Loss of Privacy

Keeping you informed on recent losses to privacy and civil rights worldwide.

Browsing Posts tagged Politics

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Richard Posner is an influential judge in the United States. In a recent conference, he said the NSA should be able to collect whatever information it needed in the name of stopping terrorism.

“I think privacy is actually overvalued,” Judge Richard Posner, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, said during a conference about privacy and cybercrime in Washington on Thursday.

“Much of what passes for the name of privacy is really just trying to conceal the disreputable parts of your conduct,” Posner added. “Privacy is mainly about trying to improve your social and business opportunities by concealing the sorts of bad activities that would cause other people not to want to deal with you.”

Perhaps Posner would be okay with everyone looking at his private information, following him wherever he travels and knowing what he is up to. Wanting privacy doesn’t mean you are concealing anything unsavory. It means your life is not anyone else’s business to be snooping into just because they can.

Congress should limit the NSA’s use of the data it collects — for example, not giving information about minor crimes to law enforcement agencies — but it shouldn’t limit what information the NSA sweeps up and searches, Posner said. “If the NSA wants to vacuum all the trillions of bits of information that are crawling through the electronic worldwide networks, I think that’s fine,” he said.

Let the vacuuming commence with all of Judge Posner’s activities. He’s made it clear he doesn’t have a problem with this sort of behavior.

In the name of national security, U.S. lawmakers should give the NSA “carte blanche,” Posner added. “Privacy interests should really have very little weight when you’re talking about national security,” he said. “The world is in an extremely turbulent state — very dangerous.”

The world has always been in a turbulent state. It has always been dangerous. I think Posner might have wanted to say, “We’ve always been at war with Eurasia.”

Posner criticized mobile OS companies for enabling end-to-end encryption in their newest software. “I’m shocked at the thought that a company would be permitted to manufacture an electronic product that the government would not be able to search,” he said.

Then let Posner be the one to lead by example and start letting the government search his cell phone at will.

Other speakers at Thursday’s event, including Judge Margaret McKeown of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, disagreed with Posner, saying legal limits on government surveillance are necessary. With much of U.S. privacy law based on a reasonable expectation of privacy, it’s difficult, however, to define what that means when people are voluntarily sharing all kinds of personal information online, she said.

This is true, but for those who choose not to share personal information online, they shouldn’t be subjected to random vacuuming of information because the NSA wants to go on a fishing expedition. The people who advocate for privacy aren’t the ones dumping their personal information online. When they do, they know it’s public information.

David Cole, a professor at the Georgetown University Law Center also disagreed with Posner.

Some recent court cases, including the Supreme Court’s 2014 Riley v. California ruling limiting law enforcement searches of mobile phones, have moved privacy law in the right direction, he said.

Posner questioned why smartphone users need legal protections, saying he doesn’t understand what information on smartphones should be shielded from government searches. “If someone drained my cell phone, they would find a picture of my cat, some phone numbers, some email addresses, some email text,” he said. “What’s the big deal?

“Other people must have really exciting stuff,” Posner added. “Do they narrate their adulteries, or something like that?”

This is the problem with Posner. He doesn’t understand why someone other than himself wouldn’t want their information freely available and automatically believes they must be up to no good. Yet, this judge most likely doesn’t have his home address listed publicly for security reasons. People have reasons why they don’t want their information spread, including safety, security and peace of mind.

Smartphones can contain all kinds of information that people don’t want to share, including medical information, visits to abortion doctors and schedules for Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, Cole said. “Your original question, ‘what’s the value of privacy unless you’ve got something to hide?’ that’s a very short-sighted way of thinking about the value of privacy,” he said.

They may also contain information about upcoming political protests. If they cannot organize and protest freely, then this is not a free society. If Posner is not willing to step up and allow collection of his personal and private records at any time and for any reason, then he truly is ignorant or is spouting a government line and knows exactly what agenda he is pushing. Considering Posner tried to hide the name of a trust on his 2013 tax return, he likes his privacy just fine.

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Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani on Sunday stunned audiences when he explained how he is “disappointed” that the focus in Ferguson, Missouri, is on the majority of the police force being white, rather than violence between African-Americans.

The conversation erupted when “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd began discussing the disproportion of white police forces to the communities they serve in areas across the U.S. aside from Ferguson, including Newark, New Jersey and El Paso, Texas. ”All of those places could become future Fergusons,” Todd said.

Giuliani quickly pivoted the conversation, arguing “the fact is, I find it very disappointing that you’re not discussing the fact that 93% of blacks in America are killed by other blacks. We’re talking about the exception here.

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In a new trial, Comcast has found yet another way to screw its customers.

In this trial, XFINITY Internet Economy Plus customers can choose to enroll in the Flexible-Data Option to receive a $5.00 credit on their monthly bill and reduce their data usage plan from 300 GB to 5 GB. If customers choose this option and use more than 5 GB of data in any given month, they will not receive the $5.00 credit and will be charged an additional $1.00 for each gigabyte of data used over the 5 GB included in the Flexible-Data Option.

This is considered a deal to the customers. Reduce your data cap by 295 GB per month for a $5 discount. If you use those 295 GB, it will cost you $1 per gigabyte or $295. Fifteen years ago, heavy users used around 300 GB per month. Today, that is easily used up with the multiple choices in a short amount of time.

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Do you browse websites, such as Reddit? That’s going to be about 3-7 GB a month depending on the subreddits you visit.

Netflix HD stream is about 5 GB every two hours.

YouTube and Twitch? That’s 2GB per hour.

In college and need the Internet at your apartment for research? Better take out extra student loans.

Do you use Dropbox, Carbonite or some other online backup service? Plan on paying extra to access the data.

Do you play games online? Steam has games available that are 5-60 GB in size. It will only take a year to download larger games. Don’t try to download Titanfall or FF13 all at once. Halo: MCC had a 20 GB patch download. That’s $15 just to download it under the Comcast plan.

The average American watches four hours of television per day. Your entire cap is going to be used up in a single day. What will you do the rest of the month? You’d better go outside or plan on hefty bills from Comcast.

This is Comcast’s poorly disguised attempt to keep people from cutting the cord and leaving cable. It’s also their way of sticking a middle finger at net neutrality. Instead of trying to improve their a la carte offerings and listen to the customer, Comcast decided they can’t compete with services like Netflix and are going to screw the customer, who often has no other choice for cable or Internet.

First they double dipped in payments from Netflix and customers and are now out to make customers pay even more for wanting to have a choice in entertainment.

Simply surfing the web is going to be a huge problem, particularly with sites like CNN that insist on autoplay video ads for every video you try to watch. You will hit your data cap just watching those commercials. Music, gaming, file transfers, backups, remote desktops, online meetings, etc. will be unusable if you intended to stay within that 5 GB cap. Want more bandwidth? You’re going to pay dearly for it.

If you go with one of their other plans, you’ll pay $10 per 50 GB over the cap. Customers wouldn’t have to be in this position if the money they were given 20 years ago by Congress was actually used to improve networks instead of being pocketed by the companies.

If you click on Why are you making this change? you get the following response:

As the marketplace and technology change, we do too. We evaluate customer data usage, and a variety of other factors, and make adjustments accordingly. Over the last several years, we have periodically reviewed various plans, and recently we have been analyzing the market and our process through various data usage plan trials.

There is no reason other than we want more money, but they can’t come out and say that. If net neutrality is killed, just watch how fast Comcast and other cable companies start offering Netflix in the “special delivery” section. Then, not only do they charge Netflix more to have access, you will pay your monthly fee to Netflix and an extra fee to Comcast.

These companies have monopolies in nearly every town they are in. They have no competition and do as they please, knowing you, the customer, are stuck with them. If you want to make a difference, call the FCC.

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