Question about the NSA

  • maxferguson

    Posts: 321

    Jun 19, 2013 10:46 AM GMT
    I got thinking about the NSA thing, the importance of privacy and why seems to be an intrinsically valuable thing (in my mind at least). I found a 2007 quote of Obama talking about the privacy/security: "Surveillance policy of Bush 42 “puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish & the security we provide.” B. Obama 2007 I found myself trying to decide that if privacy were the price of security, how much I would be willing to pay.

    Putting the politics of the issue and the intentions/effective of the NSA program aside for the moment and getting more into the philosophical side what privacy really is, I came up with a couple of thoughts and I'm curious to here what everyone else thinks.

    The first thing I came up with is that if some privacy must be sacrificed in the name of security, all of it will wind up being sacrificed over time. If I have malevolent intentions and *enough* privacy to conceal them, I can dramatically reduce the effectiveness of any surveillance. The conclusion I drew here is that almost anyone with malevolent intentions would be vigilant enough to keep their activities within their known scope of privacy. For surveillance to be effective, it must, over time, erode that scope of privacy to the point where you might have some privacy left, but sophisticated surveillance programs can get a reasonable idea of what you might be up to in your remaining scope of privacy. This is not private at all.


    I was watching some of the Clinton Global Initiative and being a past president, he (Bill) was obviously asked what his thoughts were about the NSA revelations. He mentioned a law that was passed when snail mail was still hot shit that made the a distinction between the contents of the envelope and the outside of the envelop itself. It was something along the lines of it being illegal for anyone to read the contents of the envelope before the intended recipient had received it. This law also made the observation that there are dates stamped on envelopes, return address and target addresses. From that, someone could reasonably deduce who was mailing who, with what frequency, etc... If patterns arise, skilled surveillance teams could come up with a set of possibilities to describe what you might be doing, all without looking in the envelope. The NSA is reading the outside of who knows how many digital 'envelopes,'while supposedly keeping the contents inside private.


    This sounds a lot like what I mentioned above; the inside of the envelope could be considered your known scope of privacy, but if enough information can gradually be obtained to the point where there is any reasonable insight about the possible correspondence between individuals, it could be easily argued that this is not "certain privacy". I would call this "potential privacy," because there are situations where they can assemble enough data to piece together what might be inside your 'envelope,' without opening it, thus, destroying the privacy for the better part.

    Thoughts? How do you define privacy?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 19, 2013 12:04 PM GMT
    Some people can achieve total privacy (e.g. people on witness protection programmes or 'sleeper agents' working for foreign intelligence services), but it is not a natural state of living.

    When we interact with others, either in person or electronically, we are giving away our privacy. The less you interact, the less you give away. Expectations of total privacy are unrealistic and, I would suggest, rather paranoid.
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    Jun 19, 2013 12:12 PM GMT
    The only way you can have privacy anymore is to be locked in a basement or attic without any contact to the real world...kinda like half the folks who use social media, except without the computer or internet.
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    Jun 19, 2013 1:50 PM GMT
    paulflexes saidThe only way you can have privacy anymore is to be locked in a basement or attic without any contact to the real world...kinda like half the folks who use social media, except without the computer or internet.

    Half is being generous.
    I have a friend who made the choice to live a grid-free life, a cabin in a remote area, no internet or cellphone, his own solar power and water supply, grows his own food, etc. He might be the most grounded and incredibly happy person I know.
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    Jun 19, 2013 3:16 PM GMT
    Max, you might want to also consider that corporations have been spying on customers for a very long time, as well as sharing (selling) your info to each other.

    At one point we had to sign a bank document to stop them using our debit card and credit card purchases for 'tracking purposes' as they were selling this info to other businesses.

    Eventually we simply closed our accounts there.

    Most hilarious and horrible was a firm that was caught spying on customers with cams (it was a computer rental company).

    Employers also spy on employees and potentials by investigating them on social networking sites.

    Then of course there are other countries' gov'ts and businesses busy spying on you as well.

    What can we do? lol, I'm still trying to figure that out, without doing what smartmoney's friend did.
  • maxferguson

    Posts: 321

    Jun 19, 2013 5:12 PM GMT
    meninlove said Max, you might want to also consider that corporations have been spying on customers for a very long time, as well as sharing (selling) your info to each other.

    At one point we had to sign a bank document to stop them using our debit card and credit card purchases for 'tracking purposes' as they were selling this info to other businesses.

    Eventually we simply closed our accounts there.

    Most hilarious and horrible was a firm that was caught spying on customers with cams (it was a computer rental company).

    Employers also spy on employees and potentials by investigating them on social networking sites.

    Then of course there are other countries' gov'ts and businesses busy spying on you as well.

    What can we do? lol, I'm still trying to figure that out, without doing what smartmoney's friend did.



    Well, some corporations do, I can only imagine. But I think data collection with the knowledge of the consumer for marketing purposes falls outside of the espionage category. You do make a point about financial information though. Any information about me derived directly from my financial transactions is too much. Now, on the other hand, indirect data (i.e., not connected to my bank account) I'm fine with. An example of that would be when you use your Safeway club card. You save money, and in exchange, they learn a little more about the price/product preferences of the neighborhood a particular store is in. That's a symbiotic marketing relationship to which the customer must consent - I'm willing to let them know my area code and spending habits in order to save a few bucks icon_razz.gif On the other hand, when I receive unsolicited offers and can trace it back to another business I've used, I call the original business and explain that my personal information has 'changed' and my old information is no longer accurate. Lol, nothing pisses them off so much .

    These are all very exhaustive definitions of privacy (i.e., all times all places, intrusion from anyone), which, I suppose, is the proper way of looking at it. I should have qualified in my first post that I was thinking more along the lines of clandestine surveillance by the state icon_razz.gif

    Ultimately, there are two extremes of a continuum: you can have absolute 100% privacy (like smartmoney's friend) or you can have total surveillance, with every facet of you life exposed to whoever (i.e., North Korea). If you can measure how much privacy you have in terms of a % between 0 and 1, my thinking is that surveillance by the state is only useful if: 1.) You don't know where you're being surveyed, OR 2.) You sacrifice a large enough % of your privacy such that what you are able to conceal with that remaining % is easily exposed.
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    Jun 19, 2013 5:31 PM GMT
    Well "social media" is a classy way of getting people to give away their privacy at their own free will. They're basically feeding sites like facebook/twitter their lives, photographic evidence, their locations etc. Does anyone even remember the days when parents would say "don't tell anyone on the internet your name!" How did we reach a point where it's perfectly fine to give away your personal information for free?

    If people are in an uproar about privacy issues, they shouldn't have made it so easy to get to that information in the first place. They put up their full names, pictures, personal information, locations, intended locations, and more on the internet. If they think that facebook is keeping it all "private" they are idiots. I can't remember the issue date, but I was reading a TIME Magazine and it was about Mark Zuckerberg's rise to riches and fame. The article mentioned something that happened while interviewing Mark, it suggested that a FBI agent was using facebook to find criminals. It makes sense, don't criminals have a facebook page too?

    And with all that information being given away freely, employers can use facebook to see who to employ. Haha look at that drunken picture from the party last week, I'll post it... oh no, I didn't get that job because the employer thinks I'm a drunk party fiend. We ourselves opened the door to giving away our privacy, at this peak moment why not have the government take advantage of the opening we gave them?
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    Jun 19, 2013 6:13 PM GMT
    OneSongGlory saidWell "social media" is a classy way of getting people to give away their privacy at their own free will. They're basically feeding sites like facebook/twitter their lives, photographic evidence, their locations etc. Does anyone even remember the days when parents would say "don't tell anyone on the internet your name!" How did we reach a point where it's perfectly fine to give away your personal information for free?

    If people are in an uproar about privacy issues, they shouldn't have made it so easy to get to that information in the first place. They put up their full names, pictures, personal information, locations, intended locations, and more on the internet. If they think that facebook is keeping it all "private" they are idiots. I can't remember the issue date, but I was reading a TIME Magazine and it was about Mark Zuckerberg's rise to riches and fame. The article mentioned something that happened while interviewing Mark, it suggested that a FBI agent was using facebook to find criminals. It makes sense, don't criminals have a facebook page too?

    And with all that information being given away freely, employers can use facebook to see who to employ. Haha look at that drunken picture from the party last week, I'll post it... oh no, I didn't get that job because the employer thinks I'm a drunk party fiend. We ourselves opened the door to giving away our privacy, at this peak moment why not have the government take advantage of the opening we gave them?


    Very true. The armed forces are constantly warning personnel about social networking sites, because operational information can be derived from a few careless entries.

    It is remarkable just how much information you can put together on an individual from a scrap of info on the internet, even without trying very hard.
  • maxferguson

    Posts: 321

    Jun 19, 2013 6:39 PM GMT
    Ex_Mil8 said
    OneSongGlory saidWell "social media" is a classy way of getting people to give away their privacy at their own free will. They're basically feeding sites like facebook/twitter their lives, photographic evidence, their locations etc. Does anyone even remember the days when parents would say "don't tell anyone on the internet your name!" How did we reach a point where it's perfectly fine to give away your personal information for free?

    If people are in an uproar about privacy issues, they shouldn't have made it so easy to get to that information in the first place. They put up their full names, pictures, personal information, locations, intended locations, and more on the internet. If they think that facebook is keeping it all "private" they are idiots. I can't remember the issue date, but I was reading a TIME Magazine and it was about Mark Zuckerberg's rise to riches and fame. The article mentioned something that happened while interviewing Mark, it suggested that a FBI agent was using facebook to find criminals. It makes sense, don't criminals have a facebook page too?

    And with all that information being given away freely, employers can use facebook to see who to employ. Haha look at that drunken picture from the party last week, I'll post it... oh no, I didn't get that job because the employer thinks I'm a drunk party fiend. We ourselves opened the door to giving away our privacy, at this peak moment why not have the government take advantage of the opening we gave them?


    Very true. The armed forces are constantly warning personnel about social networking sites, because operational information can be derived from a few careless entries.

    It is remarkable just how much information you can put together on an individual from a scrap of info on the internet, even without trying very hard.


    I agree 100% with both of you on social media. In it's default settings, most social media profiles are open to anyone. And Onesongglory is bang on; if you're concerned about privacy, make an effort to be more private. Facebook has made this incredibly hard. I have enough photos of myself on facebook that they range from photos used for professional purposes to me wearing an Austin Powers costume passed out drunk, covered in silly string. Facebook makes you go through each and every photo to change the privacy settings. I find it hard to believe that of all the smart people working there, that one of them didn't suggest being able to restrict an entire album in one go or make general content management more user friendly.
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    Jun 19, 2013 6:43 PM GMT
    Well there's one way to improve privacy one facebook - don't put anything up. It constantly asks me for my phone number, and I never input it. I also rarely ever put pictures of myself up, and even when I do it's basically harmless ones of me that were taken maybe days/weeks/months ago so that they're not very relevant. I don't even use my picture as a profile pic. I rarely update my status, and I use it basically to keep in touch with people who use that as their primary source of communication.
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    Jun 19, 2013 6:46 PM GMT
    OneSongGlory saidWell "social media" is a classy way of getting people to give away their privacy at their own free will. They're basically feeding sites like facebook/twitter their lives, photographic evidence, their locations etc.


    I have a simple question: why on earth (given what we all knew about FB, etc) and now with NSA...why would you use your real name??

    Make up a name: Anastaisa Beaverhaussen or whatever!

    Same for a 'rewards' card....they don't need your real name for you to get the discounts!

    John Smith has 150 reward cards from Speedway Fuel! LOL
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    Jun 19, 2013 7:41 PM GMT

    Studly said, "Anastaisa Beaverhaussen"

    omg..icon_lol.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

    Good one!
  • maxferguson

    Posts: 321

    Jun 19, 2013 7:49 PM GMT
    LOL!


    It's always really bothersome when someone has used their middle name or a nickname in lieu of their first and last name on facebook. But I suppose anyone outside your immediate friend network would be be able to figure out who you were, and anyone on the outside looking for you would have a hard time.