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.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    RikuoAmero (profile), Jan 26th, 2011 @ 2:16pm

    Finally

    Finally there's proof that anyone in politics clearly has multiple personalities, and thus can be locked away in a loonie bin.

     

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    Jon Lawrence (profile), Jan 26th, 2011 @ 2:24pm

    Hilarious!

    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...

     

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    Your Friendly Neighborhood Librarian, Jan 26th, 2011 @ 2:55pm

    doh!

    For better accuracy, you should have written that last sentence as, "But these politicians never actually think".

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2011 @ 3:11pm

    Two different departments pulling for different things. That isn't surprising.

     

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      Hephaestus (profile), Jan 26th, 2011 @ 3:20pm

      Re:

      Yeah, to many hands in the pot with a president beholden to to many corporations. SSDD

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2011 @ 3:35pm

        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.

         

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          Jay (profile), Jan 26th, 2011 @ 3:53pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          The way the Executive branch is run, you would think otherwise.

           

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            Hephaestus (profile), Jan 26th, 2011 @ 5:13pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "The way the Executive branch is run, you would think otherwise."

            How many czars in the past two years? How in the hell did he get funding for them?

             

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              Jay (profile), Jan 26th, 2011 @ 6:13pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: 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
              HAHAHAHAH!!!

              Energy and Environment Czar Carol Browner

              He even has a Climate Czar...

              Full list here But the disclaimer:

              I DO NOT AGREE WITH ANYTHING THAT GLENN BECK SAYS! THIS IS NOT MY POLITICAL VIEW IN ANY WAY WHATSOVER! THIS IS NOT MEANT TO TURN THE THREAD INTO A POLITICAL THREAD IN ANY WAY SHAPE OR FORM. THESE ARE JUST THE FACTS THAT OBAMA HAS APPOINTED 32 CZARS DURING HIS TWO YEARS IN OFFICE!

              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.

               

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    johnny canada, Jan 26th, 2011 @ 3:34pm

    I think the should pass both Bills at the same time.

    Then do a count and see who voted for both.

    Vote for both and out the door they go.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2011 @ 4:22pm

    We need advanced quantum browsing technology in order to simultaneously retain both more and less data than before!

     

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    Revelati, Jan 26th, 2011 @ 4:34pm

    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.

     

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      Not an electronic Rodent, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 1:06am

      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"

       

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    Zero, Jan 26th, 2011 @ 4:59pm

    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.

     

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      Christopher (profile), Jan 26th, 2011 @ 5:40pm

      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.

       

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    TDR, Jan 26th, 2011 @ 5:02pm

    Can we use this to get the federal government to be declared schizophrenic? :p

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2011 @ 6:28pm

    "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.

     

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      David Good (profile), Jan 26th, 2011 @ 11:22pm

      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.

       

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        Ben (profile), Jan 27th, 2011 @ 2:49am

        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.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 4:30am

          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.

           

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    velox (profile), Jan 26th, 2011 @ 6:34pm

    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.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 6th, 2011 @ 7:37am

    This "data retention" thing is so much B.S.. If the RIAA and the MPAA can pursue and catch their quarry without the aid of data rentention laws, you mean to tell me the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT can't do the same?

     

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    Danielle, Nov 10th, 2011 @ 2:31am

    Privacy

    I really don't get why they need to control the data of the internet. Don't think it's fair to the American people to just take away our privacy. By god I think they want to control everything in our daily lives. Not everyone is abusing the internet.

     

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