Thursday, September 27, 2007

Big Brother Blog Snooping

A good friend of mine recently said in one of his comments on this site, "You really think Big brother is reading these blogs and has someone on their payroll hiding under your bed?"


A federally-funded artificial intelligence lab is figuring out how to track people over the Internet, based on how they write.


  1. and you all thought i was crazy! crazy i tell ya!

    REALLY wish i could find that flush lever. :(

  2. SOMEONE has been watching you on the internet for a long long time. Whether is has been advertising companies tracking the location of your IP address or contracted companies watching for P2P Copyright Infringement. The internet, largely, is NOT anonymous.

    This idea that you have a right privacy or to do or say anything you want and no one should be able to know who you are puzzles me. I'm not saying I support internet regulation and 'snooping' on a wide scale, but what do you expect? Look at the problems with prepaid cell phones. Now you can't go buy 10 prepaid cell phones at a time. Why isn't anyone complaining about that being a violation of anyone's rights? Because it's silly, that's why. Or when ISPs clamp down on P2P traffic and they get complaints from people that can't even tell you why they are so angry because 9 times out of 10 they're using it to break the law. They'll argue even when your Terms of Service includes regulation on P2P traffic.

    I will agree that it sucks to think that I could potentially end up being investigated over something I post online. But I am not ignorant enough to think that it hasn't been that way for some time now, and realize the danger of the alternative. Do you really want the internet to be totally anonymous? My guess is that when someone starts stalking you online, or even worse, one of your children - the right to anonymity online will start to seem pretty trivial. Internet Anonymity is probably doing more to harm than help right now.

    It's human nature to exploit. You do what can get away with however you can get away with it. As long as there is an ability to do something and no way to get caught, there are going to be a lot of people exploiting that option to do a lot of bad things.

    My original point was underscoring the silliness of thinking that everything you do is being watched. You really think the government is watching you so you can't criticize them? They may as well throw the whole country in jail.

    The fact of the matter is that any medium over the years has gone through a phase where changes had to be made to avoid exploitation by people. Phone tapping has always been controversial - how many lives do you think have been saved by tapping or tracing phone calls? When does your right to anonymity supersede your right to exist?

    Now WHY in the hell can't I express myself without writing a novel?! lol

  3. I'm not saying that I want to be anonymous online. In fact in most respects I'm quite the opposite.

    I think my right to exist goes hand-in-hand with my right to have privacy, which to me is tantamount to personal liberty. And it should be my choice what parts of me are public and private and how either of that information is used.

    On the P2P thing, sounds like your company is getting hit with a lot of folks complaining about that sorta stuff?

  4. No, not really. But when we have to regulate, that is typically my experience. Whether they want to admit it or not, every ISP has to make specific adjustments to their network because of the aggressive nature of P2P traffic. It is hard on the network. And when Jo-bob threads 1500 upstream connections because he's offering up the entire collection of Harry Potter movies and I have to rate-limit him, he has a fun time trying to explain why he is so unhappy about losing his access to the lousy cam rendering of whatever blockbuster is opening this weekend.

    It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that a vast majority of P2P is copyrighted content.

    I think you have to look at the internet for what it is. A public network. Everything you do is visible to someone else. You can't leave the right to decide up to the individual, because not every individual is going to behave themselves.

    I think you have to take a good look at the big picture. The government will never be able to regulate what you say on the internet. There are way too many people with way too much to say. They are watching for the minority that are going to take their views beyond words.

  5. Joel,

    two thoughts on your first comment.

    1) you make it sound like the thought of buying 10 prepaid cell phones is so obsurd that it should be looked into because the ONLY person who'd do something like that is going to break the law.

    ok. But, don't we live in a country that is supposed to believe in a system where you are innocent until proven guilty?

    It's not the fact that its 10 prepaid cell phones that causes investigations. Its the fact that you're being investigated before even doing anything wrong.

    Along the same lines, what about all the reports and talk about farmers who have to file federal paperwork if they keep more than X gallons of kerosene on the farm, just because Kerosene is now defined as a terrorist tool or whatever? They are treating honest american's who have a legitimate reason to have this item on their property like potential criminals. That's just wrong. The 10 cell phone thing is exactly the same.

    2) Phone tapping HAS Saved alot of lives over the years. This is true. And I think that it will continue to save alot of lives in the future.

    But, the important thing to remember is that in order to "LEGALLY" tap a phone, the government MUST get a court order allowing it. That means that there must be probable cause to justify tapping the phone.

    What this president has done is bypase this very important part of the process and just start tapping EVERYONE. That's wrong.

    I have no issues with court appointed tapping, or internet tapping. But you have to keep the government in check by requiring that they follow proper channels to do something like this.

    You said it yourself. "It's human nature to exploit. You do what can get away with however you can get away with it." and if you allow the president and his lackies do this type of thing unchecked then you have created the potential for them to become criminals.

  6. Ok, point well taken. I just think you need to keep things in context, though... They are looking for terrorists. I don't think we have anything to worry about unless Cory starts posting things about blowing up.... Nevermind. : D