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Privacy Prtection on the Internet
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Wed, 13 Aug 2008 08:49:36 -0400

Begin forwarded message:

From: "Atkinson, Robert" <rca53 () columbia edu>
Date: August 13, 2008 8:47:04 AM EDT
To: <dave () farber net>
Subject: Privacy Prtection on the Internet


For IP? From an article in today's Wall Street Journal, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121860037764836165.html (the on-line headline is from another article on the same page of the print edition) concerning the YouTube-Viacom dispute:

>Nonetheless, some experts say the Web has never been a place where privacy is protected. >Lawrence Lessig, a professor at Stanford Law School, says that the average Internet user is living increasingly >in a "panopticon-like" environment, where Web users can be observed without being able to tell whether they >are being watched. Internet protocol addresses are extraordinarily efficient fingerprints, says Mr. Lessig. "So >anybody who thinks you're going to get on the Web and be anonymous is just ignorant about the way the >Web functions."

I'm not sure that Prof. Lessig's quote supports the reporter's conclusion that "the Web has never been a place where privavcy is protected" but it does raise the question about whether citizens should reasonably expect privacy on the Internet. The implication is that the "reasonable expectation of privacy" on the web is (or will be?) no greater, for example, than the expectation of privacy in public areas. That would be a problem. I'd be interested in hearing from privacy advocates how to stop the internet from sliding on the "slippery slope" of expectations to being the electronic equivalent of the public street (or village green).


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