How realistic are your online privacy expectations? • Register | Media Pyro


Registration Debate Can you have a discussion about privacy without mentioning Orwell and 1984 or Bentham’s panopticon?

You can definitely give it a try, which is exactly what our members did this week when they got moving: In the digital age, we shouldn’t expect our communications to remain private.

I began by noting that, in particular, according to the UN, privacy is not just a nice-to-have, it is a human right, and that of course this extends to digital communication.

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The problem is, on the one hand, that governments have been intercepting our communications since the invention of the kettle, and on the other hand…well, Facebook, for example. If we had a third hand, you can bet it would have a fat thumb like the HR person who hits send all when dealing with your sensitive data.

So, I suggested, let’s just be realistic and say that we have to accept that we can’t have a realistic expectation of privacy. And I never once mentioned Orwell.

But inevitably one Anonymous Coward quickly broke free from the blocks, claiming that Orwell himself was inspired by Bentham’s panopticon. “George Orwell extrapolated the consequences, but even he couldn’t have imagined that the average citizen would now be subject to pervasive surveillance as soon as someone found out how much profit could be made from reselling that data—to themselves, of course. perfectly excluded from it.’

But it’s even worse. When fellow commentators pointed it out Facebook has access to almost everything and people give it freely. Fred Flintstone suggested that this was “not quite the case. Zuck has my phone number because OTHERS installed WhatsApp and thus sent my personal data to Zuck without my permission (because I wouldn’t trust me with that). That’s why commercial In my view, using WhatsApp is a direct violation of GDPR if you don’t have the permission of every person in your address book.”

bbrower said that this question is “dropped” – yes, but how? Because: “You have no hope of privacy if you’re targeted by a powerful enough adversary. There are many paths to failure and exposure. The only hope for a modicum of privacy is to be someone who isn’t interesting enough to look at. Given the value of successful targeting, you as a consumer are truly interesting to anyone who can take advantage of it.”

No matter how modest you are, bbrower continued: “If you know about the Snowden revelations, you know what third-party attacks are, you know what social engineering is, you understand how different types of data correlation and statistics work, you know things like undocumented instructions for changing CPU microcode, fundamental flaws in security code, deliberately weakened security standards by organizations like the NSA and cooperating security experts, laws that allow government agencies to demand personal data from service providers, hardware backdoors in things like hard drives, etc., it’s hard to imagine what you’d think can ensure you keep communications confidential.”

Another day in the privacy wars

On Day 2, Dave Cartwright spoke against the proposal. He elaborated on the issue, noting that we need to ask “what exactly do we mean by our “Our work mailbox belongs to our employers,” he noted, so we can’t complain about spying there.

It is possible to encrypt your communication with Facebook and Facebook will still collect and use all the data it can and give the government access to it

But, he continued, when it comes to communications between HR and company lawyers that contain our personal data, “yes, we have every right to expect that to be confidential.” Likewise, we should expect our non-work email, personal files, photos, and everything else to remain private.

While we have to contend with legislation that allows governments to spy on us and cybercriminals waging a constant arms race against security vendors, “to say we can’t hope for privacy is too close to admitting defeat.”

Mixing. But is that enough to sway the average gamer?

One Anonymous Coward bluntly replied, “Nothing digital is private. You just might not know it yet.” (We’ve seen Dave’s resume. He knows his stuff when it comes to digital security and privacy.)

more brightly Lotaresco commented: “For the past several decades, I have worked hard to ensure that personal data provided to large institutions remains confidential. It was hard work…. I’m increasingly wondering why I bothered, because research into people’s attitudes towards the collection and use of this data just elicited a giant shrug from the vast majority of subjects…

“By the way, I make incredible efforts to protect my personal data. I think everyone should think very carefully about this topic. But for most people, the ability to tell the assistant robot to order more Sugar Puffs, a basket of sex toys. , and some antibiotics are more important than protecting against any misuse of sensitive personal data.”

Sugar puffs and, uh, toys, scrubber decided to expose “non-commercial” privacy threats. “We might be better off against foreign countries and criminal gangs if government agencies didn’t stockpile zero-day exploits and then lose them to people who offer them for sale on the dark web. Just think.”

And we enjoyed one Anonymous Coward‘s remark that “1984 was a worthy model of Soviet-style totalitarianism, but the totalitarianism of Western liberal democracies is better modeled by Brave New World.”

Soma, so good then.

Our second co-author to advocate for this initiative was Jen, an information security professional with over a decade of experience.

They claimed that “employers will make every effort” to ensure confidentiality. But at the same time, there is a “privacy paradox” where individuals’ desire for privacy is at odds with “the simultaneous lack of adequate security on the part of individuals – behaviors such as using the same weak password for multiple sites, registering for only about any site out of 10 -percentage discount or even unwillingness to use security measures such as multi-factor authentication.”

Despite Jen’s attempts to emphasize individual responsibility when it comes to privacy, sev. monster was amazed at the number of people who voted for this initiative.

Yes, the current reality meant that it was difficult to ‘expect’ privacy, but to accept the status quo ‘is not only terribly pessimistic, but also sets a dangerous precedent for others to follow. The only way to take our privacy back from vulture corporations and overreaching government organizations is for us to unequivocally state that we have a right to the privacy of information that we do not openly divulge, and if we confidentially provide that information to a third party, we do not we want them to be disclosed by any potential data owners. It SHOULD be expected and demanded, and if our reality does not meet these expectations, then something needs to change.”

Not sure about the use of “vulture” there, but I think we get the point.

Filippo believed that “Failure to adequately protect your right to privacy can and often does mean that you lose your privacy, but it does not mean that you lose the right itself. It just means you are easy prey. You are still a victim. The ultimate moral responsibility lies with those who abuse your privacy, no matter how easy you make it for them.

Another commenter suggested that companies simply shouldn’t accept bad passwords from beavers willing to sign up for a 10 percent discount.

Orwell, what ends well?

AND martinusher claimed to be neither for nor against, pointing out that “a cursory glance at history would show that the ‘powerful’ will intercept whatever they want to intercept when they want, the main constraint on their activities being resources.” Thus, privacy is a ‘gentleman’s agreement’, not a right.”

Securing secure communications takes effort, our commenter added, and most will default to off-the-shelf programs and protocols. “It’s naive to think that they won’t be intercepted at will – if nothing else, your communications won’t be ‘hacked’ – but they will certainly provide raw data for traffic analysis, which is often all the interested party wants to know.” .”

Veteran security writer John E. Dunn rounded off our week of counter-opinions in uncompromising style by recalling the current UK government’s use of none other than M&C Saatchi to convince the public that encrypted messages “pose a moral hazard to society”.

The fact is that citizens will feel that the government has allowed themselves complete freedom, and businesses will question how they are supposed to keep communications and data secure if the tools they rely on are backdoored.

Government control over privacy levers will not increase security but erode trust, he said, and: “The problem with trust is that once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.”

There has been a flurry of comments debating whether we have the tools to secure our communications and, more importantly, whether they are really available to ordinary non-IT citizens.

LDS offered John: “Again, mixing privacy with secrecy and message with life,” noting that “you can encrypt your communication with Facebook and still Facebook will collect and use all the data it can and allow the government to access it . … We must restrain the demands of governments [for] easy mass surveillance – but beware of looking at the finger while ignoring the elephant behind. Encryption alone will not save us.”

Perhaps. But it should make life difficult for those who want to peek into messages and data who shouldn’t.

A few other points.

Although contributors didn’t mention 1984 at all, the Orwellometer in the comments reached 15, which with total reader contributions north of 150, we think is restrained.

A major theme in the comments was whether the move was worded correctly, with commenters arguing that “no” might mislead some readers.

Some have argued that this is a clever trick, similar to the slippery language found in the privacy clauses that ISPs and e-commerce companies impose on their customers. As for the first, we’ll keep that in mind. As for the latter, we’re really not that clever.

However, most readers were more than capable of solving the problems. A perusal of the comments may indicate a high level of skepticism about whether government and commerce can be trusted with our privacy. And there was widespread weariness about consumers’ endless ability to hand over their data for… well, not much.

But in the end, register readers are not going to raise a white flag on their privacy. Two thirds voted against. But don’t worry, we won’t tell anyone how you voted. ®


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