I spend a fair bit of time being baffled by humanity. You'd
think that for as many years as I've been creaking around on this
planet I'd have become accustomed to the depths to which some
people so readily sink. Indeed, even dive into enthusiastically.
But a lot of things still have shaking my head in wonderment. The
biggest one is the tech industry's enthusiastic glee for Peeping
Tom-ery. It's like a perversion, an insatiable, pathological need
to snoop and pry where, according to ordinary courtesy and respect,
they have no business going.
Marketers have insatiable appetites for our personal data, and
their excuse for tracking our movements across the Web and
capturing and analyzing every search term and mouse click is
"targeted ads that people will like, instead of complain about!"
But for some odd reason it never ever occurs to them to try
different, less-objectionable approaches. Like not getting in our
faces every waking moment, and not sneaking around behind our
backs. Oh, some claim that their data are anonymized after a period
of time. How about collecting it in a way that doesn't require a
separate sanitizing step? If they even do, which I doubt, or they
sanitize it after using and abusing it until its usefulness is
If remote snooping were not so easy, would Google's Page and
Brin sneak around with cameras, peeping into our windows and
photographing our private moments? Of course not, you laugh. Uh
huh. So what's with Street View and the roaming vehicle-mounted spy
cameras? I'm not a brainiac like Page and Brin, but I can sure tell
the difference between seeing something with my eyes, and
photographing it, plastering it on the Internet for anyone to see
and misuse, recording it for posterity, and profiting from it
without giving a dime back to the people being bought and sold
without their consent or knowledge.
Then there is the ever-popular Big Brother. There was an
interesting article posted today on LT, ImageStream:
Who Needs to Read Encrypted Traffic?. It says:
"...equipment makers are urging ISPs to determine the
content and context of every packet traversing their network, much
to the dismay of privacy advocates...using Deep Packet Inspection
(DPI) in an effort to classify encrypted packets requires a
powerful and expensive box, one that every equipment maker would
love to sell, but that many ISPs don't want to buy."
It doesn't say why they don't want to buy these super-duper-snooper
boxes; cost? Complexity? I rather doubt it has anything to do with
basic respect for privacy, though I would love to be wrong about
that. Big Brother comes up with the lamest excuses imaginable to
justify recording, monitoring, and controlling every bit that flows
over the Internet: thinkofthechildren, evil pirates, bandwidth
caps, you name it-- and they're not even embarrassed.
But ImageStream takes a different approach to bandwidth caps at
least, and doesn't trot out a bunch of silly excuses for unfettered
snooping. I have no idea if their product works well or not, what I
like is their sensible approach:
"Utter advocates a system his company has come up with
that uses some simple open source concepts to preserve user
privacy. He calls this system Per User Fair Queuing (PUFQ)...
"just measuring bandwidth." Can it be that all those titans of
industry never heard of traffic-shaping with tc or Wondershaper?
There has never been a need to do deep-packet inspection for mere
bandwidth management. Does anyone in big business tell the truth?
"Because the system is just measuring bandwidth, and is not
determining the content of every packet, its load on your routers
will be minimal."
Non-Windows users lead sheltered lives; they are not subject to
the endless tsunamis of adware and spyware that Windows users enjoy
so much. It's this tolerance of such abuses that makes me despair
for humanity-- is it because it's more abstract than crowds of live
humans keeping them under constant surveillance? Would they
tolerate strangers snooping in their closets, peeking in their
underwear, noting and recording every private act? I used to think
the answer was "No, of course not!" but any more I wonder.
Today: A Review of Current Issues
Free as in