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Eben Moglen: Social Networking "Creating Systems of Comprehensive Surveillance" 236

An anonymous reader writes "Eben Moglen, founder of the Freedombox project, has taken to yelling at journalists reporting about social networks. One wonders if this messaging will work to end proprietary, centralized social networks or not."
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Eben Moglen: Social Networking "Creating Systems of Comprehensive Surveillance"

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  • Moglen is right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jhoegl ( 638955 ) on Monday January 09, 2012 @11:05PM (#38646690)
    Moglen is right, and that reporter is a moron.
  • by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Monday January 09, 2012 @11:19PM (#38646782) Homepage

    It seems to me the most germane question the reporter asked was, "What's the damage?" And Moglen failed spectacularly to answer it in anything approaching a coherent way.

    Gotcha: If I happen to upload pictures of a couple of my friends (I generally don't) and those friends, unbeknownst to me, happen to be on the run from the Myanmar secret police (who are "evil"), then I've informed on them and they're going straight to the Ministry of Love.

    Coulda used a slightly more concrete, real-world example, myself, by hey, I'll keep the warning in mind.

  • Spectacular! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by killfixx ( 148785 ) * on Monday January 09, 2012 @11:20PM (#38646802) Journal

    I teach different college level IT courses and Moglen's sentiments are always part of "Intro" courses.

    RMS and Moglen, who would've guessed, 10 years ago, they'd be right?

    Paranoia, it's not just for the fringe anymore.

  • by Beeftopia ( 1846720 ) on Monday January 09, 2012 @11:25PM (#38646838)
    When I first got on the Internet in the early 90s, it was the height of folly to put your personal information online.

    Nothing I've seen in the intervening years has changed my opinion about that.
  • Re:/sarc (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dido ( 9125 ) <> on Monday January 09, 2012 @11:32PM (#38646892)

    Well, at least Diaspora wasn't designed from the ground up to facilitate this sort of spying, and has as one of its design goals attempting to prevent such unwanted breaches of privacy. They may not always be successful, but such efforts I consider a fair sight better than Facebook, which was on the other hand designed from the ground up to convert its users' privacy into revenue.

  • by CohibaVancouver ( 864662 ) on Monday January 09, 2012 @11:33PM (#38646896)
    I remain skeptical. I'm a regular FB poster, and not even FB can target ads to me that I care about. I'm a married man so I get ads about meeting women and ovulation tests. I live in Vancouver and I've just finished a big house renovation, so I get ads for extended-stay suites IN Vancouver. Where's this big 'tracking' conspiracy if not even the mothership can get it right?
  • by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Monday January 09, 2012 @11:46PM (#38646996)

    The problem with privacy loss is that you don't know what the damage is until it's too late. I don't personally have a FB account or account on other social networking sites because I value my privacy. But, that doesn't mean that there aren't photos of me online that other people posted, I personally have no control over that and by the time I find out that I've been harmed it's too late to do anything about it.

  • Re:Moglen is right (Score:4, Insightful)

    by genkernel ( 1761338 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2012 @12:06AM (#38647136)

    Not so, it is well known that facebook compiles information on people who do not have facebook accounts, sometimes referred to as "shadow profiles". Between your friends pictures of you and related informations, your family's pictures of you and related information, your coworker's pictures of you and related information, and easily crawlable information about yourself (contact information on employer's website?), I think facebook can provide fairly comprehensive surveillance. Don't get out much? Facebook can ascertain that, depending on the posting habits of your friends, family and coworkers. Sure, some information will undoubtedly be missed, but I suspect sufficient information can be gathered about you even without a facebook account. And even if they cannot trace it back to you, the "like" buttons are always gathering your browsing habits. I think I even see some here on slashdot...

    They are watching, and this time, no tinfoil hat can save you.

  • by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2012 @12:18AM (#38647230)

    You're being obtuse, the point of privacy rights is that you don't know why you need them until it's too late. He answered the question quite well by having my information being spread by other people there are any number of bad things which can result.

    There have been many people harmed by an unexpected loss of privacy over the years from politicians that had to resign in disgrace to people that were later blackmailed to the many celebrities that now have their sex lives on the internet because somebody else released the footage.

    And don't forget about that teacher that was fired because of a picture of her online drinking out of a red plastic cup, lord knows what she was actually drinking, but she was ultimately fired because of the picture.

  • PhotoDNA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ka9dgx ( 72702 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2012 @12:31AM (#38647308) Homepage Journal

    I've been using Picassa on my PC, which includes facial recognition, the interesting part is the hundreds of people who I have know knowledge of who appear large enough to be recognized and grouped together, merely because they happened to be near someone or something I was photographing.

    The news that Facebook is scanning all photo uploads with similar technology really makes me cringe.

    Eben is right, and he's NOT paranoid... just ahead of the curve.

  • Re:Moglen is right (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2012 @02:15AM (#38647902) Homepage

    No, the reporter is the dick. Moglen is just consistently putting forward his point and the reporter is lamely making excuses for his failure to accept the advice. Anyone who asks for advice and then makes lame excuses for not following it it is a dick.

    Uhhh, I'm sorry, but since when do reporters phone sources to "ask for advice"? What he wanted was a quote for the story he was working on, about banks potentially using Facebook to judge loan application. Moglen could have just politely declined to answer the question, or even to accept the call. Instead, he came off like someone's drunk uncle and launched into a rant about how the reporter is a bad citizen for having a Facebook account. Thanks for the "advice," uncle Eben... maybe you should go lie down a while.

  • Re:Moglen is right (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2012 @07:39AM (#38649340)

    Then for many Gmail is a far greater privacy threat than facebook.

Friction is a drag.