Illustrating the Point of Traffic Analysis and Media Double Standards.

Nob Akimoto

Nob Akimoto is a policy analyst and part-time dungeon master. When not talking endlessly about matters of public policy, he is a dungeon master on the NWN World of Avlis

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30 Responses

  1. Rod Engelsman says:

    So did you know that back in 2007, Rep. Darrell Issa, who is now of course making such a stink over this issue, was one of only 21 Representatives to vote against the Free Flow of Information Act of 2007? And that that same measure was defeated in the Senate by a Republican filibuster?

    They probably still shouldn’t a done what they done, but the fact that they could do it legally can be lain squarely at the feet of Republican Congresscritters.Report

  2. MikeSchilling says:

    Totally different things. When Bloomberg does it, it’s part of a mutually agreed positive sum transaction.Report

    • Totally different things. The Justice Department has the power to arrest the journalists it spies on. A big media company only has the power to be annoying.Report

      • Barry in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        Seconding this. And going beyond – the Justice Department has powers to f-ck up one’s life even without an arrest, and certainly without a conviction.Report

      • Kimsie in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        Okay, assume your pay is now tied to how many people finish reading your essays.
        Not that your readers have agreed to this, or that your publisher is telling you about it.Report

      • Morat20 in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        I think “spies on” is doing a lot of loaded work there. “Investigated” is less loaded a term, and more apt. Especially since, well, the AP isn’t being investigated in this case. The investigation is focused on whomever leaked, which means the AP is more of a material witness category, not the subject of the investigation proper.

        I’d be a lot more unhappy about this whole affair if they’d been wiretapping reporters, instead of gathering call-logs.

        Because the latter? That ship sailed a long time past, and I find it…distasteful..that the media only cares now because it was “one of them”.

        If it’s morally wrong, if it’s unjust government intrusion to grab pen registries like this– where was the media ten years ago when it started?Report

      • The main problem here for me is that these things are connected.
        Whether or not we have a reasonable expectation to privacy for some of this information is based on the fact that we consent to a lot of private entities gathering this data whether implicitly or explicitly (mostly in the form of end user license agreements). Basically a lot of what’s allowed is based on what we as users are tolerating from the private sector.

        Essentially to curtail the government’s access to this crap, it’s probably best to just curtail it totally from private sector actors, because if the data itself is protected, we get a better expectation of privacy.Report

        • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

          Agreed, if private actors have the data, then government can get it’s hands on it, whether we want them to or not.

          Better to not have the data available.Report

      • Patrick in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        Mrrr… not *totally* different things. A big media company can do a lot more than just “be annoying”, including ruining your life, if you’re a public person.

        I think Nob’s point is valid, to the extent that “citizen privacy” is a wholly incoherent concept at this point and fixing it would entail a lot of consequences for both public and private institutions.Report

      • Rod Engelsman in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        A big media company only has the power to be annoying.

        I think the CIA operatives in Yemen as well as any locals they may have “turned” and are working with might dispute that. This is potentially life and death shit we’re dealing with here.

        A lot has been made of this administration’s penchant for secrecy and prosecuting leaks, but this is an area where it’s vital. At least if you believe, like I do, that effectively fighting terrorism aimed at the U.S. is best waged by the likes of the CIA, FBI, and Interpol.Report

    • Morat20 in reply to MikeSchilling says:

      Isn’t making a phone call a mutually agreed upon positive sum transaction? At least the phone company wasn’t outright selling the data they collected on you…. just giving it up to the government as they’ve been legally required to do so for years.

      Of all the excesses of government in this arena, I find this the least troublesome. A record of who called whom and how long the call lasted? Which the FBI told the AP about? Which was fully consistent with fairly long standing law? Wherein the AP is not the subject of the investigation itself, nor accused of breaking any laws nor liable for any sort of prosecution — being more witnesses to the crime than accessories?

      Yeah, let’s get to that — after we tackle the actual wiretaps done with FISA rubberstamps, or the hoovering up of email wholesale, or the other egregious violations that we know about.

      We can get to what the media feels is only a problem when it’s done to THEM later. Let’s start with the stuff that’s apparently wrong even when it’s done to the masses.Report

  3. zic says:

    Have you (you meaning you, gentle reader, not just Nob,) checked the cookies on your computer lately? Such a sweet name and such a gilded lily for such a vile task.Report

    • Kimsie in reply to zic says:

      This is why computers are fun. you can actually monitor what gets sent around.

      Reporter, report this: The key insights reside in corporate databases that it is illegal for citizens to access.

      These folks aren’t the first, nor the last, to steal data without permission. They just got caught.Report

      • dhex in reply to Kimsie says:

        some cookies are quite useful. others far, far less so, at least to the end user.

        i’m here or there on aspects of behavioral marketing, both online and off.Report

        • Rod Engelsman in reply to dhex says:

          I’m fine with Amazon or Netflix tailoring their offerings to what they think I might like. Hell, it saves time on my part! And I’m okay with them knowing it’s me that’s visiting their site without having to hassle with logging in.

          As for the rest? If outfits are tailoring banner ads to me I wouldn’t know about it. Firefox + Adblock takes care of practically all of that.Report

  4. Aidian Holder says:

    This thing with Bloomberg strikes me as just a symptom of Bloomberg News’ recent growth. Until fairly recently, it was a pretty small operation that focused almost exclusively on market and financial news. And the one thing its reporters were required to do was to pimp the terminals. That’s where Bloomberg makes most of its money — those terminals cost thousands of dollars a month, and financial services companies use a ton of ’em. This always struck me as an ethical compromise, but compared to what some publishers push on their reporters it wasn’t something I’d get up in arms about. I could see how that led to reporters having that kind of access, and it would be a small step from there to using that as a reporting tool.Report

    • Barry in reply to Aidian Holder says:

      What surprises me is that this is not something good for the Bloomberg empire (assuming that they make most of their profits on the terminals and associate services). Given the known level of corruption on Wall St (with certain companies having pre-emptive access to trades), it’s not really believable that Bloomberg hasn’t quietly pimped out back-door terminal information to interested parties with deep pocket (like Goldman S, or G Sachs, not to name names).Report

  5. Damon says:

    “Let’s cut the crap. We have a serious problem with privacy and data collection. It needs to be addressed.” Yep, but the cat is out of the bag and to a large entent, it’s too late.

    There is a difference between Bloomberg and the Gov’t, which should be obvious.

    None of the above doesn’t mean I’m not a big supporter of privacy–rigerous privacy-I think we should start with the European model, and that it should apply to the gov’ts access to our data as well. I know what’s out there, I’ve seen demos of it.Report

    • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Damon says:

      It’s possible — even likely — that part of the answer is “we care about privacy a lot less than we thought we did.”

      That’s okay as far as it goes, but it’s also pretty damn vague. There are definitely times when we do still care about privacy, and when we still can do something about it. So yes, let’s have this conversation.Report

      • Barry in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        Jason, there’s that and most people not really realizing just how little we have, and how much of it certain parties can collect. For example, I assume that the DoJ has both vast government access and vast corporate (purchased) access, and that the DoD & Co. has vastly more.

        I doubt that we can really conceive of what certain parties in the government can pull on any of us in 60 seconds, well-packaged for maximum information content (i.e., not just a raw data dump which would take a week to wade through).Report

        • Kimsie in reply to Barry says:

          you’d be surprised just what a full background check would pull.
          You might contact a PI and ask him to run one on yourself, if y0u’re really that curious.Report

      • Damon in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        “we care about privacy a lot less than we thought we did.”

        I think it’s more like “we don’t know what companies / gov’ts have on us so we’re not alarmed.

        If they saw the data, there would be a riot.Report

  6. Jaybird says:

    I have a silly question: was there a disclaimer anywhere that said “by using this service, you agree to dumb shit that you’d never actually agree to but you’re going to check that box anyway and press enter because it’s more important for you to post a comment about the 49ers than for you to read a paragraph full of fine print on a newspaper site”?

    Or similar?

    Because, lemme tell ya, the checking that box and pressing enter means that you agreed to a lot of dumb shit.Report