out rights (and limitations upon those rights)
posted by Tryptophan-5ht on Nov 16, 2003 - 9 comments

Poindexter is an Agent

Why We Should Fear The Matrix. No, not the movie, the Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange program. It's a new version of the Total Information Awareness program for participating states which is run by a private corporation, Seisint Inc. Needless to say, privacy advocates are concerned.
posted by homunculus on Nov 10, 2003 - 12 comments

Personal information being sent abroad

We need an "Information Technology Disclosure Act." The Programmer's Guild is pushing for the creation of legislation to require companies which outsource abroad to tell consumers when their sensitive personal information is being sent to companies in other countries. This aspect of outsourcing has gotten little attention, but the SF Chronicle's David Lazarus has reported on it being done by hospitals (like UCSF, which is being threatened over back pay by a transcriber in Pakistan), accountants, banks (BofA), telecom companies (SBC), and perhaps most alarmingly, two of the three major credit-reporting agencies.
posted by homunculus on Nov 9, 2003 - 24 comments

Google rules!

I half figured this would be posted here by now... The folks at Google have done it again. The Google deskbar has been released. In front of their apparent IPO (previously discussed here), Google rolls out something even cooler than their toolbar. Cue the critics saying that this deskbar violates my privacy somehow. As I hope we all know, Google has fixed the toolbar problems, albeit after people started complaining.
posted by ajpresto on Nov 6, 2003 - 45 comments

Tripp gets her pay-off

Hey, Linda. Thanks for all you've done! Linda Tripp gets a $600K settlement from Bush's Defense Department for having her privacy violated. Oh, sickening irony. via TPM
posted by jpoulos on Nov 4, 2003 - 63 comments

This is not the 555 area code

Now it's officially a trend: Attacking the privacy of those who invade privacy (bottom of page) by publicizing their information. What's the verb for this going to be? I think "Barrying" should be a contender.
posted by soyjoy on Oct 14, 2003 - 19 comments

RFID: Taking Away Your Privacy One Product at a Time

We've discussed it before, but RFID, that fun-loving little radio transmitter that can be attached to everything from that stereo system to a carton of milk, is plowing ahead faster than you can say "unregulated." Earlier this year, Wal-Mart issued a mandate that required its top 100 suppliers to include RFIDs on their merchandise by 2005, bringing new meaning to the phrase "panties in a bunch." (Incidentally, Wal-Mart was also the benign corporation that ushered in bar codes for mass consumption in the late 70s and early 80s.) With no regulations on the table, the New York Times reports that the Defense Department plans to issue a statement requiring all suppliers to use RFID. Hitachi has even offered to put it in your currency. Imagine a store a few years from now that can track all of the objects in your cart, and that, thanks to a microscopic RFID stuck to your shoe when you slide through the doors, can determine how many seconds you or your children react to a display. Imagine a world that tracks exactly where each one of your dollar bills go. (So much for the anonymity of johns and porn enthusiasts.) Is this the kind of world we want to abdicate to large retail corporations? Is this the kind of information that governments or private institutions are entitled to know? Discuss.
posted by ed on Sep 29, 2003 - 96 comments

JetBlue knows you...

And I was really looking forward to those wide leather seats... Looks like JetBlue sold out, and created a dossier on YOU in the process!!
posted by matty on Sep 18, 2003 - 21 comments

Privacy around the world

Privacy & Human Rights 2003. This report by EPIC and Privacy International reviews the state of privacy rights in 56 countries around the world. For anyone concerned about video surveillance, there are a variety of ways to respond.
posted by homunculus on Sep 10, 2003 - 2 comments

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