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<nettime> Schneier: The Internet is a surveillance state
nettime's_roving_reporter on Tue, 26 Mar 2013 05:08:33 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Schneier: The Internet is a surveillance state


The Internet is a surveillance state

   By Bruce Schneier, Special to CNN
   March 16, 2013 -- Updated 1804 GMT (0204 HKT)

   I'm going to start with three data points.

   One: Some of the Chinese military hackers who were implicated in a
   broad set of attacks against the U.S. government and corporations were
   identified because they accessed Facebook from the same network
   infrastructure they used to carry out their attacks.

   Two: Hector Monsegur, one of the leaders of the LulzSac hacker
   movement, was identified and arrested last year by the FBI.
   Although he practiced good computer security and used an anonymous
   relay service to protect his identity, he slipped up.

   And three: Paula Broadwell,who had an affair with CIA director
   David Petraeus, similarly took extensive precautions to hide her
   identity. She never logged in to her anonymous e-mail service from her
   home network. Instead, she used hotel and other public networks when
   she e-mailed him. The FBI correlated hotel registration data from
   several different hotels -- and hers was the common name.

   The Internet is a surveillance state. Whether we admit it to ourselves
   or not, and whether we like it or not, we're being tracked all the
   time. Google tracks us, both on its pages and on other pages it has
   access to. Facebook does the same; it even tracks non-Facebook
   users. Apple tracks us on our iPhones and iPads. One reporter used a
   tool called Collusion to track who was tracking him; 105 companies
   tracked his Internet use during one 36-hour period.
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   Increasingly, what we do on the Internet is being combined with other
   data about us. Unmasking Broadwell's identity involved correlating her
   Internet activity with her hotel stays. Everything we do now involves
   computers, and computers produce data as a natural by-product.
   Everything is now being saved and correlated, and many big-data
   companies make money by building up intimate profiles of our lives
   from a variety of sources.

   News: Cyberthreats getting worse, House intelligence officials warn

   Facebook, for example, correlates your online behavior with your
   purchasing habits offline. And there's more. There's location data from
   your cell phone, there's a record of your movements from closed-circuit

   This is ubiquitous surveillance: All of us being watched, all
   the time, and that data being stored forever. This is what a
   surveillance state looks like, and it's efficient beyond the wildest
   dreams of George Orwell.

   Sure, we can take measures to prevent this. We can limit what we search
   on Google from our iPhones, and instead use computer web browsers that
   allow us to delete cookies. We can use an alias on Facebook. We can
   turn our cell phones off and spend cash. But increasingly, none of it

   There are simply too many ways to be tracked. The Internet, e-mail,
   cell phones, web browsers, social networking sites, search
   engines: these have become necessities, and it's fanciful to expect
   people to simply refuse to use them just because they don't like the
   spying, especially since the full extent of such spying is deliberately
   hidden from us and there are few alternatives being marketed by
   companies that don't spy.

   This isn't something the free market can fix. We consumers have no
   choice in the matter. All the major companies that provide us with
   Internet services are interested in tracking us. Visit a website and it
   will almost certainly know who you are; there are lots of ways to
   be tracked without cookies. Cellphone companies routinely
   undo the web's privacy protection. One experiment at Carnegie
   Mellon took real-time videos of students on campus and was able to
   identify one-third of them by comparing their photos with publicly
   available tagged Facebook photos.

   Maintaining privacy on the Internet is nearly impossible. If you forget
   even once to enable your protections, or click on the wrong link, or
   type the wrong thing, and you've permanently attached your name to
   whatever anonymous service you're using. Monsegur slipped up once, and
   the FBI got him. If the director of the CIA can't maintain his privacy
   on the Internet, we've got no hope.

   In today's world, governments and corporations are working together to
   keep things that way. Governments are happy to use the data
   corporations collect -- occasionally demanding that they collect more
   and save it longer -- to spy on us. And corporations are happy to buy
   data from governments. Together the powerful spy on the powerless, and
   they're not going to give up their positions of power, despite what the
   people want.

   Fixing this requires strong government will, but they're just as
   punch-drunk on data as the corporations. Slap-on-the-wrist fines
   notwithstanding, no one is agitating for better privacy laws.

   So, we're done. Welcome to a world where Google knows exactly what sort
   of porn you all like, and more about your interests than your spouse
   does. Welcome to a world where your cell phone company knows exactly
   where you are all the time. Welcome to the end of private
   conversations, because increasingly your conversations are conducted by
   e-mail, text, or social networking sites.

   And welcome to a world where all of this, and everything else that you
   do or is done on a computer, is saved, correlated, studied, passed
   around from company to company without your knowledge or consent; and
   where the government accesses it at will without a warrant.

   Welcome to an Internet without privacy, and we've ended up here
   with hardly a fight.

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