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Old 04-04-2016, 02:52 PM   #1
Doppleganger
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About that privacy stuff

I know I'm speaking to a userbase who really don't think much of privacy anymore. I can't really understand it myself - aside from illegal things, having no privacy is like being metaphorically (or even literally) naked. In the metaphorical case, anything you could potentially be embarrassed about, or discriminated against because, is public knowledge. In the literal case, you could be Erin Andrews as seen through a keyhole.

I bring this up because last night at work, a co-worker had NPR on, and I heard this lady talking about "the beauty of modern technology". This lady had a confidential website where individuals ask for questions about things. She and her husband then made the startling realization that they could turn the responses asked through their service into "data". They began correlating and tracing search queries, and were able to make connections.

There were two major correlations that upset me:

-they were able to identify secretly gay Mormons/LDS in Utah, and would contact community leaders that those individuals were suffering because of the oppressive environment
-they were able to identify teens with certain diseases, say, PTH dysfunction, and contacted school administrators to be supportive of the students during class periods when these problems surfaced

Let alone that the second one seems like a HIPPA (legal) violation to me, am I the only one who thinks that secrets about your body and person should not be disclosed by third parties to the people you're trying to keep it a secret from?? Assuming these people knew what they were doing and their correlations were accurate, this seems like a major confidentiality breach to me disguised as caretrolling. They throw in some superficially good intentions (which are not under scrutiny) as an excuse to leak private information.

What horrified me the most about this program wasn't that there were privacy violations here. I'm already desensitized to this due to the stranglehold Google Analytics has over the internet, and the NSA wiretapping. The numbing part of this program was NPR promoted, aired and glorified it. To me, this is the ultimate form of brainwashing, selling propaganda to the ignorant about how taking away their freedom and privacy is a wonderful thing.

It's disappointing to me that such extreme examples have to be offered for people to buy into the need for privacy. It's to the point that even black hat hackers can't evade the long reach of the law botnet - like what happened with AnonSec - because no matter how powerful a programmer you might be, you're still trapped in The Matrix.
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Old 04-04-2016, 06:44 PM   #2
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One of my favourite authors, Robert Sawyer, has written an essay on the subject of privacy here. He takes a stance of getting people personal black-boxes to record their location at all times. Note that the writer is a optimist Canadian Sci-Fi author, but I think it's a good point to make. The system was even implemented in an alien (sort of) culture in a trilogy of his. Privacy may be overrated.
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Old 04-04-2016, 07:16 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmoyes View Post
Privacy may be overrated.
It isn't. The article you linked is dated or moronic, and rather than go line-by-line and refute his bad points, I'll just take this one, which I see as probably the most egregious form of naiivety:

Quote:
Originally Posted by sfwriter
Who would assault, murder, or rape, if they knew that the victim would have a complete off-site record of the event made by their own implant?
A: Anyone who would value victimizing more than their own safety, i.e. Al-Qaeda or Islamic State militants. Given Sawyer wrote this in 2002, jihad wasn't as understood as it is today, but you can still fault him on a number of key issues:

1. That less privacy leads to fewer crimes
2. That the 2nd Amendment was passed to allow armed revolution (lmao)
3. That surveillance is actually put to use
4. That the GPS system actually reduces crimes (smartphones are this black box)
5. That you couldn't just decapitate the person and move the GPS around to disguise death

etc.

It's funny Sawyer references Orwell, but I'm not sure he understood Orwell. Orwell was describing the Soviet Union of his day through the hypothesis of a future dystopian command economy. The Soviet Union afforded very little privacy and was guilty, especially under Stalin, of more crimes against humanity than the Axis Powers in World War II.

So if the world really were like The Matrix, with robots in charge who don't care about your gender, health or opinions, I can get on board the idea. But otherwise, you're just giving up power to people who don't have your best interests at heart. People who want to exploit you, and potentially people who want to destroy you.
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Old 04-04-2016, 07:45 PM   #4
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Google Analytics is easily defeated. 'Tis called ScriptSafe. Google Analytics runs on a JavaScript, which ScriptSafe allows you to keep from running.
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Old 04-04-2016, 08:02 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Myles Fowl II View Post
Google Analytics is easily defeated. 'Tis called ScriptSafe. Google Analytics runs on a JavaScript, which ScriptSafe allows you to keep from running.
It is not. You might be able to prevent Google Analytics on your own computer, but the internet is not a vacuum. Everyone on your Contacts list (even if you don't use Gmail) will have it, so Google can infer data from you by reading your emails to them.

Quite literally, blocking Google Analytics for things like email has no effect, since Google has 100% access to your inbox by virtue of your outbox.

...

Note that this is the way that the FBI was able to hack the iPhone. Apple's security is top-notch, but Microsoft's isn't, so the best way to attack the iPhone is through its interface with Windows.
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Old 04-04-2016, 08:25 PM   #6
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I personally think that privacy is vastly overrated.

Convince me otherwise.
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Old 04-04-2016, 08:32 PM   #7
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The burden of proof lies with the one making the assertion. Please give some reasoning.
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Old 04-04-2016, 10:11 PM   #8
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I'll concede that it may be a little dated, but it's definitely not, as you say, moronic. His ideas may be a tad idealistic for today, but it isn't a stupid idea. And as an award winning author, he certainly isn't an idiot himself. A bit off topic here, but I highly recommend him to any readers. His stories are highly though provoking and cover a wide range of topics.

I think we can agree that religious extremists are exceptions to many rules. They are not like most people. And interestingly enough, privacy aids these people more than anyone. At the very least, knowing where someone is when they are kidnapped and/or killed by such factions helps give intel for retaliation. If sound and video are also being recorded, all the better. Knowledge is power after all.

1. Most people would think twice before doing something while being watched. Actually, regardless if they are being watcher or not, even just thinking that they are being watched is enough to change one's behaviour.
2. Gun control is a whole other debate and I don't really know anything about the American Constitution so I can't really say much about this besides Canada vs USA bias.
3. Yeah, I'll admit that it is rather idealistic to think a system like this would be implemented. Still, I don't really see how it would be worse than today's surveillance systems. Sawyer's Hominids, Humans and Hybrids trilogy shows the implemented system. Another trilogy of his, the WWW trilogy is also about the set up of a benevolent Big Brother.
4. Cellphones would be poor a black-box because as you said they can be hacked and deposed of rather easily. However, they can still be used to track people. The more information collected, the more likely a crime will be solved. Making things more difficult for criminals makes for less crime, right?
5. I'm sure the implants would be able to set off some sort of alarm if the victim dies or if the implant is forcibly removed. There is certainly technology that can sense when someone is having a medical emergency and send off an alert.

I'll admit I haven't read Orwell, but this proposed system works best is it's universal: the watchers are monitored just as much as the watchees. And because it's a black-box system, only the owner of the implant can view it. So, they technically are still private, at least until needed by authorities for an alibi.

Privacy benefits those with something to hide. Is privacy a basic human right? What benefit does privacy have for humanity?
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Old 04-04-2016, 10:32 PM   #9
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We all have something to hide.

I think that's the fundamental reason you see so many people stressing the importance of privacy. People don't want their lives to be a completely open book to everyone. They want at least some chapters to remain closed to at least some people. Examples that come to mind:
  • people with stigmatized interests do not want their interests to be known to outsiders
  • people with a criminal record but who have genuinely closed that chapter of their lives do not want their criminal past to be known to their new neighbors or employer
  • people seeking employment while currently employed do not want their current employer to find out lest they suffer retaliation, closed doors to promotion, or other negative consequences of the current employer discovering that the employee is seeking work elsewhere
  • people who do not wish to receive unwanted phone calls
These are but a few examples of groups of people who desire privacy yet have nothing to hide from the law. They have something to hide, but for social reasons and not for law-breaking ones.
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Old 04-04-2016, 11:34 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmoyes View Post
I'll concede that it may be a little dated, but it's definitely not, as you say, moronic. His ideas may be a tad idealistic for today, but it isn't a stupid idea. And as an award winning author, he certainly isn't an idiot himself. A bit off topic here, but I highly recommend him to any readers. His stories are highly though provoking and cover a wide range of topics.
Being a well-respected author isn't an excuse for flimsy logic. I'm sure his works are very interesting given the awards he's won, but he gave (imv) rather poor justification for his idealism. To me, he started with an opinion (embracing no privacy) and came up with justification for it, as opposed to looking at facts then basing the opinion from that.

Quote:
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I think we can agree that religious extremists are exceptions to many rules. They are not like most people. And interestingly enough, privacy aids these people more than anyone. At the very least, knowing where someone is when they are kidnapped and/or killed by such factions helps give intel for retaliation. If sound and video are also being recorded, all the better. Knowledge is power after all.
I offered jihadis and security as the low hanging fruit. It goes beyond that - there are countless cold case murders, kidnappings and the majority of them, I'd say, were committed by clever people. Far and away, most captured murderers are idiots, since they have to think they can solve their problems with violence, and then go through with it. There has got to be a selection bias were the more evil, intelligent murderers are able to get away with killings, even masking that a homicide was even present.

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1. Most people would think twice before doing something while being watched. Actually, regardless if they are being watcher or not, even just thinking that they are being watched is enough to change one's behaviour.
Only if they intend to break the law, or there is some negative repercussion to their behaviour. There's no reason for normal people to act with caution if they don't have ill intentions.

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3. Yeah, I'll admit that it is rather idealistic to think a system like this would be implemented. Still, I don't really see how it would be worse than today's surveillance systems. Sawyer's Hominids, Humans and Hybrids trilogy shows the implemented system. Another trilogy of his, the WWW trilogy is also about the set up of a benevolent Big Brother.
Let's move away from the security issue. I will admit that a right to privacy doesn't trump the government's ability to secure its citizens. The extent is a gray area but I feel like "need to know" is the best heuristic for evaluating an excessive amount of prodding.

There's a sharp divide in the privacy debate where some people think that government spying is the greatest sin, and (the sect I belong to) think corporate spying is a bigger issue.

For me, the NSA requesting AT&T to monitor 100% of its mobile, internet traffic was less upsetting than AT&T complying, and using the request as an excuse to develop technology to make it possible. AT&T was the only company to go all out like that, T-Mobile was largely non-compliant and Verizon only partially. With that information available, it wouldn't be surprising if there are backdoor deals selling that information to the likes of Google. It fills the gaps in Google Analytics that Google, by virtue of not being an ISP, has, and explains AT&T's repeated attempts to block Google Fiber.

Note that the NSA request allowed AT&T to violate its own privacy policy, and AT&T is making use of the data it harvested. Another problem I've come across in my research for example is the abuse of IMEIs to GSM devices. IMEIs are meant solely to prevent phone theft, but telecom companies use it to uniquely identify your device. This allows for clandestine service discrimination, such as charging for LTE speed internet on phones that aren't capable of using LTE radios, just because they're a smartphone.

In both cases, a company has more information available than the end user, and is willing to violate that user's privacy in the interest of profit. If a company intends to profit from me, they owe me wage-labour.

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4. Cellphones would be poor a black-box because as you said they can be hacked and deposed of rather easily. However, they can still be used to track people. The more information collected, the more likely a crime will be solved. Making things more difficult for criminals makes for less crime, right?
Cellphones aren't easy to hack...I can tell you this from first hand experience.

That said, cellphones will only help track a crime if the criminal is an idiot. Which fits what I said earlier where the only criminals who end up caught are the dumber ones.

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5. I'm sure the implants would be able to set off some sort of alarm if the victim dies or if the implant is forcibly removed. There is certainly technology that can sense when someone is having a medical emergency and send off an alert.
Technology isn't that advanced. We don't, for example, have the ability to put a bomb inside someone, and have that bomb detonate if someone dies. You could certainly have some low-frequency emitter that ceases a signal if the person dies, but that kind of technology can be spoofed fairly easily.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gmoyes View Post

I'll admit I haven't read Orwell, but this proposed system works best is it's universal: the watchers are monitored just as much as the watchees. And because it's a black-box system, only the owner of the implant can view it. So, they technically are still private, at least until needed by authorities for an alibi.
You'll have to elaborate on the details of this system, I presume it's from Sawyer's novels and he didn't discuss it at length in the article.
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Old 04-05-2016, 08:14 AM   #11
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I personally think that privacy is vastly overrated.

Convince me otherwise.
Yeah all of my this.

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The burden of proof lies with the one making the assertion. Please give some reasoning.
Not really, no. In a formal debate the burden of proof lies with the side who wishes to change the status quo. In other words, you. What's your reasoning?
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Old 04-05-2016, 11:45 AM   #12
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Okay so here's my take on things: I feel like I don't really have anything to hide from the government. As long as they don't make the information public, I'm okay with them monitoring me. Like for example, say the NSA is keeping track of my browser history. I don't care if Joe that works for the NSA knows how often I visit PornHub because if they monitor my browser history they can see that I'm not up to anything shady. They CAN see if other people are up to shady stuff though, so to me that's a win. It doesn't affect me if some dude I'm never going to meet knows what websites I visit, but it DOES affect me if the NSA is monitoring someone and catches a terrorist, as it makes the country (and thus me) safer.

Like I said, as long as they don't make it public I'm good. I gave the example about Joe from NSA knowing my browsing habits. I don't exactly want my mom or close friends to know that stuff. But they won't because the government won't release that info. And I'm not really worried about someone hacking their systems and releasing my info because I feel like I'm not important enough for anyone to care enough to release my info. If I was a government higher-up or a well-known public figure or something my opinion might change, but for now I'm okay with government monitoring.
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Old 04-05-2016, 11:53 AM   #13
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Generally speaking I'm of the opinion that what I do with my time is no-ones business but mine. However like most people I also crave convenience. Most people - myself included - might occasionally get angry when we hear stories about intrusive data collection... and then go right back to doing whatever we were doing before because it makes life easier.

We're wired to value convenience more than privacy, basically.
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Old 04-05-2016, 03:53 PM   #14
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You can't have the internet as a concept, let alone a practical reality, without sacrificing your privacy. At all.
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Old 04-05-2016, 04:04 PM   #15
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Yeesh at that (possibly unintentional) false dichotomy. "You can't have the Internet without giving up your privacy." To interact with any humans at all is to forfeit at least some privacy, sure -- but you can't seriously reason that to make use of the Internet you have to spread your asscheeks wide for the government to see all that you think and do. You may think that government will do so anyway, just as a man might believe the government wiretaps all phone calls. But that doesn't make it legal nor prove the case that it should be legal, no more so than unconsented wiretapping makes the case for the argument, "You can't use telephones without forking over all of your privacy."

Moderation, people. Jesus. So many absolutist views in this thread. You can have some privacy without giving it all up. You can have some security without giving it all up.
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Old 04-05-2016, 04:23 PM   #16
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No I just understand what the internet is and what it represents. It represents the transfer of information around networks. That's literally what it does. You by definition must sacrifice privacy to use it, no two ways about it. Is it zero sum, no nothing ever is, but it's a dark shade of grey.

Telephones, incidentally, are the same but clearly in a different way.
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Old 04-05-2016, 05:07 PM   #17
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"A dark shade of gray"? I don't agree that you have to give up what amounts to more than even 1% of your privacy to use the Internet of the 1990s. Somebody knew your address, your phone number, the name(s) of the resident(s) at said address, and then whatever other information they could discover by using those three first pieces of information as starting points. That was it. People didn't know whether you were socially conservative or liberal unless you made it obvious from your browsing habits or divulged the information willingly online. The same for whether you were a Harry Potter fan or not. The same for whether you'd ever visited India or not. The same for whether you worked at a hospital or not. The same for whether you were three times divorced or not. On and on the list goes of private life experiences that you can use the Internet of the 1990s without divulging to even the very best hackers.

In reading your post, it seems to me that you're insinuating that people who want to use the Internet should fuck off with their requests for privacy. And I think that's mad. You can very much have some privacy and still use the Internet.
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Old 04-05-2016, 05:24 PM   #18
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You absolutely can have some privacy. It's not zero sum.
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Old 04-05-2016, 06:14 PM   #19
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Maybe I'm blind but I haven't seen anyone discussing the kind of privacy you give up for technological advances.

For instance, my android phone will tell me every day how long the drive home from work is and if there are any detours I should take, as well as where I parked my car, when the next episode of tv shows I watch will air, where a package I recently ordered is and when it gets delivered, and personalized news based on google search history.

That's a fuckton of privacy given up, right there. But in turn, all of those things are actually... pretty helpful, convenient, and pretty neat.

My question is, are you willingly ready to sacrifice privacy like this for a more convenient and technologically enhanced lifestyle? Because we are dawning on the age where tech companies will no longer give you a choice, unless you outright don't purchase their product.
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Old 04-05-2016, 06:18 PM   #20
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Quite. I mean you can avoid some of this stuff to an extent at the moment and let's not forget that there are swathes of the planet that don't even have electricity, let alone the internet, but this kind of thing is just par for the course in the 21st Century.
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Old 04-05-2016, 11:53 PM   #21
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Kush, given my research into privacy, I've determined with a lot of elbow grease, you can effectively protect yourself from the NSA online even if they're looking for you. There are restrictions on the web - if the NSA knows a suspected terrorist browses UPN, it wouldn't be too tough for them to find out who has accessed UPN's server. Even with a VPN and proxy, they can tell what time the person accessed UPN and can discern language style and location from a person's posts. So while they can't get exact information unless someone is dumb enough, they can narrow down the possibilities.

But using a VPN, proxy to access websites over Tor? If you hide that you're even using Tor, they're not going to find you.

However, it's much harder to conceal this kind of activity from ISPs, which is why ISPs are the biggest ally to the NSA when it comes to wiretapping. And they will have that kind of privacy access even when the government isn't interested in you.

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Not really, no. In a formal debate the burden of proof lies with the side who wishes to change the status quo. In other words, you. What's your reasoning?
What.

Burden of proof lies with anyone who makes an assertion. If you come into my pro-privacy topic and say privacy is overrated, you have to give reasons. I don't owe you anything.

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Okay so here's my take on things: I feel like I don't really have anything to hide from the government. As long as they don't make the information public, I'm okay with them monitoring me. Like for example, say the NSA is keeping track of my browser history. I don't care if Joe that works for the NSA knows how often I visit PornHub because if they monitor my browser history they can see that I'm not up to anything shady. They CAN see if other people are up to shady stuff though, so to me that's a win. It doesn't affect me if some dude I'm never going to meet knows what websites I visit, but it DOES affect me if the NSA is monitoring someone and catches a terrorist, as it makes the country (and thus me) safer.
The problem with this is profile building. Individuals in the government can observe your browser habits, say if you searched Bernie Sanders and trips to Turkey, and infer that you're thinking of defecting to Islamic State.

How terrorism works now is that terrorists aren't revealed as such until they suicide bomb someone, so profile building becomes essential for nipping a domestic attack in the bud. Even if you're completely innocent. This is the source of all the jokes involving Google searches for things like Islamic State or Salil Sawarim, and being added to NSA search filters.

There is also the problem with breaches. You don't know how well the NSA policies itself - Edward Snowden was able to cover his tracks fairly effectively, after all - and people can causes breaches if they just don't care anymore.

So your "As long as they don't make the information public" caveat cannot be guaranteed in practice unless we have robot overlords in place.

Tabloids would pay handsomely for Arnold Schwarzenegger's blood chemistries. As a bodybuilder, I would love to know the ratios of hormones in his body, the concentration of LDH, his oxygen carrying capacity, etc. I can turn his privacy into improving myself. Does this mean Arnold has no right to privacy over his health information because other bodybuilders and roiders want his information? I mean at the very least he should be able to sell that information should he desire. Someone else, who obtained that info confidentially, shouldn't have a right to profit from it instead of him.
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Old 04-06-2016, 01:59 AM   #22
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What.

Burden of proof lies with anyone who makes an assertion. If you come into my pro-privacy topic and say privacy is overrated, you have to give reasons. I don't owe you anything.
I'll put aside that you're objectively wrong about how burden of proof works and just give my two cents.

In my view, people ought to know full well by now what comes with using the internet. If you don't the Government to see something, don't put it on the internet, IE the one place literally anyone can see it. One doesn't leave their keys in the ignition of their car overnight because they know someone will steal it. One doesn't leave their wallet/purse out on the table in a public place when they run to the restroom, because they know when they come back it probably won't be there.

Likewise, people should know better than to do or say things they think the Government could use against them when they're on the internet, where realistically your information isn't, never was, and never will be very safe.

On a more personal, anecdotal note, when you live in a city where multiple people are shot dead on a daily basis, you get more than a little wary of the "FREEDOM IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN SAFETY" argument. Guns are frivolous and actively endanger the life of people who come in contact with them. Likewise, an illusion of privacy is largely frivolous. There's a cost of lives attached to both of these "freedoms". There's absolutely evidence that the NSA doesn't do that much to stop terrorist attacks, and there's definite truth to that, but there's also definite truth that it does do SOMETHING, and I'm of the opinion that one person's life is worth far more than appeasing 1,000 Doppels who get their panties in a knot at the thought of the government finding out what they Google, just in the same way I'm of the opinion that one person's life is worth far more than appeasing 1,000 members of the NRA.
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Old 04-14-2016, 08:36 PM   #23
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A relevant video:

BORKED
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Old 04-14-2016, 09:19 PM   #24
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And that's just the government. As I pointed out above, corporations are using the government's bluster as an excuse to experiment with new technology, and mine private data they have no right of access to for their own personal use. They're literally able to unethically violate their own privacy policies under the excuse of government surveillance for terror.
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Old 08-03-2017, 03:11 PM   #25
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Marcus Hutchins, the UK hacker who helped stopped WannaCry, has been arrested by the FBI as he attended DEF CON in Las Vegas.

Welp.
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