Kaspersky Publishes (Then Deletes) Article Claiming 'If You're Doing Nothing Wrong, You Have Nothing To Hide'

from the wait,-what? dept

Kaspersky Lab, the internet security/anti-virus company published a somewhat bizarre article a little while ago, entitled "Why we should not be afraid of being watched while online." The text is no longer there, because it's been replaced by:
The content of this article was actually a draft of the column by an independent author. It was published accidentally, and Kaspersky Lab do apologize for misunderstanding.

Author’s views do not reflect the official position of Kaspersky Lab on the subject of privacy
At least at the time I'm writing this, you can still see the full text via Google's cache, though that may go away soon. The really ridiculous part is actually the final paragraph. The main part of the article lists out five areas where there are benefits to sharing your info (more on that in a second) and then it comes to this ridiculous conclusion:
Apart from these five reasons, there are many more why you shouldn’t be paranoid and try to conceal your location while online. Remember if you’re doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide. There is almost to zero chance that you would be of interest to any secret service on the planet. The only nuisance to you will be advertisement robots – and there are more effective tools against them than online anonymity.
The whole "doing nothing wrong, got nothing to hide" argument is so stupid and so widely debunked that anyone uttering that phrase automatically loses pretty much all credibility. Similarly, the "there's almost no chance that you would be of interest" to any intelligence service is similarly stupid. First of all, that's only true until it's not true, and then it's a bit too late. And even if 99% of people aren't of interest, shouldn't we be concerned about the 1% of people whose rights and privacy are abused? As the supposed quote from Cardinal Richelieu goes: "give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him." There's always a way to twist purely innocent things into looking nefarious if you want to. We should all be concerned about the power to abuse someone's privacy.

Eugene Kaspersky has distanced himself from the article, stating that "privacy is a precious thing that people should protect no matter what. Sometimes the columnists don't reflect our opinion." Still, the fact that it was published (even if accidentally) on the Kaspersky website is bizarre.

As for the main part of the article, it's actually not that crazy, but whoever wrote it gets the exact wrong lesson out of his or her own writing. The article highlights five areas where it is, in fact, potentially useful to share some information -- such as doing local searches or being able to track your route. And, indeed, these are useful cases in which people very frequently find the value of sharing some information (such as location) with a third party service, in exchange for some benefit.

But the key issue here, which is totally ignored by that final paragraph, is that these decisions -- including the benefits and costs -- should be transparent, clear and optional. When an individual makes the decision to share information in such a manner, it should be their decision, well aware of what they're sharing, why and what benefits there are with it. The concern that most people have is how these things are done in a sneaky fashion, with no transparency, and often for little or no benefit. To put a blanket "eh, don't worry about it" because of some usefulness in some cases and then ignoring the abuses by saying "eh, probably won't happen to you because no one's that interested in you" is ignorant in the extreme.

Either way, it seems flat out ridiculous that an internet security company would publish an article. I could see it as a silly Slate pitch or something, but on a security company's website? As Aral Balkan joked, next on Kaspersky's website, perhaps we'll see an article on "viruses aren't that bad... why can't we all just get along?"

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 29th, 2014 @ 1:36pm

    "There is almost to zero chance that you would be of interest to any secret service on the planet."

    There is almost to zero chance that you would be of interest to any stalker, ex-lover, ex-spouse, rapist, pedophile, kidnapper, extortionist, burglar, blackmailer, psychopath, wacko, spammer, gang member, drug dealer, racist, bigot, or serial killer on the planet.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 29th, 2014 @ 1:43pm

    If Kaspersky Lab has done nothing wrong it should have nothing to hide by publishing the article!

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 29th, 2014 @ 2:02pm

    Such a stupid article to even attempt to publish in general when a simple google search shows 200,000+ times that strawman argument should be burned in effigy with specific examples of how much of a fallacy it is.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 29th, 2014 @ 2:07pm

    People on social media have been robbed,
    cos they post i,m going on holidays for 2 weeks,
    not all sharing is good.
    eg my house will be empty for 2 weeks.
    ITS easy to look up someones adress on certain websites,
    or public records.
    Once info is given out,you can,t take it back.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 29th, 2014 @ 2:11pm

    Online ID needed to verify people, says Kaspersky founder.

    “We were talking about that 10 years ago and almost nothing has happened," Eugene Kaspersky said. "Sooner or later we will have one. I am also talking about Internet passports and having an online ID. Some countries are introducing this idea, so maybe in 15 years we will all have it.”

    -Eugene Kaspersky

    Eugene Kaspersky has already stated he's in favor of government issued "online IDs".

    https://www.computerworld.com.au/article/386790/auscert_2011_eugene_kaspersky_calls_internet_in terpol_/

    Kaspersky stating that, "Sometimes the columnists don't reflect our opinion." is misleading. Perhaps sometimes this is the case, but not this time.

     

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  •  
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    Roger Strong (profile), Aug 29th, 2014 @ 2:12pm

    My company has much the same debate. Not just on whether retracted information should be hidden, but whether even minimal personal information like last names should be shown on our web site. Some want the information out in the open; others want it hidden.

    My compromise solution of formatting the information with a blink tag was rejected without, I thought, due consideration.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Zonker, Aug 29th, 2014 @ 2:15pm

    "There is almost to zero chance that you would be of interest to any secret service on the planet."
    Then why are they collecting my metadata?

     

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  •  
    identicon
    bshock, Aug 29th, 2014 @ 2:40pm

    boring and terrifying at once

    Whenever someone is monumentally stupid enough -- or intellectually dishonest enough -- to pull the old line that "if you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide," there's only one thing I can say to him:

    Show me your credit card numbers and expiration dates. Right now.

     

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    •  
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      That One Guy (profile), Aug 29th, 2014 @ 3:55pm

      Re: boring and terrifying at once

      I'd go a little farther, and also demand email address and password as well, and if they object, 'What are you objecting to, it's not like you have anything to hide, right? I just want to look around, I promise I won't do anything with any sensitive information I find, really.'

       

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  •  
    identicon
    zip, Aug 29th, 2014 @ 3:03pm

    cold-war tactics?

    Since Kaspersky is a Russia-based company, I've got to wonder how long it will be before the company gets demonized in the West -- or perhaps banned outright?

    It seems all Russian companies are increasingly facing that prospect, as the Obama government takes the country down the path toward another Cold War. (Google's founders were obviously smart to jump ship when they did)

     

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    •  
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      Adaline (profile), Aug 30th, 2014 @ 2:42am

      Re: cold-war tactics?

      I've got two concerns:

      1) What are the odds this won't be applauded? "See, even one of the biggest security companies agrees with us until its opinion got shouted down by those twenty-something-in-their-mom's-basement hippie terrorist appeasers!"

      2) If 1 is true, or even if it isn't, what are the odds this is indicative of Kaspersky -- and probably others -- already whitelisting state-sanctioned malware/exploits/etc?

      Oh, by the way, Mike, I think you missed a "such" here:
      Either way, it seems flat out ridiculous that an internet security company would publish [such] an article.

       

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2014 @ 8:19am

      Re: cold-war tactics?

      I'm sure Obama could easily stop a return to the cold war era by taking off his shirt and riding horseback to his favorite fishing hole.

       

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      •  
        identicon
        Reality bites, Aug 30th, 2014 @ 7:15pm

        Much more credible if he wrestled a grizzly bear

        The amount of good it would do the world is incalculable.
        Then we could get biden to go sky diving with a rucksack.

         

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    •  
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      CommanderPirx (profile), Aug 30th, 2014 @ 8:31am

      Re: cold-war tactics?

      And given the latest events in Ukraine - why would you expect people to treat Russia-based companies any different?

      Last time I checked, Obama administration does exactly nothing to take country anywhere in particular, dude's just golfing and generally having a good time. It's your beloved Putin who's crying "we're holding off the 3rd World War by the skin of our teeth" (note: actual propaganda words, not mine), while escalating matters any which way possible. So please, spare the heroics of Russia-based companies. If they're large enough, someone from Putin's company of goodfellas is watching them over. And Kaspersky is a really large company.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Leonard Moon, Aug 29th, 2014 @ 4:16pm

    That whole article has a "stepford" feel to it that leaves me feeling like I ate some bad fish.

     

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    identicon
    Matthew A. Sawtell, Aug 29th, 2014 @ 6:19pm

    Hm... someone at Kremlin overstepping?

    Then again, given the 'Beltway Follies' from D.C., it is not too surprising.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 29th, 2014 @ 8:08pm

    Glad they were able to confirm why no one should use their products with such a simple to reference example as this.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    theoldrang, Aug 30th, 2014 @ 1:45am

    'If You're Doing Nothing Wrong,

    Question:
    If they weren't doing things illegal, why do 'they' keep steeling cameras and deleting content?

    They know the SCOTUS has ruled many times saying it is legal to take video of them.

     

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    orbitalinsertion (profile), Aug 30th, 2014 @ 8:05am

    And, indeed, these are useful cases in which people very frequently find the value of sharing some information (such as location) with a third party service, in exchange for some benefit.


    Cortana, please remind me to use toilet paper next time I'm in the bathroom.

     

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    identicon
    TestPilotDummy, Aug 30th, 2014 @ 12:03pm

    ol kasper

    ya need to open another bottle of vodsky, then stick to your ASM reversing..

    Ya hear me mr internet drivers license!

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2014 @ 1:47pm

    unless your a member of the American government, then your more likely than not doing something wrong and trying to hide it.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Reality bites, Aug 30th, 2014 @ 7:14pm

    NSA = Large collection of perverts, voyeurs and devients

    NSA building are easy to spot from Google Earth, just look for the livestock pens next to the building.

    Can't keep that many sexual perverts, deviants and voyeurs in one place without plenty of animals available for their relief.

    I might not have anything to hide... I still don't want a feral gov pedophile looking through my stuff.

     

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    Sheogorath (profile), Aug 30th, 2014 @ 10:58pm

    The response I would have given to the article

    The same applies to weather services – if you stay “invisible”, they cannot give you a forecast for the place you are at.

    ORLY? *googles "weather [my location]"*
    Remember: if you’re doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide.

    Then why the f### do you wear clothes if you have nothing to hide?

     

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  •  
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    J. Albert Bowden II (profile), Sep 22nd, 2014 @ 7:05pm

    have access all the time

    google cache is a good tool for finding changed content on sites, but the best tool is the wayback machine on the internet archive, http://archive.org/web/ .
    the wayback machine is your friend!
    use it!
    daily!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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