Saturday, April 23, 2005

we don't need no steenking right to privacy

So Comcast is handing over names and addresses of their customers to the RIAA; they're so eager to help out that they don't even require a court order for this violation of their customers privacy. But this is really just a courtesy, since the RIAA (or anyone else) can now find out everything about you for $20 at Zabasearch. Score another point for stalkers and identity thieves.

We leave fingerprints all over the internet; it's already possible to datamine quite a bit of useful information on just about anybody. There are always some holes in the data, though... it can be difficult to tell if a name that is present in two separate databases represents a single person. But if you had access to the ISP records for each person with that name, it would be simple to connect the dots and create a coherent picture. It's not too surprising, then, to find that corporations (and the government, the biggest corporation of all) are asking for this data. Not surprising, but still depressing...

The erosion of Bill of Rights has turned into a fucking landslide in the past few years, with corporations seeing no need to restrain themselves when their actions look positively libertarian compared to the actions of the White House. If Comcast had tried this 5 years ago, they'd have been sued into the ground. In our new culture of fear, it's barely news.

A few years ago I thought that cryptography was interesting; now I'm starting to think it is necessary. Not to keep prying eyes from observing your illegal habits, but to reduce the ease with which a very accurate profile of you can be collated any time someone decides to target you, whether for good or ill.

Using the Freedom of Information Act you can basically request your 'file' to see what sort of data the government has on you. Similarly you can request a copy of your credit report to see what sort of data companies have on you. But what if there is no file, no report, because that information can be culled from the Matrix on demand? Accountability just disappears in that scenario; they can truthfully say that they have no file on you. You don't have to be paranoid to see that this is leading to a Big Brother-like situation. (But it helps. Ba dum pum. Thanks, I'll be here all week.)