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Digital Wrongheadedness

February 10th, 2006

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is a great organization. They are essentially the ACLU for the internet. There has been criticism in the past in regards to how successful they have been (they tend to go after businesses, not government… courts seem less sympathetic to the former). On balance, even considering their faults, I like ‘em… donate to them… and would gladly accept a job from them.

All that being said, this I cannot abide

EFF urges consumers not to use this feature, because it will make their personal data more vulnerable to subpoenas from the government and possibly private litigants, while providing a convenient one-stop-shop for hackers who’ve obtained a user’s Google password.

The quote is in reference to a new feature of Google Desktop (which I admit I’ve never used… doesn’t work with Linux). If I’m reading their indignation correctly, I shouldn’t use this new feature because the government will illegally seize the information? Let’s be clear, when we are talking subpoenas, your house is no more protected then Google’s servers. If it’s a criminal matter, then the government can seize the servers without observing 4th amendment protections (the 4th doesn’t extend to non-traditional spaces like banks). So, yes, that’s a concern… but that doesn’t seem to be the focus here.

And then there’s the hackers and their one-stop-shopping! Give me a break. If I’m stupid enough to have given away my Google password then I’ve sort of asked for trouble. That password is also the key to my email… also known as my digital identity. I think I’ve got scarier issues than a hacker rifeling through my class notes.

EFF it’s time you toned the rhetoric down. Yes, it’s true that I would be more private if I just used cash (used to be one of their privacy recommendations) but let’s get serious. What are realistic things I can do in today’s society? And if you’re going to go after companies like Google, just tell people about the feature and it’s potential risks… the people listening to you are smart enough to figure it out from there.

probonogeek Uncategorized

  1. Karl Smith
    February 10th, 2006 at 18:07 | #1

    Off-topic, but it appears the veracity of Jesus’s time on Earth is no loner of interest to the Italian legal system.

  2. srcastic
    February 17th, 2006 at 18:27 | #2

    I wonder if the EFF is right in principle. The goverment could, theoretically, if improperly, get a supoena for Google in general, and thus discover that you have something on your computer that is a “no no” when in the absence of using the desktop toolbar, they never would have suspected you. So while you are right that if they want to target you individually, you are vulnerable either way, to the extent that the toolbar puts out info that otherwise would not come within the scope of the government’s searches, it does pose a risk.

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