From the Orlando Sentinal is this report about police abusing the FL DMV database. The is more about it at the Reason blog.
Government databases will always be abused. That’s the nature of man and there is no use fighting it. Which is why massive government databases should not be created to begin with, unless there is no alternative.
This story about how the TSA not only searched a woman’s bags, but also went through her check book and receipts is quite infuriating (but not really surprising). The USA flying situation has already degraded into a farcical mix of incompetence and fascism that could only be surpassed by the society in Terry Gilliam’s classic “Brazil”. And I’m not sure it surpasses it by all that much.
And we all will soon get to experience the electronic equivalent of a strip search once they roll out the new body scanners.
The worst part of all this is that the TSA’s policy seems to be that if you react with anything other than meek acceptance they will call the police. The consistent code words are “elevated behavior”.
If your behavior isn’t elevated after interacting with the TSA, there’s something wrong with you. If only we would wake up and fire the lot of them.
Tim Cole has an interesting post about the need for a “forgetful” internet. A place where embarrassing pictures don’t haunt you for life. A place where there is no permanent record. A place where all sins are eventual forgiven and forgotten.
Such a place does not now exist. Unfortunately the search for such a forgetful paradisio leads instead to the inferno of government control. For if the government can tell you how long you can leave something online, they can also tell you not to put it online to begin with. And they will.
By now you probably know the sordid case of the lost iPhone and the ongoing Apple-Gizmodo spat that culminated in the recent police raid on a Gizmodo editor’s home. The raid raises two very interesting and troubling issues. The first concerns state and federal journalist shield laws and how they apply to online journalists like Jason Chen. That deserves a separate treatment that I will defer to a later post.
The second issue is why the police descended on a home in mass to break down the door and cart away six computers in what is essentially an intellectual property dispute between two corporations. The reason, it turns out, for this strange action on the part of the high-tech crime task force is that Apple sits on their steering committee.
Meet the iPolice, Apple’s very own IP enforcement squad with handy police state powers.
When you make a call and have the police break into a citizens home and confiscate his possessions, doesn’t that qualify you as an evil corporate behemoth?
Full disclosure: I don’t own any Apple products. At this rate it not looking like I ever will.
A three judge panel in Washington DC has ruled that the FCC does not actually have the authority to impose net-neutrality regulations. This is a big victory for the free market internet, but I have no doubt that the Obama administration will respond by trying to enact net-neutrality via legislation.
One wonders how we have managed survived so far without it.
Steve Chapman poses the question, “would you volunteer to carry a device that lets the police monitor your location 24×7, every day?” He then lets you in on a secret, you already have. In fact chances are you have the locator on your person at this very moment.
It’s called a cell phone.
Just think of the privacy implications here. The government can tell if you spend the night at someone elses house, visit a red light district, attend a political rally, drive too fast, or get a medical procedure. They can know where you are at all times, both when you are out in public or when you are in a private residence.
Oh, and the current administration (like the last one) doesn’t think a warrant should be required for any of this.
Phil Windley posts about Google’s recent moves in China and describes them as a result of conflict between Google’s desired to do what’s right (not censor) and doing what it needs to do to stay in business in one of the largest markets in the world. That’s an interesting take on it, but it doesn’t wash with recent history.
To be clear, Google was fine with doing evil for several years now. The lived with the government restrictions and did business up until recently when they were penetrated (reportedly badly) by hackers that no one seriously believes aren’t at least backed by the Chinese government. Also the decision to buck the government was also made easier by Google’s own lagging competitive position in China.
If the real story ever comes out I’m sure it will be fascinating. Until then I’m not sold on Google’s altruistic motives in this dispute.
Reason has this disturbing story about an Oregon man who was taken into custody, had his house searched (without a warrant), had his property taken, and was forced to undergo a mental examination all because there was a suspicion that he might commit a violent crime in the future. He is not suspected of actually committing a crime or of actually threatening anyone, but he was a gun collector who had been place on administrative leave from his job.
Defenders of this policy will likely point out that he was released and his property was returned, so the action is warranted to make sure that he wasn’t a threat to his community. I would note that such defenders are not volunteering to have the SWAT team come to their home, search their house, and haul them to a mental facility in handcuffs.
Bob Blakely is getting a lot of attention lately for this post about a report the he and Ian Glazer wrote on privacy. On the one hand I completely agree with him that privacy is a social rather than a technical issue (which is why I have never been that interested in concepts like the minimal disclosure tokens and identity oracles).
But I feel the Bob and Ian give too much emphasis the how your personal information is handled after it has been disclosed rather than the issue of not asking for it to be disclosed in the first place. In other words, no one can abuse private information if they don’t have it in the first place.
Obviously some information needs to be disclosed to drive the required social interactions. But today there is too much information being asked for and I feel that is also a serious violation of privacy. Let me give you an example, following Bob’s Dr’s office example. Suppose you take your child for a check up and the pediatrician asks your child:
Has your daddy ever slept with another man?
You would be appalled at that for several reasons. First, it not remotely relevant to your child’s check up, and second it’s none if his business. Even assuming the Dr would scrupulously keep secret the answer, he shouldn’t even ask the question. I think we can all agree on that. But what if he asks your child:
Is there a gun in your house?
Now how do you feel about that? How is that any different? This is not a hypothetical question either, but a regular screening question asked today by pediatricians across the country. The American Academy of Pediatrics has instructed your pediatrician to routinely screen for household gun ownership because some irresponsible people have left loaded guns where children could get them, and they feel your privacy as a parent has no value. Further they are instructed to ask your children, not you for this information.
And that is just one of many examples where we are asked to divulge personal information beyond what is needed for the social interaction. At the point of asking the privacy is already being violated regardless of what happens to that information later.
This is a rather disturbing story about how police in Idaho are increasingly using forced blood sampling in drunk driving incidents. While the goals are laudable, reducing drunk driving, the violation of personal privacy should be unacceptable to our society.
Apparently the Idaho supreme court has approved of the policy, indicating that they need to go back to remedial law school and brush up on “unreasonable search”.