Surveillance society, or, there is no privacy on the ‘net

Privacy on the Internet is gone. It’s toast.

That is the point of Bruce Schneier’s post, Our Internet Surveillance State.

We leave crumbs of data spread around every time we use our computer or smart phone. With the cost of storing data essentially zero, every provider keeps a record of everything you do. And why not? The cost is zero to record your last Internet search or which cell tower has connection to your phone this moment.

Our privacy is shot when you put huge numbers of crumbs together.

Mr. Schneier’s article suggests if you visit a website, there’s a good chance the provider knows you are, even with cookies turned off.

One amazing story is how CIA director David Petraeus’ affair with his biographer was discovered. Check out how the writer tried to stay anonymous. She

similarly took extensive precautions to hide her identity. She never logged in to her anonymous e-mail service from her home network. Instead, she used hotel and other public networks when she e-mailed him.

How was she discovered?

The FBI correlated hotel registration data from several different hotels — and hers was the common name.

Match up all the geo-location info on the emails to registrations at those hotels when the emails were sent. There will only be a few people that stayed at all three hotels on those days.  Those people who match are suspects. 

That link in the quote goes to a great ACLU article that give much more detail.

Even using anonymous services isn’t a sure thing. You can’t ever make a mistake:

Maintaining privacy on the Internet is nearly impossible. If you forget even once to enable your protections, or click on the wrong link, or type the wrong thing, and you’ve permanently attached your name to whatever anonymous service you’re using.

Check out this great conclusion:

If the director of the CIA can’t maintain his privacy on the Internet, we’ve got no hope.

You and I have no chance of changing things or avoiding loss of privacy while we hussle to make a daily living. What we need to do is constantly remind ourselves that there’s no privacy on the internet.

Remember that every time you send an email, do an internet search, or post a comment.

3 thoughts on “Surveillance society, or, there is no privacy on the ‘net”

    1. You are exactly correct. I can buy your database, one from that guy over there, combine it with my customer database, and know a whole lot about my customers.

      Thanks for your thoughts.

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