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Government Privacy Security

On Internet Privacy, Be Very Afraid (harvard.edu) 149

Cybersecurity expert and Berkman Klein fellow Bruce Schneier talked to the Gazette about what consumers can do to protect themselves from government and corporate surveillance. From the interview: GAZETTE: After whistleblower Edward Snowden's revelations concerning the National Security Agency's (NSA) mass surveillance operation in 2013, how much has the government landscape in this field changed?
SCHNEIER: Snowden's revelations made people aware of what was happening, but little changed as a result. The USA Freedom Act resulted in some minor changes in one particular government data-collection program. The NSA's data collection hasn't changed; the laws limiting what the NSA can do haven't changed; the technology that permits them to do it hasn't changed. It's pretty much the same.
GAZETTE: Should consumers be alarmed by this?
SCHNEIER: People should be alarmed, both as consumers and as citizens. But today, what we care about is very dependent on what is in the news at the moment, and right now surveillance is not in the news. It was not an issue in the 2016 election, and by and large isn't something that legislators are willing to make a stand on. Snowden told his story, Congress passed a new law in response, and people moved on.
GAZETTE: What about corporate surveillance? How pervasive is it?
SCHNEIER: Surveillance is the business model of the internet. Everyone is under constant surveillance by many companies, ranging from social networks like Facebook to cellphone providers. This data is collected, compiled, analyzed, and used to try to sell us stuff. Personalized advertising is how these companies make money, and is why so much of the internet is free to users. We're the product, not the customer.

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On Internet Privacy, Be Very Afraid

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  • by ZippyTheChicken ( 3134311 ) on Tuesday August 29, 2017 @01:28PM (#55104275)
    dam thing is just a horror story
  • If internet companies and cell phone providers are tracking me and know every thing about me, why do they think I'm a middle aged lesbian.

    In this day and age of ads that track what you do to custom provide ads for you- why are 3/4 of the ads I see ads either targeted for older women, or ads encouraging me to date older women.

    All I can conclude is that the great google in the sky thinks I'm a middle aged lesbian.

    The other 1/4 ads I see are actually on point, IT based, etc... but that constant ads for "don't

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Based on your search terms I imagine. We all have fetishes don't worry.

    • by mikael ( 484 )

      Because you have DHCP and you have inherited the IP address of someone who was into that sort of thing? Using the reverse location lookup based on IP address, I've lived in the Tower of London, under London Bridge, the Yorkshire Moors, Newcastle-upon-Tyme and Leeds.

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        Because you have DHCP and you have inherited the IP address of someone who was into that sort of thing? Using the reverse location lookup based on IP address, I've lived in the Tower of London, under London Bridge, the Yorkshire Moors, Newcastle-upon-Tyme and Leeds.

        Advertisers have gone beyond IP addresses, because like the lawsuits have stated, an IP address doesn't identify a person. Especially at companies where you can have hundreds of people behind 1 IP address and it becomes important to identify the

  • Nobody cares (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Tuesday August 29, 2017 @01:44PM (#55104357)
    People willingly give up all of their privacy millions of times a day for no good reason at all. The vast, vast majority of people don't give a shit about privacy.
    • Re:Nobody cares (Score:5, Insightful)

      by courteaudotbiz ( 1191083 ) on Tuesday August 29, 2017 @01:52PM (#55104419) Homepage
      Totally agree with this. A lot of people around are all exited when they get targeted ads. I get f**king upset, but I seem to be the only one.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        I almost never get relevant ads. I think to myself yeah right, robots taking over. Can't even choose a proper fucking advertisement.

      • They're not well targeted though...

        Search: white shirt
        Site: Here's a white shirt
        Me: just what I wanted, buy!
        INTERNET: HI WE HEARD YOU LIKE WHITE SHIRTS, WE HAVE WHITE SHIRTS, HAVE YOU SEEN THIS WHITE SHIRT?!

        For weeks afterwards.

      • Totally agree with this. A lot of people around are all exited when they get targeted ads. I get f**king upset, but I seem to be the only one.

        Well I see it as an improvement over getting generic ads for penis enlargement, sexy singles, and punching monkeys from the earlier days of the internet. If I'm going to ignore something at least it can be relevant.

      • ... but I seem to be the only one.

        Then the media is doing its job effectively. You are NOT the only one. Making people who care about a subject feel isolated from each other is how you stop a revolution before it starts.

        Again, you are NOT the only one who cares about the surveillance.

    • They only don't care because they don't fully grasp what's being done and how it can impact their lives. Don't underestimate how dumb and unaware the average person can be.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        If they don't understand how it's impacting their lives then it must not be impacting them very much, don't you think?

        Online privacy is a concern, but really in our society it's sort of a luxury concern. People that have most of their other worries solved start worrying about their privacy. If you're worried about being thrown out of your apartment because you can't pay the rent or being pulled over and given a ticket you can't pay because you can't afford to fix your car's broken turn signal, then Internet

  • Seriously, "be very afraid"? Of what, seeing a poorly-targeted ad?

    This kind of sky-is-falling rhetoric is usually accompanied by some hysterical but hypothetical situation - what if we are denied jobs for our political stances? What if our employer found out we watch pee-pee porn? What if the jack boots come and...yadda yadda yadda. This post doesn't even bother with that anymore, which I think is what the real threat is in modern times - mindless, shrieky fearmongering about abstract threats. That's basica

    • which I think is what the real threat is in modern times - mindless, shrieky fearmongering about abstract threats.

      "Nothing is terrible except fear itself" -- Sir Francis Bacon

    • I am not worried about anyone trying to sell me stuff I don't want.

      I am not worried about my employer, insurance company or spouse finding out my browsing history, opinions or habits.

      I am mildly worried that my government will use my online behaviour against me.

      I am very worried that companies will use my behaviour to tint or change my world view by more precisely manipulating and tailoring my news feeds, search hits, education resources etc in order to achieve political or economic interests.

      I am terrified

      • I am not worried about anyone trying to sell me stuff I don't want.

        If the targeted ads reveal sensitive information about you, such as being pregnant, or even having a bad case of hemorrhoids, then there is cause to be concerned.

        I am not worried about my employer, insurance company or spouse finding out my browsing history, opinions or habits.

        So you don't care about possibly being passed up for advancement because who you voiced political support for. You're not concerned about the insurance cartel's placing you in a high-risk category or preemptively canceling your policy because you may develop a sudden and intense interest in certain types of diseases.

        I am mildly worried that my government will use my online behaviour against me.

        No offense intended, but perhaps

        • I see that it is not obvious that my first three statements reflect my personal state only. I am a boring, not very controversial, rather transparent person who live in a pretty free country. Other people live under different conditions and they may (or should) fear those issues to a higher degree.

          Witness the destruction of Youtube as a free speech platform, the manipulation of search results for the purpose of 'inclusiveness', and Facebook's prior 'experiments' in manipulating users with selective news articles. [nytimes.com]

          I definitely share your concerns there. However, one should not mistake any social media platform for a free speech platform. As I see it, they are all driven by an agenda, and that agenda can change over time. Ev

      • I am very worried that companies will use my behaviour to tint or change my world view by more precisely manipulating and tailoring my news feeds, search hits, education resources etc in order to achieve political or economic interests.

        Then don't let them? Or at least make it really hard for them, to the point that it's not worth their time. I've got an RSS feed, and I pull into it a wide variety of news feeds. I don't let someone curate that list for me. Now the individual news sites do that, but again, they don't do that to target me, because they can't - to them I look like an RSS aggregator. And by spreading my news between a dozen sites, theoretically I should be washing out a lot of the targeting.

        Similar with search - I ten

  • Afraid? Alarmed? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by taustin ( 171655 )

    The only thing to be afraid of or alarmed over is the possibility of getting caught doing something illegal, unethical, or otherwise with negative consequences if people find out you're doing it.

    Irritated, annoyed, miffed, yeah, sure, it's all those things. I make a point of avoiding companies to whatever degree I can, when they do things like that. But afraid? Alarmed? Hardly. Just another hand-wringing outrage monkey with a book to sell.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      "If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear."

      Everyone has something to hide, even you.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      >The only thing to be afraid of or alarmed over is the possibility of getting caught doing something illegal, unethical, or otherwise with negative consequences if people find out you're doing it.

      That's the least of the problems.

      The innocents on the no-fly list are a great example of what can go wrong.

      • by taustin ( 171655 )

        If there were fewer obstacles to all pervasive surveillance, perhaps it would be more accurate.

        Whatever problems exist, some hand-wringing outrage monkey with a book to sell using "GIVE ME MONEY OR YOU'LL DIE!!! AND DINGOS WILL EAT YOUR BABY!!! AND SOMEONE WILL KICK YOUR DOG!!!" isn't going to solve anything.

    • by jodido ( 1052890 ) on Tuesday August 29, 2017 @02:40PM (#55104829)
      Very naive idea that only the guilty have something to fear. The cops don't care if you're "innocent" or "guilty"--witness the vast numbers of people in jail right now who are not guilty. They care about arrests and convictions and along with the prosecutors will use whatever means they have at their disposal to get a conviction on whoever they decide fits their idea of who's guilty.
      • by dillee1 ( 741792 )

        They don't care who is guilty. They just want higher arrest / prosecution rate to improve crime stats to boost their career. To achieve that end they don't even care about your survival.
        TLDR; civilians are just expendables which they can maimed/killed for the lulz and used for their personal gain, without backfire.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Unless you are doing something that small minded hateful people in positions of power don't want you to do.

      Like Boycott Israel over the ethnic cleansing it is doing in Palestine.

      WAKE UP.

      • by sconeu ( 64226 )

        I assume you will be returning the PC that you are currently using to post... after all the CPU was designed in Israel.

    • by dromgodis ( 4533247 ) on Tuesday August 29, 2017 @02:49PM (#55104919)

      The only thing to be afraid of or alarmed over is the possibility of getting caught doing something illegal, unethical, or otherwise with negative consequences if people find out you're doing it.

      What's legal, ethical and acceptable today may not be after the next election or revolution.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        This guy has clearly never been illegally surveilled for something he didn't do. As if the fucking law mattered one bit. Idiot.

    • Your post carries a very surprising statement : that the risk on you is only if you do some criticable activities.
      (it also denotes a specific way of seeing life)
      Most of the people don't do criticable activities, so, as you say, there is no frightening around this.

      But they *buy* things on internet -so they can be stolen. (I personally was, twice)
      But they *publish* personal info on internet -so this can be used (you really are on holidays all next week, and you even published a picture of your front door with

    • "Give me 14 lines written by the most honest of men, and I shall find something (within) to hang them"

      *You* may have nothing to hide, but someone who is looking to hang you, *will* find something, even if it's made up.

  • This data is collected, compiled, analyzed, and used to try to sell us stuff.

    Frankly, I do not see, how this is automatically wrong.

    As long as I'm not prosecuted for visiting certain cites or posting certain comments...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The Thought Police will be there shortly. Please put your hands in the yellow circles.

    • by HBI ( 604924 ) on Tuesday August 29, 2017 @02:36PM (#55104793) Journal

      Do you think a totalitarian government that will use the data provided by these vendors as a means of culling the population as an impossible thing?

      You're ignoring the last 200 years of history, then. Imagine what 19th century monarchs or 20th century totalitarians might have done with such a treasure trove.

      Do you really think it will never happen again? Think again.

      • by mi ( 197448 )

        Do you think a totalitarian government that will use the data provided by these vendors as a means of culling the population as an impossible thing?

        It is possible, but improbable...

        You're ignoring the last 200 years of history, then.

        If you aren't wearing a bullet-proof armor 24x7, then you are ignoring 200 years of history of people shot by strangers and relatives alike...

        Point is, there is risk to everything... You need to show, the risk is big enough to justify sacrificing conveniences — and even r

        • by HBI ( 604924 )

          The risk is so high if the data collection is compromised to bad actors that it is worth sacrificing quite a lot to avoid the dragnet.

          You can evaluate based on your own desire to be a test case.

          Those who are too ignorant to see the risk probably aren't of interest anyway. In effect, they are right about themselves.

      • by tomhath ( 637240 )

        Lacking that "treasure trove", totalitarians like Stalin and Mao went after entire ethnic/cultural groups or depended on informants. Do you think that's better?

        • by HBI ( 604924 )

          It made sniffing out the actual dissidents harder, certainly. The number of people within those nations willing to inform on their activities or performing acts of passive resistance are proof positive of that.

          Why would we want to make their job easier?

    • This data is collected, compiled, analyzed, and used to try to sell us stuff.

      Frankly, I do not see, how this is automatically wrong.

      As long as I'm not prosecuted for visiting certain cites or posting certain comments...

      How long do you suppose it would take for some authoritarian do-gooders to do exactly that?

    • On it's face, there is nothing wrong with this and that's why they are able to keep going with it. But think about how the data never goes away, and eventually always gets out, and things start to loo a little darker.

      Consider if beer was made illegal this evening. Enforcement could trivially scan purchase histories of every American and find out who likes to drink beer every night and do something about it.

      What if LEO needs a scapegoat for some dirty action? It's pretty easy to find somebody that looks the

  • It is just phenomenal what the tech leaders have done on a global scale. Almost breath taking. I was there in 1999 when EVERYONE stood their ground. No way are they giving up their personal information to big brother. Orwell's 1984 references were an every day topic. "I'll live off grid before I sign up to MySpace (the social preference at the time)". Here we are a mere 18 yrs later, the entire globe are standing in line to give anyone whatever they ask so they can have access to the next popular th
  • That's why they don't put privacy in the news. They get some great dirt on people thanks to the NSA,etc. and then turn around and report on it. Whatever you think about Trump, most of the Russia news came via leaks from government spy agencies. That should be concerning to everyone.

  • by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Tuesday August 29, 2017 @02:16PM (#55104579)

    I live in Canada, and all our documents are encoded in UTF-EH, making them incompatible with other systems on the planet.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I started using Tor for everything possible about two months ago, mainly because Comcast are such lying cunts.
    Guess what? Companies like Cloudflare punish you for using Tor, put up barriers, make it difficult or even impossible.
    Then there's websites themselves that detect you're on a Tor exit node, and block you completely.
    Then there's websites that just plain won't function, because your Tor exit node is in the wrong country. Try ordering a pizza from Dominos using Tor; you can't, it runs you in circles
  • ... so good.

    The Internet tries to sell me stuff. So what? Most of it is stuff that I don't need. I just bought a fancy tool for rebuilding my car's engine. And NOW the ads pour in to sell me that tool. And if it's something I don't need, ignoring the ads is pretty easy. I don't feel pressured to buy useless shit.

    What I try to avoid (and have been successful so far) is to get pigeon-holed into a market segment that 'they' think has bundles of money. I'm a tight-wad who has an eye for value. So don't run o

  • If I get targeted ads, I'm ok with that. Seeing things that may actually be interesting or relevant is somewhat useful. It's not 'scary'. You go to sites, that gets saved in a database, people query the database. It's not some 'magical' or 'evil' thing occurring. Now if that information is curated and used by someone who has less capitalist plans for it (government, agencies, Someone Bad (TM)) then I get worried, and that is where the problem could be. We have no idea on who/when/how it's being access
    • by DogDude ( 805747 )
      It's a lot more than targeted ads. Companies know where you go (and when), they know who you talk to, what you talk to other people about, etc. Virtually all details of your private life are being cataloged and archived every day.
  • You needed Snowden to point out the obvious, and you demand that nothing be known about you - you probably need to sell everything you own, tear up your credit cards, Social Security card, get rid of the car, then move to Idaho, on a horse and wagon, then become a subsistence farmer.

    The intertoobz and computers on it are inherently not secure. By nature and purpose, they are not secure. Security is the opposite of the internet's basic design. If you demand security, this ain't the place to get it.

  • I googled something, eflite timber, checked some videos and rcgroups forum. 10 minutes later in my facebook feed I had an ad placement for the e-flite timber offered by some store...

    • Is that a bad thing or a good thing?
       
      I ask, because you were obviously interested in the product, and you're using Facebook's services which get paid for by advertisements. For them to pay the bills by offering you something you're interested in seems to be a win for everyone.

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