Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Archive for the ‘privacy’ Category

What the intelligence agencies do with data

Posted by Charles II on October 11, 2013

Thanks to Rachel Levinson-Waldman of the Brennan Center, we have an idea. An excerpt:

…this report finds that in many cases, information carrying no apparent investigative value is treated no differently from information that does give rise to reasonable suspicion of criminal or terrorist activity. Basically, the chaff is treated the same as the wheat. In other cases, while the governing policies do set certain standards limiting the retention or sharing of non-criminal information about Americans, the restrictions are weakened by exceptions for vaguely-described law enforcement or national security purposes. Depending on the data set, presumptively innocuous information may be retained for periods ranging from two weeks to five years to 75 years or more.


Posted in NSA eavesdropping, privacy, wiretapping | 2 Comments »

Recommended reading

Posted by Charles II on August 30, 2013

WaPo on the black budget here and here. Thank you, Ed Snowden, for finally letting us see how our money gets spent.

Also, Danielle Allen on the link between privacy, civil liberties, and civil rights–why one can be free unless one can have privacy– here. I diaried this on Daily Kos. The civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s would have been smashed if the government had had the powers it has now.

Posted in civil rights, NSA eavesdropping, privacy, wiretapping | 1 Comment »

When they come for your guns, they’ll have the make, model, and address from the NRA

Posted by Charles II on August 21, 2013

Via Atrios, Buzzfeed’s Steve Friess:

WASHINGTON — The National Rifle Association has rallied gun-owners — and raised tens of millions of dollars — campaigning against the threat of a national database of firearms or their owners.

But in fact, the sort of vast, secret database the NRA often warns of already exists, despite having been assembled largely without the knowledge or consent of gun owners. It is housed in the Virginia offices of the NRA itself.

The NRA won’t say how many names and what other personal information is in its database, but former NRA lobbyist Richard Feldman estimates they keep tabs on “tens of millions of people.”

It’s not just the government that has too much information about the American people. Corporations and non-profits, too.

Posted in gun issues, privacy | 1 Comment »

Privacy is inherent to a free society

Posted by Charles II on October 30, 2011

Tara Smith of Aetiology produced what I would call a very, very important post. Some excerpts:

For those who haven’t run across that yet, National Geographic has decided to eliminate pseudonyms and force everyone with a blog remaining here (which is already dwindling) to blog under their real names. Meanwhile, out here in the real world, there’s a new unfortunate case study (short version: “EpiGate”) showing how blogging under one’s real name can lead to serious threats and potential loss of employment, among other things.

I blog under my own name (obviously), but if I were starting out now, I probably wouldn’t make that choice again. … I don’t enjoy being harassed. Long-time readers will note that it’s rare that I write about HIV denial, even though that was such a main topic of this blog once-upon-a-time that it even culminated in a journal article. It’s just tiring to be harassed personally by deniers–and even moreso to have my colleagues and administration bullied.

And this is just what’s happened to my colleague, EpiRen. He managed to tick off an online bully; said bully then called EpiRen’s superiors, who gave him a choice between his blogging and his employment. Not surprisingly, EpiRen eventually ended up pulling his public blog and Twitter feed, to the detriment of anyone who wanted a good source of public health information on the internets.

These things aren’t just theoretical. HIV denier Andrew Maniotis showed up, unannounced, at my work office one day a few years ago. The recently-arrested “David Mabus” showed up at an atheist convention. While using a pseudonym doesn’t always protect you–certainly many pseuds have been outed by those willing to do the detective work–it at least offers you some measure of protection from threats, both online and off.

Privacy is a fundamental human right. The ability to write under pen names was essential to the American Revolution. And, as figures from Samuel Clemens to Pauline Phillips, from Charles L. Dodgson to George Kennan demonstrate, people who write under pen names are neither cowards nor freaks. They just believe that privacy is healthy. It’s the thugs and bullies and authoritarians who want to deny that basic human right.

Posted in civil rights, privacy | Tagged: | 6 Comments »

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