Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Still Trust Your Government?

After reading this and this, you won’t.

Comments

  1. #1 Michael Hopkins
    June 20, 2006

    Actually, I am going to have to rant here. I have
    no problem with the government buying any information
    that is publically and legally availiable for sale. I don’t think they need any court permission for it either. If I can find it out without violating the law (personally or via a proxy), it is fair game for the government to find out.

    But that being said, I object to phone records being legally sold. The government knowing everything about me is scary. That anyone or any group can spend a few bucks to know it is even more scary. Employeers could abuse it. Criminals could abuse it. Muck rakers could abuse it. And of course the government…

    Some law is needed on what information about a person can be sold or revealed to third parties without court orders. Phone records should be on the top of the list of things that my neighbors should not be allowed to buy. From their the government is not allowed access to information that it not allowed anyone else without a court order. What is more, information that is legal to be purchases should not be allowed to be simply given to the government for less that selling price for private users.

    And I don’t trust the government. Indeed I don’t trust large organizations of people either. A person can be trusted based on their prior behavior. Groups can only be trusted at the level of their least trustworthy member.

  2. #2 Ed Brayton
    June 20, 2006

    The problem is that much of the information that can be bought is not legally gotten. No private person should have any access at all to your phone records, for example. The only way to get those records is a subpeona or by stealing them from your home.

  3. #3 Michael Hopkins
    June 22, 2006

    I don’t see how you can say that the phone records are not legally obtained. They people who obtained are, well, the phone company. The phone company for obvious reason MUST have those records. It was the phone companies that sold the information.

    The problem is that it appears that the it is not illegal for them to sell or otherwise disclose those records. And if a company can make money from selling information it has, they will almost certainly do so. After all a corporation exists to make money for its owners.

    I really doubt that there is any solution to all of this besides new laws. New law that require that clearly private information (records of private communications, financial records, criminal records of minors, medical records, etc.) may not be disclosed to third parts without court orders except under well-defined exceptions like informed consent and third part subcontrating where the subcontractors are required not to disclose.

  4. #4 Ed Brayton
    June 22, 2006

    Michael Hopkins wrote:

    I don’t see how you can say that the phone records are not legally obtained. They people who obtained are, well, the phone company. The phone company for obvious reason MUST have those records. It was the phone companies that sold the information.

    I don’t think you understand how those records are obtained. It is illegal for the phone company to sell the records, they can only be obtained in two ways – from the client who voluntarily gives them to you, or by subpeona from the telephone company. These private data brokers get the information in multiple ways, all of them illegal. The two primary ways are by calling the phone company and pretending to be the customer and getting a copy of a “lost bill” sent somewhere, or by hacking into people’s online accounts on the telephone company’s web portal. The latter is trivially easy to do. If they can’t guess the password – and that’s easy to do, since most people use the name of a pet or a child, or a birthdate, etc – they can download a simple brute force hacker and crack it in a matter of minutes. The bottom line is that if anyone has your phone records and you didn’t give those records to them, they got them illegally.

  5. #5 Treban
    June 23, 2006

    I so called it. My ex roomie craig and I were discussing it when John broke the original story. The creepiness of the NSA’s domestic spying had come out in the first installment by then and I, jokingly, supposed that it would probably be cheaper for the government to buy records from online data thieves – especialy if they got a bulk rate. Apparently it wasn’t much of a joke.

  6. #6 Treban
    June 23, 2006

    By the way, still trust my government?

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