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Re: Privacy Prtection on the Internet
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Wed, 13 Aug 2008 11:42:00 -0400

Begin forwarded message:

From: "Dave Wilson" <dave () wilson net>
Date: August 13, 2008 10:49:21 AM EDT
To: dave () farber net
Subject: Re: [IP] Privacy Prtection on the Internet

I would agree that providers have generally paid only lip service to
the concept of privacy (which I think is the point of the article),
but I would also argue that, absent a search warrant it's trivial to
shield your identity in cyberspace; it's arguably easier to do things
anonymously in cyberspace than it is in meatspace (with the single
exception of making a purchase, though with the new "buy an anonymized
mastercard gift card at the drug store" phenomenon, that's becoming
pretty easy too).

What I worry about is that this ability to be anonymous when we choose
to be will be going away soon, spurred by (legitimate) concerns that a
lack of authentication online will lead to a host of troubles. But
having the ability to authenticate is quite different from requiring
authentication at all times for all users....


On Wed, Aug 13, 2008 at 8:49 AM, David Farber <dave () farber net> wrote:

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

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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