Why Aren't People Complaining About New Data Retention Plans?

from the the-child-porn-label-gets-everyone-to-shut-up dept

It really was just a few months ago that plenty of people were up in arms over the fact that the US government requested some data from Google to aid the government’s position in a court case that had nothing to do with Google. People wrote eloquently to talk about the importance of privacy for internet surfers. However, just a few months later, as the government considers mandating that ISPs retain all data for a period of time so the government can snoop through it… and no one seems to blink. This is making a few people note the totally opposite reactions, and point out that the reason appears to be the insistence from our government officials that the new data retention laws are to help stop child porn… and no one wants to be seen as being in favor of that (with good reason). Still, is it worse that the government has access to all of your surfing records, or just a few searches that you’ve done at Google? Meanwhile, of course, we’ve covered in the past why data retention doesn’t help (it makes investigators waste a lot of time while burying the important material), but that won’t stop some politicians from pushing forward with the law anyway, in a misguided attempt to look “tough” on the issue.

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Comments on “Why Aren't People Complaining About New Data Retention Plans?”

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Wolfger (profile) says:

Re: You know..

Child porn and terrorism replaced drugs, since government realized that not enough people really believe drugs are evil (or care). Of course, terrorism is well on its way to overuse, with kids in high school being charged with terrorism for doing the sort of things kids in high school have done since my dad was that young (and I’m old enough to have kids of my own). Child porn will be going long and strong for quite some time, though, since we are such a sex-negative society to begin with. Never mind the fact that some child porn is nothing more than two legally consenting teens videotaping themselves in an otherwise legal act. That sort of thing *obviously* leads to men molesting 5 year old, doncha know?

DreadedOne509 says:

Data Retention And You

If the Congress could word the new bill in such a way as to protect the average citizens privacy while still allowing it to target terrorism and child abuse I’m all for it. But just like the Patriot Act, they will end up being heavy-handed and strip away our basic rights and freedoms at the stroke of a pen all in the name of what they are taking away from us.

They use buzz words like “terrorism” and “child porn” to swipe away opposition all the while they really don’t care. Another example of wasted effort and our tax dollars. Education is what we need in this country, and the ability to hold those responsible for their own actions. Until then it will be one BS law after the other to make it look like our elected offcials are doing something for us.

doubleh says:

When people will realize

Should this get passed and implemented.. people will start to take note as thier ISPs start recouping the ridiculous cost of this by raising thier rates significantly.. Its useless and stupid.. Anyone know who the sponsors are? And more importantly.. who are thier biggest contributors..? EMC? SeaGate? NAS companies? pathetic..

glt says:

Over the last few years, I’ve written letters (on paper), called my representatives and otherwise tried to let people in power know of my concerns about a number of things.

Almost invariably the answer is “You’re wrong and I’m not going to change my mind.”

Often it is suggested that I work for a candidate (or perhaps against an incumbent) in the hopes that my time and effort will make a difference – but when I talk to people I might want to work for, it always seems that the political powers don’t want to hear about “niche” concerns. So I’m not sure I see why supporting someone who already wants things to remain the same is really a fruitful mechanism to achieve change. Without millions to spend, I don’t see that I can make much of a change – perhaps non-involvement is not the safest course of action, but it sometimes feels like the sanest.

Larry says:

Data Retention?

Who’s going to foot the bill? We could all say “What diffrence does it make I’ve nothing to hide” The problem with that statement is that one day we may be under the auspices of a no-so people friendly type of goverment. Read Plato and see how easy it is for a democracy to decay into a dictatorship. Look what happened to germany in the 1930’s. How would you feel if a Hitler like president had access to all your personal data?

I'm a peasant-wouldn't u like to be a peasant too? says:

Typical behavior of politicians

Has anyone figured out yet that we have more in common with medieval peasants than we cureently acknowledge?

Peasant uprisings occur when the balance of exploitative power is tipped far beyond the supposed safety/security benefit to the peasant.

Every attempt to remove our freedoms is simply insurance by the power-elite against any possible revolt. For example, we have freedom of speech. If the elite can make that freedom to costly for us to avail ourselves of, we won’t use it, thus securing their power base.

Like glt, I’ve written letters, made phone calls, even got elected to local political office. Seeing it from the inside, even on a small scale, painted the “us & them” picture for me.

Thanks to years of judicial activism and self-serving congressional re-writes, the once-great Constitution of the United States of America is nothing but toilet tissue.


Ronald (user link) says:

Europe is way ahead of ya

Oh, they’re starting talks about this in US now as well? We in Europe failed to stop directive 2005/0182 (COD), or whatever it’s name is…

This Directive puts a legal framework in place obliging all member states to put a retention policy in effect on all connection data for the past (IIRC) 18 months.

Check it out, it’s a real mindblower. It should be about terrorism, but the way I see it, practically anything could fall under it’s jurisdiction.

Turns out Big Brother was a wussy after all…

Jesse says:

Forget Hitler, you have Bush to worry about

What happened to checks and balances? A democratic government with complete control is not democratic. This proposal cannot pass.

One reader asks, “Would you want Hitler having access to all your personal data?” But I ask, would you want Bush having that same information? He’s has already demonstrated his lack of respect for the judicial process in the NSA wiretapping incidents. Even if there were laws to protect the information held by ISPs from unwarranted search, who is to say our political leaders would obey those laws?

RareButSeriousSideEffects says:

So start taking action to ensure your own privacy.

…and while you’re at it, do the world a favor & teach some noob a bit about the why’s & how’s of privacy, encryption and anonymization. One potential way to stem the tide of increasing privacy invasion is by promoting good privacy habits (i.e. using encryption & anonymizing tools by default).

Popularizing the usage of nontrivial security & privacy tools & making this into a widespread / majority practice achieves 2 objectives:

(a) If a large fraction of internet data is unreadable without very costly decryption efforts, then privacy incursions are much less useful on any large scale;

(b) – and this is probably more important – Sadly, if the personal, private use of encryption and anonymization were outlawed today, about 4 people would march in protest. By convincing the unconcerned & uninformed to start caring – and to start taking precautions – you give them a vested interest to protect. The NRA would likely not be what it is today if it weren’t for people afraid of losing a right they already exercise; let’s take a lesson from ’em.

What’s really needed is an extremely dumbed down, highly inclusive suite of privacy tools that does most of the work for Joe & Jane 6-pack. Meanwhile, the following are good utilities that more experienced users can help the less informed with; install them for folks, and teach them how (and WHY) to use them; it may be your own privacy that you’re helping to secure:

Tor : An anonymous Internet communication system:


True Crypt secure virtual disk driver:


Portable apps…

All the things you use most often, just more secure

(in conjunction with TrueCrypt):


Z-Phone: Secure voip


If we do the above conscientiously, and if we keep abreast of the potential loss of control & privacy that new laws & technologies (e.g. DRM, HDCP, Trusted Computing, DMCA. etc.) can pose to us, and if we put little tidbits of that information in a nutshell for others on a regular basis, we may just create enough momentum to move things back towards sanity.

RareButSeriousSideEffects says:

Re: Re: The root of the matter is the legal system

I hear you on that, and I agree that the legal system is the root (or I’d say the *conduit*) for what’s happening here.

Right now though, our side’s voice isn’t loud enough to compete with all the high-profile causes on the political action front. Changing that is the primary motivation behind the “secure yourself & educate the next guy” strategy.

And you’re right… crypto isn’t safe from malicious legislators right now. But if we can bring about a culture where honest people — the ones who “have nothing to hide” — are more likely than not to use crypto, it’s going to be much harder for the other side to put the toothpaste back in the tube.

Maybe those who “have nothing to hide” are comfortable posting their bank & credit card information on a public website, or letting random strangers remotely view the entire contents of their home PC. And maybe they wouldn’t mind if on her next visit, Cousin Selma used the house PC and accidentally found a copy of all the juicy gossip a certain someone wrote about her & Aunt Beatrice a while back. Hey, perhaps they’re even cool with having the “powers that be” (you know, the ones up above them on the org chart at work) know their login & password on Monster or Yahoo Jobs – and what’s more, know all their blog & journal pseudonyms where they vent about how badly their job sucks.

After all, they have nothing to hide.

Honest people with nothing to hide have plenty to hide — with legitimate & honorable reasons too. They just need to understand that, which means providing them with examples that hit them where they live.

Know anyone who’s been phished? Imagine: Phishing could be a moot endeavor, much less likely to pay off – if electronic transactions were predominantly executed using a four-way hash of the sender’s & recipient’s secret keys – both a personal AND an account key for each party, none of which could be had by cracking into the financial institution’s website.

Know any victims of identity theft? Help them imagine a distributed network of open-source, community & volunteer run “check my ID” web services — kind of like a “Do not call” registry, applied as a “Do not open accounts in my name” registry. Help them imagine an Identity Theft Prevention Act which guaranteed that credit accounts opened in the name of anyone registered with such a service could not legally be associated with them for financial responsibility or credit reporting purposes without having been validated with their nearly-impossible-to-forge digital signature. Help them imagine their identifying info being held in a lock box that only they held the key to, so that nobody, not even the hosting website’s programmers & admins, could view it.

All this and more is possible right now, with today’s cryptographic security. Most people just have no idea what can be done with this. So someone’s gotta tell ’em.

Bob next door doesn’t need to know how to pronounce Rijndael, nor know what RSA stands for, nor know what the hell asymmetric means. (My own downfall is putting Bob to sleep in my zeal to explain all that. Honestly, he could give a crap and there’s nothing I can do to change that. 😉 But that’s okay, ’cause really, all he needs to get his mind around is the concept of people having electronic “lock boxes,” where you need one key to put stuff in & another to get stuff out. It’s not quite accurate, but it’ll do for Bob.

Sally doesn’t need to get what makes crypto signatures work, so long as she can understand something akin to having a digital thumbprint that’s written in invisible ink, or that’s concealed with a secret code that’s unique for every document or message in the universe. If she gets that any third party can tell if she really signed it, but cannot duplicate the signature even though it’s there in plain sight, that’s good enough for now.

I’m sure others can easily best me in the sloppy-but-useful metaphor department, so have at it. How would you get a newbie to trust digital signatures as strong proof of the origin of things, or illustrate the benefits of using them? How would you sell Uncle Ernie on dealing with that extra click or two to make sure only Aunt Emma could read what he was writing?

I for one will rest easier when it’s safe to assume you can send anyone an asymmetrically secured email — without having to explain how to read it, how to verify that it isn’t forged, or how to see if it’s been tampered with in transmission. In a culture where such is commonplace, it would be suicide for a politician or agency to try to take out crypto. In a society where people count on electronic keys to keep snoops & crooks out of their important stuff, it’ll really come across as shady for some official to claim that the gov’t ought to have a copy of everyone’s keys. In that world, my ISP can accumulate whatever bits & bytes they’re told to waste their storage on; 7 years worth of routing history and transmitted packets won’t compromise my privacy. If the government has reason to suspect me of unlawful activity, they can still obtain a warrant for the relevant search space. But neither they nor anyone else can sift my private data without my knowlege & consent, and insofar as I have “nothing to hide,” I’m fine with that and I think it’s a pretty good balance. For Americans, this might even sound vaguely like some stuff the founding fathers talked about.

When things like the above come to pass, the collective voice of privacy advocates just *might* have risen to a suitably audible level in Washington. Who knows, maybe someday we can even think about making *forward progress* on electronic freedom, instead of feeling like we’re always doing triage, picking our battles & trying to prevent the most grevious wounds to our rights of privacy and free speech. Hell, let’s even dream really big & let’s look forward to a really decisive victory: Imagine being in control of our music players & TV sets again!

But it all starts with Uncle Ernie, and that dweeb two cubes down from you.

Just be Smart and it wont matter says:

If you cant read my IP address then all is mute

All this is really crappy I completly agree but what the fat heads on the hill dont recongize is that we know more than they do about computers and the internet. When I surf from home not even my ISP can see what my IP address is. There are lots of programs out there that ghost your IP address making all these data mining laws obselete already.

Cant catch me im the ginger bread man!!!

Scott Brison (user link) says:

The root of the matter is the legal system by Rare

In a society where people count on electronic keys to keep snoops & crooks out of their important stuff, it’ll really come across as shady for some official to claim that the gov’t ought to have a copy of everyone’s keys. In that world, my ISP can accumulate whatever bits & bytes they’re told to waste their storage on; 7 years worth of routing history and transmitted packets won’t compromise my privacy. If the government has reason to suspect me of unlawful activity, they can still obtain a warrant for the relevant search space.

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