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UK Gov't Official Advises Using Fake Details On Social Networks 175

Posted by timothy
from the all-hail-sacred-tax-collection dept.
another random user writes "A senior government official has sparked anger by advising internet users to give fake details to websites to protect their security. Andy Smith, an internet security chief at the Cabinet Office, said people should only give accurate details to trusted sites such as government ones. He said names and addresses posted on social networking sites 'can be used against you' by criminals. ... 'When you put information on the internet do not use your real name, your real date of birth,' he told a Parliament and the Internet Conference in Portcullis House, Westminster. 'When you are putting information on social networking sites don't put real combinations of information, because it can be used against you.' But he stressed that internet users should always give accurate information when they were filling in government forms on the internet, such a tax returns."
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UK Gov't Official Advises Using Fake Details On Social Networks

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  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Thursday October 25, 2012 @09:07AM (#41764109)

    What about in the U.S., where the corporations ARE the government?

  • Sadly (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 25, 2012 @09:10AM (#41764151)

    The social networks are getting smarter, and even if you don't give them the information, they may already have it. Unless you're doing this and not associating with anyone who knows you in real life, they will be able to match you up to your real self.

    • Re:Sadly (Score:5, Informative)

      by ciderbrew (1860166) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @09:38AM (#41764495)
      That right. FB didn't have my really birthday until others entered it into their calendar. I still get emails from friends asking me if I've moved? Well maybe I want to be a 48 year old women from Kenya! No website get real info. All websites get misspelt something in the name or address to track how that data is moved about. Sadly I "need" to use FB to organise and keep up with other people. I'd rather in not be on FB; but I can't stop the 300 people I network with from using it.
      • by cayenne8 (626475)

        Sadly I "need" to use FB to organise and keep up with other people. I'd rather in not be on FB; but I can't stop the 300 people I network with from using it.

        I don't get this....did everyone suddenly quite having a phone? Suddenly no more email?

        Between those two, and the local friends face to face...I have NO problem interacting with the people I interact with...especially those I really care about and interact with on pretty much a daily to weekly basis...

        Heck why not set up your own email listserver?

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        Sadly I "need" to use FB to organise and keep up with other people

        No you don't.

        I can't stop the 300 people I network with from using it.

        Yes you can.

        • No you can't - people will send messages to facebook not your phone, even if you tell them not too! People post last minute booking changes of their event to their facebook page, even asking for extra acts which I'd miss out on an extra booking. Facebook is where a lot of business goes on. I don't like it; but that is where other people are sorting things out. To not be a part of that meas I'd miss out on a lot of things. I still think its crap for sorting out gigs.
    • I worked in banking for more than 20 years. You cannot imagine the fraud that occurs, that becomes part of the institutions losses. As we close loopholes, others open up.

      From my experience, the only thing I allow is for my pension cheques to be direct-deposited into my account. I have no online accesses to accounts, even though my account level is relatively low, I rarely do internet purchases with a high limit credit card. I shun ebay with Paypall, Amazon, and other big retailers. You can scan facebook, l

  • by Nadaka (224565) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @09:10AM (#41764155)

    And that is a considered a felony hacking crime in some countries.

    • by Xest (935314)

      Yes, bad ones.

    • And I'm sure you can easily find for us the specific laws in question?

      • by Nadaka (224565) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @09:42AM (#41764551)

        http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/1030

        • Right, and this tells me I can't violate TOS with a private company .... where exactly? If you actually read the text you provided, you'll see that it doesn't, not even indirectly.

          The remedy for violated ToS is termination of service, as is typically spelled out in the ToS themselves.

          • Right, and this tells me I can't violate TOS with a private company .... where exactly? If you actually read the text you provided, you'll see that it doesn't, not even indirectly.

            The remedy for violated ToS is termination of service, as is typically spelled out in the ToS themselves.

            Section (A)(5)(C) explicitly states that:

            ...intentionally accesses a protected computer without authorization, and as a result of such conduct, causes damage and loss

            Accessing a social media account using fake data can certainly be construed as accessing the system without authorization (you are not, in fact, the person whose every move and preference is tracked via this account). Potentially costing FB, G+, etc., etc. money by lying about who you are so they can't target you with their ads (Probably using an ad blocker will eventually be applied to this too), can cause a loss of ad sales revenue.

            This must be prevented at all c

            • Accessing a social media account using fake data can certainly be construed as accessing the system without authorization (you are not, in fact, the person whose every move and preference is tracked via this account). Potentially costing FB, G+, etc., etc. money by lying about who you are so they can't target you with their ads (Probably using an ad blocker will eventually be applied to this too), can cause a loss of ad sales revenue.

              Actually they can still target you under a fake identity, so that one wouldn't work so well.

              I'll give you that they could *attempt* to make a case on such a basis. Certainly we've seen that twisted in some prosecutions of "hackers". Whether a prosecutor would go along with it in this context, and whether it would even survive preliminary motions is another story altogether.

              • Actually they can still target you under a fake identity, so that one wouldn't work so well.

                I'll give you that they could *attempt* to make a case on such a basis. Certainly we've seen that twisted in some prosecutions of "hackers". Whether a prosecutor would go along with it in this context, and whether it would even survive preliminary motions is another story altogether.

                I see that my sarcasm has eluded you. My apologies for any confusion. The thrust of what I was saying is that it would be ridiculous to try to bring any kind of action (civil or criminal) in a situation like that. Then again, perhaps we will go down that road. That would be quite frightening -- having to pay damages or even go to jail for creating a social networking account with a fake name.

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      And that is a considered a felony hacking crime in some countries.

      I seriously doubt that facebook are going to sue their millions of under 14 year old users who post fake birthdays somehow.

  • He's wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

    by e065c8515d206cb0e190 (1785896) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @09:12AM (#41764173)

    You shouldn't (always) trust the government either.

  • My details... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Are more likely to be accidentally left in a pub by an MP on an unencrypted laptop than to be gained illegitimately from my Facebook account.

    • but if you include "intentionally sold without my consent", chances are equal again.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Doesn't even have to be an MP. I'm a local party officer for one of the major parties; I get a full copy of the electoral roll for the district every year and updates when it changes. Although I at least keep my copy inside a TrueCrypt volume.

  • The real story... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xest (935314) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @09:13AM (#41764195)

    The other story here is that in response some whiny bitch of a Labour MP said she was shocked that a government worker would dare make a suggestion that we try and protect our privacy and anonymity because anyone doing so is obviously a cyber bully and has something to hide.

    Which reminds me once again why I don't know if it's worth even voting next election because it's a choice between spoilt milionaires who were born with a silver spoon yet still want more and seem to spend more time legislating about what furry animals they can kill next rather than doing much of actual value, and fascists that want to control every aspect of our lives and pay us enough benefits to bankrupt the country if we can't be arsed to work.

    Honestly, for once a government official speaks sense, and still it gets turned into party political bollocks trying to take a swipe at them over it.

    This guy, whoever he is, for PM. He's made the most sense of any government worker I've ever seen.

    • by datajack (17285)

      I'm confused that a politician actual understood the issues before spouting off - isn't that illegal?

      Very few sites get my real details, but he missed a few other important ones .. banks and insurance companies get correct personal details. I also find it useful to give shops and delivery companies get my address but nothing much else.

    • by Inda (580031)
      This bitch also tried to claim expenses for two hotels _before_ she became an MP. Back dating = hacking dates, in my eyes.

      She also employed her husband to give some advice, to the tune of 600 pound notes. Nice work if you can get it, yeah? I might start charging my partner for advice.
    • The MP suggested using fake IDs, except for government stuff. Maybe you need to use a fake government as well, instead of the real one?

      Although, from what you describe, it sounds like your government is, in fact, already fake.

      • by Xest (935314)

        To be fair this is the first British government that I'd argue technically isn't fake, because it is a coalition of parties elected with over 50% of combined popular support.

        Normally our governments are single party with only 30% - 35% of popular support which under our failure of a political system gives them 100% of power regardless so yes, most of the time our governments are indeed fake.

        • by tehcyder (746570)
          I agree that some sort of proportional representation would be better, unfortunately the LibDems have buggered up their chances forever by not insisting on it as part of the price of helping the tories in the coalition.
    • Both sides have it wrong, the government should not encourage people to break the terms of service of a website, but they should accept that people should not put unnecessary information on public untrusted websites either ...

    • by DaveGod (703167)

      Have a look on the websites and check out the people standing for election in your constituency. This are who you are voting for - you do not really vote for government, you vote to elect your local MP. You may find someone standing who may be a member of a party you do not favour, but has demonstrated through his voting record that he does actually stand for many things aligned with your own beliefs.

      Frankly a lot of the shite seems to come from the government itself. The regular MPs (the backbenchers) are

      • by Xest (935314)

        I get how our electoral system works, unfortunately I'm one of those people who doesn't have a real actual vote though, because here Labour wins regardless of how many times I vote against them due to having the unfortunate situation of an ex-mining village in our constituency where they vote Labour and probably will for all eternity no matter what happens because in their simplistic mindset, Thatcher kicked their puppy 40 years ago, and Labour stood against her back then and so that inherently means they m

      • by tehcyder (746570)
        Nonsense, if the candidate is a Tory, you are voting for the Tory party, simple as that. Apart from some issues which are allowed to be free votes (generally for things like abortion where people have religious rather than political objections) most MPs vote with their party almost all the time unless they are about to start a rebellion, oust the existing leader or whatever.
  • by pla (258480) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @09:16AM (#41764233) Journal
    Dear faux-outraged MPs...

    Don't worry. Everyone already does this. Your precious little databases of everything, everywhere, already contain 100% pure unadulterated shit (actually only 95% shit, but since you can't easily tell which morons gave real info, you can't trust any of it). So really, you haven't lost anything.

    Boo-hoo. Back to social control the old fashioned way - Poisoning kids' minds via the school system, and having the boys in blue damage the minds of those that escape with some shreds of individuality intact.
    • by thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) <marc.paradise@gma i l . c om> on Thursday October 25, 2012 @09:39AM (#41764519) Homepage Journal

      Aw, isn't that quaint - you actually seem to believe this.

      Don't worry. Everyone already does this. Your precious little databases of everything, everywhere, already contain 100% pure unadulterated shit (actually only 95% shit, but since you can't easily tell which morons gave real info, you can't trust any of it). So really, you haven't lost anything.

      Have you *looked* at facebook? Huge numbers of people proudly post every real, factual detail of their real lives to it.

      • by pla (258480)
        Have you *looked* at facebook? Huge numbers of people proudly post every real, factual detail of their real lives to it.

        Yep, I have, actually - My goldfish has his own page, which I help him maintain (fins suck for typing, dontchaknow).

        He has tons of friends, too, the vast majority of whom lack legs (and of those with legs, the majority of those have four of them).

        And out of all the vast biographical data about him available for Facebook (or the government) to mine, you'll find one thing conspicuousl
      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        Have you *looked* at facebook? Huge numbers of people proudly post every real, factual detail of their real lives to it.

        Have you looked at Facebook? Most of what people post is clearly fabricated. You did 112 on the motorway in your shitty 15 year old Fiesta? Katy snogged Dave at that party? This photo is representative of your normal appearance?

      • by ffflala (793437)

        Have you *looked* at facebook? Huge numbers of people proudly post every real, factual detail of their real lives to it.

        What's worse is that huge numbers of people proudly post every real, factual detail of THEIR FAMILY MEMBERS to it as well. The day one well-meaning aunt finally joined f/b was the day they got my: full real name, real birthday, personal (not junk) email address, and dozens of tagged photos of my face --both with my fake f/b name and real name--, from childhood to present. And we weren't even friends.

        The same person had previously given my real name, real birthday, and real email address to a questionable "

    • Facebook has only my absolute minimal details needed to register .... all the optional fields are blank ...

    • by gman003 (1693318)

      "The government are very keen on amassing statistics. They collect them, add them, raise them to the nth power, take the cube root and prepare wonderful diagrams. But you must never forget that every one of these figures comes in the first instance from the village watchman, and he puts down anything he damn well pleases."
      -- attributed to Josiah Stamp, 1st Baron Stamp, circa 1930

      Now the government has cut out the village watchman, in favor of letting the citizenry feed them bullshit directly (only fair, giv

  • Really.. (Score:4, Funny)

    by f3rret (1776822) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @09:19AM (#41764269)

    Am I the only one who does this already? I habitually lie, I mean I might add my real name if I *have* to, but far as Facebook is concerned I'm a Muslim communist who lives in Pyongyang north Korea.

    • by gman003 (1693318)

      I just give completely bullshit names, that a machine is happy to accept but a person would immediately know is false.

      I always chuckle when I sign into a site under the name "Anon Ymous".

  • If a company wants your real information, they should pay you for it.

    You are being exposed to greater risk for each copy of your information that is out there. Not only of identity theft and other scams, but of being targeted by more advertising that can waste your time. Spam is out; the new spam is like those ads on Facebook for products tangentially relevant to your life, but usually irrelevant.

    Even more dangerous is that people are able to correlate information from different sources and form a good prof

    • by Rockoon (1252108)
      Companies like Google and Facebook "pay you" for your personal information by giving you free service.
      • Companies like Google and Facebook "pay you" for your personal information by giving you free service.

        They're paying (with their free service) through the sale of ads. Ad sales do not require personal information. Think of a newspaper ad, or TV commercial. While those are targeted, based on what section of the newspaper (sports costs more than politics) or type of program they're featured in, they are also anonymous.

  • It's possible that Andy Smith isn't his real name.
  • by symes (835608)

    Social Networks are just the tip of the iceberg - there are vast databases out there used by corporations to better understand their customers. Supermarkets and banks for example will know just about everything there is to know. If someone is stupid enough to post so much personal information on a social site that can then be used to comprise their identity, then that is a problem but one shared by the user... but if an organization fails to secure financial data, gets hacked and that information is used to

    • by macbeth66 (204889)

      For the most part, none of the information about me on any site is correct or consistent between sites. I like the idea of being a Muslim Communist in North Korea ( credit goes to f3rret ). I do not use any online sites for my financial, health or government needs. So far, snail mail, phone calls or showing up in person has done the trick.

      I am concerned about the day when I will be forced to used these sites. I get an email almost every month from bank to activate my on-line account.

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        I get an email almost every month from bank to activate my on-line account.

        If you're that paranoid about using the internet, why do you use email?

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      Supermarkets and banks for example will know just about everything there is to know

      So what? At worst a supermarket will send me personalised special offers (if I choose to use some sort of loyalty card they can track me with) and my bank will occasionally try to flog me a new credit card or pet insurance or something.

      They're not exactly forcing me to buy anything by threatening to reveal my information to MI5 or something.

  • Wow, who would put real information on sites like Facebook, MySpace etc... If your going to put real details up use a site like LinkedIn, anywhere else if someone needs to know who you are then you can take it offline. The security risk of putting your info online is huge.
  • Ok...

    > ...such as government ones."

    ROFL.

    Better yet, only give details to trusted sites. Don't tell the untrusted ones anything.

  • Steam Users (Score:4, Insightful)

    by baoru (1023479) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @09:40AM (#41764525)
    Someone should tell the 27 million Steam users born on January 1st [thenobleeskimo.com] that they should not use their real birthdays.
  • by neminem (561346)

    Obligatory song link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7eIUOUfhoJ8 [youtube.com]

  • Seriously, this is a revelation? Not to mention the only person "angered" was some douchey MP that likely has investments in social networks and online advertisers. Why else would she promote using real information? She (Goodman) is actually claiming that using false information promotes crime. Gawd.

    Anyway, I was intelligent enough to refuse to provide real personal information to BBSes (all local public network for the neophytes out there...never mind the Internet...a global public network) since I
  • "....people should only give accurate details to trusted sites such as government ones."

    I think my irony meter just exploded.

    "Do not trust those fiendish corporations that want to sell you things, Loyal Citizen Unit! Trust only the government with your personal information! We just want to put you in GitMo, not show you ads! Remember! Failure to report mutants and commies is treason! Keep your laser handy!"

  • by rickb928 (945187) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @10:19AM (#41765141) Homepage Journal

    The solution is not to fake the data, nor is it to try and restrict visibility.

    The solution is to redefine social networks, and admit that your address, personal info beyond 'I like chocolate etc lulz' is not useful in a social site, and go on.

    But that guts the social networks. They derive their revenue from being able to sell YOU. And they can only sell YOU if they can sell Y O U .

    That means selling your home address, the car you drive, your income and financial details, your friends, your employer, what you *actually* do, vs what you say you like to do, and whether or not you are able to be influenced by the advertisers buying you.

    The first solution to this is to pay you for your data.

    The second soluuion is to hold the purveyors of your data genuinely responsible for misdeeds. Not slap on the wrist fines, but punitive, stockholder-impacting penalties, and then both punitive reporting and montioring. If you don't vhange the rules, you won't change the brhavior.

    And punish their clients as well.

    And none of this will happen for the forseeable future. Just as Do Not Track cannot work, this personal data drives revenue, and makes the 'free' as in beer Internet work. Without it, you subscribe to Facebook, and I am not at all sure that FB is worth $0.19/mo to anyone. Much less the true cost of operation.

    So we either live with this, or get off the networks.

    Now, the real crimes are when your state sells your drivers license info. That is sinful and wrong.

  • "I'm in the government. I lie every day, and you should to."
  • I thought posting false details is not only against the ToS, but is against the law. We're supposed to break the law to protect ourselves?
  • It's good, if incredibly obvious advice, to avoid giving real personal details to websites. But Mr. Smith is still too trusting, as he includes government and "large commercial" sites as places where it's OK to be honest. I disagree, particularly with the large commercial sites. They are more likely to combine your information with data from other sources, and are therefore even riskier than mom-and-pop sites.

  • Isnt that both against the TOS for most services, and against the law in some areas?

    Not that im against it, as you wouldnt see me posting real info either.

  • ..."trusted sites such as government ones".

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