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Government Privacy News

Data Retention Proven to Change Citizen Behavior 261

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-always-feel-like-somebody's-watching-me dept.
G'Quann writes "A new survey shows that data retention laws indeed do influence the behavior of citizens (at least in Germany). 11% had already abstained from using phone, cell phone or e-mail in certain occasions and 52% would not use phone or e-mail for confidential contacts. This is the perfect argument against the standard 'I have nothing to hide' argumentation. Surveillance is not only bad because someone might discover some embarrassment. It changes people. 11% at least."
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Data Retention Proven to Change Citizen Behavior

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  • Nothing new here (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hanzie (16075) * on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @10:07PM (#23662775)
    There are tons of studies showing that people act differently when they know they're being watched or recorded. I'd say that the 11% figure is a huge understatement, 89% of users are clueless, or, most likely, most folks have been assuming a lack of privacy all along. I'm in the 'lack of privacy from the beginning' camp. hanzie
    • by westbake (1275576) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @10:11PM (#23662819) Homepage

      Germany is a place that knows what wiretaps and domestic spying is all about. Everyone's grandfather can tell them what the Nazis did to friend and foe alike [slashdot.org]. Public display of Nazi symbols is still against the law because it outrages so many. People who lived through the East German Police state [wikipedia.org] have more recent and personal reasons to fear this kind of monitoring. Domestic spying is about eliminating political opposition and the only way to save yourself from that is to run away. Eventually, even those who manage to keep out of sight by doing nothing are destroyed by the schemes of those in power. States that do this are out of control.

      If you understand these things and how computers work, you have no choice but to use and advocate free software. Non free software has the ability to end freedom of press and every other right. We are well down that path, with newspapers raided [homelandstupidity.us], citizens spyed on, an unpopular war of aggression, torture and other evil things. You can have your privacy with free software and should demand it.

      • by joocemann (1273720) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @10:19PM (#23662901)
        I understand your whole argument except the 'free software' implication. I don't see how paying for software, or getting it for free, has anything to do with one's ability to preserve privacy and political security.

        Maybe you meant to say "Microsoft allows politicians to open backdoors" or "Linux programmers would not care what politicians want." But since you said neither, your vague comment leaves me wondering how 'free software' relates to 'preserving privacy'.

        • by setagllib (753300) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @10:26PM (#23662947)
          If you have complete control over your software, as free (as in freedom) software guarantees by definition, you can enforce your own privacy and security. If you have a solution you cannot modify, you are completely restricted to its ideas of privacy and security.

          Human freedom has to extend to freedom of information and freedom of control over our own tools, including software and hardware. If we allow our corporations and governments to control our tools, they move on to controlling our media (DRM's already here) and eventually our legal freedom (DMCA raids?!)
          • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @10:46PM (#23663113)
            The thing is, the vast majority of people have no way to verify that their software is secure, even if it's open source. And even the people who do have the ability aren't going to. Are you really going to read through every line of code in the Linux kernel looking for backdoors? What about the compiler you use to build it? And the same for every application you use. Even for widely used pieces of software you can't assume that someone would find a backdoor that had been inserted -- look at the recent Debian SSH key bug (yes, I know that wasn't a backdoor, but it could just as well have been). Open source isn't a guarantee of anything.
            • by setagllib (753300) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @10:58PM (#23663221)
              Like I just replied to the other AC, of course you have no way to verify that it's secure, but at least with the source you still have power over it. If you don't want DRM integrated into the kernel, you don't have to have it. Go ahead and remove the DRM from Vista. I'll wait right here.
            • by Odder (1288958) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @11:04PM (#23663273)

              the vast majority of people have no way to verify that their software is secure, even if it's open source. And even the people who do have the ability aren't going to. Are you really going to read through every line of code in the Linux kernel looking for backdoors?

              Freedom means that you can do all of that and teams of people do for both cooperative and competitive reasons. All of the usual guards for non free software apply. People are watching their computers and will report suspicious communication. Then come all of the free software checks. The code gets checked upstream by the team that creates it and then downstream by many distributions that use it before finally being checked by the much larger number of users. The free software community is able to verify code from creation to desktop use and it's a fairly competitive place. For every kind of check you have in the non free world, you have more and better in the free world as well as greater competition and willingness to report wrongdoing. This makes it unlikely you will be caught by malicious code.

            • by jthill (303417) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @11:36PM (#23663493)

              look at the recent Debian SSH key bug

              Yes, look at it. Luciano Bello found it. He's a Debian developer. Please don't go off about how long it took to find it. Think about that: it makes GP's point for him.

              And ook at the rest of the argument. ~Are you going to read every line~? C'mon: strawmen don't get much more blatant than that. Similarly with "Open source isn't a guarantee of anything." As compared to what, please? Another strawman.

              • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @08:19AM (#23666313)

                I don't think the GP's arguments are as flawed as you claim.

                A freedom is only worth as much as what you can do because of it. Since most people lack the resources to audit source code and change anything they don't like, the only advantage open source software offers them from the perspective under discussion is that they are trusting an anonymous group of people who talk up freedom a lot rather than trusting a group of people working for a company who have commercial interests.

                This most certainly does undermine the original argument [slashdot.org], because it contradicts the claims about all the things you can do just because you're using "free" software.

                In short, you could make an argument that open source is a necessary condition for the personal control under discussion, but that is not the same as demonstrating that it is sufficient for the same. And realistically, you ultimately get a "who watches the watchers" problem either way, so I'm not convinced that even the necessity argument is a particularly strong one in practice.

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by Hatta (162192)
                  A freedom is only worth as much as what you can do because of it.

                  That is not true. Even if a freedom is no particular use to you directly, you may benefit by other people exercising their freedom. I may never modify a single line of open source code, but I benefit immensely from all the people who have. Without them I wouldn't have a desktop with a powerful command line and virtual desktops.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by jmorris42 (1458) *
              > ..the vast majority of people have no way to verify that
              > their software is secure..

              Doesn't matter. So long as we are ALLOWED to possess Free Software it keeps em honest. How can you enforce a backdoor when there are hundreds of distribution points? When anyone who wants to can replace/rewrite a major codebase at whim?

              Now compare to closed commercial software. First off remember that all closed shops utterly depend on the government to grant and enforce the monopoly they depend upon for their re
              • by Firehed (942385) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @12:45AM (#23663915) Homepage

                First off remember that all closed shops utterly depend on the government to grant and enforce the monopoly they depend upon for their revenue.

                I currently work for a non-Free software company (not as a developer though), and want to point out that as not entirely true. It depends very highly on the industry and the customer. Being an employee I could get a copy of our software at no cost or close enough that it wouldn't matter (or so I assume; worse-case scenario, I re-generate myself a temporary key once a month). However I still choose to write my own applications where I could use our pre-built tool. Cost is not the issue: it's a combination of (my general lack of) experience with the .net platform, a dislike of said platform, the software generally being overkill for what I'd be doing, and my obsession with specialized tools that do one thing really well than general tools that do a lot of stuff reasonably well.

                Back on topic though, we could still sell our software even if copyright law didn't exist or if it was open source. Why? We have a support department. Not a forum, but a department. When you're selling to companies, there's tremendous value to them to be able to pick up a phone and call someone when something's not working. Consider the paid versions of MySQL, for example. I'm not at all knocking FOSS for this approach to support, but rather pointing out that if your target audience consists primarily of large businesses, the ability to get in direct contact with someone who's paid to troubleshoot or walk across the building to find the developer who wrote the problematic code is a BIG selling point.

                For software that costs under a couple hundred bucks, this isn't so much of an issue. However when companies are going to be making an investment in the tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars on software, you can bet your ass that the support and maintenance of that software is very important. Don't get me wrong - we've lost deals to Drupal and Joomla probably as often as we've lost deals to our "real" competition, but more often than not those were very unqualified leads anyways.

                I work in sales, so take it with a grain of salt if you will. But I'm not saying that commercial/closed-source software is better than free or open-source software (it goes both ways all the time and often is a matter of opinion), just that it's more than the existence of IP laws that keep us in business.
                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by mabhatter654 (561290)
                  but to enforce DRM they are dependent on government guns! Once there is DRM everywhere backed by the shut-up power of the DMCA there's no legal way to even SAY (because it's illegal to distribute and use tools to even look!) that a piece of software has a backdoor. It only took the FCC goons about 5 minutes to realize they could use that to start locking "entertainment" down... public safety LOVES the combination that's eliminated public scanners of police frequencies.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              That's not the point. With open source you have the possibility of checking the source for things you don't agree with. If you're not a programmer you can hire one.

              With proprietary software you don't even have that.
            • by mabhatter654 (561290) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @02:59AM (#23664631)
              but as long as SOME people CAN do that we're OK. Look at how the DMCA works where even the tools to look at something like De-CSS would be considered illegal. Consider the FCC really wanted to pass the broadcast flag that would REQUIRE all TV decoding software to be locked against the user for public broadcasts! That means no end Users could record the nightly news... the start of re-writing history every few years with nobody to even legally defend against it.
            • by DMUTPeregrine (612791) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @03:54AM (#23664959) Journal
              Do I read every line? No. Do I randomly, check submitted patches? Yes. Not all the time, not really that often, but enough that, with enough people like me, the "many eyes" system will work. Not everyone has to check everything, just a bunch of independent people have to check a bunch of things.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Dionysus (12737)
            ah, yes, Free Software. I can see the Jack Bauer scenario now.

            Jack: Are we on a secure line?
            Chloe: Don't worry, Jack. I'm running Free Software on my laptop. This makes me automatically immune from wiretapping of my cellphone...

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Maljin Jolt (746064) *
          I don't see how paying for software, or getting it for free, has anything to do with one's ability to preserve privacy and political security.

          Free software is not about money, as is free in "free beer". It is about freedom as is in "free speech".

          With commercial software you have no legal possibility nor adequate technical tools to deeply verify if software you use has backdoors or anything else you do not want to be there inside your computer, phone, videorecorder, anything. And actually it does not matter
        • by Gerzel (240421)
          He may mean Open Source rather than Free Software.

          In open source it is at least possible to look at what the code you are using is actually doing. While it may not be practical for most, the possibility is still there so that if a major problem is found someone can go back and find the culprit.
      • by mi (197448)

        Domestic spying is about eliminating political opposition and the only way to save yourself from that is to run away.

        Oh, yes, sure. Ever since the ruling-party's nominee approved of domestic spying [slashdot.org], we've seen Hillary run away and Obama eliminated. Right...

        If you understand these things and how computers work, you have no choice but to use and advocate free software

        Do you, really? Have you ever looked at, say, OpenOffice.org code to be certain, there are no backdoors in it? Especially — in its rec [slashdot.org]

    • by flyingsquid (813711) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @10:24PM (#23662941)
      How is this kind of stuff news, really? We act differently depending on whether we're in front of a few friends, our family, our employers, or a large audience. Things you would never put in a letter you'll say over a beer, because you can always deny it later- there's no proof. People do things in Vegas they would never do in their home towns. And so on, and so on. We're social animals, we act according to the social context.
    • There are also tons of studies that tapping phones (esp. mobile phones, but equally normal lines) is like ... really difficult (*ahem*).

      So criminals tap phones. So do a lot of foreign governments.

      Furthermore there are many cases where police tapping of mobile phones is very useful (who was at the crime scene, flashmobbing, ...)

      Yes you don't have 100% privacy. As long as there are 2 people on the planet you will not have 100% privacy.
      • by jthill (303417) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @12:19AM (#23663747)

        [...] there are many cases where police tapping of mobile phones is very useful [...]

        True. Can we talk about the bad parts now?

        We've got a long track record to look at. History says the crimes warrantless spying leads to are worse than the crimes it prevents.

        • by ddt (14627)
          I believe surveillance, when universal, and when the feeds are available to all, can be an extremely good thing. This essentially emulates small town life, but with the benefit that you have so many people out there, that odds are excellent that you're going to find lots of other people engaging in your behavior, and even better, people will see the context in which your behavior is marinating.

          I think this creates a glass house society where you quickly realize that everyone is human, can much more easily
          • by Yetihehe (971185) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @04:07AM (#23665031)

            There are lots of other benefits of doing this, from law enforcement (in a non-Orwellian way) automation, to the relaxation of the executive branch
            And when all your personal details are available to anyone, anyone can steal your identity. Or if you make something unharmful, but seen in society as bad (not wearing burka for example) there can be something like mob justice [techdirt.com] but with half of some country angry.
        • exactly, you'd thing Germany of all places has learned it's lesson TWICE in the last 100 years that the government is the worst offender at spying on it's citizens.... I guess this generation doesn't think it will happen to THEM or something.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by arivanov (12034)
      Neah, it is just the 11% that have an account in Lichtenshtein or a villa on Majorca in the name of their great grand aunt.

      After the Euro changeover the German Tax office had a large contingent of their officers seconded to the Balearics and Canaries for a couple of years for a reason. Based on the submitted tax returns the burgers were poor as church mice. At the same time the construction industry in Spain was undergoing a multibillion euro boom with German money appearing out of nowhere. Most of it is st
    • by Moraelin (679338) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @02:31AM (#23664487) Journal
      Now before I start IANAA (I Am Not An Anthropologist) but I did read a bit on the topic at one point, to try to understand how people work, so to speak.

      One thing that stuck in my head was that there's a relatively large disconnect between what people say in surveys and what they actually do. What people as in surveys isn't as much deliberately lying, or even being aware that they lie, but basically describing an ideal "self" that they'd like to be or were taught to be. They describe someone who's more socially acceptable. E.g.,

      - A (formerly) hunter-gatherer tribe had traditionally a martial culture glorifying brave hunters and warriors. So in a survey almost all males described themselves as hunters and warriors. The problem? They had actually gradually switched to agriculture some time ago. Most of them didn't even have a weapon, and hadn't hunted or fought in their life.

      - A community prided themselves in helping each other and doing stuff together and things like that. So in a survey they said that, yeah, verily, they work the fields together and help each other build a barn, etc. Except in practice the last time either actually happened was some half a century ago.

      - At one point where meat prices went up, they asked people whether they eat more or less meat. Most said, basically, "screw this, I'll eat less of that until the prices come down. That'll show 'em." Except they also looked at sales data, and actually rummaged through that town's garbage to see what packaging people throw away. Meat consumption had actually gone _up_.

      It turns out that you might be better off observing them, whenever possible, than asking people to describe themselves.

      What I'm getting at here is, basically, yes, the same applies to "I have nothing to hide" declarations in survey. If people are under the impression that a nice person wouldn't do stuff they need to hide from their neighbours, they'll adjust their perceptions of themselves to think they are (closer to) that ideal nice person.

      Additionally, I'd say that a lot of such behaviour changing is probably subconscious anyway. Probably the 89% just didn't spend much time analyzing and second guessing their own actions and conversations, nor asked themselves "exactly why am I not calling my old pal Mohammed Abd Jihad any more?" They just don't, and don't spend time navel-gazing and wondering about it.

      For some probably cognitive dissonance kicked in a long time ago, and manufactured an acceptable model and an explanation anyway.
  • Will it help? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Iamthecheese (1264298) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @10:08PM (#23662783)
    To what extent have studies like this modified governments' behavior?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TubeSteak (669689)

      To what extent have studies like this modified governments' behavior?
      I dunno... they try to hide the data retention practices better?
      They spend more effort on convincing us it isn't what we think it is and that it is a good thing?
      • Re:Will it help? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 05, 2008 @12:02AM (#23663635)

        I dunno... they try to hide the data retention practices better?

        You've got it backwards.

        The correct answer is "They expand the data retention practices, and they make sure their subjects know about it".

        The unmonitored Internet was a way to make sure that any two people, anywhere on the planet, could exchange ideas (and spam, and political flamewars on message boards, and even LOLcats) with each other.

        Users of the monitored Internet voluntarily restrict themselves to "safe" (government-approvable) media, and their acquaintances, friendships, and relationships to pools of "safe" (government-approvable) people.

        It's been said that "The Internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it".

        That's not quite true. The unspoken assumption in the early '90s was that "censorship" meant "externally-imposed" censorship. Indeed, the Internet interprets externally-mandated censorship as damage and routes around it, but the Internet has no defense against self-censorship. Make the user scared to search for information about topic XYZ, and you've effectively censored the Internet where topic XYZ is concerned.

        Pretty clever, and all it took to scare an entire planet into self-censorship was a few press releases and carefully-selected arrests and/or disappearances.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by grizdog (1224414)
      No, it will not help. Not in the US anyway, where the government at first argues that torture means pain at least as bad as losing a limb or vital organ, and then defines it as some undetermined subset of those things which we do not do. That kind of thinking certainly lets you justify modifying people's behavior.
      Some of the people who are in charge of the "War on Terror" in the US would not care, and the rest would convince themselves that any changes it might bring were a good thing anyway.
      Rereading
    • To what extent have studies like this modified governments' behavior?

      They're going to need another study to find that out.
  • by mabhatter654 (561290) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @10:08PM (#23662791)
    That means 11% of the people were going to do something morally wrong and thought twice about getting caught. That proves survaillence is doing it's part to curtail the unwashed masses of wickedness on the interwebitubes. When more like 50% start censoring themselves then we'll know that people take their freedom of speech seriously and make sure only edifying things are spoken.
  • Naive (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LilGuy (150110) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @10:10PM (#23662807)
    But I had never questioned my privacy over telephones or online until I started hearing rumors about Echelon all over the internet.

    Then Carnivore was announced and basically confirmed all the suspicions. Everything that's happened since is just in the wake.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @10:10PM (#23662809)
    "This is the perfect argument against the standard 'I have nothing to hide' argumentation."

    There's more than that. Even if you have nothing to hide, you can still be mistakenly thought to have something to hide. All it takes is one false positive to ruin your day.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Firehed (942385)
      On the other hand, you know that governments will take that as "at least 11% of our citizens have something to hide". It's all in the spin.
  • Terrorists (Score:4, Funny)

    by pete-classic (75983) <hutnick@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @10:12PM (#23662823) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, the guilty 11%!

    -Peter
    • by ady1 (873490)
      Exactly. I say that there should be a law that anyone who changes their behavior under surveillance should be hanged, no exceptions. As its has been proven by pete-classic that they are guilty. I would go further to say that govt should install CCTVs in everyone's bedroom

      hint: sarcasm.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @10:12PM (#23662827)
    People who say "I have nothing to hide" realize they have already lost the argument and so try to turn it into a veiled personal attack to change the discussion.

    The perfect counter to it is "so why would you tolerate someone spying on you if you have done nothing wrong?"
    • by Hooya (518216) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @10:31PM (#23663001) Homepage
      well, the argument I use against 'I have nothing to hide' is 'so when do I come to your house and install a webcam in your bedroom?' It's shut quite a few mouthes. Privacy is not just about moral or immoral behavior. Privacy just is.
      • by syousef (465911) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @11:18PM (#23663385) Journal
        well, the argument I use against 'I have nothing to hide' is 'so when do I come to your house and install a webcam in your bedroom?'

        Bedroom is good. Toilet is even better. If they have no modesty, ask them to hand over the account numbers and passwords to their bank accounts. Also ask for their full medical history. If that doesn't shut them up, ask for the same for their entire extended family.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward
          There is an ocean of difference between having nothing to hide and nothing to lose.

          If you asked me my bank account averages that's one thing, to hand you the information it would take to drain them is another.

          Generally when people say they have nothing to hide they mean within a legal context. In other words: I haven't broken the law.

          The bottom line is that I know that the government does (or could) know my bank account information, my medical history, my cell phone calls, etc etc.

          And saying I have noth
          • by p0tat03 (985078) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @01:03AM (#23664019)

            if the government really had that much of an interest in me or that much intent against me there pretty much ain't but jack and shit I can do about it

            True, but the government does not yet have the ability to do it on a massive scale without significant investment. Which is to say we should try to raise the bar as high as possible for governmental spying - so high that it will only be used for legitimate, isolated cases, as opposed to the broad, scary data-mining applications we see today.

          • by hany (3601)

            Question is: Do you trust your government?

            If yes, then there is really no bad point in what you wrote.

            Even if it is legal for me as a person to learn your secrets, I guess it would be still illegal to abuse them and get your money without your permission. So if I do so, you can fight me. And it would quite fair fight, man against man, some people on my side, some (I believe more) on yours, plus state justice will be helping you.

            But if state takes your money, they can "rule" and "redefine" the nature of t

          • by Richard W.M. Jones (591125) <rich@NoSpAm.annexia.org> on Thursday June 05, 2008 @04:49AM (#23665289) Homepage

            The bottom line is that I know that the government does (or could) know my bank account information, my medical history, my cell phone calls, etc etc.

            The problem is you're seeing "government" is a single abstract entity. But government is made up of all those petty civil servants at the local council, policemen, judges and so on. Would you be happy to have a file with full details of your children sent to every policeman in your city? Presumably only if policemen were incorruptible, absolutely trusted, and none of them were themselves abusers. If you believe that about the police, well ...

            So this is why it's not a question about should "the government" have access to this data. It's about should all these random people have access to it? Is it really necessary for anyone but one person (my family doctor alone) to have access to my medical history? Or should that be shared with every single snooper at the local council? Should I give the firemen plans to my house, when it's possible that one of them has a sideline in burglary?

            Rich.

    • by Itninja (937614)
      A perfect counter? That statement is so loaded, if you drop it someone could get hurt. How about something like: 'You have nothing to hide, eh? Great. Let me look through your purse/wallet right now.' Of course, they refuse. 'Why not? Do you have something to hide?'
    • People that say "I've nothing to hide" have never worked in IT. Can't tell you the number of times I've had to deal with screwups, usually because some data entry person mis-typed a social security number, or entered the same person twice, or thought 2 john smiths were the same person... (Had one fun one.. Firstname, lastname, birthday, address, all the same. Gender and SocialSec number were different. They were married ;)
  • this thing is bad for telecom industry ? reducing the demand and all ?
  • by Veroxii (51114) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @10:15PM (#23662855)
    Authorities believe 11% of Germans are hiding something.

    Update at 9.
  • Is it no surprise that, as people learn, government and business are monitoring and tracking them they modify their behavior?

    It's working. People are afraid to communicate, talk only in closets, and while we claim "free speech" we dare not exercise it because of the terrible consequences of daring to say something unpopular, "anti-government," or "anti-corporation."

    We now all live in soviet union where corporate/government kgb punishes you for offenses of opinion.
    • by Nullav (1053766)

      We now all live in soviet union where corporate/government kgb punishes you for offenses of opinion.
      I can't help but find it humorous how you just did what you said no one can do. I guess you must have some mighty fine tinfoil.
  • by sunderland56 (621843) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @10:34PM (#23663021)
    Sure, criminal behaviour has changed. Instead of using regular cell phones, professional bad guys now use nice untraceable prepaid cell phones (and discard them regularly). So, the data retention has indeed brought on a change - but the change makes the data retention useless.

    What the data retention does do, is to trip up the only-vaguely-criminal acts of the amateur. For instance, it is now much easier to track down the affairs of an unfaithful spouse, and to win a nice fat divorce settlement. Somehow I doubt that was the original aim of the data retention.

  • Hawthorne (Score:5, Informative)

    by porcupine8 (816071) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @10:38PM (#23663047) Journal
    Behavior changes when people are observed? Psychologists have known this for years. It's called the Hawthorne effect [wikipedia.org], and it's something you always have to watch for when studying behavior.
    • by TubeSteak (669689)
      What first came to my mind was the chilling effect.
      It doesn't matter if anyone is actually watching, just the threat of observation/data retention is enough.

      Kinda like red-light cameras.
      Some cities have realized that putting up the sign is as effective as installing a working camera.
      • What first came to my mind was the chilling effect.
        It doesn't matter if anyone is actually watching, just the threat of observation/data retention is enough.

        Kinda like red-light cameras.
        Some cities have realized that putting up the sign is as effective as installing a working camera.

        Depends on what their goal is. If their goal is to reduce the frequency of people running red lights, you're absolutely right. But frequently the goal of these cities is to increase revenue, in which case they want to have real cameras which are as unobtrusive as possible. Some cities have even been caught fiddling with the timing of their lights to cause more violations.

        Now consider that theory as applied to data retention and surveillance. I'll wait here while you work through the implications.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by hany (3601)

          Yup, that's for example this Airbus spying by americans I mentioned in my other post [slashdot.org].

          If you are able to sufficiently distance yourself from your government in terms of feelings and day to day routine so as to allow yourself a chance to clearly think about stuff, than it's usually quite funny to decompose official arguments for something the government is doing and finding a real motive.

          Like some instances of those red light cameras you mentioned.

          Or strict gun regulations, "free" services provided by stat

    • by ady1 (873490)
      >>Psychologists have known this for years

      Well, at least now we know that unlike US, German Govt isn't run by psychologists.
  • by NoobixCube (1133473) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @10:45PM (#23663111) Journal
    These 11% (would probably be higher if more people actually knew what their governments could do) are proof that paranoid schizophrenia doesn't exist. It's not paranoia when people really are watching your every move, reading your email, and listening to your phone conversations. Paranoid schizophrenics, rejoice! You're just schizophrenic now!
    • Nothing to hide (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jesterzog (189797) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @01:26AM (#23664183) Homepage Journal

      These 11% (would probably be higher if more people actually knew what their governments could do) are proof that paranoid schizophrenia doesn't exist. It's not paranoia when people really are watching your every move, reading your email, and listening to your phone conversations.

      I actually trust my government for the most part. (It's not the US government, incidentally.) Having said this there's no way in hell that I support legislation that gives the government and its agencies power to snoop more on its citizens, at least without some very carefully designed procedures in place such as requiring warrants from independent judges, etc.

      The whole nothing-to-hide argument seems thin. Personally I don't have anything serious to hide that I'm aware of, and I doubt I ever will. That said, I also have no reason to believe that I'll trust the government and its agencies in the future.

      Simply trusting agencies not to abuse their power isn't good enough, because sooner or later someone will always come along who's happy to abuse their position and take advantage of it. (Communism's great until the corrupt people get to the top and then use that influence to change the rules and keep themselves there and push their own agenda.) By the same token, I have no reason to believe that if extra power is given to police and similar agencies to snoop on me and others, that they won't be full of people ready to abuse that ability in 10 or 15 years time.

      Having a good and reliable government is as much about good design of its rules and keeping them firmly in place as it is about trusting the people who are in it. Sooner or later bad people will come along, but a good structure will keep the influence of those people to a minimum.

      • Re:Nothing to hide (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hany (3601) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @04:46AM (#23665269) Homepage

        I guess you are from some post-socialistic country. Correct me if I'm wrong.

        I'm from Slovakia. Former member of Czechoslovakia. Formed socialistic republic under the rule of Communist parties (Czech, Slovak and Russian ones, maybe more :).

        What I find quite disturbing, but also quite logical, is that we ... of former Soviet/communist/... block got rid of that totalitarian system only to find out that almost all of our shiny examples of democracy (USA, France, ...) are heading in a direction we're trying to get away from.

        And we try to talk to those people, having some fresh memories from planned economy, one party rules them all, secret police and domestic spying, free speech so long as you do not say bad things about the party, lack of freedoms and thus diminishing amount of responsibility among people and thus their increased dependance on someone (preferably strong nany state), Lenin and Soviet union forever, etc.

  • It's also possible that that many people actually do have something to hide.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Nullav (1053766)
      So bother them and only if they pose a problem. People can worry about the slightest things getting out, not because it's illegal, sometimes not even because it's damaging to one's reputation, maybe it's just because no one has any right to know.
      So yes, if you suspect me of being the leader of some crime ring and have more than a hunch, then by all means, track my every word and move. Go ahead and make my house one big mic if you want. If you want to find potential criminals, then piss off and take the time
  • by Bored MPA (1202335) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @10:52PM (#23663167)
    Because anything and everything my doctor writes down is reviewable by some nitwit risk analysis agent who's performing an analysis of my background and medical history that was originally written to standards associated with middle class, heterosexual, white christian males.

    not poor minorities from the ghetto. and certainly not poor fags.

    it's no wonder gov't has no respect for private citizens when the folks that are hired have to open up their life history and medical record and thus _must_ have nothing to hide or be very good at hiding it.

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      Because anything and everything my doctor writes down is reviewable by some nitwit risk analysis agent

      You mean an actuary?
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Actuary [wikipedia.org]

      who's performing an analysis of my background and medical history that was originally written to standards associated with middle class, heterosexual, white christian males.

      Ha. Are you still stuck in the 1950's?
      I guess you're right that the standards were originally written for heterosexual, white males... But the only reason those standards stuck around for so long is an artifact of Militaries the world over keeping extensive & detailed medical histories of their white, heterosexual soldiers.

      The assumptions in the actuarial sciences evolved beyond the "middle class, heterosexual, white christian male" benchmark a

  • by mi (197448)

    This is the perfect argument against the standard 'I have nothing to hide' argumentation.

    No, it is not... 89% did not change their behavior — arguably, because they had nothing to hide.

    BTW, is your glass 11% empty, or 89% full?

    • by jthill (303417)

      Please forward me copies of everything you've ever written and everything you've ever received, and recordings of all your phone conversations. Plus all your travel records and every financial transaction.

      If you won't do it for me, then please just pick anyone. Any ten or a hundred people, actually. Be sure to select only people who have appointed themselves your political enemies; who the hell else would ever bother looking?

      Do you think Richelieu's boast was empty?

  • "This is the perfect argument against the standard 'I have nothing to hide' argumentation. Surveillance is not only bad because someone might discover some embarrassment. It changes people. 11% at least."

    What a silly interpretation of simple data.

    Could it be that 11% have something to hide?

    Taking a random review of the people I know well, I'd say this is understating it.
  • by The End Of Days (1243248) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @11:15PM (#23663351)
    I learned here at Slashdot that Europe is perfect, so this couldn't have happened there.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mgblst (80109)
      Ha, that is hilarous. I guess it is because some stupid European dared to critisise or question some US policy, that logically imples that Europeans believe that they are perfect. Very good.

      Good to see you get modded so high as well. You clearly deserve it.

      I usually prefer ha ha funny, to crazy funny.
  • Nothing To Hide (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @11:15PM (#23663359)
    In light of the people deciding that people don't have anything to hide, I ask that everyone answer the following questionnaire:

    1) What is your bank account PIN number?
    2) What is your annual salary?
    3) What is your Significant Other's phone number?
    4) What are your passwords to various email and web accounts?
    5) What is the length of your penis?
  • ... how many exhibitionists have increased their use of e-mail, etc. knowing that someone is watching?

    In the perfect world, all the voyeurs would get jobs with the gov't peeking at all the flashers and leave the rest of us alone.

  • This is the perfect argument against the standard 'I have nothing to hide' argumentation.

    Why doesn't anybody see through the "nothing to hide" rhetoric? We all have something to hide - it's just not something that is necessarily criminal. It's called "privacy" - I, for example, wouldn't like somebody to watch me while I take a dump. I wouldn't want a stranger to hear certain of the things I say to my wife. I might have a mistress ("I neither confirm nor deny..."), and I certainly wouldn't want that to become general knowledge - but it isn't illegal in most countries.

    Privacy - we all have somet

  • by CopaceticOpus (965603) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @02:10AM (#23664391)
    E-mail and phone calls are just conversations that happen to occur using electronic means. Requiring them to be logged is no more reasonable than it is to require that every face-to-face conversation a person has also be logged. (It's simply easier to log the electronic conversations.)

    This is why I think that data retention laws are ridiculous in most cases. The main accomplishment of such laws is to make email and phone calls much less useful.
  • Those 11% of people should be simply shot dead. They're terrorists anyway so why risking wasting resources for example on court cases where some of them try to sue the state for the surveliance using stupid arguments like free speech, privacy and so on.

    Of course I'm joking.

    Of course some people did take measures. There were cases IIRC where americans were spying on Airbus in order to give Boeing some advantage in contracts where they were bidding against each other. (surely they have reason for spying,

  • According to the Slashdot story...

    > "A new survey shows that data retention laws indeed do influence the
    > behavior of citizens (at least in Germany). 11% had already abstained from
    > using phone, cell phone or e-mail in certain occasions and 52% > would not
    > use phone or e-mail for confidential contacts.

    According to ABC News Go.com story about the downfall of Elliot Spitzer
    at http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/story?id=4424507&page=1 [go.com]

    > Prosecutors reportedly have a series of e-mails and wiret

"A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices." -- William James

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