US Government Pushing Pro And Anti-Privacy Internet Rules At The Same Time

from the figure-this-one-out dept

Ah, the hypocrisy of politicians. We’ve pointed out in the past how often politicians seem to push for data retention laws and privacy laws at the same time, without realizing the two are in fundamental conflict. It looks like the Obama administration is going through a bit of that as well. The FTC has been threatening to force browser makers to include a do not track feature, that would let people surf without having their data retained. And yet… at the same time, the Justice Department is pushing for extensive data retention laws, with the help of the supposed “small government” Congressional reps who don’t even seem to realize what they’re supporting. Even worse, Congress seems so eager to push for a data retention law that some Congressional Reps are apparently annoyed that the Justice Department hasn’t just handed them a bill to approve.

The problem, of course, is that these politicians don’t actually fully understand what the issues are involved here. They’re viewing the issues on a very narrow basis. On the “do not track” issue, they think “privacy is important, of course we support privacy — do not track is important.” On the “data retention” issue, they think “well, law enforcement needs to have access to data to solve crimes, and without requiring internet companies to retain data, then it’ll make law enforcement harder, so of course we need to have data retention.” What they don’t recognize is that these two things are in fundamental conflict with each other. Requiring data retention means less privacy. Period. But these politicians never actually think that far.

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Comments on “US Government Pushing Pro And Anti-Privacy Internet Rules At The Same Time”

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Jon Lawrence (profile) says:


Ask a politician if they want to go UP or DOWN.

The answer you’ll get is a “yes” or a “no.”

Idiots. I’d like to see a new reality show where Senators and Congresspeople have to go work a job that *requires* critical thinking for a week, and watch the hilarity ensure.

Or send them to work at Radio Shack for a week, that might be worth a laugh or two…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

No, more like the reason why we have a national health care program and the republican’ts are busy trying to defund it, because they can’t defeat it.

Everyone makes the wild (and stupid) assumption that the President and his immediate staff are aware of and control everything. It couldn’t be further from the truth.

Jay says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Let’s see…

A former auto czar was accused of bribery (or something like that…)

Espinel is going after regular people with domain names for Hollywood

Drug Czar ? Gil Kerlikowske
Still won’t work to make drugs legal so they can be regulated…

Economic Czar ? Paul Volcker

Energy and Environment Czar ? Carol Browner

He even has a Climate Czar…

Full list here But the disclaimer:


As for funding? Remember, he’s the President. We bend over backwards to make money appear out of thin air and keep our false economy going strong.

Revelati says:

We already have data retention… Google has a giant cache of the internet, mail is left on servers all the time, hard drives are so darn big these days many people hardly bother to delete anything.

Hackers can find dirt on any one at any time, with enough skill and creativity no ones data is safe online. Sounds to me like law enforcement is just being lazy, they don’t just want data retention, they want it sorted and alphabetized. So with the click of a button (forget those silly warrants!) they can see all your online activity.

Not an electronic Rodent says:

Re: Re:

Sounds to me like law enforcement is just being lazy, they don’t just want data retention, they want it sorted and alphabetized

Yes I was thinking the same thing. Am I missing something or can law enforcement not, if there is sufficient suspicion of a crime being committed, go before a judge and get a warrant allowing them to intercept communications? Maybe it’s Hollywood but I’m sure I’ve seen lots of arguments on TV police drama over “wiretap warrants”. Does that not apply to the internet? Seems to me that if there’s a warrant it ought to be simple to trap and retain anything they need and force the ISPs to aid that even above and beyond their normal monitoring and no-one is going to complain. On the other hand, without a warrant…. well I believe that’s what the cop shows refer to as a “fishing expedition”, yes? “Oh just keep everything so we can poke though it and see if there’s anything interesting”

Zero says:

The politicians know exactly what they're doing

It’s all about control. The internet has too much free information flying around for the average joe to read and learn. Plus governments want to start profiling people.

It’ll go through because senators are “paid” to rubber stamp it though. To most people this is unbelievable.

Sorry to burst your bubble.

Christopher (profile) says:

Re: The politicians know exactly what they're doing

Hit the nail on the profiling things. The law enforcement agencies have to create criminals in order to justify themselves and their existence.

That is why we just haven’t legalized the drug trade, pedosexuality, etc….. society needs it’s ‘boogie men’ to allow the LEO’s to justify their existence.

Anonymous Coward says:

“do not track feature”

AFAIK, most browsers already have this. So the government is trying to look useful by making mandatory something that’s practically already been made mandatory by the free market, essentially changing nothing. More political grandstanding and more evidence of the uselessness of our government.

David Good (profile) says:

Re: do not track feature

Most? Really, I am interested in what your definition of “most” is. A quick glance at Wikipedia reveals there are literally dozens of web browsers, and those are just the ones currently available. And what, 7 of them are listed as having “privacy” features? Oh yeah. That is soooo most.

Wait, let’s limit your comment to modern browsers (I’ll be generous). Private browsing wasn’t added to Explorer until IE8, wasn’t in Firefox until 3.5, wasn’t in Chrome until version 4. I don’t want to go into how many people are using mobile browsers (God knows what’s being passed over those connections), or how many people continue to use Opera on their Wii because they have no choice.

Ben (profile) says:

Re: Re: do not track feature

IE, FF and Chrome all support private browsing in their latest incarnations. That’s 85% approximately for people using the most up to date version of their favourite browser.

So ‘most’ of the browsers (greater than 85% by usage) DO support private browsing AS OF TODAY.

No point legislating for things in the past. Waste of taxpayers dollars.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: do not track feature

I guess using the word ‘most’ was sorta a misuse. It doesn’t count the browser that highschool and college students made as a school project in their computer science classes, the ones that no one besides them ever used and they only used it for the purpose of completing an assignment.

By most, I should have specified, most by user, or, rather, most users use browsers that support private browsing. A poor choice of wording on my part, my mistake.

velox says:

The essence of being a politician in a democracy is to be able to say “yes” to as many potential voters as possible.
Of course, you can’t truthfully say yes to everyone. Voters, and particularly the special interests groups who will be paying for your campaigns, have this annoying way of having conflicting interests.
Far too often the plan is: “Tell both of ’em YES” …then let either the courts or the regulators in the executive branch sort out the mess later.

Akuma says:


Not everybody is abusing the internet? No, not everybody, just Microsoft, Apple & Google who want you to use there computers with there “DATA” Retention and there objective idea of how they control the flow of “DATA” and information which is “FREE” in the first place, you cant put a price tag on “DATA” and you can not stick a price tag on “FREE” although Microsoft is trying really hard and failing miserably. Thank you but “no thanks” I’ll pass on your all spying Windows 8.1 with its INTEL Microcode Engine controlling everything including your crypto and will opt straight for a CPU with no bizarre ME engine that wants to turn you into hacker fodder and program in Brainfuck instead!

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