The NSA wiretapping story reminded my of this quote from Scott McNealy. Was he right about the practical effects of the Information Age? And, if he was, does it really matter whether our government is spying on us or not? (Or whether spyware is tracking our individual purchasing habits, etc.?)
It sure matters to me. I don’t have any secrets, but it still galls me that someone - anyone - might see fit to pry where they have no business.
Spyware and the like is a problem because it’s comendering your computer to collect information on you without your permission. Someone using your property for a purpose that you didn’t give your premission for is certainly bad and shouldn’t be allowed.
In the case of the gov’t, they’re not collecting information for no reason. Presumably the reason is either good or bad. If thier reason is good, they should be able to get approval from congress/judges, in which case there isn’t really a debate. If their reasons are bad (say Nixon tapping the phones of his political enemies) then obviously they shouldn’t do it.
Get use to the idea. The replacement for bar codes will eventually be some form ofnano marker. Imagine a microdot that specifies individual items (not products) and will identify itself when signaled using the energy of the carrier wave to power itself.
The potential of the technology will eventually allow a marketer to drive down your street and identify every object in your house and be able to tell what store it came from, what truck delivered, and from which factory it was produced.
And if they (hypothetically speaking, on a completely implausible alternate-universe level) should skip that step?
Potential sure. But what good does it do them? After they drive down one long street and return with 14,000 terabytes of data, what are they going to do then? The marketers may be able to collect all of that data but doing something useful with it is a much more difficult challenge. Data is only as good as the medium it’s stored on and the ability to organize it. It’s a nightmare scenario all right; a nightmare for the unlucky people who get to comb through never ending, exponentially expanding data streams trying to figure out how to sell more shit to people. I worry not.
That, or it will become SOP to microwave merchandise for a few seconds after purchase. What technology giveth, technology can taketh away.
Or buy gadgets that send out false signals. “Apparently, no one on this block ever buys anything but mangos. I don’t get it.”
And that’s all assuming that such technology would be deemed legal to use on an unsuspecting public.
To some extent, yes. The technological increase involved in the “Information Age” means that it is possible, in a practical way, to gather, store, and analyze more information than ever before. However, each of those three requires substantial resources and techniques that are prohibitive, at least when going to the extreme of “zero privacy”.
IMO, yes. It should be noted that there is a difference between “our government” and commercial entities (i.e., spyware). I’m not sure which is worse; government has more direct control and ramifications on our lives, corporations could affect much more subtle things, which I’d generally consider nuisances. (Although things like qualifying for loans or insurance certainly rise above the nuisance level.) Since there is little choice involved with government (i.e., one may be able to choose to avoid commercial entities that gather data, but one cannot avoid interacting with the government), I only consider “spying” by government. Besides which, I’d think that government would be able to obtain any information gathered by commercial entities. It should also be noted that “zero privacy” goes far, far beyond “detecting possible terrorist threats” and such, which I think often gets left out of these discussions.
There are (at least) two components that bother me about government surveillance of the “zero privacy” extent: (1) authorization and (2) correlations. What I mean by (1) is that “our government” is made up of people, with all their foibles, jealousies, opinions, etc.; it is not a monolithic entity that operates the same way in every case. The lowliest desk jockey, given that they work in the right department, has access to things they shouldn’t and there’s no telling what they will do with the information accessible to them. (I no longer have a link, as keeping track of these things was too onerous to keep up, but about 5 years ago there was a story about a policeman that was harrassing his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend. Y’know, phone calls, tailing his car, etc.) But assume that everyone acts properly in every case; as anyone involved in system administration knows, computer security is hard (and is generally a moving target). We hear more and more about companies getting hacked for their databases of credit card numbers and other personal information; there is little difference between private companies and government institutions in this regard. Simply maintaining such information is a liability; there is no such thing as a totally secure system (that is useful).
As far as (2) goes, what I’m referring to is much harder to define, as I’m not that nefarious and have not the time to figure out the various ways data can be cross-correlated. But I’m thinking of things akin to supermarket cards. The purchases you make are indicative of certain activities or lifestyle choices. Then there are health records, web browsing, etc. It is the combination/correlation of all these information sources that is notable. I think that what should be particularly highlighted is that correlation is not causation; in succinct terms, we become victims of guilt by statistics (after all, that’s all that correlations are).
None of that even takes into account the practical aspects of data quality and consistency – how does one correct wrong information? Akin to urban legends, once data is recorded it becomes very difficult to fix, much less purge. Nor does it consider the ideological “innocent until proven guilty” stance that forms the basis of our justice system. All in all, I don’t care if I’ve got nothing to hide; I don’t want every detail of my life on display or even accessible.
And here would be an example of zero privacy that I doubt most would get behind (and that I would not have thought of). In this case, open phone logs can be applied to law enforcement just as easily as to criminals. Much more benign than actually phone-taps, but damaging nonetheless…
We now know that Bush is doing exactly that. Nobody can explain why the Quaker peace groups, the Catholic worker groups, or PETA might be suspected of working for Al Qaeda. The prez had the FBI investigate them because they are his political enemies.
After Nixon did pulled all that stuff, under the powers of the imperial presidency, the FISA was passed to make sure that intelligence wiretaps in the US would have to be approved by a special FISA court. When a whistle blower showed that Mr. Bush has violated the FISA law hundreds of times, Bush’s reaction was to condemn the whistle blower and to claim that he was not subject to the law.
In his statement upon signing the law that forbids torture, Mr. Bush asserted that he still had the right to order torture if necessary.
If the president can do anything he wants, why bother to renew the PATRIOT act? If he has unlimited power, what the hell is the congress for?
Why is that privacy only matters when it’s left wing groups that are investigated by the FBI? And in any case, the authorities damned well ought to keep a close eye on PETA. It’s only a matter of time before one of those nutjobs takes a hypodermic and injects poison into packages of hamburger at the local supermarket or does something similar. Those people are freakin’ crazy.
Who said that ?
You make it sound so scary----but it’s nothing new. This is how credit cards work, itemizing every purchase. My supermarket sends me coupons in the mail every week, and ,… surprise,surprise… half the coupons are for the exact same products I bought last week. They want my business, and I want their products,and everybody’s happy. Not every new technology is evil.
As people get used to new technologies, they accept it as normal. 10-20 years ago, every phone call you made was anonymous, and couldnt be traced (except by the police with sophisticated equipment.) Today, every call is listed with caller ID, stored in your cell phone’s memory, and itemized on your bill. And people like it that way. A generation ago, it would have been an unacceptable invasion of privacy.
You see any mention of Stormfront, the John Birch Society or the like on this thread?
Look, folks, electronic communications technology has evolved to the point where basically no one can reasonably expect privacy in his electronic communications. Bottom line here is, if you don’t want the government to hear what you’re saying, then don’t entrust your message to the telephone or e-mail. As for the NCA wiretapping, I’d be much more upset if the feds hadn’t been tapping those lines than I am over the illegal tapping. At most, Bush and his friends should get no more than a slap on the wrist for this and perhaps not even that. It simply isn’t the huge affront to privacy and liberty that a lot of folks are making it out to be–and frankly, all the shouting about it makes the shouters look like a bunch of hysterical ninnies.
No; after all, Bush and friends don’t seem interested in them, so the subject didn’t come up.
Given the (relatively recent) track record of far-right racists (remember Oklahoma City?), I would be astonished and disappointed if the FBI were not keeping watch on them, Internet or no. (JBS, OTOH, is of interest only to historians.) And maybe they could do a better job of it if they weren’t wasting time with politically-motivated surveillance of harmless actors like the Catholic Workers and Greenpeace. See this thread: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=351000
So you’re just not interested when the feds monitor right-wing groups? It only matters when they monitor someone you approve of? Or it only matters when Bush and friends does the monitoring? Do you have an actual point to make here?