Privacy and the need or right to know
January 20, 2006 3:31 PM   Subscribe

NSA,FISA, and Privacy It is of course the president who finally approves of actions that may or may not be deemed legal but before 9/11, this is what he had been advised to consider "The largest U.S. spy agency warned the incoming Bush administration in its "Transition 2001" report that the Information Age required rethinking the policies and authorities that kept the National Security Agency in compliance with the Constitution's 4th Amendment prohibition on "unreasonable searches and seizures" without warrant and "probable cause," according to an updated briefing book of declassified NSA documents posted today on the World Wide Web. If this is the sort of reading you enjoy, then by all means dig about here: But then Windows allowed NSA to have a sure access to your machine . And by now we all know that Google will fight the government on making its search data base available in order to protect your privacy.(Reality: to protect Google stuff). And if you worry about search engines tracking you and making data available, then here is a workaround
posted by Postroad (15 comments total)
Soprry! My ineptitude with tech stuff messed up what I tried to post. Where IL had noted "if this is the sort of thing you enjoy"--the missing link is
NSA documents

and to make up for what I have done: this to help our government: patriotic search engine
posted by Postroad at 3:35 PM on January 20, 2006

That crafty NSA, labeling their stuff NSAKEY.
posted by smackfu at 3:37 PM on January 20, 2006

Punctuation, Postroad! Sheesh.
posted by spiderwire at 3:44 PM on January 20, 2006

posted by longsleeves at 3:47 PM on January 20, 2006

b1tr0t, warnings for links w/ sound are good :(

Wasn't really serious about the punctuation thing, but unwelcome sounds are uncool
posted by spiderwire at 3:48 PM on January 20, 2006

NSAKEY -- not so much.
posted by event at 4:40 PM on January 20, 2006

How does a search engine tie a search to a user?

If you have never logged in to search engine's site, or a partner service like Google's Gmail offering, the company probably doesn't know your name.

I guess this guy's never heard of server logs.
posted by Afroblanco at 4:55 PM on January 20, 2006

Really - REALLY pisses me off.

Who's to say they couldn't plant information as well? There are so many possibilities for abuse here.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:01 PM on January 20, 2006

If you have never logged in to search engine's site, or a partner service like Google's Gmail offering, the company probably doesn't know your name.

I guess this guy's never heard of server logs.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:55 PM EST on January 20 [!]

What sort of server logs get a person's name from the browser and connection they're using?

I've seen IP, browser info, location, etc. but never a name. I'm curious? So the server logs for MetaFilter know our real names for example? If so, is there anyway I can customize my name to Heinous Anus?
posted by juiceCake at 5:50 PM on January 20, 2006

What surprised me is that in the entire article, he doesn't talk about server logs. All he talks about is cookies.

The idea that "they don't know your name if you haven't logged in" is mostly false, since knowing someone's IP is nearly as good as knowing their name.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:14 PM on January 20, 2006

I'm not very technically inclined , so I'm hoping that my naivety won't get me flamed too badly here, but isn't this massive data-mining a complete waste of time? I mean doesn't this just generate mountains of random data, with no resources to analyze it? I'm quite sure that I read somewhere that there was all sorts of intelligence available on the 9/11 bombers prior to the attack, but nobody available to analyze it and put it in a usable form. What is to be gained from this overwhelming intrusion?
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 9:19 PM on January 20, 2006

PareidoliaticBoy: it depends on what you're interested in doing.

I suspect it's quite possible to turn a person's surfing history into a fairly clear idealogical picture, especially when combined with the histories of people "near" them.

Problem is, while I'm sure it's simple to get political leanings, it's probably not possible to tell who just went batshit insane, and stocked up on diesel and fertilizer.
posted by I Love Tacos at 11:40 PM on January 20, 2006

Reality: to protect Google stuff

And on what basis do you make that claim? All these other search companies flop right over and Google can't even get the benefit of the doubt when they're fighting for your (or at least my) privacy? This sort of cynicism is sad, but it seems to be the way of the world. Too many heroes have been unmasked as frauds, I guess.
posted by grumdrig at 1:04 AM on January 21, 2006

The Wired article is rather typical of them -- it is both misleading and wrong. For example, clearing your Google cookies in no way prevents Google from tracking your searches, and should the NSA get their hot little hands on the server logs, they can easily match your IP address to the searches you performed.

The only popular and actually effective way to surf anonymously that I've seen is through the services of But unless you pay, it greatly slows your surfing.
posted by nlindstrom at 11:27 AM on January 21, 2006

FWIW, the NSA can probably triangulate your physical location based on your latency and can probably just get your address from your ISP based on your assigned IP address.

Hold on, someone's at the door.
posted by spiderwire at 6:24 PM on January 21, 2006

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