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Daniel Ellsberg On WikiLeaks, Google and Facebook 87

Posted by Soulskill
from the locking-out-big-brother dept.
angry tapir writes "The Silicon Valley companies that store our personal data have a growing responsibility to protect it from government snooping, according to Daniel Ellsberg, the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers. Discussing the growing role of Internet companies in the public sphere, Ellsberg said companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter need to take a stand and push back on excessive requests for personal data." Ellsberg spoke as part of a panel at an event from the Churchill Club, which included Clay Shirky, Jonathan Zittrain and others discussing the WikiLeaks situation.
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Daniel Ellsberg On WikiLeaks, Google and Facebook

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  • I dare say (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Grapplebeam (1892878) on Friday January 21, 2011 @10:37AM (#34952110)
    Those companies shouldn't have all our information either.
    • Just recently a Swiss Bank employee gave to Wikileaks information related to a few thousand or so customers who have "secret accounts".

      So now we've gone from government secrets to the private information of individuals. This is the Slippery slope in action. Sure...some will say these are tax cheats and deserve it, but the person who leaked this has no idea if these people actually cheated on their taxes.

      Next, it will be private information of people who are of some political persuasion the leaker happens t

      • by Zocalo (252965) on Friday January 21, 2011 @11:06AM (#34952554) Homepage
        You are assuming that Wikileaks isn't going to censor the list to prevent that type of data going public, or that these accounts belong to individuals for that matter. While I'm sure that some of them will do, it's also possible that the list will include shell accounts for corporations and other organizations, possibly including organized crime and may even shed some light on the whereabouts of the billions that have been salted away by tin-pot dicators and other corrupt government officials. From what I've read about the leaker of the data the point of the leak seems to be more about what the Swiss banks are turning a blind eye to than the private finance details of individuals and chances are the leaked details will be focussed on this rather than some random Joe Public who has avoided paying some taxes.

        I guess we'll find out in a few weeks though, unless the Bank of America data is going to follow the Cables.
        • You are assuming that Wikileaks isn't going to censor the list to prevent that type of data going public

          Why should a sensible person assume anything different? Assange's MO seems to be, "We're short-staffed. No one's willing to help us publish their stolen data. Therefore, roll the presses!".

        • by sycodon (149926)

          I find it disturbing that you are willing to leave these kinds of decisions to someone who:

          * Has no fiduciary duty to you or anyone else.
          * Has no moral obligation that they acknowledge.
          * Is not subject to any kind of legal authority with respect to publishing information.
          * Has demonstrated a disregard for the possible "collateral damage" related to released information.

          • Has demonstrated a disregard for the possible "collateral damage" related to released information.

            Did any collateral damage ever occur?

          • "Has no fiduciary duty to you or anyone else."
            WL has the same fiduciary duties as any other private organisation.

            "Has no moral obligation that they acknowledge"
            WL and Assange in particular promise their sources annonimity and maximum exposure for their material. Is keeping one's promise a moral obligation in your book?

            "Is not subject to any kind of legal authority with respect to publishing information."
            Are you implying freedom of the press is a BadThing(TM)?

            "Has demonstrated a disregard for
      • the person who leaked this has no idea if these people actually cheated on their taxes.

        What makes you think that?

        • by Anonymous Coward

          The fact that they haven't had a trial?

          • by sycodon (149926)

            Sometimes the AC is spot on.

          • The person who leaked this managed the cayman island accounts for at least a few years, had a high up position in the bank and had access to the data on the accounts. As the purpose of hidden and offshore accounts is often explicitly tax evasion he most likely has a very, very, good idea of whether they cheated on their taxes and declared all their income.

            He doesn't need a trial to know that.

      • by Jawnn (445279)

        Just recently a Swiss Bank employee gave to Wikileaks information related to a few thousand or so customers who have "secret accounts".

        So now we've gone from government secrets to the private information of individuals. This is the Slippery slope in action. Sure...some will say these are tax cheats and deserve it, but the person who leaked this has no idea if these people actually cheated on their taxes.

        As long as the government continues to look the other way when the wealthy commit crimes (a readily provable truth) it would be unethical for someone with the ability to do so to not refer the matter to the public.

        Next, it will be private information of people who are of some political persuasion the leaker happens to dislike.

        Again, as long as governments operate this way (another demonstrable truth) playing by the same rules is more than reasonable.

        • by sycodon (149926)

          As long as the government continues to look the other way when the wealthy commit crimes (a readily provable truth) it would be unethical for someone with the ability to do so to not refer the matter to the public.

          So you are good with anyone deciding that some person has comitted a crime and deserves to have private information leaked?

          Again, as long as governments operate this way (another demonstrable truth) playing by the same rules is more than reasonable.

          So, since "government" leaks private information,

      • by cdrguru (88047)

        You need to understand that if some data exists somewhere, it is likely it will be "leaked", "released" or "published". If it is damaging to someone - anyone - it is even more likely.

        Nothing is going to be held back from this sort of exposure. Of what possible value would a list of accounts without names be? That certainly would not enable various governments to actually prosecute tax evaders. And giving governments the unredacted list but only publishing part of the information wouldn't seem to be in t

    • by discord5 (798235)

      Those companies shouldn't have all our information either.

      Now if we can only convince everyone to stop giving out their information to them.

      Let's take a look at facebook and twitter alone. I don't have an account, but sure enough some of my friends have public profiles. After about 10 minutes of googling I've found out that a friend of mine is nearly done building a house (with the address included, ideal for stealing building materials, such as copper tubes which is worth quite a bit these days), a woman I know has a bladder infection (really? why is this on the

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      I dare say, they didn't threathen us to get it.
  • by djlemma (1053860) on Friday January 21, 2011 @10:37AM (#34952122)
    Something tells me that companies that have a lot of data on their users are going to be leveraging it to their own benefit, not the benefit of their users.. It's how things seem work these days.
    • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Friday January 21, 2011 @10:43AM (#34952182)

      It's how things seem work these days

      Exploiting personal data for profit is nothing new. Spies, snitches and blackmailers have been doing that for millenia. And conning people out of giving out their personal data isn't new either. The internet just makes suckers get suckered faster and in the comfort of their own living room.

  • An admirable man (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Friday January 21, 2011 @10:39AM (#34952142) Homepage

    While I can't entirely join in with those who claim that Assange is a media whore, Ellsberg's low-key style in releasing the Pentagon Papers certainly makes him look all the more respectful. I'd recommend reading his memoirs [amazon.com] for a portrait of a truly committed and sincere American citizen.

    Sadly, as I've gotten older, I've come to realize that American history isn't a straight path of progress, but a cycle of ups and downs. The gains we got in the late 1960s and early 1970s in weakening undemocratic power structures are pretty much all gone now.

    • Eheh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Friday January 21, 2011 @10:44AM (#34952204) Journal

      Time heals all wounds. Ellsberg was a villified as Assange is now. But the decades of Bread and Circusses have dult your memory till it now seems all quant and harmless.

      Those who dare to stand out are often the oddballs of society. And society rarely looks on them kindly. Nobody likes someone who rocks the boat especially while they are sitting in it.

      So you have realized that history is not a straight line. Good for you. Now realize this. History books are written by people and people have motives.

      History is NOT what you read.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        History books are written by people and people have motives.

        History is NOT what you read.

        You're right. HIstory books can't possibly represent the entire depth of human experience for each historical event. Just different people at the time an event is occurring will see that event differently and remember different details due to seeing the world through different individual filters and having different motives, the same thing occurs among historians. The good thing is that while history books are written

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        But the decades of Bread and Circusses have dult your memory till it now seems all quant and harmless.

        Did you mean "dulled"?

        Urban Dictionary: dult
        a deliberately dumb or dull insult, used when replying to someone who said or
        wrote something stupid or insipid.

        www.urbandictionary.com/define.php%3F... - Cached - Similar

        Now realize this. History books are written by people and people have motives.

        History books are written by historians. Physics books are written by people, and people have motives.

        Have a real his [virginia.edu]

      • Now realize this. History books are written by people and people have motives.

        That isn't the real crime (to be honest, our day to day news suffers from the same problem) and in the end it is simply what a history is, someone's view on an event, era or epoch based on the information they have at hand. The real crime is the "dumbing-down" of history (and yes, journalism). You can give me hundreds of pages of lies and if they have context, it still has some value to me. It lets me know your position and your biases along with what you distorted and where you got it from. It reveals new

      • Time heals all wounds. Ellsberg was a villified as Assange is now. But the decades of Bread and Circusses have dult your memory till it now seems all quant and harmless.

        Hardly. Ellsberg's revelations are still far and away more important than anything leaked by WikiLeaks. Ellsberg's information was actually new, and moved people to action. The only new information that I've seen or heard of in WikiLeaks' Afghan war diaries was the names of the Afghan informants. And the only people who wanted that information released was the Taliban.

        As others have pointed out, WikiLeaks occasionally leaks something that's got social value. But mostly, it's just a vehicle for Assange'

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by bhartman34 (886109)

      I can agree that Ellsberg is an admirable man, but I can't bring myself to think that of Assange.

      Ellsberg, in a crisis of conscience, leaked a broad document detailing the history of the Vietnam War, most of which was secret. Assange leaked documents for the sole purpose not of informing people (because most of the information had come out), but to embarrass the U.S. In addition, Ellsberg's Pentagon Papers didn't have the same contemporaneous nature that Assange's leaks did.

      What Ellsberg did can be seen a

      • by Hatta (162192) on Friday January 21, 2011 @11:55AM (#34953516) Journal

        What Ellsberg did can be seen as patriotic, but Assange is not and was not a U.S. citizen, so even if you think there was a value in having the information leaked, he did not do it for love of country

        All the more reason to respect Assange. Love of humanity is a more respectable motive than love of country.

        • There's no such thing as "love of humanity". "Love" is too intense an emotion to feel for all of humanity. You might respect all of humanity (although I think that's a stretch, because there are certainly members of humanity who don't deserve respect), but love? No.

          And even if such a thing is possible, you're deluding yourself if you think that was Assange's motive. Assange was simply trying to embarrass the U.S. That's all. You could plausibly say that the person who gave Assange the information ha

          • by Hatta (162192)

            Love is exactly as applicable to humanity as it is to country. Both are abstractions. Personally I don't know what Assange's motives are, but so far his actions are consistent with altruism. Between him and the US government, I'm far more willing to give him the benefit of a doubt.

            • Love is exactly as applicable to humanity as it is to country. Both are abstractions. Personally I don't know what Assange's motives are, but so far his actions are consistent with altruism. Between him and the US government, I'm far more willing to give him the benefit of a doubt.

              You shouldn't be giving either of them the benefit of the doubt. There's no real basis for doing so.

              How are Assange's motives even a little altruistic? He unleashes all kinds of documents with only a token concern for who they'll hurt, does so selectively to further his own political agenda, and seeks at every turn to avoid responsibility for or the consequences of his actions. He's a media whore who enjoys playing with people's lives without having any accountability.

              • by Hatta (162192)

                For someone who claims to think that the US government is undeserving of the benefit of a doubt, you're doing a great job of parroting their position on this subject.

                • For someone who claims to think that the US government is undeserving of the benefit of a doubt, you're doing a great job of parroting their position on this subject.

                  Agreeing with one position they have on one subject does not equal giving someone a blank check. And my previous post doesn't contain anything that isn't apparent to someone looking at the situation with open eyes.

                  I'll ask again: How are Assange's motives even a little altruistic, based on the evidence?

                  • by gambino21 (809810)

                    I'll ask again: How are Assange's motives even a little altruistic, based on the evidence?

                    How about the fact that he is putting himself at great risk by exposing unethical and unlawful behaviour of the most powerful country in the world. There is a possibility that he will be locked up indefinitely in an American prison somewhere and not given a trial. Leading American politicians have called him a terrorist and/or called for his assassination. By making himself the face of Wikileaks, he's basically putting a big target on his head. And what does he get in return, fame? Maybe some money fro

                    • How about the fact that he is putting himself at great risk by exposing unethical and unlawful behaviour of the most powerful country in the world. There is a possibility that he will be locked up indefinitely in an American prison somewhere and not given a trial.

                      There's also a possibility that I'll sprout antlers, but I wouldn't bet on it. There's virtually no possibility that Assange will face any consequences in the U.S., as he's not a U.S. citizen, and has broken no U.S. laws himself (because WikiLeaks isn't in the U.S.). You can always posit conspiracy theories where Assange is taken out by a Delta Force team, but there's no evidence that he is in any imminent danger from the U.S.

                      Leading American politicians have called him a terrorist and/or called for his assassination. By making himself the face of Wikileaks, he's basically putting a big target on his head. And what does he get in return, fame? Maybe some money from a book deal which will likely be spent on legal fees. Would you trade places with him?

                      1) I wouldn't trade places with him, because I wouldn't have done what he did.

                  • by Anonymous Coward

                    > How are Assange's motives even a little altruistic, based on the evidence?

                    He helped those people targeted for assassination by a corrupt African government.

                    But that was their first leak. You obviously weren't paying attention to WikiLeaks way back then. Just so you know, they've been leaking things for *years* before they got that stuff on the USA that put everyone into patriot mode, including all kinds of criminal wrongdoing that people would have liked to keep bottled up.

                  • by Hatta (162192)

                    He has exposed many bad deeds at great risk to his safety and comfort. That sounds like altruism to me. I can't read minds, so I don't know what his motives really are. But I don't see anything that suggests otherwise. I would do the exact same thing in his position, but for fear of my safety.

                    Also, based on your other posts you seem to think that Assange having political motivations excludes altruism as a motive. I would argue that altruism requires political motivation.

                    • He has exposed many bad deeds at great risk to his safety and comfort. That sounds like altruism to me. I can't read minds, so I don't know what his motives really are. But I don't see anything that suggests otherwise. I would do the exact same thing in his position, but for fear of my safety.

                      You don't have to read his mind. You can look at what WikiLeaks leaks, and how it leaks it. You can also read his interviews (such as the one he did with TIME).

                      Also, based on your other posts you seem to think that Assange having political motivations excludes altruism as a motive. I would argue that altruism requires political motivation.

                      Altruism is a selfless concern for others. Assange isn't doing this out of a selfless concern for others. He's doing it out of a concern for himself (the world he lives in, the way people see him, the ideologies he espouses).

                      Donating to a charity that you don't benefit from is altruistic. Donating a kidney is altruistic. Running into a burning

                    • by Hatta (162192)

                      You don't have to read his mind. You can look at what WikiLeaks leaks, and how it leaks it. You can also read his interviews (such as the one he did with TIME).

                      I have. I don't see anything inconsistent with an altruistic motive. You are the one making claims about his motives, demonstrate it to me.

                      Altruism is a selfless concern for others.

                      Yes, and uncovering evidence of bad deeds that don't affect you, and suffering for it, counts.

                    • Yes, and uncovering evidence of bad deeds that don't affect you, and suffering for it, counts.

                      You're assuming that the Afghan war diaries don't affect him. You're wrong in that assumption. Assange is unabashedly anti-war (and more specifically, anti-U.S. foreign policy). He gains quite a bit by attacking them without them being able to touch him. He promotes his ideology. He builds up his reputation in the media.

                      Get back to me when he exposes some scandal that has touched an organization he does support. (Come to think of it, leaking WikiLeaks' internal documents would be a great start.) The

                    • by Hatta (162192)

                      Assange is unabashedly anti-war

                      Yes. This speaks strongly to his altruistic motives. Is he anti-war because he has personally lost family or property to the war? Or is he anti war because war is evil and bad, and the world will be a better place without it? I kind of doubt that it's the former, as I haven't heard of any personal motivations to be against these wars. If it's the latter, that's altruism.

                      If he's deriving any benefit from his actions at all (which he is, obviously) then it's not altruism.

                      By

                    • Yes. This speaks strongly to his altruistic motives. Is he anti-war because he has personally lost family or property to the war? Or is he anti war because war is evil and bad, and the world will be a better place without it? I kind of doubt that it's the former, as I haven't heard of any personal motivations to be against these wars. If it's the latter, that's altruism.

                      He's against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He's not against all wars [cnn.com]. He's against these wars for political reasons, because he doesn't believe they are just. He's perfectly within his rights to be against them. He may even be right. But he's not altruistic in this situation.

                      By that definition, no one is altruistic. Even the most selfless get warm fuzzies from their actions.

                      That's patently false. There are plenty of examples of people who perform great acts of heroism who derive no reward whatsoever from having done the action. There are people who willingly sacrifice their lives for what they b

                    • by Hatta (162192)

                      So far, all you have said has amounted to claiming that because Assange is not a perfect man, he cannot be a good man. People are complex, and so is the world. It's entirely possible to be flawed and still be motivated by kindness.

                      For what it's worth, I've never called Assange a hero, or held him up as any sort of exemplar. All I've said is that his actions are not inconsistent with someone primarily concerned with injustice. That's a very small claim, and one which you haven't seriously challenged with

                    • So far, all you have said has amounted to claiming that because Assange is not a perfect man, he cannot be a good man.

                      I never said any such thing. No one is perfect. I would never claim otherwise. What I've been claiming is that Assange's motives in the leaks (particularly in the Afghanistan War diary leaks) weren't altruistic. He has an agenda, and part of that agenda is self-promotion. He could be a good and decent man in his personal life. I have no idea about that. I'm talking about a very specific situation, and about his motives in this context only. He could donate to 1,000 charities and adopt stray puppies,

            • by Duradin (1261418)

              I think you dropped an "in" there.

          • Assange was simply trying to embarrass the U.S.

            If this is true, Julian was wasting his time. The U.S. government does this regularly, all by itself.

            • Assange was simply trying to embarrass the U.S.

              If this is true, Julian was wasting his time. The U.S. government does this regularly, all by itself.

              Well, yeah, but at least they embarrass themselves with things they do in public. Assange could (knowingly or unknowingly) get someone killed by leaking classified material. And he doesn't have a journalistic ethic. If the NY Times or Washington Post gets a hold of a piece of information, they do the best they can to check it with sources in the government, and hold it back if it's got national security importance. They don't just say, "Well, no one's helping us redact this to make sure it's safe, and w

              • by Anonymous Coward
                1. Where is this "short staffed" bullshit coming from? I'm seeing this term a couple times now. 2. It's the media's job to report things the government may want to cover up. That is how society makes informed decisions. 3. The pentagon has stated that there have been no known deaths as a result of the leaks. They would scream from the hill tops and fox "news" if they did.
                • Re:An admirable man (Score:4, Informative)

                  by bhartman34 (886109) on Friday January 21, 2011 @03:58PM (#34957916)
                  Well, let's start here [thedailybeast.com]:

                  Asked why WikiLeaks did not review all of the Afghan war logs before releasing them last month to make sure that no Afghan informants or other innocent people were identified, Schmitt said that the volume of the material made it impossible.

                • Sorry. The last post only answered where the "bullshit" came from. As for the rest of your post:

                  1) It's not the job of the press to uncover anything the government's covering up. Do you think that if the NY Times got a hold of the codes to the nuclear football, that they'd publish the codes? The job of the press is to report the news. Sometimes this includes information that might be embarrassing to the government, but a responsible press takes into account the impact of what they publish, and won't pu

      • by bberens (965711) on Friday January 21, 2011 @12:09PM (#34953820)
        I don't think Assange is as radical as you might believe. Something tells me if someone leaked complete/accurate documents on how to make nuclear weapons he would be unlikely to publish them. He's already exhibited the behavior of filtering some (all?) leaks through major international news organizations to minimize the danger to others. It would be really interesting to see what he's redacted.
        • Okay, fair point that he's redacted some of what has come his way. But he's also threatened to let loose the proverbial dogs of war if anyone spoiled his good time, and filtering things through major international news organizations isn't exactly the way to keep things under wraps, if you're serious about that. (He complained that the U.S. government wouldn't help him redact the classified material properly, but if you're really taking your responsibility seriously, then you don't release documents that y

      • by gambino21 (809810)

        Assange leaked documents for the sole purpose not of informing people (because most of the information had come out), but to embarrass the U.S.

        First, there's no way for you to know this, and it is counter to what he has said publicly. Second, even if his reason for leaking the documents was to "embarrass the U.S.", does it really matter? We should be looking at the content of the releases, not attacking the messenger for various grudges he may or may not hold.

        Ellsberg, having an IQ above room temperature (Celsius) does not refute the idea that governments and institutions can and should have secrets, Assange, on the other hand, is apparently the oldest living patient to have been born entirely without a brain.

        Can you please site somewhere that Assange has said that governments and institutions should have no secrets? The fact that the wikileaks releases were limited and redacted seems to demons

        • First, there's no way for you to know this, and it is counter to what he has said publicly.

          It's not really helpful to listen to Assange's statements if you want to know his motives. You have to look, rather, at the information leaked, and its potential value to achieve certain aims. Did the Afghan war diaries have any relevant information that wasn't already in the American press? Not for anyone paying attention. All it did, from what I can tell, is give an insider's look at things people already knew. ("You mean Pakistan is secretly not fighting as hard against the insurgency as it could?!

          • by gambino21 (809810)

            You have to look, rather, at the information leaked, and its potential value to achieve certain aims. Did the Afghan war diaries have any relevant information that wasn't already in the American press? Not for anyone paying attention.

            Ok, let's look at the Afghan war diaries [wikipedia.org]. I find it "relevant" that there hundreds of civilians wounded or killed that were previously unreported in the media. The New York Times, Guardian, and Der Spiegel also believed that the documents had significant value.

            The reason that the grudge Assange holds matters is that he's holding WikiLeaks up as if it's just a beam of light piercing through the darkness, exposing all corruption. It's not. Assange has a political agenda, and he's cloaking himself in journalism and free speech so that he can do as much damage as possible to his enemies (one of which is the United States, which I'm sort of partial to, I admit).

            Ok, so let's agree that Wikileaks is not a beacon of light, and that Julian Assange is not a perfect human being. I honestly don't care that much about Julian Assange's personal life or what motives he has. I do care when my government actively tr

            • I find it "relevant" that there hundreds of civilians wounded or killed that were previously unreported in the media.

              That I know of, they weren't unreported. What would happen is, the media would find out about an action, and the Afghanis would report one thing, and the U.S. would report something else. The fact that casualties occurred wasn't in dispute. It was the numbers.

              The New York Times, Guardian, and Der Spiegel also believed that the documents had significant value.

              Well, duh. You don't expect them to say something else, do you, when WikiLeaks is acting as a good source for them?

              Ok, so let's agree that Wikileaks is not a beacon of light, and that Julian Assange is not a perfect human being. I honestly don't care that much about Julian Assange's personal life or what motives he has. I do care when my government actively tries to deceive me.

              Frankly, I don't care about Assange's personal life, either. I care a great deal about his motives, though, because his motives dete

  • Google (Score:4, Informative)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday January 21, 2011 @10:54AM (#34952322) Homepage Journal

    Google already famously fought Bush's request to hand over search data on all users and then changed their policies to anonymize logs sooner.

    They also fought the government in Brazil in handing over data on a group sharing photos over Orkut. To my knowledge, this is the only know case where Google did eventually hand over government data, after a judge forced them to. And the data was a group of child pornographers sharing pics.

    And then there is this:

    http://www.zdnet.com/blog/btl/google-wins-floating-data-center-patent/17266 [zdnet.com]

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Google regularly shares your search data with websites you click on after a search, which is almost as bad (or maybe even worse) as sharing it with the government. This is done by default, and you're at the mercy of the website with your data. If they want to sell it to a datamining company who uses it to spam the crap out of you, there's nothing you can do about it.

      I'm not saying Google is "evil" or anything like that, but check this out: http://donttrack.us/ [donttrack.us]

      It might be enlightening.

    • by jperl (1453911)

      this would bring data piracy to a whole new level.

  • yes, they hold part of responsibility , but the biggest part is on users who publish their personal infos then proclaim not to be published.
  • His comments are especially appropriate in the context of another recent article: http://science.slashdot.org/story/11/01/19/2018206/US-Supreme-Court-Says-NASA-Background-Checks-OK [slashdot.org]

    The waiver that the gov't is demanding that "low risk" contract employees, who don't deal with classified or even particularly sensitive information, sign lets them get access to anything they want from the googles and facebooks and twitters of the US.

  • by TomDLux (28486) on Friday January 21, 2011 @11:50AM (#34953430)

    As a Canadian, I'm concerned about so many US companies having information about me, which they (may) make available to a foreign ( i.e., US ) government.

    Even worse are companies doing work for the Canadian government, such as Loughheed and the Canadian census. Will our census information be stored somewhere in Tennessee or Idaho? Will US government employees be searching through Canadian data, searching for marijuana users or criminal Darwinists?

  • by Julie188 (991243) on Friday January 21, 2011 @12:14PM (#34953908)

    Looking to the application/cloud service providers to protect your personal data is like looking to a car dealership to tell you when you *really* need that repair. If they think it's in their best interests to protect their customer's data, they will -- but it's costly for them to do so (even to use encryption for all stored personal data), so what's their motivation? AND do we want other people protecting our data? It's our job to protect our data ... what we need are privacy laws/protections/policies that make it easier for us to control what's stored on us, when, where, for how long and how to get rid of it. I smell a booming area for Silicon Valley startups offering tools that hunt out info on you and walk you through the steps to get rid of it.

    Julie
    www.opensourcesubnet.com

  • by jonniesmokes (323978) on Friday January 21, 2011 @12:57PM (#34954694)

    The technology is there. I think it is time we finally start to encrypt information stored on web servers. Keeping the contents of email on servers encrypted is fairly do-able. But keeping facebook information private is a bit of an oxymoron. Someone could also produce a USB key which decrypts data (assuming a public/private key system) so that the private keys of individuals could be somewhat limited in how many copies need to be made. Still the headers of email, would be public, but if the account is anonymous and at least one reliable anonymizing mail relay is used, the system could work. I myself don't see my privacy as a big deal. Its the fact that the total privacy of all individuals is being compromised. That means any goverment or corporation able to access and search the data of Google or Facebook could quite easily suppress dissent or stop negative publicity. The email accounts of journalists are especially a concern.

    For social networks, I think the solution, is to decentralize the system, encrypt it, and open source it, so it cannot so easily be searched and stored. Diaspora, while still in alpha, seems like a good direction to go. If the user's data is stored encrypted, then the user could issue and revoke public keys associated with the data. In this way "friends" could be managed instead of a simple binary flag in a centralized type system. The issuance and revocation of public keys would also allow for white lists to finally be made to combat spam. If one large internet mover (hear me Google?) started this initiative, then it would start to gain some real traction.

    No system is perfect, but the the current system can be very much improved upon.

  • So it's OK to protect the information of individuals from the government but it's not OK to protect the information of the government from individuals?

    I mean, I agree with all that, but I don't really get the logic when I really think about it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's simple. The boss has the right to know what his employees are doing on his time as he's paying for it. In democracy the government is supposed to be working for us as we are the ones financing it, ergo we are it's boss and it's our employee.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      So it's OK to protect the information of individuals from the government but it's not OK to protect the information of the government from individuals?

      Pretty much. Privacy is something that only a person can have, and government is not a person.

A holding company is a thing where you hand an accomplice the goods while the policeman searches you.

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