U.S. Government Wants your Internet Data

In case you thought you had any privacy on the Internet:

Gonzales and Mueller asked Google Inc., Time Warner Inc.'s AOL and other companies to preserve the data at a May 26 meeting, citing their value to investigations into child-pornography distribution and terrorism. Internet companies typically keep customer histories for only a few days or weeks.

The Justice Department said Thursday that it was not seeking to have e-mail content archived, just information about the websites people visit and those with whom they correspond.

Note that the Justice Department invoked two of the Four Horsemen of the Internet Apocalypse: child pornographers and terrorists. If they can figure out how to work kidnappers and drug dealers in, they can probably do anything they want.

Posted on June 7, 2006 at 7:24 AM • 64 Comments

Comments

JungsonnJune 7, 2006 7:36 AM

Are you/they suggesting that it is a mere scheme to take control through false ideas? or are there any traces of sincerity in it?

American FalconJune 7, 2006 7:54 AM

The real sick thing with this request is that the feds are requesting that petabytes (if not hexabytes) of data be preserved for upwards of 2 years. Oh, and corporations are supposed to do this out of the goodness of their own hearts - don't expect a penny in fed funding! And don't think this means backup tapes - they want online storage, such as with a SAN.

So, we're talking tens of millions of dollars to get this setup and running. And to service how many requests? And are those requests going to come through the proper legal channels? This administration has already displayed a wanton disregard for laws when it comes to the so-called "war" on terrorism. Seems more like a war on the very foundations of this country - from freedom to privacy to capitalism itself. And now corporations are supposed to join taxpayers in paying for it.

bitprophetJune 7, 2006 7:56 AM

Jungsonn, I suspect it's somewhere in-between, as things usually are. I don't think they think they're acting "evil" and using any means to get what they want, but neither are they perfect angels who are being perfectly upfront with us.

My bet is that, for better or worse, the gov't feels that it needs the ability to mine that data in order to do its job (fight crime), but knows that people won't just hand over their data if they ask politely, so they try to preface everything with "OSAMA BIN DIRECTIN' CHILD PORN" as an excuse.

It's still wrong, of course, and I doubt that everyone in the government is even *that* well-intentioned, but still.

ThomJune 7, 2006 8:10 AM

@Jungson
For most in law enforcement, I'm sure its completely sincere. However, there are reasons we have limitations in the US against unlawful search and seizure. Its meant to curb certain types of corruption within law enforcement. Rampart?

Beyond that... is it worth the intrusion? I don't buy the, "if your innocent, you have nothing to fear", argument. You collect and maintain information for an specific investigation. You don't monitor the 95% of innocent people so that you might possibly have something when the time comes. Or, worse, for "data mining" expeditions to ferret out possible criminals, or individuals that meet some undefined profile of what something thinks a criminal is or would be.

JungsonnJune 7, 2006 8:13 AM

Yeah i hope so. so the man in the middle...

A little offtopic:

I saw on local TV this week a old Russian dude who had written a book about "war on terrorism" He told that terrorism started in Russia. the tsars of Russia all lost the battle on terror, and the tsjars also said: "war on terror" bringing the whole country and the tsars to it's knees.

He ended the interview with wisdom: "Know the history of it"

AGJune 7, 2006 8:15 AM

Frightening... there are SO many parties on the side of this without even knowing it.
More data requires more equipment;
More Switches from Cisco
More Servers from Dell
More Procs from Intel
More Disk from EMC
More Security Experts from the Schneier crew
On and ON

While NOT doing it doesn't spend any money and has no one really interested.

The real motivation is not crime or terror. The real motivation is MONEY.

Historic Example:
LBJ's best friend owned Bell Helicopter. LBJ's wife owned stock in Bell Helicopter.
LBJ buys lots of Helicopters TO FIGHT THE EVIL COMMIE (sorry in caps to show the boggie man of the hour)

Evan MurphyJune 7, 2006 8:32 AM

American Falcon:

"So, we're talking tens of millions of dollars to get this setup and running. And to service how many requests?"

By God, that's right! Now that we've committed our resources^W^W^Wforced everyone else to do our dirty work, it'd just be *criminal* not to use that data to its full extent. We'd better squeeze as much info out of those records, accurate or not.

Keeping those records private isn't security, it's dangerous!

Hmm... where have I heard that before?

Ignorance is Strength
Freedom is Slavery
Security is Danger

Andre LePlumeJune 7, 2006 8:41 AM

There are many things which the business community could do that would help solve crimes.

For example, it could become mandatory to report all thefts from a business, regardless of magnitude, and preserve evidence pertaining to those thefts.

Businesses could be required to submit copies of their employees' travel and attendance records in order to ensure their availability lest an alibi needed checking.

The list goes on and on.

The reason we do not do these things is that they butt up against other values we hold dear, among them the right of privacy.

I'd be interested in hearing the legal theory under which Gonzales and company believe this kind of unprecedented intrusion -- micromanagement really -- of a company's internal business practices is justified. Leaving aside the apparent violation of the rights of natural persons (which is substantial, in my non-lawyerly opinion), this trespassing by a purportedly pro-business government into the private commercial affairs sure looks like a contradiction.

I thought that the decision of whether we in the US wanted an orderly society of a free one had been decided already. I guess 9-11 changed everything.

Brandioch ConnerJune 7, 2006 8:48 AM

My view is that they're flailing. They have no real idea how to deal with the technology today so they are attempting to collect as much "information" about EVERYTHING as they can.

And the easiest way they can get other people to support this drive is to invoke "child pornography".

Fascism starts when the efficiency of the government becomes more important than the rights of the people.

who_is_gonna_help?June 7, 2006 9:06 AM

Once you realize that the hodgepodge of ISP's do have vastly different record retention policies, and no consensus on how to self propose a standard records retention policy, you will see reason for these types of proposals.

The number of sexual assaults against children preceded by internet contact is alarming. You don't need to be a cop to see this. Even local news shows and "Preverted Justice" can set up an operation and identify plenty of offenders to meet kids. How is the Internet community responding to this? Don't ask us to keep records, its too hard.

How many more kids will get abducted, and the digital evidence recovered from the computer is useless because the ISP's don't store records associated with it.

Who is going to take responsibility and accountability on the internet? I'm sure the government will do a poor job, but it has got to be better than the nothing that is happening now.

GlennJune 7, 2006 9:12 AM

Sometimes, in investigating crimes, the (US-based) company I work for has used a search warrant to obtain a name and post office address associated with an IP address. I've been grateful the information was available. For the government to require keeping such records, though, and for the government to include more detailed information in that requirement is a real threat. It would be worth the risk of losing track of a criminal to uphold the right of privacy.

(Why do we in the US hear so little about the 9th and 10th amendments to our constitution, anyway? And did Patrick Henry write "Give me liberty or give me death" or did he write "Keep me 'safe' at any cost"?)

I really appreciate the quality of the remarks people have made in this discussion.

TimHJune 7, 2006 9:13 AM

Here's a suggestion:

Ok, Gov., I grant you permission to ferret around people's internet transactions, phone calls, and fiscal life.

However, you have to:

1. agree to set up a system log and make available for scrutiny every human interaction into the raw data (to reduce abuse by police etc)

2. follow up and prosecute every crime that is uncovered, without exception. To cover up or not disclose evidence would be a crime.

I mind the loss of privacy, but to me the scary part is expecting the authorities to be able to lean on most people at any time by finding the appropriate hot-button dirty laundry to use as a lever. That, to me, is authoritarianism. Insisting that investigation cannot be selective would, I think, kill the whole thing.

BennyJune 7, 2006 9:24 AM

who_is_gonna_help? said:

"The number of sexual assaults against children preceded by internet contact is alarming. You don't need to be a cop to see this. Even local news shows and "Preverted Justice" can set up an operation and identify plenty of offenders to meet kids. How is the Internet community responding to this? Don't ask us to keep records, its too hard."

If local news shows and such can set up operations to identify offenders with such ease, then why don't they do so more often? Or how about having parents take on some of the responsibility and accountability on the internet you spoke of, and teach their children how to use the internet safely instead of letting them roam willy-nilly? These and many other measures would be more effective than internet data retention at stopping child sex crimes and does not endanger our privacy nearly as much.

Dan GochenourJune 7, 2006 9:28 AM

@who_is_gonna_help?

Maybe instead focus on educating the youth of our nation on the dangers of talking and especially meeting with people they do not know. I am sure everyone was taught when they were young not to talk to "strangers" and that probably helped many children avoid abduction in the past.

For instance, the constant bombardment of anti-drug, anti-smoking, etc. information that is readily available has helped youth avoid some bad habits, maybe the information on child-predators should handled the same way?

Everything comes down to educating the public and the children on danger signs or the people to look out for.

Your attitude reminds me of the "blame video games" for school shootings.

INSTEAD MAYBE WE SHOULD BLAME INATTENTIVE PARENTS?

Or even better, let's blame the US government for some more natural disasters, I am sure those SOB's are going to send a tornado my way soon.

Better get back to work while we let the television and other people raise our kids.

JungsonnJune 7, 2006 9:34 AM

I have a terrible time of thinking about these things and making rightfull descisions of what seems right and moral to do, and raises a lot of conflict in my thought i guess.

At the one hand, information should be freely obtainable for everyone. But not personal or private information.

At the other hand, i think there must be a certain level in which they analyse information on internet, just as they do in newspapers, or the real life, where they watching out for anti-democratic thoughts that can be dangerous to a democracy and the people.

This is vital to some degree i think. But not in a way of total control, and the misusage and indepth analysed way of private/personal information.

i once heard some remark:

"First they make you fear the so-called badguys, and then they propose: Hey, give all your private information so we can fight these badguys and protect you from them, you are innocent so you have nothing to hide, or do you?"

This scares me alot, and i think based on the opinions here and my afterthoughts about it, that this is happening?

ShuraJune 7, 2006 9:38 AM

@who_is_gonna_help: You write:

"The number of sexual assaults against children preceded by internet contact is alarming."

Out of curiosity, what *is* the exact number of sexual assaults against children preceded by internet contact? Since you find it so alarming, I'm sure you will have no problems telling us how many cases there are (were) exactly.

Or are you just trying to whip up support for your point of view by rehashing the old "won't somebody please think of the CHILDREN" argument?

AGJune 7, 2006 9:38 AM

You don't let your kid hang out at the grocery store, sidewalk, starbucks, or bar alone.
YET people have no issue leaving their child alone on the Internet.

Parents fault. Watch your kids, educate them, and give them the skills to protect themselves.

Do NOT empower the police.
EMPOWER YOUR CHILDREN.

JungsonnJune 7, 2006 9:49 AM

@Who_is_gonna help:

"Who is going to take responsibility and accountability on the internet? I'm sure the government will do a poor job, but it has got to be better than the nothing that is happening now."

Internet is ofcorse total anarchy.

@AG

"Do NOT empower the police.
EMPOWER YOUR CHILDREN."

I agree that parents should be making issues here, just like they tell there kids not to talk to strangers on the street.

Mike SherwoodJune 7, 2006 10:31 AM

It's completely unreasonable to expect every ISP to be able to keep such a huge volume of information. The additional hardware and personnel costs would drive all but the largest ISP's out of business.

The only reasonable way to do this is to have dedicated lines to feed all of this information into the government computers in real time. That way the storage and maintenance is their problem. What do they care if it costs an extra 500 billion per year to collect and maintain all of this data? They can just raise taxes. It also has the benefit of allowing them to collect and analyze evidence in advance. That makes it much easier to find something to charge someone with when they need to go away.

More information is currently being sold as the solution to all the world's problems. I suspect the truth is that it's causing more problems than it's solving. The information they're going after would be of tremendous value to marketing groups. When you can afford to be wrong most of the time, collecting tons of random information and looking for patterns makes sense.

joeJune 7, 2006 10:31 AM

"watching out for anti-democratic thoughts that can be dangerous to a democracy"...ok, I'm an anarchocapitalist. I think governments are rapidly becoming obsolete, and we can replace them with new social structures that work better and don't rely on force. I think voting is a primitive technology, compared with various market-based schemes. I guess that qualifies as anti-democratic. Should I be muzzled?

AGJune 7, 2006 10:38 AM

@joe
Your not anti-democratic... your vote is a type of currency in the modern world. The voting system does need to be overhauled to reflect the reality that it is a marketplace.

DLLJune 7, 2006 10:50 AM

I attended a law enforcement conference where one of the topics was child enticement. Everyone in attendance agreed on one thing: they had no problem finding people in chat rooms trying to engage kids in "adult" conversations. They do have a problem finding enough hours in the day to follow up on all those leads. More data means more leads that they still won't have the time to follow up on.

Brandioch ConnerJune 7, 2006 10:53 AM

@ Mike Sherwood
"More information is currently being sold as the solution to all the world's problems."

Ah, but that is the problem. It isn't "information". It is "data".

Data that is processed becomes information and information can be used to determine what actions to take/avoid.

The people wanting to collect the data don't know what data is needed ... and how to process it ... to get the information they believe they need. So they want ALL the data. Which leaves them swamped in unrelated and irrelevant facts.

That wouldn't be so bad ... if their process could distinguish between the useless facts and the important facts. But it cannot. So they end up with worthless "information" that wastes time and money when they act upon it.

Arturo QuirantesJune 7, 2006 11:15 AM

I think it's about time US/EU rulers stop this "gimme more data" game, if only because they are fighting a losing battle. It looks like a natural trend for the victors of a war to keep on using the same tactics that brought them victory, even as the new waves of warfare technology sweeps them aside.

In 1870, the Prussians smashed the French in a short blitzkrieg. In 1914, everybody though the new war would be just the same, without realizing that the same technologies that helped an attacker (rapid communications, trains, radio and telegraph, machine guns) also helped a static defense to be built-up.

Then the French won, and built a gigantic rat-hole they called the Maginot line, only to find themselves outdated and outflanked in 1940 by armored divisions and air power, the new waves of mobile warfare.

Then the Allies set up a gigantic network of electronic eyes, cryptographers and sigint that helped them win the war. Of course, they thought the same medicine would win them the next wars. They kept on thinking "the more data the better", which is the reason why they set up the Echelon stuff.

Of course, now the USSR is history, yet they thought the same recipe could be used against the new enemies, be it Al-Qaeda, Internet porn or the evildoer that dares speak against his/her government. Well, it's not so. Tapping into German military or civilian lines war both fair and effective play during WWII, but now it is both unethical (if not outright illegal) and out of proportion.

Yes, they might achieve some results, but as Bruce always makes us think, does it justify the cost? Woud it not be more desirable to spend the money and time into other schemes to beat the bad guys, whoever they are?

Unless, of course, it's not about the fight against the Four Horsemen of Apolcalypse but about people control, in which case cost-effectiveness is no argument. No ruler of any kind has ever thought he's spending too much money trying to bring his own citizens at bay.

Ed T.June 7, 2006 11:17 AM

American Falcon said:

"The real sick thing with this request is that the feds are requesting that petabytes (if not hexabytes) of data be preserved for upwards of 2 years."

Would that make Gonzalez and Mueller 'petaphiles'?

:-)

~EdT.

AnonymousJune 7, 2006 11:22 AM

Who cares whether they are "sincere"?

I have no doubt most of those torturing heretics, Jews, and witches "for the good of their souls" were sincere.

I also have little doubt the current administration, like the previous, is only sincerely interested in their own power.

Bill P.June 7, 2006 11:24 AM

Newtonian response:
1. Too much time and money, for little profit. The US based ISPs should join together and decide to shut down. See how powerful DOJ is against the dollar. With today's Internet based commerce, look for possible economic depression.

2. Connect locally (USA). Tunnel to an overseas site. After being bounced randomly through various servers, connect through to the Internet. The USA ISP may log where you go initally, but not from the overseas site. Email can easily be handled overseas. I'm sure a number of foreign countries would love a piece of this business. Mexico, Venezuela, China, India, possibly?

3. Individuals recognize this as another "smoke screen" and loss of liberty. As ISPs impliment this policy, users drop their service. Hackers find it a challenge. Businesses find an opportunity, circumventing the intrusion (maybe a multi-tiered Internet?). The governmet tries again. The whole thing becomes another "cat and mouse" game just like police radar and radar detectors.

Opinion - Look up the definition of terroism. Who is using terror or the threat of terror for political change?

Ed T.June 7, 2006 11:26 AM

@various commentors regarding 'protecting the children':

OK, I'll admit I probably don't fit in to the 99.999% people who have children and Internet connections, but I had three simple rules concerning my son's Internet use:

1) Everything he did was logged.
2) I read the logs.
3) Anything I found that I didn't liked, we talked over - with his mother present.

You could have counted on *one finger* the number of times Rule #3 was invoked.

He is now an adult, and I don't monitor his Internet usage. But, he still remembers - and I think his browser cache is about as clean as they come (I do have to do support things on his PC sometimes, so I have peeked - always with him present.)

~EdT.

don't tread on meJune 7, 2006 11:26 AM

From the article: "The Justice Department said Thursday that it was not seeking to have e-mail content archived, just information about the websites people visit and those with whom they correspond."

As if that were reasonable? In America??
This is just unbelievable.

KaaJune 7, 2006 11:44 AM

"I had three simple rules concerning my son's Internet use:

1) Everything he did was logged.
2) I read the logs.
3) Anything I found that I didn't liked, we talked over - with his mother present."

LOL. I had one simple rule concerning my son's and daughter's Internet use -- they can do whatever they want. They had full 'net access from their own rooms since they were 11 and 9 respectively.

They've grown up to be smart and well-adjusted :-)

Kaa

SpookJune 7, 2006 11:53 AM

I propose that we form a corps of "watchers". Say about 5000 18-24 year old single men. We lock them up in a compound and air drop supplies to them. We give each one a computer and funnel all of the worlds information to them...in real time. They will monitor and report and mine and etc all of this data/information. Then they send out reports of what is criminal for the outside world to take action on. These reports go to everyone.

To keep em honest I suggest that they have a strict ruleset and ethics guide. Any transgressions get the offender immiediatly executed.

And who watches the "watchers" you ask....

RvnPhnxJune 7, 2006 12:44 PM

Ok, all voodoo talk aside, this looks like an attempt at subverting the 4th amendment.
1: Gov't gets the notion that somebody has been doing something illegal on the 'net.
2: Gov't asks for log files using warrant, possibly gets information from the past--or even worse constructs a warrant asking for log files ex pre facto to the actual request.
3: Gov't prosecutes somebody for something which happened PRIOR to the surveillance being authorized.
In theory, this opens up the possibility of ex post facto justification for obtaining data pursuant to a warrant. This should, according to what we're all taught in high school civics be illegal, but it isn't due to some legal mumbo-jumbo that I haven't taken the time to understand.
I really trust these folk, I swear.......

SuggestibleJune 7, 2006 12:44 PM

@EdT

>1) Everything he did was logged.
>2) I read the logs.
>3) Anything I found that I didn't liked, we talked over - with his mother present.

Interesting. That's roughly what the gov't is proposing:

1) Every site you visit is logged (by the ISP).
2) All the logs are read (by the gov't).
3) Anything they find that they don't like, they talk over with you - at the police station, with the prosecutor present.

I'm not suggesting that your strategy isn't appropriate for dealing with children in a family setting. It may well be.

What I'm suggesting is that trying to apply the same strategy using legal powers at a national scale is completely different.

Some things don't scale.

dimitrisJune 7, 2006 12:55 PM

who_is_gonna_troll:

You have to "right to Internet connectivity".

Worried about Internet predators vs. your kids? Unplug the DSL modem. There, all done.

If that doesn't work, try one of these:

http://www.google.com/search?...

They may be more amenable to tracking.

No need to bug everyone else.

IgorJune 7, 2006 12:56 PM

From the article:
In an April speech at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Alexandria, Va., Gonzales said the reluctance of service providers to keep records longer "has hampered our
ability to conduct investigations in this area."

That sounds like the old 'won't you think of the children' argument presented earlier. I really hope ISPs don't fall for this nonsense, since it is only another excuse to legitimize data
retension and possible real-time traffic analysis. Too many abductions going on? If many parents would stop being dumbasses and letting the TV and the 'net' raise their kids, we wouldn't have
this problem now would we? This is just another case of more personal fuckups being blamed on the government's so-called failure to do their job properly. And as a so-called 'servant of the
people', they go right along with it. Unfortunately, this administration doesn't seem to know where the borderline between law enforcement and privacy is.

The Justice Department said Thursday that it was not interested in reading the e-mails of ordinary Americans.

Really...Does anyone believe this bullshit? Given the current track record of this administration in general, I would say they are apt to use and abuse this data however they see fit; anything
from selling it to data agrigators for cash, or perhaps an excuse to lock up an individual who is speaking out against them? The possibilities are endless. Oh and what is their definition of
'ordinary'? I wonder...

"The Justice Department
is discussing requiring records for chat, e-mail, and Web surfing -- that's billions of encounters per day."

I think that sounds like a contradiction. They don't want to read the e-mail of so-called 'ordinary Americans', yet they still want to collect those messages? I think it is safe to say that
someone will secretly read the content, even though they will outwardly say that they are not.

Ford DenisonJune 7, 2006 12:57 PM

TimH,

I think your approach is worth pursuing. I would add the requirement for a warrant for every search of the databases. You want an alert whenever someone who didn't report any farm income last year buys a large quanitity of ammonium nitrate? OK. But then you have to follow up on all of them, not just the Muslims. All searches are automatically released to the press in 30 days (enough time to act on imminent threats) and no searches within 35 days of a national election, so you can't look for embarassing info on opposition candidates.

another_bruceJune 7, 2006 1:20 PM

if my isp is gonna store my records for two years, heck, i'll just get a screensaver that surfs randomly when i'm idle, chaffs those data warehouses, hoooo-weeeee, store **this**!

Nick LancasterJune 7, 2006 1:24 PM


Forget the 4th Amendment.

The Bush Administration has reserved the right to violate any and all laws, bypass oversight by Congress and the Judiciary ('specially those durned Activist Judges), based solely on the President's perception that it is necessary to fight terrorism.

This is a man who had several companies sink under his leadership. A man who owned the baseball team that traded away Sammy Sosa.

It's easy to be The Decider when you don't allow others to criticize you.

JungsonnJune 7, 2006 2:52 PM

Incredible how that bush dude is ever chosen... He's such a dude who thinks that a million monkeys on a million typewriters, write out a clever idea in a million years, and even is incapable of formulating his ideas on worldwide T.V. Man... everytime i seem him here on my tube, i wonder who is whispering him those weird statements in his ears.

@ another _bruce

I gonna get such screensaver :)

David ConradJune 7, 2006 3:20 PM

"If they can figure out how to work kidnappers and drug dealers in...."

As I recall, the original four horsemen of the infocalypse had money launderers rather than kidnappers, but with kidnapping having become such a big business in several places in the world, I guess they've been promoted to the majors.

Collecting data about the websites people visit and those with whom they correspond is beyond outrageous. We should demand that they immediately change their name to the Injustice Department.

derfJune 7, 2006 3:43 PM

You will probably want to run a Tor server as well as use the client. That way you can have "plausible deniability" and seriously inflate any logs kept on you.

JakeSJune 7, 2006 3:55 PM

Anti-surveillance techniques must be in Terrorist 101 by now (at those training camps in Whatsistan):  any half-trained terrorist surely knows that the NSA is watching for him and knows to avoid identifiably suspicious behaviour on the Web.  So tracking Americans' Internet use won't catch the most dangerous terrorists, only nutters like the ones in the study of assassins that Bruce mentioned today.

Child porn fans must also know that law enforcement is after them and that they have to cover their tracks.  So tracking Americans' Internet use won't catch the clever child abusers, either, only the dumb ones.

The Justice Department must know this.  So we're down to the secondary uses:  leaking information to discredit political opponents, fishing expeditions for the "I've gotta pin something on him!" cases, and so on.  Is it really worth it?

MSJune 7, 2006 9:08 PM

The words of Senator Frank Church, chairman of the 1975 Senate Intelligence committee investigating the abuses of the FBI and others, referring to the NSA's signals intelligence (SIGINT) technology seem prescient...

"At the same time, that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter. There would be no place to hide. If the government ever became a tyranny, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back, because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology...

I don't want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return."


Which is more important? that a handful - a few hundred, a thousand or two - kids not suffer what we all agree is a very unpleasant experience, or that in trying to protect this tiny number, that we destroy for them and for a *HUNDRED MILLION OR MORE* other kids, the single most valuable thing they have: our common inheritance, that shining jewel, that glorious gift from our forefathers that is liberty?

TankJune 8, 2006 12:09 AM

Quote: "If the government ever became a tyranny, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back, because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology..."

And if monkeys ever took over a nuclear superpower they would be monkeys with nukes and there would be no place to hide etc etc.

That isn't an arguement for getting rid of the things they can abuse when in power it is an arguement for not letting them in power in the first place.

Yet in terms of voter turnout Iraq gives the US a run for it's money even when contending with the very real threat of death just for walking the streets.

WTF you care if your search history is recorded somewhere if you (or the small percentage of your neighbours that survive the initial exchange) are at war with China for the next 200 years because you elected someone too stupid to avoid it ?

TankJune 8, 2006 12:13 AM

BTW Bruce, is there some inherent security risk in regard to allowing basic formatting tags in comments ? Is this the 5th Horseman of the Internet Apocalypse you mentioned or is there no real reason this is unavailable ?

NocturnJune 8, 2006 1:56 AM

@who_is_gonna_help

"Once you realize that the hodgepodge of ISP's do have vastly different record retention policies, and no consensus on how to self propose a standard records retention policy, you will see reason for these types of proposals."


I realise just that and I still do not see a good reason for such proposals.
If you think this is a good idea, then you should also think of forcing owners of private surveilance camera's to retain their tapes for a standard period, or companies to retain timetracking records.

"The number of sexual assaults against children preceded by internet contact is alarming. You don't need to be a cop to see this. Even local news shows and "Preverted Justice" can set up an operation and identify plenty of offenders to meet kids. How is the Internet community responding to this? Don't ask us to keep records, its too hard."


Yes, it may be alarming. But then again, I do not have the numbers on this. The number of children that get contacted near playgrounds may even be more alarming, so should we advocate placing camera's arround all these places and have police do random searches and detentions in those areas?

The point is that this proposal is targetting data about tens of millions of people, of which maybe hundreds at worst may have done something wrong.

"How many more kids will get abducted, and the digital evidence recovered from the computer is useless because the ISP's don't store records associated with it."


How much more privacy do people have to give up to feel a little safer? Why not accept the notion of 1984 to place a camera in each and every home, looking in 24 hours a day? If you have nothing to hide, why would you object, it seems the new credo?

It's ironic that Benjamin Franklin already warned against this with his now famous quote:
'Those that give up essential liberty for a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty or safety.'

"Who is going to take responsibility and accountability on the internet? I'm sure the government will do a poor job, but it has got to be better than the nothing that is happening now."


Oh, they will do a 'good' job with it, shipping people to Guantanamo bay that leak government information about illegal operations or maybe in a few year, having a progressive idea might even be enough (or just being Homosexual, which the current administration doesn't seem to like either).
We are talking about handing the Bush administration data about millions on millions of innocent people, about who they talk too and what sites they visit.

I agree with Bruce's assertion to never give a government any power that you wouldn't want the worst candidate you can imagine to have, in this case we are already talking about my worst candidate.

TarkeelJune 8, 2006 6:48 AM

The most worrying part of the "if you have nothing to hide" argument for me is that it assumes that everybody who has ever been convicted (not to say executed) in the US was guilty of their crime. It isn't exactly hard to find cases of wrongful conviction.

Jim HyslopJune 8, 2006 8:58 AM

OK, here's some food for thought. By now most of you have probably heard about the 17 people arrested in Toronto for allegedly planning terrorist activities. According to some reports, the alleged terrorists were arranging to buy three times the amount of ammonium nitrate used in the Oklahoma City bombing, and were planning to blow up the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) building.

As I understand it, the investigation started off because someone (I don't know who or how) noticed that two teenagers were spending a lot of time visiting extremist sites.

I really don't know what to think of Bush's proposal. I am scared of the privacy issues, and the potential for abusing the system, but on the other hand I frequently am in downtown Toronto, near the TSX building. My wife works about half a mile away.

It's easy for us to say "give me liberty or give me death" when there's no tangible threat to your life. Suddenly I have a whole new perspective on those words.

John R CampbellJune 8, 2006 3:39 PM

@another_bruce:

Y'know, the random site-polling screen-saver would be an entertaining idea (maybe running wget in background) but I wonder, given the other thread about "lying to government agents" that, perhaps, our efforts to generate as many extra false positives (like our efforts to do so will ever manage to sneak above statistical noise) might fall afoul of such regulations.

Consider the idea of using various keywords in a phone conversation in order to waste time and storage when it get's saved for further analysis, all in an effort to puff up the false positives. At some point, I imagine that we may not be allowed to use the words "bomb" or "shoot" and "president" on the phone... just like you can use words like "bomb", "shoot" or "hi, Jack!" in an airport.

I am concerned that we are moving in that kind of direction.

"If you're not a terrorist, don't use those words in e-mails, UseNet postings _or_ on the phone. If you use those words and waste our time, you must _be_ a terrorist sympathizer."

Yeah, I'm extrapolating a bit far but it doesn't sound as insanely impossible to me now that I re-read it.

NocturnJune 9, 2006 2:32 AM

"It's easy for us to say "give me liberty or give me death" when there's no tangible threat to your life. Suddenly I have a whole new perspective on those words."

This phrase is misleading to say the best.

It's not liberty or death, it is liberty and *maybe* an increased chance of death.

For my job, I'm frequently in government buildings (not US).
A year or so ago there was a bomb threat in one of the places I regularly visit.

Does this scare me? Hell yes. I have a wife and a son.
Does this make me think that my government may pry into my personal life, including internet activities and phone calls? Hell no! I have a wife and a son!

HexJune 9, 2006 6:18 AM

U.S. Goverenment wants data.
Then lets send them it, all of it I'm pretty sure we could DDoS them. Lets give them a bigger haystack to find their needles in.

dogbreathJune 9, 2006 10:27 AM

please remember the internet is public, so there can be no privacy. just like a public road. if THEY want to put up a camera it is the right we gave them to protect us.

another_bruceJune 9, 2006 12:05 PM

@john r. campbell:
when robosurfing screensavers are outlawed, only outlaws will have robosurfing screensavers. until then, imagine all the extra infrastructure needed to accommodate this traffic, i think i can sell the idea to cisco.
your apprehension that certain words will be prohibited in phone conversations reminded me of an old firesign theater skit where a cop says "and when they say 'bernice', they really mean 'cocaine'."

An ominous cowardJune 9, 2006 1:12 PM

One of the people at one of the meeting said Gonzalez tried to soften everyone up by starting with a slide show of child pornography.

In other words he revictimized the children he's pretending to protect.

Y'all might want to check with your Congressmen about whether that was even legal: he wasn't carrying that stash around as part of a prosecution or investigation. Time for impeachment hearings.

jadaJuly 17, 2006 8:57 AM

How could any judge let a molester walk ,and then go home and enjoy an evening with his own children?

jadaJuly 17, 2006 9:02 AM

PERHAPS ITS TIME TO STOP SLAPPING HANDS AND START CATHERIZING! THE GOVERNMENT NEEDS CHANGE. OPEN YOUR EYES PEOPLE!

Bruce SchneierJuly 17, 2006 10:59 AM

"How could any judge let a molester walk ,and then go home and enjoy an evening with his own children?"

At a guess, it's because the judge believes that there are some things more important than locking up a molester. Certainly locking up a molester is important, but I don't think that it's the most important thing in the known universe.

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