Tag Archives | Information

Why Privacy Matters Even if You Have Nothing to Hide

Via the Chronicle of Higher Education, law professor Daniel J. Solove reveals all:

The nothing-to-hide argument is everywhere. In Britain, for example, the government has installed millions of public-surveillance cameras in cities and towns, which are watched by officials via closed-circuit television. In a campaign slogan for the program, the government declares: “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.”

But the problem with the nothing-to-hide argument is the underlying assumption that privacy is about hiding bad things. By accepting this assumption, we concede far too much ground and invite an unproductive discussion about information that people would very likely want to hide. As the computer-security specialist Schneier aptly notes, the nothing-to-hide argument stems from a faulty “premise that privacy is about hiding a wrong.” Surveillance, for example, can inhibit such lawful activities as free speech, free association, and other First Amendment rights essential for democracy.

One such harm, for example, which I call aggregation, emerges from the fusion of small bits of seemingly innocuous data.

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Eleven Secret Documents Americans Deserve to See

David Wallechinsky has written a list of eleven secret documents that he feels every American deserves to see:

Via AllGov:

Many documents produced by the U.S. government are confidential and not released to the public for legitimate reasons of national security. Others, however, are kept secret for more questionable reasons. The fact that presidents and other government officials have the power to deem materials classified provides them with an opportunity to use national security as an excuse to suppress documents and reports that would reveal embarrassing or illegal activities.

I’ve been collecting the stories of unreleased documents for several years. Now I have chosen 11 examples that were created—and buried—by both Democratic and Republican administrations and which cover assassinations, spying, torture, 50-year-old historical events, presidential directives with classified titles and…trade negotiations.

1. Obama Memo Allowing the Assassination of U.S. Citizens

When the administration of George W. Bush was confronted with cases of Americans fighting against their own country, it responded in a variety of ways.

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Security Questions, Market Research, Or Something Else?

Email providers, banks, and other entities commonly and increasingly use knowledge-based security questions as a backup or addition to simple passwords, for your own security. Or at least that’s what they say the purpose is. Should you really be revealing these things to someone whom you don’t know? From the New Aesthetic:

What Apple would like to know about you. (Screenshots by Chris H.) These are Apple’s new security questions for iOS. I thought the London 2012 site ones – “What’s your favourite colour?” “Who’s your best friend?” were bad enough.


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Microsoft Shows What The Future Will Look Like

Microsoft has released this "positive" (hear the cheery music?) thought-exercise short film titled "Productivity Future Video" which shows "how future technology will help people make better use of their time, focus their attention, and strengthen relationships while getting things done at work, home, and on the go." It's an affluent, depressing world in which every surface has been turned into a screen with notifications telling you what do or think, interpersonal relations have completely atrophied, and emotions and sensation are muted as one is shuttled between airports, hotels, and other highly-planned spaces. Just wait until everything around you, the walls and the floor the table, is a Microsoft product with malfunctioning software.
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The Non-Verbal Newspaper

edmonton_20In 1977, Swiss graphic designer Hans-Rudolf Lutz conducted an interesting experiment by stripping all language from a daily newspaper — I’d like to try this process with some contemporary publications:

This book consists of an inventory of all the non-verbal information contained in a daily newspaper. All of the words have been cut out of the Edmonton Journal of 16 August 1977 (the day on which Elvis Presley died). How do we ‘read’ pictures with no verbal context or information? What is the informative value of typographical structures and orders when stripped of meaning? The visual material in this publication provides a basis for the debate on these questions.

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Majority of Teens Don’t Know Who Osama Bin Laden Is, Search Data Shows

White House CelebrationsI did wonder how many college kids in those crowds cheering Sunday night the news kept reporting extensively on, even remembered in detail the events of 9/11. One figures that any herd, regardless of its intent, will attract those without the lights on upstairs.

While this article focuses on people younger than most of those in the crowds (so I guess teens aren’t hearing about 9/11 from their parents or in school) … more surprising to me, is it seems like a good percentage of people, the college age (and even older!), were searching for “Who Is Osama Bin Laden” shortly after the president’s speech Sunday night. Chloe Albanesius writes on PC Mag:

As I watched the crowds outside the White House on Sunday night, it seemed like many were college students from nearby George Washington University, and I wondered what many of them remembered from 9/11, seeing as how they were maybe eight or nine years old at the time.

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The Power To Control Information And Culture Itself

Wikileaks logoSeems Bank of America was so nervous about what Wikileaks would be revealing about them, that they went on the attack, and now we have some of the details about this, ironically thanks to both Wikileaks and a similar organization, Crowdleaks.

A very interesting anonymous post on this matter was made over at the Slashdot website:

Three information security consultancies with links to US spy agencies cooked up a dirty tricks campaign late last year to destroy Wikileaks by exploiting its perceived weaknesses, reads a presentation released by the whistleblowers’ (pdf) organization that it claimed to be from the conspirators. Consultants at US defense contractors Palantir Technologies, Berico Technologies and HBGary proposed to lawyers for a desperate Bank of America an alliance that would work to discredit the whistleblowers’ website using a divide and conquer approach. Since the plan was hatched, disgruntled volunteers mentioned in the PDF broke away from Wikileaks, financial institutions withdrew services, Apelbaum was harassed by the US Government and Amazon denied service to Wikileaks’ website.

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Military Bans Disks And Other Forms Of Removable Data To Prevent Future Leaks


Via Wired’s Danger Room:

It’s too late to stop WikiLeaks from publishing thousands more classified documents, nabbed from the Pentagon’s secret network. But the U.S. military is telling its troops to stop using CDs, DVDs, thumb drives and every other form of removable media — or risk a court martial.

Maj. Gen. Richard Webber, commander of Air Force Network Operations, issued the Dec. 3 “Cyber Control Order” — obtained by Danger Room — which directs airmen to “immediately cease use of removable media on all systems, servers, and stand alone machines residing on SIPRNET,” the Defense Department’s secret network. Similar directives have gone out to the military’s other branches.

“Unauthorized data transfers routinely occur on classified networks using removable media and are a method the insider threat uses to exploit classified information. To mitigate the activity, all Air Force organizations must immediately suspend all SIPRNET data transfer activities on removable media,” the order adds.

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