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Facebook Will Shut Down Beacon To Settle Lawsuit 101

Posted by Soulskill
from the strategic-retreats dept.
alphadogg writes "Facebook has agreed to shut down its much-maligned Beacon advertising system in order to settle a class-action lawsuit. The lawsuit, filed in August of last year, alleged that Facebook and its Beacon affiliates like Blockbuster and Overstock.com violated a series of laws, including the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the Video Privacy Protection Act, the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act and the California Computer Crime Law. The proposed settlement, announced late on Friday, calls not only for Facebook to discontinue Beacon, but also back the creation of an independent foundation devoted to promoting online privacy, safety and security. The money for the foundation will come from a US$9.5 million settlement fund."
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Facebook Will Shut Down Beacon To Settle Lawsuit

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  • by schmidt349 (690948) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @01:40PM (#29477399)
    NSA's Domestic Spying Grows As Agency Sweeps Up Data (WSJ) [wsj.com]

    Report: Obama to use NSA to monitor Net (USA Today) [usatoday.com]

    NSA Must Examine All Internet Traffic to Prevent Cyber Nine-Eleven, Top Spy Says (Wired) [wired.com]

    In short, the NSA has been reading everything sent in plaintext since Bush II, and yet the EFF spends untold millions on lawsuits to make sure that my friends on Facebook don't know what kind of pizza I order from Domino's. What a great allocation of scarce pro-privacy resources.

    I know exactly why this is: if you sue Facebook or Twitter or whatever, you get your name in the papers. If you go after the NSA you get called "soft on terror" and your campaign bid for governor of East Nowhere is sunk.

  • by ifwm (687373) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @01:41PM (#29477411) Journal

    Not only is there an article

    No there isn't. The original statement was

    reads every email, text message, blog post, and Slashdot comment you ever write

    Which ECHELON, while invasive, does not do. Nothing does that, not even the NSA, and there are no articles that show otherwise as it isn't done.

    You should try to read for comprehension, you'll avoid errors like that in the future.

  • by schmidt349 (690948) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @01:59PM (#29477523)

    The sad truth is that the NSA is actually reading everything via data mining. There are pictures of the "tap rooms" inside data centers of every major ISP in the US where they set up their equipment and dip into the petabytes of data that get transferred in plaintext every day. So human beings aren't reading all of your sexy letters to your girlfriend/Linux box/dog, but I'm sure the system is set up to flag "interesting" correspondence for human analysis.

    The net result for the life of the average nerd: probably not much unless you have hobbies the NSA doesn't like, such as developing cryptographic software or Islamic studies. But then killing Beacon was even less pointless privacy-wise, because it was only ever going to be used to generate data for targeting ads (which Google already does) and plastering your face on them (which Google doesn't).

    I maintain that lawyers are suing the social networking services right now because it's hip and sexy and gets you on the cover of Time. There are much more effective ways to benefit the privacy of the American people but as I said above they will likely kill the political careers these 1-800-scumbags are trying to kickstart.

  • by Riachu_11 (600557) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @02:31PM (#29477697)
    I don't really think this is a concern. AES, for example, was vetted by a lot of very smart independent mathematicians and cryptologists who didn't find a secret back door. And brute-forcing it is impractical even if they have computers 10 Moore's law jumps ahead of ours. You should be much more concerned about being forced to give up your key.
  • by ssintercept (843305) <ssintercept@nOSpaM.gmail.com> on Saturday September 19, 2009 @03:25PM (#29478019) Journal
    while i do not know if slashdot posts are monitored, NOVA (PBS) had an interesting documentary called -> 'The Spy Factory'.
    for the truly lazy -> http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/spyfactory/program.html [pbs.org]
    here is a short synopsis -> http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/spyfactory/about.html [pbs.org]
    the most telling part is:
    "NOVA follows the trail of just one typical e-mail sent from Asia to the U.S. Streaming as pulses of light into a fiber-optic cable, it travels across the Pacific Ocean, coming ashore in California, and finally reaching an AT&T facility in San Francisco, where the cable is split and the data sent to a secret NSA monitoring room on the floor below. This enables the NSA to intercept not only most Asian e-mail messages but also the entire U.S. internal Internet traffic."
  • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Saturday September 19, 2009 @03:59PM (#29478213) Journal

    And what would you have them do against the NSA? Like it or not, short of armed revolution there ain't a damned thing you can do about the NSA. Politicians come, politicians go, the NSA remains. Hell the elections have become so worthless that it isn't even funny anymore, with BOTH sides being so power hungry it is scary, and the only difference being which particular corporate booty they smooch, so what exactly would you have them do about a spook factory like the NSA?

    Hell with their kind of power I have no doubt that anyone who stirs up too much shit for them and pisses them off will be made to go bye bye REAL quick, probably by having an anonymous tipster point out they have child pron (which wouldn't be hard at all for a bunch like that to plant, complete with logs, and which nowadays is guilty until proven innocent) if they didn't just go for a "classic" like suicide or a Silkwood style car wreck. Sorry Charlie but bunches like the NSA are NOT the ones that you want to be fucking with. Don't forget the old sayings "knowledge is power" and "power corrupts" and right now it would be hard to find anybody with more juice than the NSA. Are you sure the guys at the EFF haven't said or done ANYTHING that the NSA could use against them?

    The second we ended up with secret courts like FISA that can rubber stamp anything spooks want is the second that challenging them went right out the fucking window. Sad I know, but true.

  • by schmidt349 (690948) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @04:34PM (#29478483)

    More than a dozen people with positions everywhere from the NSA itself to AT&T have admitted roles in the construction and operation of the tap rooms. The fed has repeatedly invoked the state secrets exception to kill lawsuits that even tangentially involve the tap program. News agencies on every bar of the political rainbow have run reports confirming its existence and the New York Times at least was asked by the government not to go with its story. Now I could write a research paper meticulously documenting the outing of the spy program in the press but anyone with access to Google could do the same thing in five minutes. It exists. The only question remaining is how much data the NSA sifts through and whose, and the whistleblowers have been pretty clear on the point that the spooks aren't very discriminating. I'm sorry, but one guy on Slashdot saying "no, it isn't" can't undo three years of meticulous investigative journalism by the newspapers of record of both the left and right wings and the bravery of those involved who have admitted their involvement.

    I am thankful every day for the fact that we live in the world's leakiest democracy, so we at least know about these wanton violations of our civil rights. But after a couple of token lawsuits the EFF essentially gave up and now wastes its time keeping my pizza orders out of the hands of my Facebook pals. It's a sad day when the only outfit I can count on to fight the government out of my private life is the government.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 19, 2009 @05:17PM (#29478811)
    The government invading my privacy is very worrisome and should be resisted. Facebook misusing the semi-private information I give to them is also very worrisome and should be resisted. The latter does not exclude the former. While only a fool starts two wars on two fronts, it's equally foolish to fight a war and ignore a front. It's a certain path to failure to let everyone but the worst offender go unopposed.

    Privacy has not been lost entirely. Absolute privacy cannot exist so long as there are other people in this world. On the other extreme, I can, with a fair amount of certainty, assume that you have no idea what I'm going to do for the rest of the day. Zero privacy is equally impossible since nobody cares about what the vast majority of people do, or the vast majority of what any person does. Saying that privacy is dead seems to be popular as of late, but privacy isn't binary and can never die or be absolute. Not fighting for it will make it shift closer to the former though.
  • by Ihmhi (1206036) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Sunday September 20, 2009 @07:29AM (#29482157)

    Sadly, things like PGP and interest in ECHELON reports seem to have become less popular among geeks. I wonder why. Sure, one might trust PGP less when there are ways to get around it or compel you personally to give up the key, but it's odd that people suddenly have zero passion for the technology.

    Because I don't think most of us think the NSA gives a shit about reading our Battlestar Galactica fanfiction or listening to our Vent sessions for WoW raids.

    If it's serious enough that the NSA would get involved, I think most geeks nowadays wouldn't even communicate about it over a transmission protocol that could be intercepted - which is pretty much any save for talking in person (unless you believe the nutjobs who say stuff like the CIA has microphones hidden in traffic lights).

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday September 20, 2009 @10:25AM (#29482701) Homepage Journal

    Even then there would be fringe cases as not all email/traffic would go through these monitoring points, unless they are setup on the geographical border routes of the country.

    Those who do not remember the lessons of history are doomed, yo. Remember how we had a big flap recently about telecoms immunity? About how every provider but Qwest caved immediately? Guess what, the phone network is the internetwork. They've got everyone tapped. They are going to see any email that travels any significant distance, period.

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