If You Want More Privacy, Stay Off The Internet

That may seem like an aggressive statement, but the only way you will ever get the privacy you want is if you don’t put anything out there. No mobile phone, no email, no Facebook, no Twitter, and no browsing. Nothing. Shop at brick-and-mortar, do your banking in person, and if you want to talk to someone, call from a land-line. Maybe you can write them a letter, if you can trust the Post Office.

As I have already said in a number of posts, if you want ANY of the convenience that your mobile phone or the Internet provides, you pay a price in loss of personal privacy. Did you really think it was free? Or worse, do you actually EXPECT it to be free? You want all the benefits and none of the downside?

We have an expectation that it’s the government’s responsibilities to protect its citizens, from either external aggressors, or internal threats. How do you expect them to do that if they don’t at least TRY to do the same things the bad guys do? It’s called testing. As far as I am concerned, they can take whatever data of mine they like, as long as they do nothing with it other than work out how to plug the holes.

And if you’re worried that the government might use your data against you, what exactly are you doing?

Should there be more oversight? More transparency? Probably, but do you WANT to let the bad guys know how we’re catching them?

Question: Whom would you rather find a cancerous tumor in your body, a doctor, or a coroner? The doctor will be every bit as invasive, but will do so to save your life. You trust them, right?

OK, so that’s a little dramatic, and the other side of the analogy is excessive, but I think it makes the point. I WANT the government to find the holes before the bad guys do, because the bad guys have no rules whatsoever. They will steal from you, ruin your life, or whatever takes their fancy, and then not give you another thought unless it’s to laugh about how you made things so easy for them.

Businesses hire ‘bad guys’ all the time to test their systems, they are called ethical hackers. Same mind-set as a bad guy with one twist; they are there to help fix the problem, not exploit it.

Was Prism so different? They have no choice BUT to sift through everyone else’s data to find the ones who are doing bad things. Can you think of a better way of doing it? Seriously, if you can, I’d love to hear it, it will have far-reaching impact on the way security professionals think / work and should be heard.

It’s fairly clear which side I’m on, and this really is a issue with only 2 sides; for, and against the monitoring our private information. What’s needed now is a guest post from someone who is on the other side of the fence, maybe even a lawyer, and that’s all I can tell you about them or they’ll beat me up.

Let the debate begin!!

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4 thoughts on “If You Want More Privacy, Stay Off The Internet

  1. Lots of rhetoric here and lots of bold statements so I’ll pick just the one that I feel really goes to the heart of this debate: you say we have an expectation that the government will protect us, but I don’t. I expect them to try and I accept that they will not always succeed, because the only way for them to do so would be to give them powers that I don’t want them to have. As a UK citizen I expect my government to work within the legal framework that they have been granted and not to act like an overprotective parent doing what’s best for me because Mummy and Daddy know best. If we as a democratic society believe our Government needs more powers then we’ll give them to them, but no executive should be outside of the law. As for the NSA and Prism, as a non-US citizen, the US Government sees no obligation to consider my privacy rights and doesn’t even pretend that it has my best interests in mind. But you are asking me to trust them too?
    It is naive to think we don’t need oversight of our own government, let alone trusting someone else’s. Nothing to hide does not mean nothing to fear, just ask the Birmingham Six or any of the inmates of Guantanamo.
    So to my government I say, do what you can with the powers we give you, and if you fail we’ll talk again. To the US I say, get the *&^% out of my email.

    • Thank you for you comment Wa.

      You passion is clear from the several insults, but the whole point of this post was to generate debate, and to hear sides that MY own biases would otherwise preclude me hearing. So again, I thank you for it.

      However, I never said Government does not need oversight, I alluded to the fact that TOO MUCH oversight defeats the object of the exercise when secrecy is a key element to success.

      As for waiting to see how minimal monitoring works out before we give the government more powers, I would not want to be the one explaining to the parents of victims; “Yes, we could have done more, we even proposed HOW to do more, but email is private.” I think rhetoric very aptly describes the citing of examples of the FAR fewer instances of when things go wrong as the reason to throw out the current process in favour of giving the bad guys free rein. They will not hesitate to take full advantage, and by the time we give the government more power through the very exacting legal process, the damage is done.

      So yes, I believe that the price I pay in the loss of my personal privacy CAN actually make things safer for others, and I give my permission without reservation.

      If there is one thing I think we CAN agree on, is that our radically different opinions should form the basis of the checks and balances that in turn, should be the basis for the necessary oversight.

      Neither complete free rein, nor complete individual privacy is the answer. I should not be able to blithely invade your privacy, and you should not be able to stop the government doing what I think is right.

  2. It’s a tough call isn’t it? and I have to agree with your take on it David. Unless you live in the middle of the woods living off the land and never having anything to do with the modern age outside of that wood, your privacy is already compromised.

    Do you have a drivers license? a passport? Do you remember the old days when travelling abroad when you used ot have to leave your passport at reception in the hotels you weres staying in? Do you suppose personal privacy was really so much better back in the day, than it is now? I’m thinking not. THe bad guys will alway get the info they want, its just a bit easier to do that in the electronic age.

    I am happy for the government to do what they feel needs to be done, and for them to test and develop as they see fit, and if they want to use my information, so be it.

    I expect that the voting public will passionately devide itself onto the two sides of the argument, and that sanity, and process, will sit somewhere between both extremes.

    As for my own attitude to my peronal privacy, I like to think that I am fairly sensible, and I encourage my teens to really think about what they share via social media and other forums that they partake in and how they store their infomration electronically.

    I am no IT guru and so leave the clever tehcnical side of it all to others as it is outside of my competency and I am happy to stick to having my firewall, AV software and being a bit street savvy to keep my info secure.

    Consipiracy theroists will always rally, and to be fair they keep the debate alive, this can only be good thing and help in the long run – in my view.

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