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Government Privacy Your Rights Online

US Police Increasingly Peeping At Email, IMs 113

angry tapir writes "US law enforcement organizations are making tens of thousands of requests for private electronic information from companies such as Sprint, Facebook and AOL, but few detailed statistics are available, according to a privacy researcher. Police and other agencies have 'enthusiastically embraced' asking for e-mail, instant messages and mobile-phone location data, but there's no US federal law that requires the reporting of requests for stored communications data, according to Christopher Soghoian, a doctoral candidate at the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University."
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US Police Increasingly Peeping At Email, IMs

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @08:34AM (#35806292)

    Welcome to the land of the free and the home of the brave, where big brother can ask for all of your private information and it will be handed over without record.

    Where there is no Fourth amendment, and judicial oversight are things of the past. Where you have no expectation of privacy, and the government involves itself in every aspect of your life.

    Never talk to the rest of the world about your freedoms and your wonderful society ... it doesn't exist as you remember it, and you're happy to be blissfully aware as long as they keep putting out American Idol and Facebook stays online.

    You guys really need to reign in your government, before it's too late for all of us ... because once your government fully becomes asshats who don't respect your rights, all of the rest of us are completely fucked.

    You're on your way to being worse than the soviets ever dreamed of.

  • Simple Solution (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PvtVoid ( 1252388 ) on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @08:44AM (#35806332)
    Run your own mail server. It's not a complete solution, since in principle ISPs could be storing data transmitted over their networks, but it at least makes it more expensive to violate your privacy.

    But Gmail? Facebook? I am continually amazed by people who store their personal data in these places and expect it to stay private.
  • Re:Happened to me (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jonamous++ ( 1687704 ) on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @09:12AM (#35806594)
    It's easy for me and it's easy for you - it's even easy to use once it's set up (assuming they are vigilant). But if I told my (very non-geek) girlfriend to encrypt her e-mails, she would have no clue on where to start. I could certainly help her but the problem is that not everyone has someone to ask or would even care enough to do so (obvious, since most people don't encrypt their email).

    I definitely agree that everything should be encrypted, it has a great deal of benefits (aside from my opinion that cryptography is just fascinating). It's problematic though, since most people don't think that way - now we're back at square one, how am I supposed to send an encrypted e-mail to someone without a public key? Even if they had one, we still run into some problems with people not paying attention to what they are doing (did they verify that the fingerprint I gave them matched before they trusted my public key? Not likely).

    I think computer security in general is far removed from many people's minds outside of paying their 40$/yr to Symantec. E-Mail encryption? They simply don't care.
  • by Bob9113 ( 14996 ) on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @09:19AM (#35806706) Homepage

    >> against unreasonable searches and seizures

    > Any statute which purports to give the government access to our electronic communications without a warrant is not a law at all. It's a usurpation.

    First, I agree with you. I believe that the spirit and intent of The 4th, and the spirit and intent of The 1st, are being violated. The 4th for obvious reasons. The 1st because the concept of free association and speech is hollow when the government is always listening.

    That said, to clarify how the letter is not being violated, at least in their eyes:

    "Unreasonable" is interpreted to mean that searches and seizures are Constitutional in any case where you do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Since email travels in the clear (mostly) and when you use a cloud service you are giving the information to an untrusted third party, the courts hold that you do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

    We can wail and gnash our teeth all we want. It is, to me, unquestionably a violation of the principles upon which this nation was founded. And we should. We should make it clear to everyone we know that this is going on, and ask that the policy be changed.

    Meanwhile, we (information science professionals, enthusiasts, and hobbyists) should focus on the letter-of-the-law side as well. Restore the reasonable expectation of privacy in electronic communication. Endpoints, content, protocols, everything. It's not easy, but we can do it.

    I have a project in that vein I'm working on. We all should.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @10:24AM (#35807534)
    They don't give a FUCK. You did notice the mention of them collecting money for this, right?

The road to ruin is always in good repair, and the travellers pay the expense of it. -- Josh Billings