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Gauging the Dangers of Surveillance 111

An anonymous reader writes "We have a sense that surveillance is bad, but we often have a hard time saying exactly why. In an interesting and readable new article in the Harvard Law Review, law professor Neil Richards argues that surveillance is bad for two reasons — because it menaces our intellectual privacy (our right to read and think freely and secretly) and because it gives the watcher power over the watched, creating the risk of blackmail, persuasion, or discrimination. The article is available for free download, and is featured on the Bruce Schneier security blog."
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Gauging the Dangers of Surveillance

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  • Yeah, but (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 31, 2013 @06:15PM (#43326905)

    As a practical matter, a lot of this comes under the "genie is out of the bottle" territory. The genie emerged in 1995 and hasn't looked back. It's improved our lives in many ways; in others, I often have a fondness for life as it was before the WWW, Google, and Facebook. At least I wouldn't feel like dozens of private companies are tracking, archiving, and big-data analyzing every move I make in both the physical and online worlds (in the context of what "people whose preferences are similar to yours also looked at..."), while hackers around the world are trying to figure out how to crack my bank accounts.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 31, 2013 @06:45PM (#43327039) []

    And see Wikileaks spy files. We're all probably rooted by government(s).

  • Re:Yeah, but (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jeremiah Cornelius ( 137 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @07:39PM (#43327291) Homepage Journal

    WONDERFUL Comment in the Schneier blog:

    name.witheld.for.obvious.reasons â March 29, 2013 1:07 PM

    "Surveillance, more specifically acts carried out by officials on persons without proper legal standing, is an illegal act. I, as a private citizen, cannot endlessly trail behind someone day and night, I'd be guilty of stalking. There is no inherent right of the government to stalk citizens (and quite possible persons) just because the government has the capability. There is another issue regarding prima facia, evidence or data collected by "authorities" must be testable, and not just by a judge, but by a jury as well. If the government is the accuser and the prosecuted then the balance and subjective nature of the evidence comes into question. The United States government has lost the rationale basis for prosecution, not just by tepid reasoning but by the false assumption that it is the government that must protect itself from the I consenting governed. It is by virtue of the people, the suspect, that the government is given any weight in respecting the person/individual. It's asking the rape victim to consent to being guilty of inducing the act and denying the production of evidence at trail. "Just trust us, you're guilty of involuntarily F'ing yourself."

  • Re:Welcome to 2013 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @09:31PM (#43327821) Homepage

    These things have been obvious since Orwell or even before, which is well over sixty years ago. What has this site come to?

    Yes but despite that I feel it is almost unstoppable force of technology, just like copyright is doomed through incredibly accurate and ubiquitous data duplication equipment aka computers it seems surveillance is an unstoppable force of smaller, smarter and more networked electronics and optics. This isn't East Germany where you had to recruit almost every citizen, what you need is the cooperation of a handful of people in payment processing (electronic cash), telecom (communication, GPS positioning) and social media (networks, on site surveillance). Imagine for example you had access to GPS coordinates and could access any Facebook upload within 100 meters, regardless of geo-tagging and privacy settings. It's a silent army of spies who might snap a photo with you in the background. Include Google Glass on top and any traditional sense of privacy is gone.

    I will admit it, in the battle of privacy versus convenience the convenience wins hands down particularly since many places have made it inconvenient to use cash since they fear robberies, being available 24x7 (but not to my boss) is worth carrying a cell phone over and there's only so much you can do with friends and family blogging their lives which happens to intersect with mine and so on. The Internet won't ever forget and the more of our lives go online, the more just isn't going to age and go away. That and camera phones, luckily of all the stupid, silly, embarrassing, crazy or illegal things we did very little if anything is documented. And you won't find them linked to my name on Google, I don't really care what an old classmate has in a dead tree photo album on a bookshelf. Today I'd probably find myself tagged on Facebook for shits and giggles...

  • by rickb928 ( 945187 ) on Monday April 01, 2013 @12:19AM (#43328445) Homepage Journal

    "Thankfully, in the USA we are nowhere near the total squashing of dissent"

    How close do we need to be for it to be wrong?

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday April 01, 2013 @09:09AM (#43330051)

    You break the law. Every single day in your life. It becomes more and more impossible not to do so. I'm pretty sure I did today, and I don't even know that I did. There is almost certainly some ridiculous law hidden somewhere, maybe one that rode on a paperclip attached to a sensible one, maybe one that had a completely different intention and just happens to apply as well because the wording is so broad that it fits.

    The pure amount of laws you're supposed to heed goes up. New laws get passed daily, and few are ever stricken from the book. This houses an inherent danger. Not only that you are by default guilty "and we'll find out what you're guilty of if we need to". Once it becomes obvious that it is impossible to heed every law, the whole concept of laws becomes questioned. If I cannot be law abiding, why keep trying?

    And this is very dangerous. Because sensible laws get lumped together with laws that make no sense whatsoever.

"Mach was the greatest intellectual fraud in the last ten years." "What about X?" "I said `intellectual'." ;login, 9/1990