[clug] [OT] The Register is trying to crowfund $100-$250K for indep study on NBN

Paul Wayper paulway at mabula.net
Sun Jun 23 01:50:09 MDT 2013

Hash: SHA1

On 06/23/2013 09:25 AM, Mike Carden wrote:
> How does paranoia scale?
> When we connected via 2400 bit packet radio (well, some of us did), we
> sent little and I doubt anyone cared. When we had 14.4 dial up modems we
> sent more and in my experience nobody cared. 56K modems... TransAct
> cable... ADSL... the speeds increased and so did the data volume. Maybe
> somebody cares. Now you can do naughty things that you may not have done
> at low bit rates. Are the Watchers better equipped?

I'd argue that yes, they are.  They can - and in the US they are trying to -
store all the metadata for everything they receive for an extended period of
time.  Storage is cheap for the big players, and mining huge data sets is
simply a computational exercise.  Metadata is also relatively compact and of
a fixed size per transaction (whereas storing each email or SMS would vary a
lot more).  Recording it all and finding a use for it later is, IMO,
perfectly feasible these days.

Now, I agree that most of us are perfectly safe.  I think they're probably
likely to use metadata mining as a drill (who has person X talked to, where
they've been, has anyone else met up there, etc.) rather than a scan (who
should we be looking at?)  Most of us don't have contact with people under
investigation, or have only ephemeral contact and are therefore ignored
because we don't match other contact profiles.  A few innocent people might
be unknowingly under investigation just because they happen to be related to
or work with someone suspicious.

But as we learnt from Scott Ludlam's keynote at LCA 2012, there are 250,000
people that the government is willing to tell us that they're monitoring
metadata of anyway - and who knows how many they're not telling us about.
On purely statistical terms that meant there were about seven people in that
room that were being watched; more, I would argue, based on the fact that
most of us were working with that radical, anti-establishment Linux stuff.
And that means that the friends, colleagues, and fellow conference attendees
who know those seven people are having their metadata of conversations with
those people recorded.

And Cardinal Richulieu's quote, "If you give me six lines written by the
hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will
hang him[1]", should remind us all that no matter how innocent we seem, how
harmless and trivial we believe ourselves to be, there's always something in
what we do or how we spend our lives that can be twisted around by the truly
evil into something that makes us look guilty.

So, yes, the watchers are better equipped.  And in the US they're equipped
with unlimited, secret detention without trial.  In Australia they're
lobbying for more and more power to spy on and detain people, and less
judicial oversight.  I think we do have a reason to be concerned.

This may not help, but anyway,


[1] Good news: women are unimpeachable. :-)  Whether this was said by
Cardinal Richelieu or not, its point still stands.
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