PDA

View Full Version : Internet Privacy Issues


SkinWalker
04-06-2003, 01:21 PM
I've been thinking of starting a thread relating to internet privacy issues for a while now. There are many threats to privacy that we face as internet users.

These include government / corporate surveillance, cryptography usage, free speech, data privacy, copyright, and domain name rights among others.

I'm curious about a couple of things:

1) Do you routinely or occasionally use any cryptographic software to secure files on your hard drive or secure emails to others?

2) Have you ever had a privacy breach by an ISP, company you work for, government, etc.?

3) How do you feel about the increased abilities in both technology and legislation for governments to spy on citizens?

4) What other privacy issues exist on the internet that we could discuss here?

--------------------------------

My own feelings are mixed. I see the need for surveillance and understand why the governments get pissed when they can't read an encrypted email... they reason that if it's hidden, it's up to no good.

On the other hand, I'm very quick to make up information when registering for various websites (not LF, though!:cool: ), particularly when it appears that the purpose is to spam my snail mail box and my telephone. I also use PGP on occasion, but very little by way of email... most of the people I know don't use it.

I don't think I've ever had a privacy breach, but then if someone did look at my logs on an ISP and my emails on their server, would I know if there was no problem?

I'm a bit concerned by some of the technologies that exist that will allow governments and corporations to monitor email and electronic activities. There's a thing called Tempest that picks up Electromagnetic emmissions and demodulates the digital signals to texts.... the government understands it enough to be worried about it. http://cryptome.org/ncsc-3.htm

obi
04-06-2003, 01:40 PM
I don't know about a few of the questions, but I do know that no matter what you are doing, and wherever you are doing it, there is somone or something that sees you do it.

I even heard a nasty rumor of secret government cameras in public bathrooms. I HOPE TO GOD this is just a bad rumor.

As far as internet goes, I am sure that some Internet Service Providers sells information. (Namely AOL)

I don't really know much on the issue, so I can't comment much more. :\

SkinWalker
04-08-2003, 11:09 AM
Here's a very good site for checking your computer's weak spots: Shields Up! (https://grc.com/x/ne.dll?bh0bkyd2)

It'll tell you how much data you are transmitting across the internet unknowingly and test your computer for sharing and port dangers. It also does a VERY good job of explaining what all this means to you as the computer / internet user.

ShockV1.89
04-08-2003, 11:37 AM
Honestly, people seem to make a bigger deal over computer privacy than it really is. I know a fella who encrypts everything he emails and has a half dozen security measures on his hard drive alone. Says he values his privacy. He doesnt run a server or anything, it's his home PC.

Honestly, what could you be doing on your computer that isnt illegal that you need that many security measures?

If I see a computer with 15 different security programs, encryptors, and three firewalls, I think to myself "Hmmm... must be doing something illegal, or very illicit." I'm more likely to want to look.

If the government wants to scan one in 10 of my emails to see if I'm chatting with Bin Laden, feel free. I have nothing to hide from them, and if it helps them catch the real terrorists, then I'm all for it.

SkinWalker
04-08-2003, 12:27 PM
Originally posted by ShockV1.89
If the government wants to scan one in 10 of my emails to see if I'm chatting with Bin Laden, feel free. I have nothing to hide from them, and if it helps them catch the real terrorists, then I'm all for it.

I can agree with that. That is reasonable to me. What concerns me is email in a company/workplace more than government snooping.

I used to work for a large company that had a wide area network that spanned the country. We had email and web access and while attempting to use Hotbot (this was before Google), I get a message overlaid accross my screen saying that this was "an illegal site according to company policy... etc."

I figured out how to avoid that, but was concerned at the level with which we were being monitored. Also, it struck me that the company's computer use policy was a CYA measure. Most of the rules weren't intended to be enforced in general, such as "use of computers on the internet is for company business only." They accepted that people would "surf the net" during or after work hours. What they wanted was a way to say "he/she broke policy on X number of occasions" if reason to terminate ever came up.

That's when I started using PGP. There were actually three reasons. 1) to hide personal emails; 2) to encrypt confidential company information that I frequently sent to my home PC to work on at home; 3) and to prove who I was to others by use of digital signature.

I also started using ZoneAlarm to disallow any spy software, but I never detected any. There is plenty out there for companies to use, though.

griff38
04-08-2003, 02:42 PM
This is an area I have not bothered to inform myself about a great deal. I have a friend who is obsessed with security, she checks my system for me.
But I was interested in that link you provided, according to it I am good to go. But other than theft I am not concerned if people read my e-mail or monitor my website visits.

munik
04-14-2003, 12:28 AM
I've been thinking about this one for a few days, and I've come up with this:

When was your privacy ever assured to you? Or even implied?

I'm not exactly sure if here in the states there are any inalienable rights concerning privacy or not. If there is, please let me know. If not, what expectations of privacy do you have when you use the internet? You own the pc, but that's probaly about it. You don't own the lines you are using, if you use an isp you don't own anything there, you most likely don't own most of the sites you visit, or their servers. So if you are using other peoples stuff so much, why would you expect privacy?

The encryption thing sort of makes sense if your anal about your privacy. But if you're not too worried about that, it's all unnecessary. If I really cared if anyone saw my naked ass, I'd close the blinds before walking by the window. But the only people who'd see it are those who are looking in my window. So, the idea of encryption to hide illicit action sounds like the best motivation. Now that doesn't mean that only criminals need encryption, or those who use it are doing something illegal, it just seems to make sense to me.

The protection of your pc from others attacks is a different matter. I don't see that as anal about privacy, or hiding illegal activities. Just protection. I lock all my doors, all the time. Not 'cause I'm worried about privacy, or because I'm doing something illegal, it's because I don't want anyone screwing with my stuff. It's for protection.

Anyhow, I've rambled on. There's a difference between privacy and security. Sometimes they go hand in hand, but encrypting emails to your buddy is another world compared to blocking open ports on your pc. I don't really think that snooping is illegal, but is accessing someones computer without their permission illegal?

Dagobahn Eagle
04-14-2003, 09:32 AM
1) Do you routinely or occasionally use any cryptographic software to secure files on your hard drive or secure emails to others?
I think Hotmail has something like that.

2) Have you ever had a privacy breach by an ISP, company you work for, government, etc.?
Yes, I went and got prescriptions from a doctor, and somehow some stupid company found out and e-mailed me with a medicine ad. WTF?

3) How do you feel about the increased abilities in both technology and legislation for governments to spy on citizens?
Depends on what they allow and what they don't allow.

4) What other privacy issues exist on the internet that we could discuss here?
Hmmm.... just that everyone can see everything about your comp if they're good enough :). just that there is no privacy.

ShadowTemplar
04-15-2003, 04:52 PM
On the other hand, I'm very quick to make up information when registering for various websites (not LF, though! )

Lol. I've made myself an E-mail account on Hotmail registered to a 'John Doe, Yemen', or some other place in the middle of nowhere, for this exact purpose. If I think that I'll get overspammed, or identified, I'll register as Jhon Doe, Normalroad 1, Antarctica, or Kharn, Road to Damnation 666, Eye of Terror, ect.

But overall, I'm not particularily paranoid regarding web security. My PC is on a network (about half of the time, the other half being spent cursing about its inability to find said network) with web access and firewall and virusscan. But that's about it.

Originally posted by ShockV1.89
Honestly, what could you be doing on your computer that isnt illegal that you need that many security measures?

If I see a computer with 15 different security programs, encryptors, and three firewalls, I think to myself "Hmmm... must be doing something illegal, or very illicit." I'm more likely to want to look.

I see someone who has either: 1) Corporate secrets, 2) No great desire to get overspammed with vira and worms, or 3) Illicit stuff. In that order.

Infact industrial espionage was carried out by the US government against a Swedish company some time ago. It was all over the press, but even if I could find a source, it'd probably be in Danish.

Originally posted by ShockV1.89
If the government wants to scan one in 10 of my emails to see if I'm chatting with Bin Laden, feel free. I have nothing to hide from them, and if it helps them catch the real terrorists, then I'm all for it.

And if they wanted to open one tenth of all your letters?

To answer Munik: Yes, in Denmark at least, it is legally comparable to breaking into his home.

Eagle: Hotmail is a Microsux program. This means that quite a large number of people 'round the globe are doing their level best to find ways to compromise it.

Personally I use www.ofir.dk for real mails, and www.hotmail.com as a spambuffer (reasoning that you'll get overspammed on Hotmail anyway (I just checked my Inbox for the first time since going on vacation: 137 junk-mails. In the same span of time I got 2-3 on Ofir)).