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Schneier: The Internet Is a Surveillance State 333

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-are-the-product-being-sold dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Bruce Schneier has written a blunt article in CNN about the state of privacy on the internet. Quoting: 'The Internet is a surveillance state. Whether we admit it to ourselves or not, and whether we like it or not, we're being tracked all the time. Google tracks us, both on its pages and on other pages it has access to. Facebook does the same; it even tracks non-Facebook users. Apple tracks us on our iPhones and iPads. One reporter used a tool called Collusion to track who was tracking him; 105 companies tracked his Internet use during one 36-hour period. ... This is ubiquitous surveillance: All of us being watched, all the time, and that data being stored forever. This is what a surveillance state looks like, and it's efficient beyond the wildest dreams of George Orwell. Sure, we can take measures to prevent this. We can limit what we search on Google from our iPhones, and instead use computer web browsers that allow us to delete cookies. We can use an alias on Facebook. We can turn our cell phones off and spend cash. But increasingly, none of it matters. There are simply too many ways to be tracked."
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Schneier: The Internet Is a Surveillance State

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  • tor (Score:4, Interesting)

    by scum-e-bag (211846) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @06:02PM (#43193557) Homepage Journal

    use tor
    cbf'd posting as anon-coward as even slashdot isn't anonymous...

    • Re:tor (Score:5, Interesting)

      by pepsikid (2226416) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @06:50PM (#43193837)
      Whenever I log onto Slashdot, my firewall immediately reports Slashdot servers sniffing a bunch of my ports. I use DD-WRT with logging enabled and WallWatcher to display events.
      • Re:tor (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 16, 2013 @08:07PM (#43194175)

        Years ago someone posted that this was slashdot checking to see if you've been at risk for infection by common malware and therefore flag your posts as likely spam. I don't know why people are modding you down.

      • Yea, I noticed a lot of that happening, too. I blocked a lot of those requests across all my security software (from browser to hosts) unfortunately at the sacrifice of breaking Slashdot's dynamic content features. For example, I can't "Load more comments" and when I click to see "hiddent comments" nothing happens. It just says "Working" forever. Those layered pop ups that black the page? Well the page just goes black and nothing ever happens. So my option is to give up my privacy or to use Slashdot in a cr

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 16, 2013 @06:06PM (#43193575)
    Slashdot now uses Google APIs.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 16, 2013 @06:37PM (#43193757)

      Slashdot now uses Google APIs.

      Slashdot has been a broken website for years now and constantly making things worse. It is very unwelcoming to new visitors and other AC. Especially those who run No-Script or block scripting altogether. That being a much safer way to visit websites. The so called "Classic Discussion System" is no longer available to anyone but logged in members with their preferences set for it. The option to use the "Classic Discussion System" for visitors/AC disappeared from the site quite some time ago unfortunately and since then the site is mostly unbrowsable, especially after a certain number of comments. I have little doubt that I am not the only AC here who could have had a low digit UID if they had actually cared to sign up for it. However I bet many of those no longer come to Slashdot because of how inhospitable it has become due to the abrasiveness of AJAX and javascript in general.

  • Sadly true (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 16, 2013 @06:09PM (#43193595)

    And sadly most of us contributed to this. Either actively by working on some piece of technology that is enabling this, or passively by sacrificing our privacy for our convenience.

    How sad it is to realize that the technology that we so much love and spend our lives working on is helping the state and big corps to spy on us.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      While it may be irritating, as long as they don't feed data to governments, it's not really Orwellian.

      The correct solution is ever-better cryptography and disallowing government from making it illegal, or mandating backdoors into things.

    • by fermion (181285)
      Here is what is most interesting. In 1984 a government bureaucracy was necessary to track everyone. In Fahrenheit 451 it took a whole walls of TVs to pacify the public. In Do Android Dream of Electric Sheep, the only real book, the corporations control the populous through mechanical animals, drug consoles, and shipments off world.
    • And all because we're too cheap to simply pay for a service up front!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 16, 2013 @06:10PM (#43193603)

    Ghostery is a good start.

  • by Paul Fernhout (109597) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @06:10PM (#43193605) Homepage

    Something I wrote a couple years ago: http://pcast.ideascale.com/a/dtd/-The-need-for-FOSS-intelligence-tools-for-sensemaking-etc.-/76207-8319 [ideascale.com]
    "Now, there are many people out there (including computer scientists) who may raise legitimate concerns about privacy or other important issues in regards to any system that can support the intelligence community (as well as civilian needs). As I see it, there is a race going on. The race is between two trends. On the one hand, the internet can be used to profile and round up dissenters to the scarcity-based economic status quo (thus legitimate worries about privacy and something like TIA). On the other hand, the internet can be used to change the status quo in various ways (better designs, better science, stronger social networks advocating for some healthy mix of a basic income, a gift economy, democratic resource-based planning, improved local subsistence, etc., all supported by better structured arguments like with the Genoa II approach) to the point where there is abundance for all and rounding up dissenters to mainstream economics is a non-issue because material abundance is everywhere. So, as Bucky Fuller said, whether is will be Utopia or Oblivion will be a touch-and-go relay race to the very end. While I can't guarantee success at the second option of using the internet for abundance for all, I can guarantee that if we do nothing, the first option of using the internet to round up dissenters (or really, anybody who is different, like was done using IBM computers in WWII Germany) will probably prevail. So, I feel the global public really needs access to these sorts of sensemaking tools in an open source way, and the way to use them is not so much to "fight back" as to "transform and/or transcend the system". As Bucky Fuller said, you never change thing by fighting the old paradigm directly; you change things by inventing a new way that makes the old paradigm obsolete."

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 16, 2013 @06:53PM (#43193861)

      What about counter-intelligence tools? Actively distorting the surveillance data being gathered to render it unreliable.

      For example: at present we delete cookies. What if we swapped them. Now a cookie doesn't have specific information about one person, it has a mishmash of unreliable data from a dozen.

      • by louarnkoz (805588)
        Great idea. I can see that, a "cookie exchange bank." You donate a cookie to it, and in return it provides you with a cookie donated by some random user. There are a few precautions to take, e.g., do not donate your bank's password, but it could definitely be fun.
      • by olddoc (152678)
        I always search for the type of porn I'm not interested in just to confuse them. They have no idea! (Evil laughter...)
  • I blame the web (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hentes (2461350) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @06:11PM (#43193619)

    While the W3C is always keen to push all kinds of new fancy unnecessary technology, they never cared much about security. Privacy and security should become an important part in web standard design.

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @06:14PM (#43193627)

    There are simply too many ways to be tracked."

    There always have been. We're social creatures. Try living in total isolation from society in, say, the 1800s. It was hard to completely disappear even then. Someone always knew your whereabouts even then. That's the reality of social existance. Schneier has long had a problem of being too conventional -- he sees what is, not what can be. The problem isn't that we can be tracked, the problem is who is doing the tracking, and the length of time that data is stored, and to what purpose it is put.

    These are things that can be resolved through responsible legislation and public education. The fact that so far, it has been highly irresponsible legislation due in part to a total lack of education, and in part due to rampant greed, is a social problem.

    The problem is social. The solution must be as well. Schneier is quite correct in his characterization of how things are now. He is not correct in concluding this is how it must remain.

    • by ToadProphet (1148333) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @06:25PM (#43193675)

      There always have been. We're social creatures. Try living in total isolation from society in, say, the 1800s. It was hard to completely disappear even then

      There's a considerable difference between being 'tracked' by individuals we are socially connected to and entities we aren't. The reclusive uncle who had some odd reading habits wasn't at risk of being rounded up in the way that he might be with the latter.

    • by geekmux (1040042) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @06:45PM (#43193803)

      There are simply too many ways to be tracked."

      There always have been. We're social creatures. Try living in total isolation from society in, say, the 1800s. It was hard to completely disappear even then. Someone always knew your whereabouts even then.

      My "whereabouts" on December 25, 2017 do not concern me. Chances are on that day I'll be with family (sorry for the spoiler)

      Someone being able to record and play back every damn thing I've ever done between now and then is the difference between today and the 1800s.

      • by AK Marc (707885)
        So you shouldn't be able to record your own life because you wouldn't want someone else recording yours?
    • The fact that we are social creatures does not make the problem social, nor its solution. The problem is corporate surveillance. As for a solution - there are many possibilities, from technical to regulatory. Unless by a "social" solution, you mean putting massive amounts of public pressure on corporations to change their ways. Even if that is the case, having to summon that kind of outrage every time a corporation violates our trust is not a viable long term strategy. The logistics of discovering wrongdoin
  • by jonfr (888673) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @06:17PM (#43193639) Homepage

    If you don't want to be on the grid.

    1: Don't use the internet. Rather that be e-mail, web pages, internet bank.
    2: Don't use mobile phone of any type. Dumb-phones can be tracked just as easy as smartphones.
    3: Don't use credit or debit card of any type. Since most of us need bank account. Get one that is not connected to any debit or credit card. Pay cash only. But be advised that still leaves you up to tracking. Since all stores and banks have security cameras that can be used to track you if needed.
    4: Don't buy electricity or anything off companies. This is hard to avoid.
    5: Live remote and not connected to anything. Then you might avoid being on the grid 99,95% of the time. I do think it is close to impossible to fall 100% of the grid due to the nature of the modern world.

    The other option is to mix in with the grid in such a way that you don't get detected. That however does not matter if the authorities are tracking you activity. Since one spot (or "unit" as they prefer to call it) can be tracked easy if needed. Be that over banks, phone or internet. They got the hardware for this ability about 13 years ago. It has only been growing since then.

    Not AC, since it would not have mattered anyway.

    • by Kell Bengal (711123) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @07:58PM (#43194117)
      I think a big misconception here is that being totally 'off the grid' is somehow the logical goal. Leaving the grid will satisfy your need to not be tracked, certainly, but I think the pareto principle applies: you can do 20% of the effort to gain 80 percent of the benefit - no need to become a survivalist to avoid intrusive tracking. Turn off cookies, use public transport, leave the cellphone at work when you go home, pay in cash.

      Yes, stores have CCTV cameras in them, but they rarely check them except in case of a crime being committed. Sure, they could use fancy face-tracking software cross-referenced with databases to find out who everyone who pays cash is, but really, they won't bother because the vast majority of people will pay with a loyalty card anyway, incentivised with frequent flyer miles or somesuch. Companies go for what's going to turn a profit - they don't do long-tail very well unless it costs them nothing.

      You might say that being conspicuously absent from some modes (eg. trackable transactions) highlights you for scrutiny, but I would argue that that's a bit paranoid - companies won't double their tracking efforts to make 2% more from 'different valuers'. Governments might worry about the 2% of weirdos out there, but they already track the things that concern them - purchases of explosive materials, weapons, and phonecalls to known agitators. The best way to keep the government out of your life is to keep your nose clean, follow the law and don't publicise it if you belong to the scarlet letter club du jour (eg. communists, satanists, pedophiles, science fiction writers, etc).
      • Yes, stores have CCTV cameras in them, but they rarely check them except in case of a crime being committed. Sure, they could use fancy face-tracking software cross-referenced with databases to find out who everyone who pays cash is, but really, they won't bother because the vast majority of people will pay with a loyalty card anyway, incentivised with frequent flyer miles or somesuch. Companies go for what's going to turn a profit - they don't do long-tail very well unless it costs them nothing.

        I agree this is the case today...

        However, what happens when some company finds value in tracking people offline with these cameras and facial recognition? They start offering every little mom & pop store "free video cameras with offsite backup."

        Every gas station, convenience store, and lunch shop starts to sign on for what is essentially free security cameras. It reaches critical mass and large chain store start signing up as well. At that point, it will be impossible to avoid, and all your information

  • We can turn our cell phones off and spend cash. But increasingly, none of it matters

    I agree with this because people traveling without cell phones and paying cash tend to be the minority, meaning that anonymizing efforts often end up doing the opposite. Another good quote from the article:

    If the director of the CIA can't maintain his privacy on the Internet, we've got no hope

  • It's my understanding that tracking is done by cookies. I delete all cookies 2-3 times a day, and always after logging out of Google (which I rarely log in to) and Facebook. The only downside is that I have to log in to again to certain sites but that is easy because of OS X's built-in password manager.

    • Well, You'll also have to disable Flash and Silverlight, since both offer offline data storage which can be used to re-establish cookies.. Also, your browsing habits can be tracked (with less granularity) by correlating your IP address with the sites you visit and the useragent over the course of a day.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by maxwell demon (590494)

      It's my understanding that tracking is done by cookies. I delete all cookies 2-3 times a day, and always after logging out of Google (which I rarely log in to) and Facebook. The only downside is that I have to log in to again to certain sites but that is easy because of OS X's built-in password manager.

      Cookies are just the simplest way to track you. Another common way is to use DSOs (Flash storage). And there are also several other possibilities to store identifying data. [samy.pl]

      And even if you manage to block everything, your browser still sends some identifying information by default. [eff.org] With JavaScript, even more partially identifying information can be collected, like screen resolution, [pageresource.com] your time zone [w3schools.com] or feature tests which might identify your browser even if you send a forged HTTP User Agent line (and the very

      • by MacDork (560499)

        As a web developer, let me say that none of the stuff you mention really matters when it comes to tracking you around the web. In fact, most of it is pretty essential in making your experience on a site a good one.

        What does matter is that sites totally unrelated to google, facebook, twitter, etc, are embedding scripts and iframes from those sites on their own pages. When you see that facebook like button beside Dr. Pink's Anal Brightening, facebook knows you're there. If you click the like button, then face

    • It's my understanding that tracking is done by cookies. I delete all cookies 2-3 times a day, and always after logging out of Google (which I rarely log in to) and Facebook. The only downside is that I have to log in to again to certain sites but that is easy because of OS X's built-in password manager.

      Your IP address and browser request header makes it easy to correlate your travel across several sites. As long as you do anything with that IP ever that ties to you, they've got you. With many ISPs, your IP can last for months.

      • by MacDork (560499)

        Your IP address and browser request header makes it easy to correlate your travel across several sites. As long as you do anything with that IP ever that ties to you, they've got you. With many ISPs, your IP can last for months.

        This is a common misperception. IP address != person. Many ISPs have caching proxys to reduce traffic. To the site on the other end, the entire ISPs traffic may appear to be coming from a few proxy IPs. Even without proxys in between you and your destination, the IP address may be shared as it is at businesses, universities, and behind home Wi-Fi routers. In the vast majority of cases these days, the IP address a site sees is rarely tied to a single source.

        • Your IP address and browser request header makes it easy to correlate your travel across several sites. As long as you do anything with that IP ever that ties to you, they've got you. With many ISPs, your IP can last for months.

          This is a common misperception. IP address != person. Many ISPs have caching proxys to reduce traffic. To the site on the other end, the entire ISPs traffic may appear to be coming from a few proxy IPs. Even without proxys in between you and your destination, the IP address may be shared as it is at businesses, universities, and behind home Wi-Fi routers. In the vast majority of cases these days, the IP address a site sees is rarely tied to a single source.

          If you are at work or at school, probably. But not at home...at least not with the biggest ISPs available in my area (and most of the US at least).

  • The larger issue. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekmux (1040042) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @06:35PM (#43193745)

    "...We can turn our cell phones off and spend cash. But increasingly, none of it matters. There are simply too many ways to be tracked."

    Actually, the larger issue is there are simply far too many people who don't give a shit about privacy anymore.

    How do you think we got to this point.

    • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)

      Actually, the larger issue is there are simply far too many people who don't give a shit about privacy anymore.

      How do you think we got to this point.

      You mean "give a shit about privacy anymore" as much as you do.

      You have to know what is or isn't private. And if privacy is important at the moment, you don't use no-private modes.

      There is an interesting Slashdot discussion going on right now regarding the Google Glass. Oddly enough the libertarians who take great umbrage at all the tracking going on through teh interwebz, seem to be missing from the discussion of going to a bar, and having some half-wit record and upload their activities to Google and

    • by kllrnohj (2626947)

      Actually, the larger issue is there are simply far too many people who don't give a shit about privacy anymore.

      How do you think we got to this point.

      "anymore"? The simple fact is society as a whole has never worn a tinfoil hat like you do. This never changed.

      And the article as a whole is nothing but baseless speculation. Storing data costs money. Just because your computer pinged Google, or Facebook, or whoever doesn't mean that that company is tracking you or even storing that for more than 7-30 days (or however long their access logs last). People *drastically* overvalue themselves - your activities on the internet are just not worth much money at all

      • by cheekyjohnson (1873388) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @12:45AM (#43195237)

        The simple fact is society as a whole has never worn a tinfoil hat like you do. This never changed.

        You needn't wear a tinfoil hat in order to care about privacy; you only need to look at history and see countless examples of government abuses and realize that allowing the government to violate people's privacy would most likely lead to abuses of power.

    • by AK Marc (707885)

      How do you think we got to this point.

      The Republicans refused to acknowledge any form of "privacy" because they saw it as a path to 12 year old girls getting birth control and abortions without getting permission from their owners. Add to that piles of companies that took our privacy, and a judiciary that protected and supported them at every turn.

      How do you think we got here?

  • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Saturday March 16, 2013 @06:41PM (#43193773) Homepage

    In the UK you can demand that a company gives you all the data that it has on you, they must do so within 40 days. There is a statutory maximum charge of £10, it will probably cost them a lot more than that. The amount that they would have to supply would grow every year. It might be reasonable to ask once a year; this might encourage them to purge their data and only keep recent stuff ... but this would only have an effect if enough people did this.

    There was an EU idea of the right to be forgotten [bbc.co.uk], I don't know where that went.

  • Good Story (Score:4, Funny)

    by poena.dare (306891) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @06:42PM (#43193779)

    I liked it so much I liked it. ...ooops...

  • Google isn't tracking me when I VPN into my employer's network. Facebook isn't gathering personal data when I ssh to my server.

    As has been said, TANSTAAFL, so don't expect "free" service to not track you.
    • Uh-huh. AC posted a good reply to your post already.

      My question is - what the heck are you doing on your employer's network? Are you browsing the web? Oh - wait - you still have cookies on your work account! It's possible that Google doesn't realize that msauve@employer.net is the same as msauve@gmail.com I wouldn't count on it though. You've never, ever checked your personal mail from your employer's work station? Alright - so just maybe you've tricked Google. Did you also fool every other marketer

  • Spread it around (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AndyCanfield (700565) <andycanfieldNO@SPAMyandex.com> on Saturday March 16, 2013 @06:44PM (#43193799) Homepage
    One technique is to spread it around. Use DuckDuckGo or Yandex for search. Use independent e-mail services. If you must do social networking, use low-volume third-layer sites. Remember that Google is now one database; your gmail and youtube use are correlated. Whenever possible use companies based outside the US. Google (USA) will tell the FBI; Yandex (Russia) will not. Sure, any fact about you is in some database. But don't let all those facts get into a single database.
  • When is the legal system going to catch up? (I know. Stupid question.) Years ago I didn't sign up for Facebook because it was pretty clear there were zero protections for my rights to my data or my privacy. I'll wait till there's some laws so which reduce the chance of being screwed over, I thought. Won't take long, I thought.

    Well I'm still waiting. And when it comes up, I see more and more people who've convinced themselves this is just the modern world and there's nothing to be done about it. (Read: n
    • by Burz (138833)

      No, not yet.

      The civil rights lawyer in the White House is busy handing our ass#s over to multinational corporations. You don't want the current political crowd to engage such topics, because what you're likely to get are 'deals' that in no way help the odds of 99% of the population.

      The sad truth is that the public has to get choosier about it leaders before we can act on such issues.

  • by drrilll (2593537) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @07:13PM (#43193945)

    I am probably the lone wolf (in particular on slashdot) when it comes to being apathetic towards this sort of thing, but I don't see the point in being alarmist without documenting something specific. Near as I can tell it is a sophisticated way to to online advertising, not profiling for the KGB. This whole "tracking is Orwellian" thing, well please, what specifically are they doing with this information that is Orwellian? If they are tracking me for advertising purposes (which they most certainly are) what could possibly be more pedestrian and less alarming than that?. All it means is that there are occasionally ads that I care about (though still remarkably few at that).

    And yes, there is potential to do something evil, but potential is not the same as doing. If it was we would all be in jail.

    • by maxwell demon (590494) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @07:49PM (#43194087) Journal

      Even if it is just personalized ads now it might not stay that way. Imagine your health insurance being more expensive because you're regularly buying alcoholics (of course they won't tell you that, they'll just tell you that you are in a higher risk group, if they even tell you as much). Or even worse, you have to pay more because you are living in a neighbourhood where people on average buy more alcoholics. Maybe you'll also get higher credit interest rates at your bank. Without explanation, of course.

      The point is that you may not actually notice it. The bank will not tell you "oh, you live in an area with above-average alcohol consumption, so your interest rate is higher." It will rather tell you "we have analysed your situation and this is the interest rate we consider appropriate." Without indicating that "your situation" does not only include your financial situation and credit record, but also the your buying habits and that of of your neighbourhood.

      • Insurance companies already do this. I pay a low premium on my car insurance because I live in a small country town. When we lived in the city, we paid a higher premium. This was many years ago, and I guess it's been standards for many years prior.

    • Alarmist?

      Take your average person. Let's choose a female person. This female person knows that people are looking at her, every day. In fact, most females go to great lengths to appear to people as they WISH to appear. Tons of money are spent on wardrobe, makeup, hair, beauty aids, so that she DOES appear as she wishes to appear. In short - the lady likes to be looked at, and goes to great lengths to ensure that she is pleasing to the looker.

      Does that mean that she wants peeping toms looking in through

    • by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @03:49AM (#43195689)

      The problem is that profiling can easily lead to wrong conclusions, and this in turn might easily turn into a problem. The main reason is incomplete information.

      Let's try a witty example. Let's say you have a cute doggy and while you're out giving him a walk you meet a really cute girl and she really adores your cute doggy, you start talking and eventually she agrees to go out with you, and it seems she'll later even come over to spend the night with you. You just hope your pooch isn't getting jealous.

      So you go into a store and buy doggy treats and condoms with your credit card...

  • by ios and web coder (2552484) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @07:25PM (#43194003) Journal

    I have already written off true anonymity (years ago).

    When I am in public, at work, or with friends and family, I am constrained to behave myself. There may be different rules in different contexts, but there are always rules. Some written, some not.

    The Internet gave an illusion of a "rule free" context, and look what happened.

    That vacation is over. Time to behave like a grown-up.

    • by maxwell demon (590494) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @08:48PM (#43194369) Journal

      First, what you consider as misbehaving may not be the same as what the government considers as misbehaving. Think dissidents, who certainly are seen as misbehaving by their respective governments.

      Second, even if you didn't explicitly say it, your comment shows that you are one of those who think "if you do nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide." Well, I'm not going to mention the obvious counterexample, as I don't want to Godwin this thread.

      And no, privacy is not about a rule-free context. There are things you don't want others to know even if they are not illegal, nor immoral.

      Also note that privacy and anonymity are not synonymous. For example, if a policeman for some reason would ask me to identify myself, it would certainly end my anonymity relative to him, but not necessarily my privacy. On the other hand, if the police would be listening to my phone calls, I certainly wouldn't have any privacy on my phone, and that would be true even if for some reason the police wouldn't know whose phone they are listening to (for example, someone mistyped the phone number when initiating the wiretapping).

      • You are 100% correct. There's nothing there I'd disagree with.

        However, lots and lots and LOTS of folks feel that "privacy" == "let my ID come out to PLAY!"

        Humans don't seem able to behave without boundaries and rules.

        In any case, alea jacta est. For a LONG time, internet trolls and really sociopathic folks have been using the same tools that we are screeching about in the hands of governments to do truly despicable things.

        Exhibit A [arstechnica.com]

        It's only when folks who can track them down and punish them get the tools th

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 16, 2013 @09:39PM (#43194601)

      You know, I just love it when people tell others to behave like grown ups because it's usually the person doing the telling who acts like an infant.

      The Internet, back in the "rule free" days, was also pretty harmless. It didn't conduct commerce. There weren't connections to real world control systems. Nobody used their real names anywhere. If there was tasteless and offensive stuff, and there was (and still is) you didn't have to look at it. Getting on the Internet required actual intention to do so and some amount of money.

      Enter the alleged "grown ups". The corporations. The business people. The ones who didn't actually invent the Internet and who have contributed little to it except strife. The ones who strolled in and started with insecure e-Commerce and e-everything and who, when they had their heads handed to them by people who actually knew what a house of cards most of their insecure crap was, ran to the government to get them to prosecute the "evil hackers" instead of actually fixing their crap. The ones who did nothing to learn about the environment they put themselves in and then complain the loudest when things don't go exactly their way. The ones who want to track everything everybody does, and who want to keep that secret and quiet because exposing it to the light of day also brings to light that most people don't really like it when they do that.

      In other words, these "grown ups" are the ones who acted like 2 year olds, saw something shiny, and yelled "Mine! Mine!" and try to possess everything wtihout compensation or even permission.

      True "grown ups" know about risks and rewards. They know when it's OK to let loose and when it's not OK. They find or provide safe outlets for things like that because true grown ups know that it is human nature to want to be uncontrolled some of the time. Having had such an outlet and then having it first invaded by clueless idiots and then by greedy profiteers, it is only logical that some people might take offense and take action.

      The thing is, the Internet could not be invented today. It came into being precisely BECAUSE there was no commerce, no marketers, no corporate presence in any real sense. There is proof of this. The proof is that every corporate attempt to invent something like the Internet has failed, so they try to take over what they could not invent. Regarding the unfortunate number of people who believe that the Internet is Facebook, Twitter, and Google, they have had some success. Even those services, though, keep the tracking and the marketing and the spying as low key as they can because they know that even the dumbest of humans somehow finds it offensive to be recorded all the time.

      So, now, go grow up please.

  • The Job Creators (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @07:43PM (#43194065) Homepage Journal

    105 companies tracked his Internet use during one 36-hour period. ... This is ubiquitous surveillance

    We should have known the Internet was going to become a surveillance state the day we turned the whole thing over to corporate control.

    I'm trying to think...was there a lot of tracking and surveillance back before the Internet became the world's shopping mall? I remember using the Internet back then, and I don't recall a lot of trackers.

    Personally, I preferred the old non-commercial Internet. It was more fun. There was no Netflix or Amazon, but there was also nobody crawling up my ass. I would trade Facebook for Usenet in a hot second.

    But I don't despair. I'm confident that people will innovate for privacy again.

    • It's long past time to reclaim parts of the internet for public use. I propose a movement where various internet service providers (across the stack) pledge or contractually bind themselves to:

      - Never assist third parties in tracking users or acquiring user information. This means no XSS, web bugs, cookies, or other trade of user tracking data
      - Destroy personally identifying information on a regular basis
      - Never allow the government to acquire or seize information without a public warrant
      - Never sell-out to

  • When I said that I got modded a troll.

    When schnieder says it, it is brilliant :|
  • It's not just the internet that is a surveillance state. It is everything, or at least soon will be.

    Despite what people think the problem is not tracking, cookies and the like. They just make the loss of your `privacy' easier but it was inevitable. The real problem is intelligent algorithms that are able to mine data and reach conclusions about you. Even if every single tracking product online was eliminated companies would easily find a way to correlate your activity. Measure the time between mousecli

  • If the internet is a surveillance state, please reply to this post with my full real name, and all aliases.

  • by gallondr00nk (868673) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @09:19PM (#43194517)

    It was inevitable I suppose. The fuck-knows-how-many dollars spent on advertising and marketing and consumer focus were going to be spent somewhere. As a result, the last few years people have been flocking to build sites whose entire business model was developed in order to provide data and information in exchange for it.

    Inevitably, there is a push for more information. What your real name is. Your DOB. Where you work or live. What your favourite place to eat is. What you like. Even where you are at any moment.

    (It follows that government either already is or will be a customer.)

    I do wonder if there is a speculative bubble forming around the market for that particular business model. How much of what is gathered can actually be used? How much is it actually worth?

    I suspect that is the escape. If the bubble bursts and the data isn't profitable enough then the intrusion should subside dramatically.

  • "One reporter used a tool called Collusion to track who was tracking him; 105 companies tracked his Internet use during one 36-hour period"

    I ran it on the Guardian, makes me wonder why a 'centre-left' newspaper spends so much effort in tracking what sites its readers visit online.

    Collusion report on the Guardian [guardian.co.uk] : ajax.googleapis.com, chartbeat.com, cloudfront.net, criteo.com, doubleclick.net, guim.co.uk, imrworldwide.com, optimizely.com, outbrain.com, quantserve.com, scorechartresearch.com, wunderloo
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @03:28AM (#43195645)

    It's poisoned data. Since it has become virtually impossible to leave no trace and not be tracked, make sure you poison their data pool enough to make the data useless. It's a bit like buying condoms and dog food and making the analyst at your local store freak out.

    Also, you can use the data hunger of companies to your advantage. If you dig through the net by my real name, I seem to be rubbing shoulders with the greatest of the industry. Schneier is actually one of them. I have met him briefly, but we're nowhere near the seemingly constant exchange of ideas you'd think we have when you start data mining on me. When preparing for a job interview, rest assured people will start digging through facebook and google to find out what they can about you, and make sure that they find what they're supposed to find. Worked for me pretty well so far.

    As for the rest, like I said, make sure the data that can be gathered about you makes no sense. Disinformation is the name of the game, once it becomes impossible to tell truth from lie, the whole data mining effort goes to waste.

  • Poison the databases (Score:4, Interesting)

    by amck (34780) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @05:50AM (#43195983) Homepage

    Add false data to the databases.

    Create false identities, not just anonymous ones. Don't allow facebook, etc. to interlink.
    Script this, add plugins for browsers to do this.
    In shops, use discount cards with cash, and swap the cards regularly with friends.

    Poisoning the databases, especially for "non-legal" transactions (i.e. don't lie when buying on the internet, but give as little
    away as possible, and don't use real identities where monetary transactions are not involved - don't commit fraud)
    means the existing data collected elsewhere is not trustworthy. It devalues the whole point of data harvesting and data mining,
    much better than hiding data alone.

    It also still allows the "correct" (non-evil) functioning of the system. Looking up my real name give my real details, when it matters,
    allowing the site to interact with me the way it was advertised to. Searching for all "X" in the data give 90% garbage, and so mining
    becomes pointless. Deal with customers properly.

    • Yes, the average person totally wants to do all that bullshit all the time. The whole reason this privacy thing has gotten out of hand is because most people just do not care. They would rather have all their information known just so they don't have to type it in again.

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