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Sometimes I think my friends think I'm paranoid - Journal of Omnifarious

Apr. 23rd, 2003

03:42 pm - Sometimes I think my friends think I'm paranoid

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Sometimes I think my friends think I'm paranoid about privacy issues. For example, I don't want phone company based voicemail because I don't want them to have my messages. I don't trust them to keep them private.

Well, I mentioned this in a conversation with someone, and the conversation that followed was very interesting and confirmed my fears and suspicions. :-(

15:00:20 Omnifars: nocturne`: I won't use the phone company's voicemail because I don't trust them with any more information about me then they already have.
15:00:22 nocturne`: I don't like handset phones, cordless phones, cellular phones especially.. Something about the audio quality is like bees buzzing in my skull, so I just completely avoid them now.. I suppose I miss them to some extent, but ah well.
15:01:06 Omnifars: nocturne`: The other goal is to only have Ethernet cable in the house, and very little phone cable.
15:02:29 nocturne`: Heh I worked for Northwest Telecom for a year or so in 1992, you're not paranoid in that.. Their voicemail servers were quite abused by employees who scummed them all with word-recognition to find "amusing" conversations all too often.
15:03:06 nocturne`: Rather, messages, not conversations.
15:05:01 ***Omnifars nods.
15:05:10 Omnifars: I should tell friends who rely on it that.
15:05:32 Omnifars: Many people are unaware the extent to which authority simply can't be trusted.
15:07:01 Omnifars: They think I'm a little strange for not wanting the phone company to have my voice messages.
15:07:20 nocturne`: Our local Telus here in Vancouver has a storage system that has a searchable database based on speech-recog.. It was initially desined in the US for anti-terrorism (IE: Bad guy says "Kill The President" on the phone and warnings go off everywhere).. But it's been perverted into just another toy like websites that have stuff like "recordings of my ex-girlfriends!" etc.
15:07:40 ***Omnifars nods.
15:08:16 nocturne`: The other problem is how insecure wireless networks are, too.
15:08:26 Omnifars: Yes, that's just as scary an effect of the whole TIA surveillance society thing as the actual police overzealously doing their jobs.
15:08:37 Omnifars: Yes. I want real encryption on my cell phone.
15:08:46 Omnifars: The best way to get it is the 802.11b scheme I describe.
15:09:11 Omnifars: Yes, it's VoiP, and VoiP is going to have problems over WANs, but...
15:09:28 Omnifars: VoIP :-)
15:10:06 nocturne`: My buddy <name deleted> who's a security employee for Telus was giving me a tour of the system.. it's a hell of an upgrade since '92 when I was in the biz.. He can walk over to a console and type in "I want it now" and it'll scum all the voicemails for that phrase in any inflection. Ta-da, lots of obscene messages!
15:11:54 nocturne`: It also has "common sound" tracers for things like gunshots, door slams, yelling and screaming, obscenity filters.. They could realistically hunt domestic abusers and stalkers from the origin by their messages if they really wanted to/had the authority to admit they can even do it.
15:12:11 ***Omnifars nods unhappily.
15:12:16 ***Omnifars thinks.
15:12:30 Omnifars: I wouldn't mind so much if we got to watch them with the same tools.
15:12:50 Omnifars: It's the power imbalance that really gets to me, and is what will create a totalitarian state.
15:13:30 nocturne`: What's really bothersome is how the people in the security administration think of it as all a big joke and a toy to play with. Unless they've been set on a task, they're goofing around with it all the time.
15:14:40 ***Omnifars looks unhappy.
15:14:43 Omnifars: Yes, it is.
15:14:59 Omnifars: They need to be the target of that kind of thing for awhile, and they'll stop thinking that way.
15:15:04 nocturne`: He also showed me a couple of their mobile 900Mhz scanners and video signal scanners.. Pretty dicey stuff.. He'll leave his laptop and his scanner on driving to and from work and pick up all kinds of creepy video and phone audio all the time that people have assumed is private.
15:15:33 ***Omnifars :-(
15:17:25 nocturne`: Did you know that within the space of a few hours, with one of their signal kits, they can key digital security cameras to track and follow the ID# of your cellular? And if it's on standby, any time you walk into the visual range of a camera, it will "glowpoint" highlight you.. Through malls, shops, universities, anywhere that isn't using encrypted signals.
15:18:50 nocturne`: And thousands and thousands of those X-10 cameras that people buy for hobby shit are broadcasting *everywhere* for people to track and intercept with just a $500 hardware module that interfaces with a modern-day laptop.
15:21:24 nocturne`: Telus security has actually "accidentally" identified and tipped RCMP to various types of kiddie porn shit like that in the last couple of years.. Stuff like "Nobody knows it, but I've got my pinhole X-10 cams in my bathrooms so I can watch my teenage daughters showering!" is rampant.
15:15:33 ***Omnifars :-(
15:22:11 nocturne`: And since the pedo didn't encrypt his signals, it's public domain, so the warrant is fully acceptable if the tip came from a third-party.
15:23:58 nocturne`: A couple of months ago, they (ed note: RCMP, not Telus) busted a landlord who had an entire 200-suite apartment complex wired up with good old X-10's. He had miles and miles of tape of people and was selling it to websites when he could.
15:24:27 Omnifars: So, their view of all of civilization as being a huge corrupt morass of people who ALL deserve to be punished for something is reinforced.
15:24:52 nocturne`: Yeah, I call that the Disconnected Paladin.

It is my opinion that David Brin was right in The Transparent Society, and that we've already lost our right to privacy. We live in a surveillance society. I don't mind this so much, but I do mind that we don't get to watch the watchers. :-( It's a horrible power imbalance.

Current Mood: [mood icon] distressed
Current Music: Various Artists - Spacetime Continuum / A Low Frequency Inversion Field


[User Picture]
Date:April 23rd, 2003 03:21 pm (UTC)
Personally, I don't care. :) The voicemail example above is all employees getting their jollies - not "The Man" trying to hunt people down. And since I don't do anything (much) that's illegal OR use anything other than the computer for communication (for the most part), I'm not too concerned about "The Man" caring about what I do. Besides, there's an implied consent for having your "privacy" invaded whenever you do ANYTHING outside of your own personal domain (i.e. your body). There's the possibility that anyone could find out anything about you or what you do, for whatever reason, through whatever method. I'm not going to let that affect my everyday life because I'm really not interesting enough for anyone to care.

You don't even have to be using high-tech communication devices (or the Big Bad Government) for your privacy to not be so private. If we lived in, say, a small village in China, everyone would know your business whether you like it or not.

I operate by this rule: if you don't do anything you're not "supposed to", you shouldn't be worrying. (I'm very certain someone's going to go on and on in response about how my civil liberties are being violated, blah blah blah... in advance: don't bother.)
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[User Picture]
Date:April 23rd, 2003 04:06 pm (UTC)

I dearly hope you get to live in the world you seem to want to live in. If you don't get dragged in for some offhand remark you made that seems fishy, your husband, your sister or your best friend will be.

Everybody has done something 'wrong'. It's just that nobody has looked hard enough yet. Annoy the wrong person and your name will get dragged through the mud for adultery, or lesbian sex, or some other little 'crime'. Imagine someone calling up your boss and replaying all the most awful things you've ever said over the phone. Still think you'd have your job?

If it hasn't happened already, it will.

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[User Picture]
Date:April 23rd, 2003 04:17 pm (UTC)
Like I said, once you take something away from your SELF and put it out into the world, whether it's in your locked diary you keep under your mattress, by telling a family member, by writing an email to an acquaintance across the globe... you've opened yourself up to having those thoughts and ideas discovered by people other than who you intended. You absolutely, positively can't expect everything you say or do to be absolutely, positively PRIVATE forevermore. It doesn't work that way - it never has.

If you don't get dragged in for some offhand remark you made that seems fishy, your husband, your sister or your best friend will be.

Now, do you actually have any REAL-LIFE examples (where someone you actually know has been dragged in for some seemingly-fishy offhand remark that someone discovered by invading their privacy) that you can share, or is this just speculation?

Annoy the wrong person and your name will get dragged through the mud for adultery, or lesbian sex, or some other little 'crime'.

That's less of an issue with invasions of privacy and more of an issue about people being vindictive.
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Date:April 25th, 2003 09:10 am (UTC)
I used to think these same sorts of things. In the past I've had the same attitude: "If I'm not doing anything wrong, then I shouldn't have to worry about anything." Well, there's one problem with that.

What if someone suddenly decides you *are* doing something wrong. They start tracking down all the people they decide have done something wrong. Say you got your bicycle repainted green. It used to be blue, but you got it repainted. Well, some authority decides that people who paint the blue bicycles green are actually government conspirators or terrorists. So, they start tracking down all the people like you by invading your privacy in order to get the information. Pretty soon you're locked up in concentration camps, you're being starved and gassed to death.

"But that can't and doesn't happen"... right? Wrong. It's happened before. Look at Germany. Hitler turned their government into a dictatorship pretty darned quick. He decided Jews were inferior. So, he decided they were no longer to ride in street cars. The Jews probably didn't think much of it. So, they were good, and stayed off the street cars. They probably thought that if they continued with their simple lives, and followed the one new rule that things would be ok. Well, then he added one more rule. "Jews can't ride in their own cars". The Jews decided... well, it's only 1 more little rule. If I folow it, I'll be ok.

Well, Hitler then added more and more rules. Eventually it turned into this

1. jews can't ride in street cars
2. jews can't ride in cars
3. jews can't ride in cars, even their own
4. jews can't be out after 6pm
5. jews can't play sports in public
6. jews can't go to the movies
7. jews have to turn in their radios
8. jews have to be photographed and registered as jews by law
9. jews have to wear yellow stars
10. jews have to move to the ghettos
11. jews are starved, moved to concentration camps, and 6 million of them are masacured.

And so on and so on...

We're studying the holocaust in school right now with my students. My kids just CAN'T phathom why 6 million people didn't all get together and get rid of the Nazis. The Jews couldn't revolt because by the time they understood their fate, it was too late. The jews complied to every little law that was added on. I'm sure they thought that if they'd just follow this or that rule, and they don't do anythign wrong, that everything will be ok. Things went down the slippery slope. Things were done in such a way that Jews weren't able to find the information necessary to know exactly what was happening to them behind the closed doors of the Nazi concentration camps. But they followed those rules and did what they were supposed to do ... to the T.

I can bet, that if they knew what was happening every time they let the government invade their rights or their privacy, that they would have revolted. Maybe it would have made things a little less easier for Hitler. Maybe 6 million jews would have revolted all at once and prevented the mass murder of almost their entire people. Maybe... if, if if...

By looking back in history we can CLEARLY see what might happen when we give the government just that little inch into our rights, privacy or civil liberties. They WILL take a mile.

It might be harder for it to happen in this country. But it could... It might take a VERY long time... but it can happen. All it takes is for one or two generations to slowly give up their rights. All it takes is for one or two generations of children to think everything is ok, just as long as they don't do anything wrong.

Yikes! Does this make sense?
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[User Picture]
Date:April 25th, 2003 09:15 am (UTC)

It makes perfect sense to me.

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[User Picture]
Date:April 25th, 2003 07:05 pm (UTC)
Sure it makes sense, to a point. I still don't buy it, though.

I can bet, that if they knew what was happening every time they let the government invade their rights or their privacy, that they would have revolted.

The question is: did they have rights and privacy in the first place? I have no idea what the government of Germany was like pre-Hitler (or now, for that matter), but I guarantee you it wasn't the exact sort of government that we have, with all the checks and balances and whatnot.

The thing is this: there's being cautious, and being PARANOID. I refuse to fall into the latter category, because it's a complete waste of energy.
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