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[P]
Your Digital Identity: Privacy, or a Facade?

By imrdkl in Technology
Thu May 30, 2002 at 10:25:15 PM EST
Tags: Focus On... (all tags)
Focus On...

Your digital identity, if you've decided to create one, is likely based upon a pair of encryption keys, regardless of whether you're using X.509 certificates, PGP, or some other tools to insure the privacy and authenticity of your communications. Recently, certain events have motivated officials and governments to take actions which assure that your digital identity can be determined by them, and that your private communications may be intercepted and studied.

Part of basis for this move by the US government relies on the fact that the FBI made some rather significant blunders in investigating the clues which might have prevented the 9/11 tragedy. While the causes for this oversight have been generally shown to be unrelated to encryption and privacy of intercepted clues, the agency is now on its way to reform, and improvement of their techniques in general. Today, in fact, the Attorney General has announced the completion of a new plan which will reorganize the FBI into a domestic terrorism prevention agency with brand new powers to investigate, and with much less hindrance from the top.


Encouragingly, the top-ten list of new priorities for the FBI, to be found in the reorganization fact-sheet (pdf), include the protection of civil rights. However, the reorganization will give the FBI much new latitude to monitor the internet, libraries, religious institutions, and private citizens and guests of the US, without having to show probable cause. Your physical identity is also subject to scrutiny in various locations now, as well.

This trend towards stronger powers by investigating authorities is not unique to the US, either. The Convention on Cybercrime, signed by more than 30 nations, including the US, back in February, asserts broad new powers for the signatory governments, up to and including the requirement to reveal encryption keys upon demand, from anyone being investigated. Furthermore, any one of the signatory nations may decide to investigate a citizen from any of the others, and expect full cooperation.

Efforts against this trend are few and far between, with most citizens blithely accepting their necessity, and even advocating and defending the new rights of the government to intrude. There are reports, however, of a few people and groups which are taking a stand. A group of people in the UK, for example, are planning the release of a simple, CD-based operating system called M-o-o-t, which will provide the necessary communication tools for an individual to retain his privacy, while keeping his encryption keys offshore, where they won't be under the domain or authority of officials. It's hoped that this effort will torpedo the efforts of nosey governments, which are based upon the Cybercrime treaty, and other draconian laws and measures, including Carnivore. There are other efforts besides M-o-o-t to help average citizens who wish to retain their privacy, as well.

It should be clear even to the casual reader, that your encryption keys are the most important part of your digital identity. Certificates, reputations, and trust all come secondary. Protect your keys, and your right to hold them securely, or your digital identity is just a facade. With the governments of the world moving quickly to limit your rights to keep your identity private, along with your communications, it might be a good time to learn more about digital identity, and how you can use it.

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My private encryption key is
o mine alone 91%
o gladly shared on request 5%
o shared only to prevent terror 2%

Votes: 87
Results | Other Polls

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o FBI
o significan t blunders
o announced
o domestic terrorism prevention agency
o reorganiza tion fact-sheet (pdf)
o much new latitude
o subject to scrutiny
o Convention on Cybercrime
o expect full cooperation
o planning the release
o M-o-o-t
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o Also by imrdkl


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Your Digital Identity: Privacy, or a Facade? | 51 comments (37 topical, 14 editorial, 0 hidden)
Key Disclosure (4.00 / 5) (#6)
by Bad Harmony on Thu May 30, 2002 at 07:36:09 AM EST

I wonder how they plan to deal with cryptographic protocols and systems that have "perfect forward secrecy" for session keys. Once the session keys have been destroyed, they can't be recovered or derived from the permanent keys.

There are also crypto devices that generate and store keys in tamper-resistant hardware. The private key never leaves the device. There is no way to extract the private key, short of a sophisticated attack in a research lab.

54º40' or Fight!

Well... (none / 0) (#47)
by sean23007 on Sun Jun 16, 2002 at 03:48:30 PM EST

I presume the governments would make sure that they have access to sophisticated research labs. At least I hope they would.

Lack of eloquence does not denote lack of intelligence, though they often coincide.
[ Parent ]
Could be worse (3.33 / 6) (#9)
by wiredog on Thu May 30, 2002 at 07:58:07 AM EST

The US could be planning the types of laws that they have in the UK or France.

"one masturbation reference per 13 K5ers" --Rusty
I contend (5.00 / 1) (#10)
by imrdkl on Thu May 30, 2002 at 08:06:44 AM EST

that they already are, albeit less quickly. The US signed the Cybercrime treaty, after all. That empowers the fed to take actions such as were announced today, I believe. Remove the requirement for probable cause, and it's just a matter of time before additional strength is added.

[ Parent ]
Probable cause (4.33 / 3) (#13)
by wiredog on Thu May 30, 2002 at 08:53:41 AM EST

But removing that would require amending the Constitution to override the 4'th Amendment. It's unlikely, in the extreme, that a court would hold that a treaty would do so.

"one masturbation reference per 13 K5ers" --Rusty
[ Parent ]
I hope you're right (4.00 / 1) (#14)
by imrdkl on Thu May 30, 2002 at 09:00:30 AM EST

but somehow, I don't feel reassured.

[ Parent ]
Probable Cause has been subverted anyway (5.00 / 2) (#18)
by ip4noman on Thu May 30, 2002 at 10:18:30 AM EST

This document (which some have called controversial), states:
Probable cause is: "Reason to believe that an injury had criminal cause". Probable cause requires: "certain facts linking the accused with the victim's injury".
Now this happens to be controversial, because the meaning of Probable Cause has become subverted/perverted into meaning something like "reason to believe the accused violated the law".

There are many problems with this popular definition. It is syntactically dubious, and logically paridoxical, due to the "crime/law" paradox which occurs when you start defining crime and law in terms of each other.

--
Breaking Blue / Cognitive Liberty Airwaves
[ Parent ]
Hmmmm (5.00 / 2) (#21)
by wiredog on Thu May 30, 2002 at 11:27:06 AM EST

The 4th Amendment:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

I don't see where the common interpretation of probable cause conflicts with that.

How else would you define crime (for purposes of arrest and prosecution), except in terms of the law?

"one masturbation reference per 13 K5ers" --Rusty
[ Parent ]

you just gotta read the Lawful Arrest FAQ (5.00 / 1) (#22)
by ip4noman on Thu May 30, 2002 at 12:13:30 PM EST

I can't do the arguments justice. I suggest that you read this. Question 1.7 seems to have the answer you are looking for, but I'd suggest reading 1.1 through 1.7, as all of these form an extended analysis of the Fourth Amendment

--
Breaking Blue / Cognitive Liberty Airwaves
[ Parent ]
Which laws are you talking about? (4.00 / 1) (#15)
by linca on Thu May 30, 2002 at 09:16:48 AM EST

please?

[ Parent ]
He probably means (5.00 / 1) (#17)
by FredBloggs on Thu May 30, 2002 at 10:04:56 AM EST

RIPA (in the uk).

Some details here:
http://www.m-o-o-t.com/

[ Parent ]

Help! (2.00 / 4) (#20)
by JChen on Thu May 30, 2002 at 11:26:59 AM EST

You failed to mention "how" I can protect my identity! Until then, what good will this article do?

Let us do as we say.
perhaps (none / 0) (#38)
by three-pipe on Fri May 31, 2002 at 09:25:52 AM EST

why dont we all should put some thought into protecting our identities, rather than having people tell us what to do?

i smell a thread waiting to happen....


-chad \\ warfordium.org \\
[ Parent ]
Privacy vs. Anonymity (4.44 / 9) (#23)
by gauntlet on Thu May 30, 2002 at 12:40:10 PM EST

It is widely accepted practice that if you lie to the police about who you are, you can be put in jail. It seems to be a basic principle of law enforcement that you are required to submit to the police who you are. You are not required to submit to them what you did, or said. They have to figure that out for themselves.

That's privacy, without anonymity. What people on the internet seem to expect is anonymity. The inability of a person watching an event take place to be able to determine who caused it. If the police overhear a conversation on the street, they can look to see who's talking, and ask the person talking for ID. On the Internet, we expect to be able to say whatever we want, and have no one able to determine who we actually are.

I fail to see how this is a "right" that has been taken away from me, as much as it is a capability that has been taken away from law enforcement.

Into Canadian Politics?

I'm not so sure (4.25 / 4) (#27)
by davidduncanscott on Thu May 30, 2002 at 05:13:37 PM EST

It's a fine point, and perhaps not one I'd care to test in front of a large man with a gun, but there is a difference between the two points you mention:
It is widely accepted practice that if you lie to the police about who you are, you can be put in jail. It seems to be a basic principle of law enforcement that you are required to submit to the police who you are.
A refusal to identify oneself is not the same as a lie.

I do know that one cannot be arrested simply because one refuses to show ID, although it may be the case that one is obligated to give one's name when asked.

[ Parent ]

Yes... (3.00 / 2) (#28)
by Danse on Thu May 30, 2002 at 05:21:40 PM EST

I do know that one cannot be arrested simply because one refuses to show ID, although it may be the case that one is obligated to give one's name when asked.

That's exactly the case, at least here in Texas. You don't have to have ID, but you must give them your name if they ask for it.






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
OK (2.00 / 2) (#29)
by davidduncanscott on Thu May 30, 2002 at 05:38:30 PM EST

...so as a practical matter one could lie, although there might be consequences later. Not that I would ever lie to an officer of the law, no sir, not me...

[ Parent ]
What I've Seen (4.33 / 3) (#30)
by gauntlet on Thu May 30, 2002 at 05:55:04 PM EST

We've got one of those "follow the cops around for a week" TV shows here, and on one occasion a prostitute was asked for ID, didn't have any. They asked her name, and she gave it. They looked her up in the system, and they didn't believe it was her. The system said she was shorter, and the description of her tatoo was all wrong. So they called the vice squad to come out and confirm whether or not she was who she said she was (evidently the vice squad cops are on a first-name basis with all the hookers), and they said she was lying. She was arrested on the spot for giving a false name.

So you can lie, but it's not advisable unless you believe that they have no way of determining it's a lie.

Into Canadian Politics?
[ Parent ]

Damn! (4.44 / 9) (#31)
by inerte on Thu May 30, 2002 at 07:25:56 PM EST

  I am fed up with this whole terrorism thing.

  Historically the attack itself was very small. 5000 people died? I can name a country every week where bigger tragedies are happening.

  And yet, the current dominant power, USA, keeps bringing this up and up, terrorism here, terrorism there. Damn, I don't know what happened to americans, how come can they think 9/11 was a enormous disaster?

  Much more important, because of this small happening, they are screwing theirselfs and the whole world. I mean, now in USA you can be arrested for the most insignificant things, have your life investigated, all in the name of "Let that not happen again"!

  I remember I cried when the planes hit (I am not an american). Not because per se the act was awful, but because of the cultural implications it will have all over the world. I thought USA would close its door to a lot of things, but it's happening too damn fast. I thought the first doors to close would be international agreements, because the american people would be more paranoic with their already poor view of what other countries do.

  But oh man I was wrong. Maximized by the Bush administration, the first acts were taken inside. Maybe it's because of the anthrax attacks, because they were (probaly) made by someone inside. So it was decided to first fix things inside, and later worry.

  But I don't like the fix, I am sure a lot of people also don't, and I believe they are doing more harm than any good.

  I repeat my first troll paragraph to make you understand why I am fed up with this, why I can't stand anymore these things happening: I can name one country every week where bigger tragedies happen.

  Please, please, please, let us go on with our lifes.

--
Bodily exercise, when compulsory, does no harm to the body; but knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.
Plato

Re: Damn (2.00 / 2) (#32)
by synik on Thu May 30, 2002 at 10:44:26 PM EST

And yet, the current dominant power, USA, keeps bringing this up and up, terrorism here, terrorism there. Damn, I don't know what happened to americans, how come can they think 9/11 was a enormous disaster?.

Most people would call 2 buildings smacking into a building in the middle of a big city a "disaster".

Regardless of how you view it, I also dislike the USAs response to what happened...it seems somewhat draconian, and this whole "war on terror" rubbish is now just an ego fix by the US.

--

---
The human race has suffered for centuries and is still suffering from the mental disorder known as religion, and atheism is the only physician that will be able to effect a permanent cure. -- Joseph Lewis
[ Parent ]

Right... (3.00 / 3) (#33)
by gidds on Fri May 31, 2002 at 12:00:26 AM EST

Yes, 11/Nov was a disaster.  But it wasn't the start of terrorism – some parts of the world have lived with it for decades.  As usual, the USA has had its head in the sand for far too long.  Thanks for the War On Terrorism, guys, but what were you doing when the IRA started bombing us here in the UK, for example?  Giving them funds, that's what.  Thanks, guys...

[fx: waits for a `That was different because...' reply with interest]

Andy/
[ Parent ]

actually... (2.33 / 3) (#34)
by synik on Fri May 31, 2002 at 12:23:48 AM EST

That was different because america thinks it is the centre of the universe :)



---
The human race has suffered for centuries and is still suffering from the mental disorder known as religion, and atheism is the only physician that will be able to effect a permanent cure. -- Joseph Lewis
[ Parent ]

Would they? (2.50 / 2) (#35)
by inerte on Fri May 31, 2002 at 03:26:24 AM EST

  I would call a disaster if someone I love died, not unknow folks that happened to be at the wrong place, at the wrong administration of the century.

  Yeah, yeah, I had enough, like I said before. Maybe I am not normal, but I believe there are more important things to do.

--
Bodily exercise, when compulsory, does no harm to the body; but knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.
Plato
[ Parent ]

not so simple really (none / 0) (#44)
by adiffer on Fri May 31, 2002 at 11:48:34 PM EST

We are going on with our lives. It's just that our lives have changed.

As a nation, we typically ignore much of what goes on in the world. Our government acts to protect the interests of the narrow groups that actually care enough to ask it to do anything at all.

That is not the case today. A lot of us are paying attention to things now. It's not an ego thing. It is more of an attention/anger thing.

Our views may be biased for a variety of reasons. The more the rest of you act to correct our mistakes, the better off you will be. We are going to act and keep acting for some time. Provide the information we want and you will get to have a say in where we direct our anger.

-Dream Big.
--Grow Up.
[ Parent ]

Have you ever been to New York? (none / 0) (#46)
by duffbeer703 on Fri Jun 14, 2002 at 10:20:46 AM EST

I have.

I remember going on a field trip in 3rd grade to the observation level of the WTC. I remember a wedding reception at windows on the world.

Now when I drive down the BQE when we visit my aunt on Staten Island (I live upstate) I see that something is missing. There's that big hole in the skyline -- and when you get closer you see the wrecked buildings next door too.

Maybe to an elitist idiot like yourself, 5,000 dead  is no big deal. I guess it's fine that some savages went on a murderous rampage in the center of the largest city in the US. If some group of fanatics started taking down office towers in Rio or Sao Paulo, I'm sure you would consider those events 'bigger' tragedies.

The United States in 2002 is a nation at war. Unfortunately, we are not at war with any particular nation-state. So instead of fighting out in the open, we're fighting in the shadows with commandos, spies, mercenaries and media.


[ Parent ]

And laws. (none / 0) (#48)
by sean23007 on Sun Jun 16, 2002 at 04:01:18 PM EST

Don't forget, we are also fighting with laws. And since we aren't fighting against any particular nation-state, as you say, we don't really even know who it is that we are fighting. It really doesn't help that we all hold the belief that, thanks to the gloriously misunderstood Internet, any and every person in the country has the potential to be a terrorist. Apparently. So, on account of this, the bunglers in the capitol have to fight us with their most dangerous weapons: laws.

Lack of eloquence does not denote lack of intelligence, though they often coincide.
[ Parent ]
Have you ever been to São Paulo? (none / 0) (#51)
by inerte on Tue Jun 18, 2002 at 08:27:34 PM EST

  I am not comparing tragedies. I am saying that the world is living an impression that terrorism is the worst thing that exists. The mobilization of all kinds and types of governments, companies, groups and societies really amazes me. I believe we can have this level of care with several things, and quite frankly, support the War on Terrorism is one at the bottom of my list.

  I have real issues around me here. Around 35 people are violently killed every weekend just 10 km of where I live, in a neighborhood that has an area of about 150 km (squared? Is that the word?). I have been robbed 11 times (and I am 20 years old). My father, more than 20 times.

  What you are going to say? I hope isn't something like 'That's your problem, deal with it', because that's exactly the opposite of what I am trying to do. Posting here, talking with you people, showing my concerns. I've never neglected what is around me, and sometimes I try to let my voice gets heard farther.

  I am not an elitist too. I am not an idiot. I don't treat Americans as idiots when I am talking seriously. I didn't post and said "Fsck you!" or anything like that. Neither did you treat me like this, of course.

  The whole thing gets out of control when the War on Terrorism stops to be something that aims to protect people, and takes away your freedom. Do you think that all the steps that were taken after 9/11 were necessary? And that's because you are there.

  Oh, and let me remind you, USA isn't at war only in 2002. If you think about it, there were probaly less years in USA's history where the country was living peacefully.

--
Bodily exercise, when compulsory, does no harm to the body; but knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.
Plato
[ Parent ]

I was afraid of stuff like this (5.00 / 1) (#36)
by 0xA on Fri May 31, 2002 at 05:56:29 AM EST

I figured this was going to happen.

I had a conversation with my boss on Sept 11th as we watched what was happening on TV. He said something the effect of, "The American are going to go on a rampage over this". I agreed with him, sadly.

I can't pinpoint the specific things that bother me about the "War on Terror". I firmly believe that any undertaking must be balanced, everything must be. Often when the US embarks on a new imitative, the whole thing has an incredibly broad scope and is taken on with a total focus towards the effects of the problem. Never the cause. Of course the US doesn't really have a monopoly on this at all but they bring to it their own style, it's hard to explain but it's horrifying.

So many things come along with absolute action like this. By declaring "Terror" as the top focus of Law Enforcement and the military they have created a climate of fear (Terror if you will) in their own population that allows them to do anything they want as long as it addresses the problem in some way. New legislation, military actions, anything can be justified under such a broad imitative.

There is always thing that come along with actions like this that are just evil. Want us to catch Terrorists? We need to read your email. No you say? Don't you want us to catch terrorists? What kind of Scum are you? I support what the US is doing, my country is playing it's own role in the military and law enforcement actions. I want to help deal with this but damn I don't like what they are doing in some places.

The way this "War" was declared has already created a political climate in the world that allows for some really nasty shit. There isn't a country in the world that can look at Israel and tell them to stop what they are doing. They aren't on a near genocidal rampage, they're Fighting the War. Never mind they probably wouldn't have a war to fight if they just gave up on their occupied lands. Ever notice that every time the Israelis go into Palestine on a military adventure they are fighting in refugee camps? Somebody really should tell these guys that bulldozing somebody's house and shoving them in a refugee camp will not make for happy neighbors. I can't support the way Hamas et al. choose to fight but I understand. I can't support or understand what Israel is doing. What can I do about it though, they are fighting Terror right? We're in an all or nothing situation with this too now. It's stupid, shades of the "War on Some Drugs" all over again.

I want to say how I think this should be done but I don't know. I have no experience in politics or the military or law enforcement. Maybe this is the only way to do things like this effectively but I keep thinking of words like caution, balance and simplicity. I saw something on TV last night that draws an interesting metaphor. ABC was talking about drug companies and a certain class of drugs used to treat high blood pressure. You need to lower high blood pressure so you don't have a heart attack, these drugs did that. There is also evidence that they increased the risk of heart attack by 60% themselves. There is no point in defending our way of life from terrorism if we have to destroy our way of life to do it.

they never will cure the cause (none / 0) (#43)
by speedfreak2K2 on Fri May 31, 2002 at 02:26:19 PM EST

 "Often when the US embarks on a new imitative, the whole thing has an incredibly broad scope and is taken on with a total focus towards the effects of the problem. Never the cause."

Of course the US government wants to just remedy the effects, not the cause. Reason being, if they take care of the cause of the problems, what's left to cure and have the sheeple of the US rally against? All of the military spending would then appear to have been a waste of money and time. It's the good 'ol military-industrial complex at work.
You! Take that crown off your head, I'm kicking your ass!
[ Parent ]

Appearances are all that matters to them (none / 0) (#49)
by sean23007 on Sun Jun 16, 2002 at 04:10:04 PM EST

Yes, all of the military spending would then appear to have been a waste of money and time. That, of course, is all that matters to Bush and his parentally assigned cronies. It doesn't matter that all the money they spend on the military is obviously worthless and would be better spent on any number of things, but it definitely does one thing: looks useful. Does it seem to anyone else that spending $300 billion on making $300 billion in spending appear necessary is completely pointless?

Lack of eloquence does not denote lack of intelligence, though they often coincide.
[ Parent ]
Going after causes (none / 0) (#45)
by adiffer on Sat Jun 01, 2002 at 12:03:10 AM EST

Do you really want us going after causes? Are you sure about that?

It is very likely that what we see as a cause of some effect is different from how many others see it. We would act on how WE saw things.

I know a few people who think some of those causes would go away if we just had the courage to send in our military (Who could stop us?) and annex a new country every so often. I don't want this to sound like a troll, so don't boil over about this statement. I point it out to show you that it might be best if we left the solutions to the causes to the rest of you who might be more knowledgeable or sane. If we can stop a few groups from shooting and killing long enough, can everyone offer up the knowledge and resources needed to cure the underlying causes?

-Dream Big.
--Grow Up.
[ Parent ]

One cannot eliminate the cause of terrorism... (none / 0) (#50)
by RadiantMatrix on Sun Jun 16, 2002 at 10:24:38 PM EST

The cause of terrorism is most simply stated by "Kaa's Law" : 'In any sufficiently large group of people, most are idiots.'

The simple fact of the matter is that in order to completely end any chance of terrorism, then we must eliminate either all hate (impossible) or all people (undesirable). The government must, then, try a different approach -- creating the most secure environment they can.Unfortunately for them, their citizens value this little thing called Constitutional Freedom that they won't give up so easily.

IMO, the US government should be approaching terror like a network admin approaches security -- security breaches, like terrorist attacks, can never be totally prevented. However, steps can be taken to make it more difficult, and to track down the attacker. Will it always work? No. But, it is far better than the alternative...

And, yes, I know I'm being overly simplistic. :)

--
$w="q\$x";for($w){s/q/\:/;s/\$/-/;s/x/\)\n/;}print($w)
[ Parent ]

nonsensical title (2.00 / 1) (#37)
by tps12 on Fri May 31, 2002 at 08:10:40 AM EST

Your Digital Identity: Freedom From Unauthorized Intrusion, or a False, Superficial, or Artificial Appearance or Effect?

The answer is pretty clearly, "neither."

Hmm (none / 0) (#39)
by imrdkl on Fri May 31, 2002 at 10:36:07 AM EST

you made this comment once already as an editorial comment. Are you looking for mojo, or just like to repeat yourself? The title is what it is. You dont like it, vote it down. But dont whine.

[ Parent ]
i know (none / 0) (#40)
by tps12 on Fri May 31, 2002 at 10:49:20 AM EST

I didn't mean to whine, but now that it is posted I wanted to point it out to those who don't read the submission queue. Thank you.

[ Parent ]
My (none / 0) (#41)
by imrdkl on Fri May 31, 2002 at 12:49:40 PM EST

you certainly are a good pointer outer of things, indeed.

Is it that you think people can't decide on their own, or are you smarter than the rest? Your no-vote and idiotic comments weren't enough to keep this story down, so now you have to repeat yourself like a child who doesn't get what he wants, right?

[ Parent ]

Your (none / 0) (#42)
by tps12 on Fri May 31, 2002 at 01:42:32 PM EST

What⁈‽⁉

I am just trying to share my thoughts in a supportive environment.

[ Parent ]

Your Digital Identity: Privacy, or a Facade? | 51 comments (37 topical, 14 editorial, 0 hidden)
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