Sunday, March 21, 2010

Allen Dulles Likes Your Status

The Feds are on Facebook. And MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter, too.

U.S. law enforcement agents are following the rest of the Internet world into popular social-networking services, going undercover with false online profiles to communicate with suspects and gather private information, according to an internal Justice Department document that offers a tantalizing glimpse of issues related to privacy and crime-fighting.

Think you know who's behind that "friend" request? Think again. Your new "friend" just might be the FBI.

Despite the hype about social networking sites enabling “the people” to bypass the authorities, what is becoming clear is that the authorities are simply mining the info. conveniently bundled by social networking sites to keep from being bypassed (Those who see Orwell in all social interaction are asked to show their cards now). Social networking may have achieved nominal gains for dissent, but Twitter ain’t the Molotov cocktail many purported it would be. Rather, Twitter et al offer the greatest warehouse of intelligence data in human history. So if you’re in the intelligence business, you might conceivably have an offhand interest in browsing the greatest warehouse of intelligence data in human history. What, you thought ADD 5th graders would spot the power of social networking but the CIA would decide using it was in bad taste? Perhaps we need a game show called “Are You More Naive Than a 5th Grader?”

Folks galled by the Patriot Act have no excuse for being caught out of position by the privacy encroachment inherent to sites geared to spread info. as quickly, widely, and transparently as possible. The very sales pitch that made these bypass-boosters swoon was that “SOCIAL NETWORKING BEATS THE SYTEM BECAUSE EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE CAN SEE IT!” Right, everyone, everywhere can see it…including the system. The Patriot Act isn't cryptic: your private life is public property; so failing to foresee the perfectly foreseeable privacy losses inflicted by sites tailor-made for spooks shows how useless many V buffs truly are.

What’s more, if you are a privacy hawk, why are you spending hours a day broadcasting every personal detail to the entire wireless world (eschewing only the first digit of your SSN as a nod to Victorian modesty)? Remember, any person, including crooks looking to scam you, can easily access those details. You don’t have to wait for Big Brother. The hoodlum living across the street from you also has broadband.

My Twitter feed has no agents under the bed:


Anonymous said...

Have we met? You're my fb friend but we've never actually met ;-)

Anonymous said...

Good article though.