Monday, August 12, 2013

Do You Know Where Your Online Privacy Is Tonight?

Ten minutes ago I was on Glenn Greenwald's comment thread at The Guardian.  The topic was one I agree with him about almost on every point EXCEPT that I think Edward Snowden was incredibly stupid to choose Hong Kong as a sanctuary carrying an apparently disputed number of laptops with him (the figure I've seen mentioned most often is four) and the rest of what followed that brilliant decision.

First, on The Guardian website, I was given a choice of venues for commenting, including Face Book and Google, because, you know everyone knows that those are entirely devoted to the privacy of their customers, especially their Chinese customers, apropos of the Privacy Martyr Snowden taking refuge in the land of privacy.

I chose Google because I figure they've got everything on me since I'm a Blogger blogger and use G-mail and I wouldn't trust Face Book and have no idea how to use it.

Anyway,  in response to some snark I made a snarky comment about superheroes.   I went to another website.  Guess what was all over the ads?   Superheroes, something I have never in my life had anything to do with and which have never, in my memory appeared there before.   Ten minutes, ONE MENTION IN ONE COMMENT ON THE GUARDIAN WEBSITE IN WHICH GLENN GREENWALD BLOWS HIS TOP ABOUT ONLINE PRIVACY.   And I'm supposed to get infinitely more upset that the NSA might take an interest in the e-mail addresses of people I'm foreign-e-mailing in some way that I'm not upset about Google reading a lot more than that AND INSTANTLY AND AUTOMATICALLY SELLING THE INFORMATION.


  1. The general Constitutional principle is that privacy is guaranteed by the 4th Amendment for those things you expect to be private, like phone calls and mail.

    I understand there may be a question about a "reasonable expectation of privacy" in cell phone calls, because they are rather easy to tap into (unlike landline calls). I'm not sure about that, but that's where the principal rests: your snail mail should be private, since it should only be opened by the addressee (try taking someone's mail from the mail box and reading it; the Feds may not like you very much).

    E-mail, though? Sure, you can pass around a personal letter, or get a copy and xerox it. E-mail is easier. One push of "reply all" and I've sent something personal to everybody on the e-mail. I can forward your "private" e-mail to almost anybody at the push of a button. If you know this, do you reasonably expect your e-mail to be as private as a personal letter?

    I honestly don't know the state of the law on that, but that would be an issue, at least.

    So if NSA is getting a record of my phone calls, well, there's a SCt. case that specifically says they can. If they're reading my e-mails, well, Google does that already (which may undercut any expectation of privacy I have in my e-mails; probably does, in fact).

    I'm trying to figure out how outraged I'm supposed to be that NSA may be keeping all my e-mails and data mining them. I don't think they're doing it as diligently as G-mail is, and I really doubt there's somebody in an NSA office, even in Hawaii, reading my e-mails as I hit "Send." No doubt some program is "reading" them, but is that the same thing?

    These distinctions matter. And the question of privacy matters. If the NSA is sifting the gigantic haystack of e-mails (just for example) to find the one needle that MIGHT be there, I honestly think they're wasting their time. I don't want them reading my mail; I don't want them tapping my land line.

    But if they really want to "spy" on all 300 million Americans, plus the rest of the world: good luck.

    There isn't world enough or time to make use or sense out of all that data. Or to connect almost any of it to me, personally. Not unless they've got 300 million contractors.....

    1. "more people know your business, and fewer of them care about it, than you realize"

      That's how I feel about living in a rural/small town setting. I don't know if that is applicable to the whole "spying/data mining" thing, but it's what I tell myself about that, too

  2. I just had someone pull this Corrente post from June about why seeking sanctuary in Hong Kong was such a "brilliant move" for Snowden.

    #1 was the glacial speed of the judicial system in Hong Kong which was a sure bet to keep him safely out of the reach of the U.S. Which, of course, lasted about one month and one day. #2 was that the world famous privacy and civil liberties advocate, Snowden, could feel "right at home" in geek-friendly Hong Kong. Perhaps most hilariously dense was #5,

    Safety and security: One of the small nuances that struck me in the Poitras/Greenwald video of Snowden is that he mentions the Triads. That's the term we use for the organized gangsters of Hong Kong, but it's not widely used outside the city, except by law enforcement professionals and fans of Hong Kong cop movies. Snowden was speculating whether the US might pay off the Triads to take him out in a hit, which suggested to me that he'd done a lot of thinking about his personal security before choosing our city as his safe haven.

    Which proves that the Snowden cult is so clueless they don't even read what they're writing as they write it.

    Of course, since he fled Hong Kong in about 32 days, it's all kind of moot. And, of course, the Chinese intelligence service would have let him go to Russia never suspecting that the Russian intelligence could possibly break him and get everything that the Snowden cult assures me he never gave to Chinese intelligence.

    I'm beginning to suspect Snowden and Greenwald are a set up job to entirely discredit the left as soon as what he handed the Chinese and Russian intelligence services is made pubic. The entire Snowden cult will be discredited. I told Greenwald he'd taken an enormous gamble on what, on its face, is an entirely incredible chance that young Snowden wasn't forced to give up what he had stolen from the NSA. Including, I strongly suspect, information about Chinese and Russian dissidents in contact with people in the U.S. I strongly suspect that within a year that particular shoe store is going to drop and it's going to fall directly on the left that took Snowden to its breast.