Overweening Generalist

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Surveillance and Privacy in late 2011 Unistat: Where to Begin???

New Sub-Rosa "Information Sharing" Bill
The Electronic Frontier Foundation put out an alert today, found HERE, and I spent the last couple hours trying to get a handle on what it's "really" for and what's the rush? It's interesting. This bill comes from two guys in the House (see this article, which appears to be their own justification for it) and they may have tunnel vision, being bombarded by the people who gave them the money to get elected: giant corporations who are sick of being hacked by foreigners, their intellectual property rights violated, etc.

I hope you read the EFF's link I gave above, though.

[This is a different bill than the Hollywood/US Chamber of Commerce-backed Senate-loving SOPA, or Stop Online Piracy Act. Read something recent on that HERE.]

Then it appears that, within the last 24 hours, some websites with corporate interests only in mind seem to parrot the official line, or some PR guys wrote all their copy. Some examples are found HERE, HERE (<---at least they quoted Michelle Richardson of the ACLU!), HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Note: "security" "cyber attack""terrorism" and "sharing" all act to divert us from what looks like, from another, quite oblique but Patriot Act-ish scary Orwellian angle, as the very thing that right wing conspiracy theorists were sure Obama was going for, roughly from January to May of this year: an Internet KILLSWITCH, like the gummint had in Egypt! (And I remember reading that stuff and thinking, "If you wingnuts would turn off the TV and stop thinking that 'If I can imagine it and it's just horrible it's probably true!,' you'd be better off." This just plays right into that paranoia. HERE is an example of an earnest debunking from earlier this year, and lawd help us if this new bill goes through...)

In June of 2010 an Internet killswitch appears to have been sponsored by one of the biggest jackasses in the Senate, Joe Liebermann. HERE was a story on that, so maybe the wingnuts have had a point all along? <sigh>

Hell, I'm paranoid! (Deep breaths...)

Here are a couple of sites that seem to have the 99% in mind, and doubt this bill is wise. When you do harried research on this stuff, serendipity: you find out who more of your friends are:
TechCrunch
Blogger Centennial Man
and...I'm sure there are more, but...

Every other website critical of the Bill basically just used Kevin Bankston and Lee Tien's write-up for EFF. Reuters and the Washington Post's first takes on it are here, for those with too much time on their hands. I just went to the ACLU and couldn't find a thing pertaining to this latest blunderbuss attack on our personal privacy. Let's all keep an eye on this. Overkill, anyone? O! The onslaught!

                                 A massive pile of old cell phones. It's a lot of circuitry...but is it art?

Hackers Are Getting Hacked Back
In a recent article I found in the San Francisco Chronicle, a cybersecurity company has been successful in counteracting SQL injections (of which I have no idea what that means), by finding hackers attempting to do what they do and hacking them back, "steering them into tar pits." It's all par for the course in cyber counterespionage, it appears. This stuff reminds me of those books on OSS operations during WWII or a wonderful book, Masterman's The Double-Cross System.

We find this quote from a Google security mucky-muck, Heather Adkins, "This is an area where a lot of us are uncomfortable. [...] I see an arms race building..."

Yes, but I'd rather you guys hire more of these cybercounterespionage experts then see a pass of the "information sharing" overkill bill I discuss rather heatedly above. Let's have more of what's called in the article "aggressive defense." But leave us non-(malevolent) hackers out, por favor.

Closed-Circuit Cameras in Taxis
Charles Farrier recently penned a hair-raising privacy article in Disinformation, but the issue about your freedom from security cameras in taxis was only a jumping-off point for Farrier. I'll let the article speak for itself.

It seems that if you ask anyone about their personal privacy, they want as much of it as they can get and they feel in some rather vague ways they're losing ground. This gets really interesting when you ask them if they're on Facebook and do they know about privacy issues and FB? Or what about cellphone hacks? GPS monitoring? What the Patriot Act allows? What about that closed-circuit camera right there five feet above your left shoulder? On and on.

Okay, there are some folks who seem totally oblivious to any of these issues. Most seem to want "security" but don't know much of what that entails. (On the other hand, are there benefits from a loss of privacy? I can't think of one right now, but you'd think there'd be one, or how could They get away with all this?)

There is a small, rather increasingly vigilant group that I like to call Haters of Big Brother. They seem diffuse, not really a "group" except for my own rhetorical flourish. Most of them make me look like a lobotomized troll compared to them when it comes to issues of privacy and security and surveillance. I've learned a lot reading and talking to these people. They know that hi-tech security is here to stay, but also know the history of the corporate-state abuse of security data. They seem to all but admit they're fighting an uphill battle. There are fundamental issues of...trust. There are basic issues of greed and a deplorable acquiescence to inevitable disparities in income and crime. There are political and philosophical issues about liberty, individuality, freedom.

Charles Farrier is one of these Haters of Big Brother. I see something heroic in their endeavors. The issues they're dealing with are ones that, believe me when you get into this (and you probably already have), you rapidly get to the point where you feel like, "Jeez...I already know too much! This shit is creepin' me out!" But they (or you) continue on. If They/Big Brother can look into seemingly every aspect of your "reality" at least...at least...we know they're doing it! Somehow, at some point, this may help gain back some privacy. But not for now. In the current epoch, this stuff only seems to be getting started. We are firmly ensconced in the Age of Surveillance.

The Panopticon thrives and grows more powerful every day...

In 2011, Studying Privacy/Surveillance/Open Government Quickly Gets Absurd
The 1st-2nd century Latin poet Juvenal asked, "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?," or something like, "Who will watch the watchers?" or "Who will guard the guards?" It's a favored quote among intellectual conspiracy theorists, to whatever degree their implementation of irony. The very question leads to a logical problem of the infinite-regress.

Which leads to a recent article on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). If this goes into effect, and I ask if there are CIA records on Q, Z, or X, the government is allowed to say No, even if those records do exist. This has nothing to do with whether I would be able to access those records at "this" time or not. It seems to call into question the very idea of Freedom of Information.

Okay, I've already used up my one reference to Orwell in this article, so I'll end it right here by invoking Kafka.

SEE ya sQQn!

I'm not sure who Dr. Murra is - if he took this picture of a colonoscopy or if it's Murra's colon we're looking in/at - but I wonder how long before we hear that someone's colonoscopy was hacked by some third party. I'll go with next Tuesday after lunch. Oh, and I'm no proctologist, but Dr. Murra, if this is "you," you look okay to me. Go ahead and book that trip to the Maldives!

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