Category Archives: Conspiracies

Google did nothing wrong by collecting wifi data with the streetcar.

3033520.binCan somebody please explain what Google did wrong?

They drove around with a car, taking photos of the public surroundings of their car (that’s how they make StreetView).  While so doing, they picked up and recorded whatever wireless signals were coming in to their car.

Now people are whining that they are being spied upon.

Does anybody really think that preventing this kind of conduct has anything to do with making our communities secure against unwanted surveillance?  Is this line of defense the best we’ve got?

If you stand at your doorway, yelling at the top of your lungs about many intimate, private details of your life, is it fair to accuse a passerby of illegal (or unethical) surveillance because they happen to be recording their surroundings with an audio recorder?

Do you think that members of congress will rally to your defense, accusing those same pedestrians of spying on you?

There are plenty of very secure options for wireless communication.  If you aren’t using any of them, that’s your prerogative.  If you abstain from secure practices while at the same time communicating about sensitive issues which you bizarrely regard as private, that’s your problem.

On the bigger issue of Google being a scary monster of information collection… Sure, I see your point.  While on one hand, the information they collect is, in every practice I know of, voluntary (search phrases, email contents on Gmail, advertising clicks, cookies, the Google Toolbar, and many other methods), it’s not any less scary that they know more than anybody else about the modern polity.

I’m not usually a defender of google or any other giant corporation – I’ve expressed my fair share of google skepticism.  In this case, I think they’ve actually done wrong by repeatedly apologizing, but I guess that’s a PR move.

Nevertheless, their amazing (and thankless!) gift two weeks ago of releasing the VP8 codec to the public domain under an open source license was perhaps the single most significant act of bolstering independent radical journalism in the (still short) history of website-based video delivery.  Still not as profound as the movement that Miro represents, I’ll grant, but big (and a LOT more expensive).

To my mind, Google gave us as $124.6 million dollar gift, and I think we have a responsibility to accept it in full if we want to take advantage of it. That means in turn taking full responsibility for our network presence.  If your upload stream includes poignant, radical, inspirational content encoded in a free codec for the world to cherish, good.  If your upload stream (and wireless connection) includes unencrypted content that you irrationally regard as private, bad.

They’re coming for our encryption. It was only a matter of time.

Freedom to Tinker has the story today about bills introduced in a number of states that seek to prohibit the use of encryption by home internet users.

The underlying message here is simple:  You must expose yourself to surveillance.  You may not take any steps to defend yourself against state or corporate incursion into your privacy.

This reminds me of the order in Seattle back in 1999 that made gas masks illegal.  The thought process seems the same:  Your communication data and your muccous membranes must be exposed to the state so that they can be utilized to control you.

http://freedom-to-tinker.com/blog/felten/use-firewall-go-jail

Investigation demanded in Connell death

This is interesting.  A press release from an organization called “Velvet Revolution” has been posted to Yahoo! News.  I didn’t realize that Yahoo! posted press releases, and it’s not marked as such except that it has a header with “To:” and “Contact:” details.

The contact is someone called Ilene Proctor, and her phone number is 310-858-6643.

The press release claims, inter alia, that the group asked for protection for Michael Connell, who is purported to have had inside knowledge of the rigging of the 2004 election and who died in a mysterious plane crash Friday.

The press release is here.