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Yesterday it was revealed that Google claims Gmail users have no reasonable expectation their emails are private. This revelation came out in the midst of the whole NSA brouhaha.

My comment was simply:

Not saying that it's a good thing, but how exactly did people think that the AdWords/AdSense program worked in the first place?

Of course it reads the messages; that's what determines the ads that get placed.

Now, you could argue that there's a big difference between the software reading the messages and using it as part of the algorithm to generate the appropriate ads vs. a person reading it, but really, if the software is reading it, there's nothing to stop it from flagging certain phrases and alerting a human employee as well.

Anyway, below the fold, it seemed like a good time to repost the diary I wrote in response to the original NSA story a few months ago, since it's equally relevant here:

I've been a bit swamped this week, so I've missed out on most of the NSA/Verizon wiretapping/PRISM brouhaha.

I'm sure many others have made similar (or the same) point that I'm about to, but screw it; if I'm repeating something, so be it.

In addition to being a website developer, I also provide website hosting services for most of my clients. I prefer that my clients use my hosting service, partly for obvious business revenue purposes, but mostly for consistency; I know exactly how my servers are set up and configured, what parameters/capabilities they have and so on. I don't have to worry about installing a script that requires PHP 5.3 on a clients' site only to find out that their server only has PHP 5.2, and so on.

This also means that most of my clients host their email services through me as well.

Now, let me be clear about this: I have never spied on my clients email, and I never would. Not only would doing so destroy my reputation, lose my clients and almost certainly be illegal (which I realize is also one of the major points of contention wrt the NSA controversy)...quite frankly, it would be boring as hell for the most part.

I have no interest in knowing how many widgets this or that client produced last quarter, or whether they're having some sort of legal spat with one of their own customers (unless the dispute involved a problem with the website functionality, of course), any more than they give a crap about my own internal goings-on.

However, all of that is besides the larger point, which is this:

I could do so if I really wanted to.

I know this may sound pretty obvious, but the following conversation has occurred between a client and myself on more than one occasion:

Client: "Hi, I'm having problems with my email account."

Me: "Have you tried...(laundry list of possible culprits, ranging from their actual internet connection being down, to the server's security setting blocking their IP address due to them mis-entering their password too often and a number of other common causes)?"

Client: "Yes, I've tried everything."

Me: "Hmmm...ok, well, once in a blue moon I've run into a situation where a large, corrupt file attachment will gum up a clients' email account. To check for this, I'd have to take a look at the actual messages in your inbox on the server. Do I have your permission to do so in this instance?"

Client: "Sure, I guess so...but I don't remember my password."

Me: "That's OK, I have it right here."

Client: "Ummmmm...you do??"

Me: "Uh, yes...I'm the one who created your password for you in the first place, remember?"

Client: "Oh...right. I forgot."

See, that's the thing--they often completely forget that if I actually wanted to--in spite of how stupid, pointless and self-damaging it would be to do so--I could read their mail anytime I wanted to. In fact, I don't even really need their password to do so; with root access to the server, I could simply view the raw email message files directly.

And, of course, even though I don't spy on my clients, there's always the outside possibility that someone at the actual hosting service itself is (although they, too, have a policy against doing so without the express permission of the client). And even though they don't either, who the hell knows what's going on at the ISP or hosting service of whoever sent the email to them (or received it from them)?

That's the thing: The same is true of ANY ISP, HOSTING OR SOCIAL MEDIA SERVICE THAT YOU SUBSCRIBE TO...AND EVEN SOME THAT YOU DON'T, IF ANYONE YOU CORRESPOND WITH DOES.

For all the screaming people do about Facebook's ever-changing, never-certain "privacy policies", the truth is that ultimately it doesn't really matter what their official "policy" is; there's still plenty of people who work there who could, if they really wanted to, spy on your account any time they wanted to. Perhaps they'd be fired and/or charged, or perhaps they wouldn't...but that wouldn't change the fact that they could do so before getting busted.

You know how Facebook has a strict policy about what photos you're allowed to upload and which ones you can't, due to them violating their terms of service (or being flat-out illegal, like child porn)? Have you ever wondered just how they actually enforce that policy? Guess what: Every time you upload a photo to Facebook, whether it's a pic of your kid playing soccer or your college roommate lying passed-out on the bathroom floor, there's the distinct possibility that a complete stranger somewhere in Turkey, the Philippines, Mexico or India is taking a look at it for $1 per hour in order to decide whether it's OK to post in your gallery or not.

It doesn't matter whether your Facebook "privacy" settings are open, friends only, or locked down to just yourself--someone halfway around the world is checking out your "selfies" to make sure it isn't something especially revolting or illegal.

It's the same thing with Comcast, TW/RoadRunner, Wide Open West, Verizon (obviously), AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint...all of them. Apple, Twitter, Google...doesn't really matter. No matter what they claim that their policies are about privacy and access, the fact remains that the moment you post something online, whether it's an email, text message, tweet, Facebook post or comment, photo or other file upload, or even a fax (plenty of people still using these, believe it or not)...the moment that you transmit any sort of data electronically, someone not only has the ability to access it, but can usually duplicate it and store it elsewhere.

Hell, check out this 3-year old story from CBS News about the terabytes of sensitive data stored on old copiers that most people don't even realize store:

That's right--think about how many times you might have had a copy made of your driver's license, social security card, medical records, school transcripts, etc. on a copier at Kinko's or wherever without thinking about it. It's all there, somewhere.

Deleting your emails doesn't mean that the recipient deleted their copy, and even if they did, it's always possible that any number of other people along the chain could have nabbed a copy of it as well.

The truth is, the main reason why this is unlikely to be the case in most situation isn't because of technical inability or for legal reasons--it's because, quite frankly, in the vast majority of cases, no one gives a crap.

Seriously, there's so many terabytes of mundane, everyday flotsam & jetsam floating through the internet at any given moment that 99.999% of it is utterly meaningless to anyone other than the sender and recipient (and in some cases, perhaps not even them).

On the other hand, it's also astonishing to me how many people willingly post the most incredibly personal information about themselves openly and publicly on Facebook etc. every day, without giving it a second thought.

When my wife and I found out we were expecting our child, we didn't tell a soul outside of her doctor and our parents--who we swore to secrecy--for the first trimester. Why? Because the first trimester is when you're at the biggest risk of miscarriage. This is one of the most personal experiences either of you is going through, and some things are just for you and your partner alone. Once you're reasonably out of the woods, of course, tell family, friends and so on...but play it close to the chest for awhile.

However, I have friends who've actually posted their ultrasounds publicly as early as 6 weeks into the pregnancy. I know people who've discussed their suspicion--suspicion, mind you--of their partner possibly cheating on them in an open Facebook forum. For that matter, I've known people to brag about cheating on Facebook.

None of this has anything to do with whether the revelations about the NSA accessing gobs of private citizen data mean, legally, Constitutionally, or even ethically or morally. I'm just saying that, when it comes to data privacy, for good or for bad, the train left that station a long time ago.

I've been posting on dKos for nearly 10 years, including hundreds of diaries and thousands of comments. Some of what I've written would sound horrifying out of context, and some of it sounds pretty bad even in context. And it's all out there. Even if Kos were to get taken down tonight and their entire database and backup files were wiped...Google would still have a cached version of much of the content, as would anyone else who happened to save a copy of those posts before the wipe.

I don't think I'll ever be able to run for public office, since even the most basic opposition research (ie, a Google search) would turn up all sorts of material to hit me with.

I don't regret just about anything I've written (ok, there's probably a few exceptions). For the most part, I meant what I've said. However, I'm sure I've lost clients because of some of this (though I wouldn't know if this is the case, since presumably they would reject becoming a client of mine before even calling or writing me). Then again, I believe I've picked up one or two clients because of my rantings as well, so it's probably a wash in the end.

Does all of this mean that you should just give out your SSN and passwords to the world? Of course not. Locking your doors and enabling an alarm system at night isn't going to stop someone who's truly intent on breaking into your house from doing so--but it will certainly prevent anyone except a hard-core burglar from doing so.

Bottom line: Any time--ANY time--that you post ANYTHING online, from a snarky quip to a business email to your credit card or social security number, be advised that there's ALWAYS the possibility that someone, somewhere has access to it who shouldn't, even if it's not the case intentionally.

Update: By request, I'm removing the name of the person who posted the diary about the Gmail revelation yesterday. I didn't mean this diary to come off as rude, belittling or insulting (and I genuinely don't see it as being that). There's absolutely nothing wrong with bringing attention to Google's policy statement, and it's important to know. I just wanted to stress the point that--as I said in the first place--whether or not it's a good or evil policy is besides the point; technologically, the horse left the barn on this issue years ago.

I'm also not sure what the point is of removing the original author's name when I'm still linking to their diary (which is kind of important since it gives relevance to this one), but I've done so anyway. I certainly don't think including their name merits a HR, which they gave me until their name was removed, but there you have it: It's removed.

Update x2: Well, now. It turns out that the original Google legal filing that caused such a fuss isn't even about Gmail users in the first place:

Unfortunately for outrage junkies, there's just nothing here. First of all, Google's argument isn't even about Gmail users, who are covered by Google's unified privacy policy. Google's argument is about non-Gmail users who haven't signed Google's terms of service. It's right there in black and white — the heading for the section literally starts with the words "The Non-Gmail Plaintiffs." [...]
...
Non-Gmail users who send emails to Gmail recipients must expect that their emails will be subjected to Google's normal processes as the [email] provider for their intended recipients.
...
So that's that. It's very much true that Google needs to do a better job of communicating and enforcing the steps it takes to protect its customers' privacy, especially as it continues to amass data about every human on the planet. And it's a fact that the third-party doctrine as laid out in Smith v. Maryland is no longer good law — the Supreme Court didn't know about the internet and smartphones in 1979. Panic tweakers still have plenty to freak out about, in general.

But taking to arms before even reading and understanding 500 words of a legal filing? Surely we can avoid that.

Again, this is a topic worthy of further discussion (which is why I reposted the diary in the first place), but it sounds like in the end it really is much ado about...very little.
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Comment Preferences

  •  Yep (18+ / 0-)

    I was a developer too.  Truest thing ever written.  
    That is why "they" use encryption to write to each other.  Even this isn't 100% safe, but a smidgen better.  

    Clearly the computer program "knows" what you have written or send.  Otherwise how would it send it.  Duh!  

    The problem is when you are singled out for inspection.  The how is obvious.  They why is the real problem

    •  from their point of view (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wilderness voice

      all encrypted communications are pipelines for possible crimes, terrorism or espionage.

      if you want your communications to become flagged for review by various agencies, encrypt your communications.

      -You want to change the system, run for office.

      by Deep Texan on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 08:56:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for this (20+ / 0-)

    I would be happy if diaries like this, which soberly and realistically explain the realities of Internet-based communication, got just one hundredth of the attention the "ZOMG NSA STORMTROOPERS ARE READING EVER EMAIL EVER SENT!!!1!" diaries get.

    Because reposting is all the rage, here's the comment I left in that other diary:

    If you send an email message in plain text, it can theoretically be read by administrators of your mail server, the recipients' mail server, and any servers or networks through which it passes. That's true whoever your email provider is. There are no exceptions. That's just the way email works.

    It might be technically possible for a provider to somehow lock itself out of the ability to access mail messages it stores and forwards, but you wouldn't want to use a provider like that, because it probably wouldn't be able to do a very good job of troubleshooting delivery problems or performing scores of other upkeep functions that mail providers need to do on a regular basis.

    As is often the case in life, much of our security depends on the fact that being able to do something is not the same thing as doing it.

    •  I think that the last paragraph is (17+ / 0-)

      crucial.

      There is no method of communication which relies on an intermediary which is entirely secure from unauthorised access. Think of letters: It is entirely possible for an interested party to unseal the envelope, read a person's correspondence, reseal it, and send it to the addressee, with no one being the wiser. Granted, it can be very difficult and time-consuming to unseal and reseal an envelope in a way that conceals the fact it's been tampered with, but it can be done.

      However, we use the post even for secure correspondence without resorting to cryptography because we expect such tampering to be illegal without a warrant, and that the legal system will bring the hammer down hard on anyone who arbitrarily decides to snoop on your correspondence. The problem with the current privacy scandals is that apparently certain parties wish that there would be no such safeguards when it comes to e-mail.

      Iuris praecepta sunt haec: Honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere. - Ulpian, Digestae 1, 3

      by Dauphin on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 07:07:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My understanding is that it is still (9+ / 0-)

        illegal to listen to phone calls between U.S. parties without a warrant, ditto for reading emails.

        •  I would be surprised if that wasn't the case, (5+ / 0-)

          since legal systems tend to regulate e-mail (quite rightly) in a manner analogous to regular mail.

          Iuris praecepta sunt haec: Honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere. - Ulpian, Digestae 1, 3

          by Dauphin on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 07:28:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The concept of actually knowing our rights is (2+ / 0-)

          so quaint.

          Confidence in such knowledge is at an all time low.


          "We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." - Louis Brandies

          by Pescadero Bill on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 07:55:31 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  So, the fact that Google ... (0+ / 0-)

            has a "privacy" policy and requires passwords to access Gmail amounts to what, fraudulent inducements?  I wish someone would sue them and find out.

            "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe." -- Albert Einstein

            by Neuroptimalian on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 10:53:50 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  the Fourth Amendment applies only to government (0+ / 0-)

              action, not to private action.

              •  I'm not talking about the Fourth, ... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Pescadero Bill

                I'm talking about Google's claim that customers should have no expectation of privacy, yet they have a privacy policy and require passwords (implying privacy).  "Invasion of privacy" may well be a colorable civil cause of action here, with the Fourth Amendment being irrelevant.

                "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe." -- Albert Einstein

                by Neuroptimalian on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 02:53:05 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  Phone calls yes, email, not so much. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Simplify

          "old" email can be read by getting an administrative subpoena (issued by an agency without judicial oversight)

          Under current ECPA standards the government doesn’t need a warrant to access the content of emails that are more than 180 days old — instead all it requires is an administrative subpoena
          The Government Can (Still) Read Most Of Your Emails Without A Warrant
          A fix is being proposed by Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah)
          The Electronic Communications Privacy Act Amendments Act of 2013 establishes a search warrant requirement in order for the government to obtain the content of Americans’ emails and other electronic communications, when those communications are stored with a third-party service provider. The bill eliminates the outdated “180-day” rule that calls for different legal standards for the government to obtain email content depending upon the age of an email, and it requires that the government notify an individual whose electronic communications have been disclosed within 10 days  of obtaining a search warrant.
          leahy.senate.gov

          govtrack has the status of the bill

          Introduced     May 07, 2013
          Referred to Committee     May 07, 2013
          14% chance of getting past committee.
          2% chance of being enacted.
          and saddest of all
          24 cosponsors (23R, 1D)
          Republicans outnumbering Democrats on a privacy issue? Go team D :(
      •  That's the big question: Where does our right (3+ / 0-)

        to privacy begin and end.

        Given most law enforcement agencies think in terms of guilty until proven innocent, how come some can't see the dangers in all of our correspondence being 'saved until further notice' by said law enforcement agencies?

        I'd say this is an easy fix via a simple SCOTUS ruling, but given the corporately corrupt nature of the majority of our sitting justices, we're screwed into having to adjust to greater and greater police state indignities and possibly life-altering intrusive legalities at any given moment.

        That and of course attempts at brain-washing us into buying crap we don't really need.

        Freedom to correspond with your loved ones does not exist in America. Be weary. Do not talk over a cell phone of via email about some legal trouble they or you might be in. It's now potential evidence.


        "We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." - Louis Brandies

        by Pescadero Bill on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 07:31:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  For me it comes down to TRUST. (13+ / 0-)

    Who do you actually TRUST with data?

    And, admittedly, I tend to come down on trusting people until they give me indications that they are untrustworthy, and actually are using my data in a way I didn't intend.

    I worked in IT for over a decade as well, designing and running e-commerce websites that processed credit card data, and I had access to hundreds of thousands of sets of credit card data during that time, because my boss trusted me, and the clients whose customers were entering that data trusted him and me both.  Trust is how you build businesses, and loss of trust is one way businesses die.

    People don't want to do business with people they don't trust.  Every interaction I have with the web has turned into a balancing of the degree of trust I have.  I block any scripts that come from google-analytics, googleapis, and so on.  Google did a very sneaky thing in making lots of script libraries and letting people use them all over their websites for free, giving them tendrils into millions (billions?) of websites they otherwise wouldn't be able to touch.

    I don't get full functionality out of many websites, but I'm limiting my interactions with google as much as possible to those I explicitly initiate.

  •  Fiduciary vs Predatory (12+ / 0-)

    Back in the Dark Ages I did Cobol programming for a bank.  We had audit trails and we had auditors - internal and external.  We had dual and triple controls.  The boss on one occasion called us in and told us "Joe" had been fired on the spot for trying to evade those controls.  

    Banks have known long before anyone digitized a bank record that people will steal if they can get away with it.

    If you have a fiduciary duty you design systems to prevent theft.  If you are a predatory organization you design systems differently.

    •  Yes, because the primacy of corporations and (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Brainwrap

      their needs is paramount in this country.

      Why are some Americans hesitant to bow to their corporate overlords?


      "We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." - Louis Brandies

      by Pescadero Bill on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 07:34:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for this, very informative (3+ / 0-)

    What about Google saving your web searches? Is it truly "anonymised"?

    There have been both civil and criminal court cases where people's search history has been successfully subpoenaed...not just the search history contained in their browser on their PC,  which can obviously be deleted, but history saved in Google's servers.

    Dammit Jim, I'm a lawyer, not a grammarian. So sue me.

    by Pi Li on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 07:19:36 AM PDT

    •  No (0+ / 0-)

      i sincerely doubt any human at google looks at your data. But i have zero doubt the nsa has it.

      And they have a lot! And their software already aggregates you personally. Web searches, ip, facebook, location, browser history... better than hiring a p.i.

      Thats one reason you >always< lie on the net. Telling forums you are babresa nubran from babstan etc can help

      Try duckduckgo instead, stay signed out of things while you browse (especially fb, google, yahoo and gmail

      A man is born as many men but dies as a single one.--Martin Heidegger

      by cdreid on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 07:50:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I posted the bit on the google email notice (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    burlydee, quill, blueoasis, Simplify

    because it was interesting and relevant to current discussions on privacy, and NOT the participate in a "flap".

    Brainwrap - Please remove my name and the link my post from this diary OR revise the title. You can link directly to your comment.

    I do not care for the inference that I am somehow participating or creating "a flap".

    Thanks.

    •  agreed, this diary is overly adversarial (4+ / 0-)

      The implication seems to be that upset people who are not IT savy and don't know exactly how email works are somehow wrong in their concerns and can be dismissed as hair on fire alarmists. Maybe that's not the intent,  but that's the tone.

      As someone who's run an email server or two, I know that any email service is not secure, including Google, but that's not the point. The point is that whereas we once implicitly trusted email providers to NOT share our email data, we now know that every one of them will put out like a cheap whore when the government serves an NSL, and besides, WTF right does our government have to read and store our emails (ans: no right per 4th Amendment)? Those "concerns" are valid regardless of your IT savy.

      History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce - Karl Marx

      by quill on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 09:01:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Google is a company and we have no rights with (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blueoasis, quill, Simplify

        a company, but that shouldn't be a blanket authorization to rifle through billions of emails to target ads and other obnoxious shit.

        I would, at this point, be happy to pay for some privacy from companies because I find targeted ads annoying, much like I find tobacco smoke annoying.

        We need a Bill of Rights - or something - to protect us from Corporate behaviors.

      •  Except that this IS the point. (5+ / 0-)
        As someone who's run an email server or two, I know that any email service is not secure, including Google, but that's not the point.
        Most people HAVEN'T run an email server or two, and there's plenty of them who DON'T understand that there's no technical way of guaranteeing that regular email can't be snooped on (other than encrypting it, which has it's own issues raised by others here).

        That's the WHOLE POINT of this diary.

        I'm in no way arguing what LEGAL policies should be, I'm stating what the TECHNOLOGICAL reality is for those who may not realize it.

        •  it's more about the tone (0+ / 0-)

          I agree 100% that in order to make informed decisions (or express informed outrage) it is crucial to understand the technology behind the controversies. For example, knowing what I know about email, I am not quite as upset about Google specifically, because this is true for ANY email provider.

          However, that doesn't invalidate anyone's anger over the fact that Google's servers are scanning our email and using that info for targeted advertizing and who knows what else. That is a consumer privacy problem that needs to be addressed.

          The challenge is to inform people without finger wagging and downplaying their concerns. For example, the article you quoted calls people who are up in arms about this (including highly knowledgeable civil liberties organizations) "outrage junkies". That is not helpful.

          History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce - Karl Marx

          by quill on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 12:56:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  about your Update #2 (0+ / 0-)

          It's interesting that the writer of that block quote deigns to poke fun at the clueless "outrage junkies" because they (supposedly) mistook the meaning of Google's statement, and the court case involved, because they actually describe an even more serious potential problem than the original story.

          What Google is claiming is that they can collect data on email users who have not given consent to share their data via an EULA. That is, if someone's data flows into Google's pipe, then they "own" it and can do whatever they want with it.

          That is disturbing, because it ultimately implies a viral opt-in that applies to all internet users, and that could easily be expanded to ALL forms of internet traffic. IOW, once a data packet of any kind leaves our personal internet device, then we can have no expectation of privacy, and that packet can be sold, shared, and used against us in any way by any party.

          Personally I think that's a big deal, and that people should be angry and demanding some sort of protection, such as strong privacy laws that make it illegal to collect and share your data unless you explicitly opt-in.

          History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce - Karl Marx

          by quill on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 01:27:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I don't blame people for not being IT savvy. (5+ / 0-)

        I do blame people when they refuse to allow their misconceptions to be corrected by experts simply because the correct information doesn't fit into their worldview. I've lost count of how many times I've been condescendingly told I "don't understand" what the NSA is doing by people who, judging from the content of their messages, have approximately the same level of technical understanding as my cat.

        Ignorant I can handle. Arrogant I can handle. Ignorant and arrogant drives me up the wall.

    •  I am HR'ing the tip jar until my name is removed (0+ / 0-)

      from the diary.

      •  HR removed. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brainwrap
      •  Your HR is out of line. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        phenry, Great Cthulhu

        I've removed your name from the diary, but am keeping my link to your original diary...because that's the whole source of this one.

        I did not intend to come off as belittling or pooh-poohing your concerns. I'm sorry if you took it that way, but it was hardly my intention--your diary and concerns are worth discussion.

        However, given the recent "hr policy" diary that Kos put up the other day, I find it ironic that you would give an HR merely for mentioning the name of the person who wrote a diary. Not insulting that person, just mentioning their name as having written the diary (otherwise known as "giving them credit" which you're supposed to do anyway).

        •   Removed at 12:21:11 PM EDT. (0+ / 0-)

          I removed it before you posted this comment.

          While you may find it 'ironic', I really don't like the inference I was engaging in a 'flap'. I just don't.

          Credit is one thing but the title of your post, with me in the initial paragraph, comes off as suggesting my post was frivolous and, well, flappery.

      •  um... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brainwrap, Deep Texan, sviscusi

        This isn't a callout diary. You were never mentioned in the title. You're not supposed to fling doughnuts just because someone accurately identifies you as the author of a diary.

        Brainwrap has been far more accommodating of your unreasonable demands than I would have been.

  •  There's more. (7+ / 0-)

    There was nothing to the story to begin with; it just fit the current outrage narrative too neatly to get closer scrutiny.

    Like here.

    Unfortunately for outrage junkies, there's just nothing here. First of all, Google's argument isn't even about Gmail users, who are covered by Google's unified privacy policy. Google's argument is about non-Gmail users who haven't signed Google's terms of service. It's right there in black and white — the heading for the section literally starts with the words "The Non-Gmail Plaintiffs." [...]

    So that's that. It's very much true that Google needs to do a better job of communicating and enforcing the steps it takes to protect its customers' privacy, especially as it continues to amass data about every human on the planet. And it's a fact that the third-party doctrine as laid out in Smith v. Maryland is no longer good law — the Supreme Court didn't know about the internet and smartphones in 1979. Panic tweakers still have plenty to freak out about, in general.

    But taking to arms before even reading and understanding 500 words of a legal filing? Surely we can avoid that.

    Fuck me, it's a leprechaun.

    by MBNYC on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 07:48:20 AM PDT

  •  You don't understand the 4th Amendment (4+ / 0-)

    yeesh. This isn't about Google and Facebook, its about the US Gov't.  

    When I send an email through Google, I expect that someone from Google could see it and read it.  What I don't expect them to do is to hand that email and the rest of the contents of my account to the US Gov't.  

    •  This diary was in response to a Google diary, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Brainwrap, Hey338Too

      not a US Gov't diary.

      Off topic.

    •  Once again, I'm talking about what CAN be done (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      phenry, Deep Texan, highacidity, Hey338Too

      ...not what SHOULD be done.

      Everyone knows that if someone WANTS to drive their car through a plate-glass window, they can do so. They may be injured, killed or arrested for doing so...but they can do it if they decide to.

      However, there are people who seem to think that there's some magical technological wizardry that will prevent their email--their regular, normal email--from being able to be read by their own ISP or hosting service.

      Yes, there are encryption services/systems that other comments have touched on...but using encrypted email in and of itself tends to attract the attention of the authorities, via the "if you're not doing anything wrong you wouldn't be encrypting it" mentality.

      I'm just trying to get it through people's heads that the moment you send anything online--ANYTHING--there's nothing you can do, technologically, to prevent SOMEONE from having access to it other than the person you meant it to go to (and certainly you have little control over what the recipient does with it afterwards).

      •  I don't get your point (0+ / 0-)

        You wrote: "Anyway, below the fold, it seemed like a good time to repost the diary I wrote in response to the original NSA story a few months ago."

        The NSA story isn't just about technology, it is also about a violation of the 4th amendment.  Its about privacy rights.  Its about whether we want the gov't to have the right to sift through our private communications.  

        What you are writing here seems like you're conflating two different issues.  What technology has the power to do; and what we want the government be able to do.  What you wrote above has almost nothing to do with the NSA and doesn't seem like a response to the NSA scandal or the outrage it has created to me.  

  •  Store, Catalog, Review (0+ / 0-)

    This diary is dumbing-down and over-simplifying the issues at hand.

    Capturing Social Media Info
    The issue is that the government, not Google or Facebook or all these other places on the internet where we willingly plaster our personal information to, no our government itself is gathering up all that "public" information and storing it. That in itself is a problem.

    Capturing E-Mails
    Then, the government is also capturing and storing our "private" e-mails. As this diary and many commenters have pointed out, an expectation of privacy is somewhat naive but there is at least the expectation that the government itself is not capturing, storing and cataloging these e-mails.

    Much like sending a letter through the US Postal Service. It would be trivial for the government to simply open and read the letters you send through the postal service, heck you're handing it right to a government employee. But everyone expects that their postal letters are delivered without being read and without being cataloged or stored for future reference.

    Also, just the fact that someone is communicating with someone else is an important bit of data that yes, as this diary and many others have pointed out, is basically public information once you send your e-mail out to another person. But there is absolutely an expectation that the government is not storing and cataloging that data, continuously building up a dossier on everyone and how everyone relates to everyone else.

    Capturing Phone Info
    Beyond what many educated IT types would consider basically public information such as social media and unencrypted e-mail messages, the government is also capturing mobile phone metadata such as the phone's GPS location, the numbers that are called and being called from, as well as the actual phone call and text messages themselves. It's expected that landline calls are captured as well, it's certainly possible.

    People have a valid expectation of privacy for their voice communications and it is not acceptable to wave one's hands and explain away that "well of course your phone calls are being monitored" which is what this diary is doing with other forms of electronic communications.

    While it's certainly possible for every phone call to be monitored, mobile or land-line or skype, the expectation is that these calls are private. The fact that they can be monitored even since the days of telegraphs and shortwave radios, does not mean that they should be monitored and certainly not stored, cataloged, and reviewed.

    Dossiers on Everyone
    No, the problem most people are having is that The Government is capturing all this data, storing it, cataloging it, indexing it, cross-referencing it, and periodically reviewing it for whatever reason they might use to justify the searches of our personal data as their mission creeps and creeps to encompass anything they can legally and illegally get away with.

    I do not like that this diary and many others are just casually dismissing concerns with these programs as "Of Course Your Electronic Communications Aren't Private."  Regardless of whether communications can be read by anyone does not mean that the government itself should be storing and cataloging those communications and people should have an expectation of privacy at least from their own government.

    [Terrorists] are a dime a dozen, they are all over the world and for every one we lock up there will be three to take his place. --Digby

    by rabel on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 08:03:06 AM PDT

    •  I get so sick of having to correct this misinfo (6+ / 0-)

      The NSA is capturing a lot of message data; this is beyond dispute. The NSA may be capturing most or all of the message data from network links that physically cross US borders; there is strong support in the recent disclosures for the idea that this may be happening. There is no evidence that the NSA is collecting, gathering, touching, or otherwise seeing ALL of YOUR message data, including domestic traffic. That is an unwarranted inference based on the misleading way that the Guardian has reported on the Snowden/Greenwald disclosures, magnified by other non-technical media outlets.

      I welcome counterexamples. Prove me wrong.

      •  agreed (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        phenry, Hey338Too

        that would be one serious hadoop cluster.

        -You want to change the system, run for office.

        by Deep Texan on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 09:01:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Resources (0+ / 0-)

          Are you implying that the federal government does not have the resources to create such a massive data storage system? Whether this massive database is "serious" or not, it's absolutely technically feasible with enough resources. Huge amounts of hardware coupled with some very smart computer scientists to maximize storage and optimize searches and relationships makes this not only possible, but probable given what we know about the staffing and financing of the NSA and the vast intelligence industry in the united states.

          [Terrorists] are a dime a dozen, they are all over the world and for every one we lock up there will be three to take his place. --Digby

          by rabel on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 09:49:48 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  it's my job (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            phenry, highacidity, Hey338Too

            and yes.

            it's only possible depending on the scope which would have to be limited.

            also, the NSA does not have the technology people think.  the technology people ascribe to the NSA in some of the accusations doesn't even exist.

            in order for google to process what they do, they have to limit their scope. which includes many things like reducing the collection size based on age.  NSA wouldn't be able to do that if they wanted to process all traffic.

            It's simple not possible with today's technology. No matter how much money you have.

            -You want to change the system, run for office.

            by Deep Texan on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 10:09:36 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  It's my job as well (0+ / 0-)

              I work with very large databases as well and I really don't see any unsolvable problems in capturing and cataloging all traffic. I have a very technical background so I may have more experience than most in this but with compression and as you mention, limiting scope and everything can be checked and processed and sent to the proper bin (including being deleted).

              [Terrorists] are a dime a dozen, they are all over the world and for every one we lock up there will be three to take his place. --Digby

              by rabel on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 10:19:16 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Impossible (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Hey338Too, Deep Texan

            The world currently produces about 1000 terabytes of data every minute, by some estimates. No computer system or infrastructure that has ever been invented is capable of processing that kind of volume. And there never will be, because we can expect the Internet to continue growing faster than our technology's ability to monitor it.

            •  Wrong. (0+ / 0-)

              First of all, you pulled that 1000 Terabytes number right out of the air. Secondly, much of the traffic is data stored in other places: youtube video streams, netflix, documents stored elsewhere that may or may not be interesting. What we're interested in is not the entirety of all internet packet contents, just the communications between persons. Do we care about every single word document sent as an attachment?  Probably not, and probably only those sent to and from a limited number of targets.

              Third, all the data the NSA would be interested in could be compressed and stored and cataloged using today's technology.

              Where do you see a problem?  Voice calls? This is the simplest of all as monotone limited bandwidth sounds consume minute amounts of storage and compress easily. We're not talking about 128bit surround sound here, it's just voice.  E-Mail messages?  Child's play. Once you've stored and cataloged the metadata, the actual message content can be pushed off to archives and referenced when necessary from slow and cheap storage.

              I really don't see your issue here. We're talking about a massive amount of data, no doubt, but certainly not impossible.

              [Terrorists] are a dime a dozen, they are all over the world and for every one we lock up there will be three to take his place. --Digby

              by rabel on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 10:29:08 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Wrong. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Hey338Too, Deep Texan
                First of all, you pulled that 1000 Terabytes number right out of the air.
                "In 2015, global IP traffic will reach 1.0 zettabytes per year or 83.8 exabytes per month."

                83.8 exabytes = 1,073,741,824 terabytes

                1,073,741,824 terabytes per month = 35,791,394 terabytes per day

                35,791,394 terabytes per day = 1,491,308 terabytes per hour

                1,491,308 terabytes per hour = 24,855 terabytes per minute

                24,855 terabytes per minute rounded waaay down because it's not 2015 yet and in order to forestall criticism from anyone who might have the poor judgment to challenge my figures = more than 1,000 terabytes per minute

                Secondly, much of the traffic is data stored in other places: youtube video streams, netflix, documents stored elsewhere that may or may not be interesting. What we're interested in is not the entirety of all internet packet contents, just the communications between persons. Do we care about every single word document sent as an attachment?  Probably not, and probably only those sent to and from a limited number of targets.
                Right, but that's like saying you don't want the entire landfill, you just want all the tin cans in the landfill. The processing power you'd have to do just to separate out the data you want from the data you don't want is beyond humanity's current capabilities.

                Of course, it becomes much easier if you decide you're only interested in traffic to or from certain IP blocks or across certain network links--but then you're not monitoring the entire Internet. Hey, I wonder if that's what they're doing.

      •  Of course there is evidence (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mskitty

        We have plenty of whistle blower testimony stating that American citizens, including Senator Obama, journalists and many others could be and have been monitored, regardless of if their communications were inside our outside of the United States borders.  Some of the statements made by these whistle blowers are quite compelling. We also have statements made by congressmen who are in a position to know the truth saying that we should be worried and if we knew the whole story we'd all be shocked.

        This is the evidence you are asking for. Eyewitness testimony is absolutely considered evidence. It's possible the eyewitness testimony is a lie, or it is mistaken, but it's evidence none the less.

        In response, we have government denials.

        While it's easy to sit back and simply point fingers and wonder who is lying about what, myself and many others feel that the accusations are very worrisome and therefore warrant a greater degree of inspection beyond simply accepting the government denials.

        Based on documentation and other physical evidence (court records, training materials) it has been proven without a doubt that the government representatives have been lying to us. You can choose to believe that these lies are "in the interests of national security" or not but the evidence and the facts prove that the government has been lying to the people about these programs.

        The fact that the government has been lying to us about these programs is another excellent reason why we need to have these programs fully vetted and investigated by a trustworthy body of people.

        It may turn out to be exactly as you suspect. That there's nothing to worry about, everything is precisely as safe as our government has been telling us and our privacy is protected. But when one objectively looks at the whole story one cannot help but feel that we do not have the full story and we are definitely being lied to so let's go through the motions of verifying what is being said.

        Beyond just finding out what the hell has been going on, we also need to provide positive reinforcement of our privacy rights and pass legislation limiting the scope of information gathering and specifically restricting the power of the government to collect, store, and analyze personal communications and data.

        What's so bad about that?

        Also, notice how I didn't once mention the personalities of the people involved or attempt to glean hidden motives. I simply discuss the facts and call for an investigation. Perhaps you can be as discerning in your own responses and analysis of this situation.

        [Terrorists] are a dime a dozen, they are all over the world and for every one we lock up there will be three to take his place. --Digby

        by rabel on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 09:46:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  "Could be"? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Deep Texan, highacidity, Hey338Too
          We have plenty of whistle blower testimony stating that American citizens, including Senator Obama, journalists and many others could be and have been monitored, regardless of if their communications were inside our outside of the United States borders.
          Well, of course they could be. No one is disputing that the technical means exists to monitor individuals. That's kind of what this diary is about. I could just go out and start shooting people. There is a huge yawning gulf between what people could do and what they do.

          But of course that's not what you said. You said:

          Then, the government is also capturing and storing our "private" e-mails.
          IS capturing OUR e-mails. I don't see anything there about "could." I don't see anything about US borders. I can't find any place where you said that the government (or Google, or whoever) may be reading some subset of messages sent by some subset of people who may or may not conform to certain criteria. Nope, it's just the government IS capturing OUR e-mails. Nuance is for wimps.

          I'm not trying to single you out. I doubt you even meant to do it. But there it is.

          And it's important because when someone makes a provocative statement like that, that's what other people remember, and it's what they pass on, until it just becomes accepted wisdom. And that, friend, is how rumors get started.

  •  Obviously solutions to this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Laurence Lewis

    1 - Use another ISP or email service

    Sounds good, but as this diary explained, pretty much any non-encrypted email service can fairly easily be hacked into--legally by the NSA, it seems.

    2 - Use an encrypted email service

    Sounds good, but, again, this can probably be defeated by someone with enough resources and determination, like the NSA. And it doesn't help you on the portion of your emails' transmission that gets carried by the non-encrypted email services that some of your correspondents' surely use.

    3 - Encrypt your own emails

    I'm no expert but I'm guessing that this only works if everyone you email to/from has the same encryption SW and knows how and is willing to use it properly. Plus, using such SW likely puts you on some sort of NSA watch list.

    4 - Don't put sensitive information in your emails. Use direct face to face conversation, paper and thumb drives/discs for that.

    I think most would agree that this is by far the best solution, for most people. However, if enough people start doing this, then the NSA may well start hacking into peoples' devices to get the original copies of whatever is now being transmitted manually, which will makes things even worse than now.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 08:04:41 AM PDT

    •  How about a much simpler solution (0+ / 0-)

      Why don't you just send out a bunch of crap emails each day to somebody full of key words that might get you noticed but make them utterly bullshit so that, if you're right, that some personal attention would come to you, they'd just realize you're a waste of time and put you into the ignore file.

      I'm actually surprised that all the people outraged haven't recommended this strategy.  Simply overwhelm their abilities with so much more bullshit and spam that the resources to wade through it all becomes impossible.  

      Every email you send, no matter how innocuous, every post you make, every phone call you do, use the words "pressure cooker" or something similar somewhere in the conversation.

      The reason I've never got up in arms about these "intrusions" into our privacy is because that "spam" and junk level is already so huge that the vast majority of their data has to be completely irrelevant and worthless.  

      I agree with the author here.  Vast data quickly becomes overwhelming and innocuous unless extremely narrowly targeted and you don't need high tech to narrowly target.  As you move closer and closer to the individual the law begins to become more and more restrictive on the access.  I agree it probably needs to be more so in regards to electronic communications.

    •  this is part of why (0+ / 0-)

      the entire program is stupid.

      4 - Don't put sensitive information in your emails. Use direct face to face conversation, paper and thumb drives/discs for that.
      ubl used thumb drives to communicate with his people, not anything over networks.

      The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

      by Laurence Lewis on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 09:04:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You can buy a tiny 64GB MicroUSB card for $40 (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Laurence Lewis

        And I'm guessing with proper precautions hide and smuggle it with relative ease. Making hacking into devices the likely focus of the NSA's efforts, with the current focus on internet communications a likely red herring. Sure, one can keep one's device off the internet, but with most devices coming with multiple radios, e.g. WiFi, Bluetooth, 3G, 4G, etc., some of which are hard or easy to forget to turn off, all it takes it one connected device to crack a ring.

        Every time I'm asked to install an "update" to my computers or phones, I have to wonder if it's really an update, or stealth SW to help monitor my devices.

        "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

        by kovie on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 09:24:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent information... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    phenry, Brainwrap, highacidity

    ... thanks for reposting your original diary.

    Looking through the bent backed tulips, To see how the other half lives, Looking through a glass onion - John Lennon and Paul McCartney

    by Hey338Too on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 08:18:35 AM PDT

  •  I love, love, LOVE this (5+ / 0-)
    The truth is, the main reason why this is unlikely to be the case in most situation isn't because of technical inability or for legal reasons--it's because, quite frankly, in the vast majority of cases, no one gives a crap.

    Seriously, there's so many terabytes of mundane, everyday flotsam & jetsam floating through the internet at any given moment that 99.999% of it is utterly meaningless to anyone other than the sender and recipient (and in some cases, perhaps not even them).

    There are naturally exceptions, and of course there are people who genuinely need true privacy because of political repression or an abusive ex or whatever. And the spectre of the NSA collecting exabytes of data raises questions about data mining and keyword searches and so forth. But in general, I think most typical Internet privacy zealots are under the tragic misperception that the universe cares a lot more about them as individuals than it actually does.

    I await your HRs.

  •  much of the debate over NSA seems to be about (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FG

    "capability" versus "intent".  I have no doubt the NSA can intercept and store everything. The argument is whether they are.

    And I note in passing that the LAST time they got caught at it, they were simply gathering anything and everything everywhere that they had the physical ability to gather, warrants or not.

    I see no reason at all whatosever why they wouldn't be doing that again now.

  •  I think you are missing something (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wayoutinthestix, stevemb

    in the "whole NSA bruhaha" that a good many of us have not missed and are quite concerned about. You say...

    Locking your doors and enabling an alarm system at night isn't going to stop someone who's truly intent on breaking into your house from doing so--but it will certainly prevent anyone except a hard-core burglar from doing so.
    It's not just "hard-core burglars" who can and will break in anyway, it's also the 'cops' - which on the computer end include the NSA, Military Intelligence (all of 'em), CIA, a dozen or two acronymistic 'others', FBI, DEA and god only knows how many other federal law enforcement 3-letters. On the more personal end the actual breaking into will also include your state SBI, county sheriffs and/or local constabulary. These days usually making use of all those nifty military tools they've been gifted with by DHS, needed or not.

    Not a one of these 'authorities' is held responsible in real time for property damage caused, or for physical harm (including death) to you and your family while in the process of breaking in and taking whatever the hell they want. Or planting whatever evidence they want (it's been known to happen). Even if they "mistook" your house for one that looks nothing like it in some other fucking town altogether.

    There is no imperative for 'authorities' to give any identified target the benefit of the doubt when they're rifling through your "papers and effects" looking for something - anything! - they can use against you. That's what being a target means. They don't have to presume the ten trigger-words you spoke or wrote that gifted you with the status of target were just innocent conversation between you and your best friend or Mom or veterinarian who just informed you the cat died while getting spayed. They're not trying to sell you CDs or carpet cleaning service, or seeking info so they can inundate you with ads for pet cremation services and cute little mini-headstones with Fluffy's name on them.

    They're looking to bust you - for anything possible - ruin your life and take everything you own or ever hoped to own. It's what they DO whenever told to do it by those who have made you a target for any reason or none. That to me looks very, very different from some commercial algorithm seeking the cue for pet cremation services and cute little mini-headstones. And I don't like it one damned bit.

  •  The Idiot Echo Chamber False Attack (7+ / 0-)

    Lauren Weinstein, in newsletter post for his Privacy Forum mailing list, hits the nail on this uproar pretty accurately.

    False Attack on Google Highlights the Web's "Idiot Echo Chamber"

    Unfortunately, it seems that on the Web these days, if you figure you can capture some quick eyeballs and their connected clicks, accuracy is the least of your concerns.

    This state of affairs creates what I've been calling the "idiot echo chamber" -- as usually idiotic accusations spurt out from a single
    source and then echo around the Net as purported facts -- when in reality they're nothing of the kind.

    We've just been treated to another vivid example of this, courtesy (initially) of reliably Google-hating "Consumer Watchdog" and Putin's propaganda channel "Russia Today (RT)."

    This sorry sequence began when Consumer Watchdog breathlessly proclaimed that Google had been caught in a legal brief proclaiming
    that "Gmail users have no expectation of privacy."  RT picked up the story, and sites that we normally would consider to be reasonably
    reputable started echoing it without further investigation, playing on the current climate of government surveillance furor (and in many cases, related hyperbolic and unjustified paranoia).

    Unfortunately for the fearmongers, there was a problem.

    The specific quote and associated legal discussion didn't actually relate to Gmail users at all, and had been taken obviously and utterly out of context.

    In fact, the language in question related specifically to third-parties sending email to Gmail users, not to Gmail users themselves.

    We all know (or should know) that when you send email to someone, that someone normally has the right to process and use that email as they see fit.  If you send email to a Gmail user, or a user of any other email system, that email becomes subject to that system's facilities for spam and phishing scanning, sorting, searching, saving, forwarding, redistribution, and all manner of other operations of the addressee's chosen email environment.

    All Google was saying (in this ridiculous case where plaintiffs are insanely arguing that a Gmail user receiving email from a non-Gmail user shouldn't be able to use the full scope of Gmail functions), is that in normal cases the sender of email doesn't get to dictate what the receiving email system (and receiving user) does with it.

    Any other interpretation would be both disingenuous and in any practical sense utterly ludicrous.

    If news sites had bothered to take a few minutes to inspect the actual court filing (widely available online), they should have immediately noticed that the section of the filing containing the supposedly controversial statement specifically related to non-Gmail users' expectations, and so in reality wasn't a controversial statement at all -- simply common sense and widely accepted practice.

    "You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you are going, because you might not get there." “When you come to the fork in the road, take it.” --Yogi Berra

    by HeartlandLiberal on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 08:48:09 AM PDT

  •  outrage junkies have been debunked (link) (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hey338Too, Deep Texan, phenry

    http://www.theverge.com/...

    Unfortunately for outrage junkies, there's just nothing here....................................
  •  See, this is what gets me. (0+ / 0-)

    The number of people who are hacked off about the Snowden revelations seemingly don't give a flip about the possibility that corporations could be sifting through their e-mail, too.

    When it's the government, it's ZOMG SCARY!  When it's Google?  Eh, they're just trying to run a business.

    And we wonder why the Tea Party exists?

    29, white male, TX-07 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

    by TDDVandy on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 09:10:10 AM PDT

  •  We pretty much need to assume that anything (0+ / 0-)

    that goes through the interwebz is being looked at by somebody. It is very sad, but to assume otherwise is very disingenuous.

  •  Reminds me of when (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brainwrap, Hey338Too

    I was working  a contract at Washington Navy Yard a few years ago... doing a routine security sweep I found that I could reach our DEV environment from the internet without needing to go through the secure gateway; if you had an authenticated cookie from a prior session, you could paste the string into the URL and voila; you were behind the firewall. Alarmed, I brought it to the attention of the OIC on the project and he stated that he was aware of it but it wasn't an issue since the military persons involved had been given a direct order to not access the system that way...

    Fear doesn't just breed incomprehension. It also breeds a spiteful, resentful hate of anyone and everyone who is in any way different from you.

    by awesumtenor on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 10:50:57 AM PDT

  •  A different train left that station. (0+ / 0-)
    ...when it comes to data privacy, for good or for bad, the train left that station a long time ago.
    It's not that I don't care at all how much Google knows about my email (and I don't keep email on Google, so I'm speaking in a broader sense).  It's that Google is different than the government.  They might have commercial reasons for wanting to spy on my email, and that's creepy and annoying, but it's not the bane of democracy.  And nobody goes to jail for ratting out Google if they go too far.

    So to me, by comparison, this is a trivial side issue.

    Also, it doesn't have to be like this, so this train, the Google/Imageshack type privacy train, really hasn't left the station.  There are other services out there that take these things seriously and we may see them grow in importance in coming years rather than decrease in importance because "the train left the station."  The EU countries are developing both regulatory and voluntary standards for rating the privacy protection of corporate internet services.  Some businesses, like StartPage (which I use as my search engine), take pride in listing the organizations that have rated them highly for protection of user privacy.  There is value in having a good reputation.  Google is big, but if they taint their product, people can and will have choices.

    Likewise, we may see Amazon's cloud service take a huge hit.  I shouldn't say MAY SEE, because they already are.  All the major US cloud services (remote databases stored online) are taking a hit right now, and there are many articles about it.  It's because they no longer deserve the trust of the public simply by the fact that they are based in the US and thus subject to NSA pressure and secret subpoenas.  Alternatives are available in the EU where greater protections are afforded, and more services are hot on the burner, soon to be available.

    So I don't see this train as being irretrievably gone at all.  Some people are already pulling the emergency stop.  Our country might be the last to do it, but we'll be forced into it by commercial pressures.

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