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[FYI] (Fwd) FC: Hurrah for Total Information Awareness!

------- Forwarded message follows -------
Date sent:      	Thu, 12 Dec 2002 19:06:19 -0500
From:           	Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>
To:             	politech@politechbot.com
Subject:        	FC: Hurrah for Total Information Awareness!
Send reply to:  	declan@well.com

[The below essay is posted through an anonymous remailer. I have a
queue of other TIA replies I'll post later tonight or tomorrow.
Briefly, the essay highlights two different ways to protect your
privacy: (a) Maintain control over your information and use technology
to limit disclosure and linking with past behavior. See, for instance,
Stefan Brands' work I wrote about nearly three years ago:
http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,34496,00.html or (b) Allow
the Feds and companies to collect your information and rely on laws
and government forbearance to protect your privacy. David Brin has
written about some of the problems with (a) -- though I do not find
his arguments persuasive -- and TIA shows us the problems of (b). Laws
can change in a moment at the whim of Congress or the courts;
technological methods won't. --Declan]

----- Forwarded message from Nomen Nescio <nobody@dizum.com> -----

From: Nomen Nescio <nobody@dizum.com>
Subject: Hooray for TIA
Date: Tue, 10 Dec 2002 21:20:11 +0100 (CET)

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

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

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 deployed.

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.

----- End forwarded message -----

--- POLITECH -- Declan McCullagh's politics and technology mailing
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