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Privacy Crime Encryption The Internet Your Rights Online

Do You Like Online Privacy? You May Be a Terrorist 720

schwit1 passes on this snippet from Public Intelligence: "A flyer designed by the FBI and the Department of Justice to promote suspicious activity reporting in internet cafes lists basic tools used for online privacy as potential signs of terrorist activity. The document, part of a program called 'Communities Against Terrorism,' lists the use of 'anonymizers, portals, or other means to shield IP address' as a sign that a person could be engaged in or supporting terrorist activity. The use of encryption is also listed as a suspicious activity along with steganography, the practice of using 'software to hide encrypted data in digital photos' or other media. In fact, the flyer recommends that anyone 'overly concerned about privacy' or attempting to 'shield the screen from view of others' should be considered suspicious and potentially engaged in terrorist activities. ... The use of PGP, VPNs, Tor or any of the many other technologies for anonymity and privacy online are directly targeted by the flyer, which is distributed to businesses in an effort to promote the reporting of these activities."
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Do You Like Online Privacy? You May Be a Terrorist

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  • by bonch ( 38532 ) * on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:03PM (#38904631)

    "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place." - Eric Schmidt, Google CEO

    "[There's an] error in logic that leads to short-sighted conceptions of privacy like Schmidt's. ... Google, governments, and technologists need to understand more broadly that ignoring privacy protections in the innovations we incorporate into our lives not only invites invasions of our personal space and comfort, but opens the door to future abuses of power." - EFF

    Can you believe that the Internet was once considered a place to escape identity? Where anonymity reigned? It's pretty amazing in retrospect how quickly that changed, and the way people are now trained to reveal everything on Facebook and Twitter is creating a society that doesn't understand the value and the power of their personal information. They're willing to reveal all, to act as better products for advertisers and to avoid suspicion from overbearing governments.

  • by repapetilto ( 1219852 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:06PM (#38904661)

    Even if you don't care if the government knows everything about you... do you trust them to keep your info safe from hackers? Do you want ME to know everything you do?

  • They aren't wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:06PM (#38904667)

    These might be signs of someone being a terrorist. It's just that 99.9% aren't and you're basically taking away privacy from everyone by treating the use of such tools as being suspicious. It's exactly what terrorists want to achieve.

  • Chicken or egg? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:07PM (#38904677)

    "Like privacy? You may be a terrorist!"

    It's thinking like that which risks turning me into a terrorist.

  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:07PM (#38904687) Journal

    It's not an error in logic. Eric Schmidt knows exactly what he's arguing for.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:08PM (#38904689)

    This is just another example of just how far out of touch the US Government is in technology.

    I swear...armed uprising might soon be the only way to restore the country to some semblance of normalcy, where the government works FOR the people, not against us all.

    AC to prevent an anonymous black van from showing up at my door.

  • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:09PM (#38904709) Homepage

    Welcome privacy advocates to the Accused of Being A Terrorist While Doing Nothing Wrong Club. Take a seat over there next to the Photographers (because terrorists will really cart around a DSLR and tripod in their terrifying terroristic travels).

  • by bonch ( 38532 ) * on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:10PM (#38904723)

    They're not even signs of being a terrorist. To call them signs of being a terrorist is like saying breathing is a sign of being a terrorist, because terrorists breathe.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:11PM (#38904751)

    The sad thing is, people still believe the US government has their best interests at heart and is not trying to oppress them.
    They seem to think a tyranny is impossible in the USA.

  • by Hope Thelps ( 322083 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:11PM (#38904757)

    These might be signs of someone being a terrorist. It's just that 99.9% aren't and you're basically taking away privacy from everyone by treating the use of such tools as being suspicious. It's exactly what terrorists want to achieve.

    So in the same sense that being right handed is a sign of someone being a terrorist - not all terrorists are right handed but a lot of them are (and maybe some other people too).

  • by bonch ( 38532 ) * on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:12PM (#38904773)

    Pseudonymity is one form of anonymity.

  • by Ragnarok89 ( 1066010 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:14PM (#38904823)
    "Suspicious communications using VOIP or communicating through a PC game" Seriously!? Communicating through a videogame? By that definition every single child who plays online computer games that allow them to talk to others is a potential threat. I wonder what that means for all those who play Modern Warfare and the like? Maybe they're TRAINING to be terrorists! The US lawmakers sicken me.
  • Make it universal (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:19PM (#38904893)

    This is why everyone should use such tools and practices, all the time.

  • by sconeu ( 64226 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:21PM (#38904915) Homepage Journal

    Do you want ME to know everything you do?

    Apparently most people on Facebook and Twitter do want that.

  • by realsilly ( 186931 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:21PM (#38904921)

    .... for I relish in my privacy rights. I always try to hide what I do from others. I refuse to have an account on Facebook, or other social media tools. I guess this makes me suspect.

    Forget that my Civil Liberties are being stripped away one chip at a time, and my right to privacy is a pursuit to my life, liberty and happiness, which is in the Declaration of Independence.

    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,[75] that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

    So I guess our founding fathers were Terrorists then....

  • by Tsingi ( 870990 ) <graham.rick@gmail.cFREEBSDom minus bsd> on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:22PM (#38904955)

    Even if you don't care if the government knows everything about you...

    I do care. The government has powers it should not have. The less they know about me the better. And everyone else for that matter.

    If you want to know something about me, ask, if I want to tell you, I will.

  • Re:Code? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:23PM (#38904979) Homepage

    "Suspicious or coded writings, use of code word sheets, cryptic ledgers, etc"

    To the average citizen, most programming languages would fit this.

    To the average (US) citizen, simple declarative English sentences would fit this.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:25PM (#38905005)

    There's an email address assigend to your account with an IP address associated with that - even if is assigned raondomly; just look at logs.

    And then there's the IP address associated with your (and my) posts.

    So, now there are two ways of finding you if I were some sort of secret police. With a couple of letter with a certain letter head, it wouldn't be too hard to find out what ISP account these posts came from and the billing address and who you are - or at least find your parents and tell them what you've been doing in your basement.

    Secondly, as someone with such a low Slashdot account number (with a star too!), I'm really disappionted in you for having such an attitude regarding internet accounts. I expected better from you and everyone who modded you up.

    I am a disappoint.

    Lastly, you have lousy taste in porn.

  • by crunchygranola ( 1954152 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:28PM (#38905051)

    Anyone accessing any kind of sensitive information (like reading email) at an internet cafe is exposing themselves to the possibility of every type of electronic snooping by criminals, up to and including laptop theft. It would be folly not to employ strong security measures when accessing the net under such circumstances.

    This is like claiming people who lock their front doors fit a criminal profile, because they are trying to keep people from seeing what they have or are doing in their houses.

  • Re:I'll Become One (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JobyOne ( 1578377 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:28PM (#38905059) Homepage Journal

    Rights become crimes, making more criminals out of thin air. Suddenly there's a lot of crime going on, so we strip more rights, to deal with all the crimes. It's pretty damn circular.

  • by mrclisdue ( 1321513 ) * on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:30PM (#38905097)

    ...AC to prevent an anonymous black van from showing up at my door...

    I could do the old ftfy crap, but posting AC perhaps adds a weak layer of obscurity, but it won't necessarily prevent our rulers from showing up: your anonymity depends hugely on what other steps you may have taken to shield your id....

    But the old "only terrorists have something to hide" ideology has become so ingrained in our society that it's sickening. In these parts there was a campaign to swab all the men in town for dna (they were looking for a serial rapist, or something along those lines.) At the press conference, the spokesman for the police said exactly that, "If someone doesn't want to be swabbed, they're obviously hiding something." And pretty well everyone I mentioned this to over the next few weeks absolutely agreed. I didn't get swabbed. Two detectives showed up at my door. I *think* I convinced them that I was refusing, on principle, but I really can't be sure now, can I?


  • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:32PM (#38905145) Homepage Journal

    The funny thing is that if everyone felt the way Eric Schmidt did, or for that matter, the TSA, we wouldn't have the iPhone. You want to talk about things developed in secret by people taking borderline insane measures to keep other people from reading their screens.... So is he saying that such products should not have been created in the first place?

    In fact, what's interesting is that the people most strongly in favor of privacy are the ones most likely to change things—for better or worse—because they're the ones who see things differently. They look at a piece of wood and see a table, or look at an old car bumper and see a sculpture. They see things not for what they are, but for what they could be. But they know that their ideas must be fully baked before they are unleashed into the wild, or else the public will not understand them—will not accept them—will not appreciate them.

    This scares those who have vested interests in the status quo. They call them names like terrorist, radical, or crazy to diminish their standing, further isolating them from society. Eventually this actually drives them inevitably to take some extreme action that changes things anyway, in spite of the establishment's desire to avoid that.

    What that action is depends on the person. It might be blowing up an airplane, or it might be releasing the most amazing new piece of technology the world has ever seen. It's the same fundamental way of operating, but with vastly different goals. The problem is that there is no good way to tell the difference as an outsider. The only real option is to accept that there will always be a few people who will try to change the world for the worse—blow stuff up, kill people, etc.—and accept that we can't feasibly stop them all without also stopping those who would change the world for the better.

    Food for thought.

  • by hobarrera ( 2008506 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:33PM (#38905165) Homepage

    In that case, Schmidt, can I have access to all your files, including google's algorithm?

  • by rst123 ( 2440064 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:38PM (#38905233)

    "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place." - Eric Schmidt, Google CEO

    So I assume that Google has posted their financials, algorithms, complete business plans, etc on the open web? or maybe they are planning on shutting down and disbanding?

  • by mhajicek ( 1582795 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:40PM (#38905261)
    I would like to report the FBI for suspicious terrorist activity as described in the above referenced brochure.
  • by master_kaos ( 1027308 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:41PM (#38905269)
    Ok Eric Schmidt, I want to know your SSN, CC info, bank account numbers. Oh you don't want me to know that? Guess you shouldn't do online banking, purchasing from amazon, etc.
  • Re:Chicken or egg? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mayko ( 1630637 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:41PM (#38905279)

    "Like privacy? You may be a terrorist!"

    It's thinking like that which risks turning me into a terrorist.

    I know what you're getting at, but you would really be an activist. Protesting and revolting directly against those infringing on your rights is a core American value. Some would say there is a fine line between activism and terrorism... lately however I think the line is finer between authoritative government and terrorism.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:46PM (#38905351)

    **Potential** Indicators of Terrorist Activities Related to Internet Café

    All they say that is that if someone goes long out of his way to hide something, then what he/she is trying *might* be related to terrorism.

    Simple as that.

  • by mhajicek ( 1582795 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:48PM (#38905377)
    Or maybe THEY just want you to THINK that most people are complacent.
  • by TobinLathrop ( 551137 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:51PM (#38905415)

    Heck privacy shield, vpn, NO DO NOT LOOK OVER MY SHOULDER AT MY SCREEN, etc are all basic telecommute rules for my day job. So yeah I guess if I have to check something and use the work laptop to do it when I am out and using the library/starbucks/whatever I guess I am a terrorist.

  • Re:Chicken or egg? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:54PM (#38905457) Homepage Journal

    Mod parent up. Anonymous Coward speaks truth.

    Terrorists (at least the bottom-rank terrorists who commit the actual attacks) are almost always people marginalized by society who feel that they have nothing left to lose. The continued erosion of someone's basic rights quite literally can turn them into a terrorist, or at least a criminal (of which a terrorist is simply one type). This is why people getting out of prison in the U.S. have such a high recidivism rate. They've lost everything—job, family, community—and have basically nothing more to lose.

    And, of course, the government predictably tries to stop recidivism and terrorism by tightening their control over the relevant population. Unfortunately, trying to prevent people from taking control of their lives in an undesirable way by passing laws that further reduce their control over their lives is like trying to stop a fire by pouring gasoline on it. It is doomed to fail in the most spectacular way possible.

  • I'm Guilty (Score:5, Insightful)

    by afabbro ( 33948 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @03:02PM (#38905627) Homepage

    I'd like to point out that I was, indeed, using a computer (with privacy tools) in an Internet Cafe in California (an airport, no less!) only last month, after having traveled an illogical distance and despite having robust residential Internet access.

    While doing so, I did download content with extremely violent themes and military tactics. Indeed, the material enthusiastically described the ruthless, near-extermination of a freedom-loving people by a warlike, non-Christian foreign power bent on world conquest. The material was written by leader of these warlike people, and frankly I was rooting for him.

    If I have to go to prison for reading Julius Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic War, so be it. Sic Semper...wait a minute...

  • by hierophanta ( 1345511 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @03:20PM (#38905955)
    that is a categorically false statement. people on facebook and twitter want you to know certain things about them. (for example people dont post when they accidentally shit themselves, but taking shots with hotties = post!)

    some people (like myself) make a point to tailor the information that is posted / accessible so that i am seen in only a certain light. this has become increasingly important as companies use our social presence to make decisions about us. to the point that i created a twitter with my real name so that i can have what i post that definitely attributed to myself. (its all work related and makes me seem like a hero). if you havent done this yet, do it now. and post there every so often with a mind to create a stellar professional image.
  • by Entropius ( 188861 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @03:22PM (#38906015)

    All of the above, together, are lawful conduct and behavior. You don't just get the rights in the Constitution one at a time -- you get them all at once, as much as you want.

  • My other thought (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nyder ( 754090 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @03:35PM (#38906263) Journal

    Does anyone pay attention to history?


    I had a public school education, yet i know how this ends.

  • by msheekhah ( 903443 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @03:42PM (#38906403)
    Well there are those of us that like to keep in touch with family that aren't tech savvy enough for IRC, or even Skype. But then Facebook becomes a tool, and not a community.
  • by Patch86 ( 1465427 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @04:00PM (#38906653)

    ...being reported to the FBI by a barista with a patriotic leaflet.

    1984 gets nearer every day.

  • by SecurityGuy ( 217807 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @04:29PM (#38907169)

    Let me introduce everyone to those two important concepts. []

    The problem is that while terrorists may indeed exhibit those behaviors, a massively larger number of people who are not terrorists also do. Like, oh, doctors, nurses, your insurance company, finance companies, any company that has trade secrets, any individual who has a sense of privacy, etc.

    In other words, the positive predictive value of that test is extremely low. Nearly every time you report someone, you're reporting someone who is not a terrorist. In fact, I seriously doubt the pool of suspects generated by this would be any higher in actual terrorists than random selection would get you.

  • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @04:37PM (#38907309) Homepage Journal

    if you check my Facebook account, youâ(TM)ll see a bunch of posts related to my political and religious beliefs (or lack thereof), some funny pics I shared from whomever, and a friend list full of bullshit. Good luck getting anything useful.

    Err....those political and religious views could prove to be VERY important/useful to others.

    Targeted ads and contact by political parties...

    Might be used to discriminate against you on the next job hunt...without you even knowing or being able to prove such.

  • by slack_justyb ( 862874 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @04:38PM (#38907327)

    the spokesman for the police said exactly that, "If someone doesn't want to be swabbed, they're obviously hiding something."

    Yes that's exactly what a investigator would say. The quote doesn't break the law by forcing people to swab. That's the thing, you still have the option to refuse. Dragnet style investigations aren't anything new, it's just the newest label is terrorist. Police officers are out there to catch criminals and if they have no clue as to who to catch, they'll suspect everyone till they, "find their man."

    I won't get into the whole legal thing, but basically police officers can say pretty much whatever they want to say about the public at large or to anyone who refuses to cooperate. It's when they *do* something that impedes your freedom that they've crossed the line. However, the story that you gave above, is pretty normal rhetoric.

    1. 1. Make everyone feel like a criminal
    2. 2. Give a path to salvation (ie: mouth swab)
    3. 3. Make the path to salvation optional (to keep it legal) and damn those who do not comply
    4. 4. Annoy the hell out of anyone who doesn't comply
    5. 5. Stop short, of crossing boundaries, but hey the guy probably isn't a lawyer so let's test the waters.
    6. 6. Profit!

    I'm not saying that it's moral and at times it could be illegal, but there again, you'd need to be a lawyer to know the diff. [sarcasm]You a have problem with that? The you must be terrorist[/sarcasm] Seriously though, this tactic only works when people buy into the message, so you're looking at a problem of the people and not so much as the cops.

  • by kiwimate ( 458274 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @04:46PM (#38907443) Journal

    Do you want ME to know everything you do?

    Apparently most people on Facebook and Twitter do want that.

    Sigh. I wish this stupid /. meme would disappear. Unbelievably, some people in the world are able to exercise self restraint. Some of them also like to use Facebook or Twitter. These are not mutually exclusive traits.

    I suppose you think that most people who are on Google+ also suffer from this lack of ability to self filter?

  • by tqk ( 413719 ) <> on Thursday February 02, 2012 @04:51PM (#38907513)

    When you go to the store to buy something, people have an opportunity to notice your activities.

    Use cash?

    If you use Google, its absurd to demand they forget what you tell them to of the encounter.

    You do realize there are other search engines out there, some of which at least purport to respect privacy? I prefer [].

    The government should have certain limits ...

    It appears that boat's already sailed. Gmail uses https, doesn't it? That's crypto, so every gmail user is a potential terrorist! When your gov't is telling its people that normal, everyday practices used by millions of average, law abiding citizens are suspicious activities denoting terrorist activities, the gov't is out of control in its quest for control/power over the populace. No, perfect anonymity never existed, but now, any anonymity is seen as suspicious behaviour to be reported to the Stasi, er, authorities.

    That being said, this flyer is hilarious.

    I think you misspelled atrocious, infuriating, insulting, insane, or something.

  • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday February 02, 2012 @04:52PM (#38907529) Journal

    Besides didn't anybody learn ANYTHING from Watergate? The whole point of that break in was to dig dirt that could then be thrown at the opposition. Now imagine they have a nice little list of every website you've been to for say the last 5 years and you start stirring up trouble. Lets say you start a local occupy chapter, or you start a grass roots campaign to get some crooked official impeached or block some odious bill the megacorps want passed. Do you REALLY want every single thing you have ever typed and every single website you've ever visited to be sitting there in a file waiting for them to distort it? I can just imagine the kind of stuff they could throw at me since I keep a list of "look at teh titties!" topsites and "Free viagra!" crapsites I use to test various free antivirus and antimalware solutions on these off lease boxes I have around. It makes it easy for me to idiot proof boxes for my customers but in the right hands i'm sure they could make me into some giant perv.

    All movements that get anywhere anymore start at the grass roots and gain popular support. Having access to all this info would have made someone like Nixon cream himself in delight, as it would be easy to warp and twist even the most innocent thing into something they could use against you. hell working PC sales and repair i can't tell you the number of times I've seen truly innocent mistakes get someone's PC turned into a spambot or infected with a porn bug. Like if you would have seen the traffic logs of a local minister two years ago you would have thought him to be a giant perv but the poor schmuck bought one of those USB external drives with a preloaded malware and when he saw the .exe sitting on the drive he thought it was some free software that came with the drive and ran it. it turned out to be a clickjacker bug that was throwing popups to every kind of topsite and crapsite known to man to crank up the clicks.

    Now what if that minister had been trying to build a grassroots support for an investigation into something like say Fast & Furious? Or for some dirty dealing at the Fed? Frankly with the history of the three letter agencies in this country I don't trust them any farther than i can throw them and the LAST thing we need to do is make it even easier for them to build up dossiers on everybody. Between their own dirty dealings and getting in bed with megacorps frankly i'd be less worried about a hacker like you getting it than some corp or 3 letter agency deciding they needed to smack down a few peons that were getting uppity.

  • by Per Wigren ( 5315 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @05:13PM (#38907833) Homepage
    Not really. On Facebook and Twitter we tell you only the parts of ourselves that we want to be known. That's very different from having someone snooping around in the parts we want to keep private.

With all the fancy scientists in the world, why can't they just once build a nuclear balm?