Is Privacy an Urban Myth?
January 27, 2004 6:11 AM   Subscribe

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 (38 comments total)
I feel stuck between a rock and 8 hardplaces. Ugh.
posted by thirteen at 6:18 AM on January 27, 2004

Looks like my candidate of choice is going to have to change.
posted by Hugh2d2 at 6:24 AM on January 27, 2004

Welcome to the real world where your bright stars of political hope are shown to be suspect.

Some of us in the UK, learned that lesson when New Labour first got into power.

posted by Blue Stone at 6:42 AM on January 27, 2004

Interesting..even if the author doesn't link to the source of his information or to a transcription of what exactly Dean said so I'll take it with a grain of salt

It looks like there's a new(?) trend or hints of formation of a new trend, that of selling hi-tech gizmos that make you very traceable , sugarcoated by the illusions of selling you "security". Another hint comes from the fact that there isn't a politician that I know that hasn't talked or (I guess) is going to talk about "security".

Current govt is already selling Homerland Security efforts, P.A.T.R.I.O.T. acts and other government empowering "solutions" to problems. Now Dean appears to be trying to sell ID cards much like pro-guns organizations use the argument of personal security to defend guns sales.

I guess the guys and girls in marketing are salivating.
posted by elpapacito at 6:42 AM on January 27, 2004

Next thing you know, we will all be doing morning excersizes on front of the telescreen



posted by a3matrix at 6:54 AM on January 27, 2004

Keep in mind, he said this two years ago. I'm sure if someone asked him about it today, his opinion will be different. ... and I mean that in an only slightly snarky way. ha.
posted by whatnot at 7:06 AM on January 27, 2004

I've been waiting for an explanation on this one as well.

However, it's worth noting:
-This journalist has a trackrecord of being a bit sensationalist (at least for a tech reporter).
-The comments are from March 2002.

Still, the Dean campaign needs to respond to this immediately, because it sounds like he's trying to out patriot-act the patriot-act.
posted by malphigian at 7:07 AM on January 27, 2004

The claims in this article in no way fit in with what we know of Dean's views on citizen rights and privacy (anti-Patriot Act, for one) - so without concrete evidence, I'm reading this as a malicious piece of journalistic spin.
posted by vers at 7:09 AM on January 27, 2004

Civil rights issues aside, this is a real indicator that Dean is a moron. He should understand how things work better than he seems to.

How would this work? Where would the authentication take place? How about networks that are behind firewalls? Or NATs of any type? Would it be illegal to run an ISP that didn't auth? How about phones that connect to the internet? Would he require that all the routers get updated to do this authentication? Would it be a crime to bypass it? Would illegal aliens and tourists not be able to access the internet when they are in the US? Would I lose my job if I lost my Driver's License because my job requiress me to access the internet from home?

I am as Liberal as is possible, but I've already had enough presidents who don't think things through for my lifetime. I was really hoping he wasn't an idiot.
posted by n9 at 7:11 AM on January 27, 2004

Dean is finished.
posted by the fire you left me at 7:19 AM on January 27, 2004

What McCullough doesn't mention is that Dean's campaign manager, Joe Trippi, was a "stockholder, employee and booster" of Wave Systems, the company mentioned in this article. And you can read the speech itself here.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 7:20 AM on January 27, 2004

n9: You can already use smart-cards over the internet if you want. You simply use a public key system with the private key securely stored in the card, and signed by the issuer, so you know that it isn't being emulated. ISPs could then check to make sure the card is correct when you log on to a chatroom, for example (Dean proposed that this could be an optional check, rather then having your Identity passed around whever you go).

I don't really like the idea though, (It is very radical, seemily similar in scope to the SSSCA/CBDTPA) and hope we can get a better response from Dean.
posted by delmoi at 7:21 AM on January 27, 2004

That does it..... I'm voting for Al Hamburg!

Seriously though, he didn't make these statements as a Prez candidate, he made 'em as a corporate shill. I'm certain that if the Gov. were elected, this would not come to pass, because it is ridiculous on many levels. However, if GWB is elected, it just might... but you know, only if Halliburton has a smart card manufacturing subsidiary.
posted by spilon at 7:27 AM on January 27, 2004

It is funny how folks are letting the current administration run rampant over American's rights, but Dean makes a comment 2 years ago (and is not the only one to suggest suing smart IDs) and suddenly *he's* the one who is taking away personal privacies? Wow, that's rich. Don't be pointing out the splinter in Dean's eye if the log in Bush's is the one that created the PATRIOT Act.
posted by terrapin at 7:35 AM on January 27, 2004

Well, I guess I better vote for Bush if I want someone who respects my privacy rights.
posted by Outlawyr at 7:41 AM on January 27, 2004

The thing that gets me about this particular comment is that it's in the setting of discussion of corporate solutions to a problem that is still running rampant. Sure, I like anonymity and net freedom as much as the next guy but it's not going to be too much longer until spammers have forced weird things like authenticated emails driving all the independents from running their own servers. Other forms of "trusted computing" are coming. Before long, nearly all commerce and most serious communications on the net (at least in the US) will be authenticated or at least identity verified leaving only pr0n hounds and spammers slinging messages the way we have been for years.

As far as the implications for the Dean candidacy, I'm not sure this matters at all. There are those who will declare the candidacy over because of the Iowa speech and those who will declare it over because believing so supports their pro-Bush agenda. Ultimately, all that matters is beating the far more evil and anti-civil liberties incumbent in November.
posted by shagoth at 7:43 AM on January 27, 2004

As far as the implications for the Dean candidacy, I'm not sure this matters at all.

When 70% of Americans think that Iraq was involved in 9/11, I would say that few of them even understand what a smart card is, let alone how it would impact their privacy and civil rights. Not sure that this will resonate due to it being too technical.
posted by machaus at 7:59 AM on January 27, 2004

The Lesser Evil in 04!
posted by thirteen at 8:00 AM on January 27, 2004

The Lesser Evil in 04!

Yeah, but who the hell is that?
posted by a3matrix at 8:03 AM on January 27, 2004

Yeah, but who the hell is that?

Cthulhu (D-FL)
posted by thirteen at 8:10 AM on January 27, 2004

"...only if Halliburton has a smart card manufacturing subsidiary."

As far as I know Halliburton don't but Schlumberger, their arch-rival, do.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 8:17 AM on January 27, 2004

Ahh yes, Declan...

Check out some more background on this at The Register. You can read the whole speech (PDF) and put it into context yourself.

As for why Dean is ignoring Declan perhaps, Professor Lessig has an answer.

Thanks to Dan Gillmor and Seth Finkelstein for providing me with the links over at the Silicon Valley web site.
posted by infowar at 8:24 AM on January 27, 2004

thirteen: I know Cthulhu and you, sir, are no Cthulhu.
posted by shagoth at 8:29 AM on January 27, 2004

Perhaps someone should just ask Dean his opinion on this topic instead of this stupid speculation.
posted by EmoChild at 8:35 AM on January 27, 2004

This will never happen, you know it, dean knows it. This is just talking to all the corporate bottom rungers getting them psyched about making ID cards for which there is no wide spread use. This was not a political platform where he is voicing his official policy.

This is removing things from their context and then getting bent out of shape. Like the dean scream - I bet money you've been to a concert where the lead singer was getting the crowd worked up and you had a blast, but if you watched the video without being caught up in all the excitement, it would all look silly and over the top to you.

next FPP "DEAN SMELLS LIKE SHIT!" .....well he was in the bathroom deficating at the time.....
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 8:52 AM on January 27, 2004

Tryptophan: This has zilch to do with the silly dean-scream crap, this is a real issue.

Emochild: This isn't speculation, this is a speech he gave just two years ago. He obviously has/had this opinion.

He said things that are very, very stupid. And yes, it was not as a campaign platform, but the fact the he believed in and/or lied about believing in this stuff in any context is a serious issue for many people.

As a Dean supporter (up until recently, anyway), I'd certainly welcome a statement from his campaign that he has reversed his opinion.
posted by malphigian at 9:04 AM on January 27, 2004

Hey apparently you guys are a bit behind on this one. Dean already lost... you can quit the (albeit very creative) media assassination now.
posted by zekinskia at 9:21 AM on January 27, 2004

First of all, he is NOT saying you would need this smart card to access the internet, he's saying you would need it to access personal information at government sites and it could be used for age verification on adult sites.

As long as the age verification is voluntary I don't see any problem with this.

It seems to me it would also be applicable at shopping sites or anywhere else where a verified ID might be useful.
posted by Bonzai at 9:47 AM on January 27, 2004

Perhaps someone should just ask Dean his opinion on this topic instead of this stupid speculation.

Try reading a link, eh? Like maybe the part where it said that repeated inquiries to the Dean campaign as to his current position on this have been brushed off and ignored?
posted by IshmaelGraves at 9:47 AM on January 27, 2004

Well, I'd think the Dean campaign would be, y'know, busy campaigning right now, what with Iowa, New Hampshire, and Mini Tuesday being so important. I'd think that, being a political reporter, Declan McCullaghwould grok that.

Also, the author of this piece excels at taking context and tossing it out the window. Remember the "Al Gore invented the Internet" meme? Hey, guess what: Declan McCullagh wrote that! And he's oh so proud of it.

Maybe if he'd been a more responsible journalist, he'd have mentioned Dean's plea for privacy:

"We will not, and should not, tolerate a call to erode privacy even further - far from it. Americans can only be assured that their personal identity and information are safe and protected when they are able to gain more control over this information and its use."

Y'know, if this had come up back in October, I would be concerned, and I'd want Dean to clarify his position. But to fling out a hand grenade like this on the eve of the New Hampshire primary smacks of hackery of the first degree. I think McCullagh wants to top his meme of 2000 and start the big one of 2004. It'd be nice if he also paid attention to Dean's positions on the PATRIOT Act, but I think that's a bit of a stretch.

Am I concerned about this? Yes. Do I want clarification from DFA? Yes. Can I wait until New Hampshire and Mini Tuesday have passed? Yes.

Is this another media-generated tempest in a teapot? Oh, yeah.
posted by RakDaddy at 11:20 AM on January 27, 2004

Dean is finished.

my tv told me so.
posted by quonsar at 11:26 AM on January 27, 2004

i like dean and like what he has done for the democrats - but this is just another example why he will never be elected in november - were he to win the nomination.

dean would be a great head of the DLC.
posted by specialk420 at 11:28 AM on January 27, 2004

malphigian - no, it does. It is all about removing behavior or statements from their context.

He is getting employees of a company syked about their future! He is not indoctrinating his minions and preeching compulsary tracking implants. From the speech - all of it would be voluntary anyway
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 11:40 AM on January 27, 2004

Two years ago he made some comments after the worst terrorist incident in our history. Comments that this journalist has blown out of proportion in an attempt elicit a reaction (and to join the character slaying ranks of the anti-Dean media).

The fact that Dean's campaign hasn't gotten back in touch with Declan could be put to several things. One of which is that they don't wish to give him more ammo to use out of context. Limiting exposure to sensationalistic journos is a good plan, in my book.
posted by fenriq at 12:34 PM on January 27, 2004

Bah! I'll just piggyback my traffic onto YOUR smart IDcard.
posted by jmccorm at 1:07 PM on January 27, 2004

That's it, I'm voting for Kodos!
posted by tommasz at 2:02 PM on January 27, 2004

Tryptophan-5ht: Fair enough, I'm just saying I read the speech, considered the context, and as a Dean supporter I found it to be a profoundly bad idea and scary that he was even discussing some of these things in a positive light.

Tying everything you do to an id card (okay, it's "optional" you just can't engage in any secure activities anywhere without it) is a dream for marketing people and Ashcrofts alike.

This is complicated by the fact that his current campaign manager is closely tied to this company he was trying to get "psyched up".

There's no doubt the Declan story was overblown, but I'm talking about the contents of the speech itself.

I really feel like some people are sticking their head in the sand here.
posted by malphigian at 2:59 PM on January 27, 2004

Lesser Evil? Bah! Cthulu/Nyarlathotep 04!
posted by Scoo at 3:53 PM on January 27, 2004

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