Hooray for TIA
nobody at dizum.com
Tue Dec 10 12:20:11 PST 2002
[I'm not happy with the tone of this, but I'm forwarding it as privacy
politics is pretty clearly on topic... --Perry]
For years we cypherpunks have been telling you people that you are
responsible for protecting your own privacy. Use cash for purchases, look
into offshore accounts, protect your online privacy with cryptography
and anonymizing proxies. But did you listen? No. You thought to
trust the government. You believed in transparency. You passed laws,
for Freedom of Information, and Protection of Privacy, and Insurance
Accountability, and Fair Lending Practices.
And now the government has turned against you. It's Total Information
Awareness program is being set up to collect data from every database
possible. Medical records, financial data, favorite web sites and email
addresses, all will be brought together into a centralized office where
every detail can be studied in order to build a profile about you.
All those laws you passed, those government regulations, are being
bypassed, ignored, flushed away, all in the name of National Security.
Well, we fucking told you so.
And don't try blaming the people in charge. You liberals are cursing
Bush, and Ashcroft, and Poindexter. These laws were passed by the entire
U.S. Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike. Representatives have
the full support of the American people; most were re-elected with
large margins. It's not Bush and company who are at fault, it's the
whole idea that you can trust government to protect your privacy.
All that data out there has been begging to be used. It was only a
matter of time.
And you know what? It's good that this has happened. Not only has
it shown the intellectual bankruptcy of trust-the-government privacy
advocates, it proves what cypherpunks have been saying all along, that
people must protect their own privacy. The only way to keep your privacy
safe is to keep the data from getting out there in the first place.
Cypherpunks have consistently promoted two seemingly contradictory
ideas. The first is that people should protect data about themselves.
The second is that they should have full access and usability for
data they acquire about others. Cypherpunks have supported ideas like
Blacknet, and offshore data havens, places where data could be collected,
consolidated and sold irrespective of government regulations. The same
encryption technologies which help people protect their privacy can be
used to bypass attempts by government to control the flow of data.
This two-pronged approach to the problem produces a sort of Darwinian
competition between privacy protectors and data collectors. It's not
unlike the competition between code makers and code breakers, which has
led to amazing enhancements in cryptography technology over the past
few decades. There is every reason to expect that a similar level of
improvement and innovation can and will eventually develop in privacy
protection and data management as these technologies continue to be
But in the mean time, three cheers for TIA. It's too bad that it's the
government doing it rather than a shadowy offshore agency with virtual
tentacles into the net, but the point is being made all the same.
Now more than ever, people need privacy technology. Government is not
the answer. It's time to start protecting ourselves, because nobody
else is going to do it for us.
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