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Search privacy and the AOL debacle

For those that aren't aware, AOL is in a world of hurt after releasing three months worth of search data to the public. They have since apologized.

One blogger writes:

The NY Times runs a story in which it was relatively easy to identify a Georgia woman (AOL Searcher 4417749), with her search history telling a remarkably personal story over a three month period. The article provides a powerful illustration not only of the severity of the AOL mistake (which remains online for all to see), but of why search companies simply should not be retaining this data for any significant period of time. The public privacy risks, whether self-inflicted, from hackers, or via law enforcement fishing expeditions, outweigh the private commercial benefits.

Another blogger writes:

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I refer to as “the fine line between the internet and the telescreen.

The internet is a wonderful tool for political organizing and communicating, but I fear that as we move increasingly from real-world to online, we will see more and more government persecution of what Orwell called thoughtcriminals.

The implications of this subject are far reaching and important. Orwell, more and more, seems to have been prophetic in his vision of the future. Privacy concerns are being set aside in the name of justice and security. Whether it be a judicial order or the so-called Patriot Act, our privacy is being invaded.

For all you Firefox users, I have made available a search plugin for Black Box Search to anonymize your searches, preventing Big Brother from tracking your every move. :)

At what point do we draw the line? When is enough enough? Have we gone too far already? Should we continue to relinquish our privacy in the name of security? Wise are the words of Benjamin Franklin:

Those who give up liberty for the sake of security deserve neither liberty nor security.

Chertoff is pursuing a deal

Chertoff is pursuing a deal to get airlines to disclose names and addresses of travelers, their credit card information, e-mail addresses, telephone numbers and related hotel or car reservations, and could even be able to tell if you like to sleep in a king size bed or not.

I worry about this sort of thing because I'm rather outspoken against much of US foreign policy. When will I be denied access to an airplane because someone saw something I posted on Provopulse? Cat Stevens was denied access to the US because he had made a donation to a children's charity in Palestine. Who's next?

Would it be easy to start a McCarthy-like era of witch trials for whatever group suited the government's program under increasing privacy violations by big brother?

I think it is a valid point to consider that though you may be protected by some threat by the decreased civil liberty you enjoy, when will it become your turn to be unjustly imprisoned after the FBI finds out you read the biography of Cat Stevens from your library records?

Here's the story:

Well Spoken...

Well Spoken Curtis, you and I agree on this one. I didn't post anything about it but i also enjoyed your comments on the latest lybbert article.

Though some people will be

Though some people will be loathe to see me encouraged, your remark is appreciated. I forgot upon which issues you and I disagree. Ciao.

Privacy Invasions...

You raise some interesting questions. A couple weeks ago I was able to catch a screening of Freedom to Fascism (for those interested, there is another screening on Sep. 8 in Syracuse). In the movie, they had an little video showing a guy trying to order a pizza.. when he called in his order, the pizza place had all of his information - knew that he had cholesterol problems, knew that his credit card was maxed out, etc.

Though unlikely to soon happen, it illustrated the direction in which we are heading. For those of us that don't always masquerade behind online monikers, this invasion of privacy and threat of retribution is all too disconcerting. People always tout "well, I have nothing to hide", but as you ask: "when will it become your turn to be unjustly imprisoned...?" There are countless stories of innocent people having their houses raided, property confiscated, and being jailed for "questionable activities". 1984, here we come.