Privacy Again

Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Recently we had some interesting posts over the right to privacy. Both discussions hinged on the extent we believe the government has the right, under our Constitutional system, to invade our sacred homes in order to achieve its own purposes.

What was completely overlooked in those discussions were other threats to privacy from private individuals or companies. The structure of the modern PC is that it is an environment entirely based on trust. When users install software, the software generally has access to the entire hard drive, to all of the information stored on the hard drive, and can in principle do whatever it wants on the computer, including spying on the users. The presumption has been that if the software comes from well-known sources we can trust it not to spy on us and invade our privacy. Two recent stories indicate that such trust may be misplaced.

The stories of Russian mafia surreptitiously placing spyware on people's systems in order to grab their credit card numbers and bank account numbers are bad enough. We don't want the government snooping into our personal lives. Do we want to hand over our privacy to well-known multinational corporations instead, without our consent or knowledge?


terrye said...

It is always something isn't it?

I guess we all need to be more careful.

Syl said...


XP is an excellent system for diagnosing and finding stuff. That second article was terrific showing the process.

Not everyone can do that, but just as there will always be virus and malware makers, there will always be someone to discover and fix them and yell and shout about them.

And the complaints to Sony for DRM should be loud and strident. Any constant use of your processor is hijacking your machine. I will not tolerate that. For obvious reasons. But also because I require every cycle of my processor to do my 3D renders.

The whole thing is too intrusive.

I don't mind certain things. Poser (I've switched to DAZ Studio, but not because of that) checks your network for another running copy before it will launch. That's not horrific. Especially since the license allows you to install copies on more than one machine as long as you don't use them simultaneously.

The game that checks if you're running cheats? Well, that sucks. I love cheats. :) But that's no big deal. Someone will discover it soon enough and the word gets out.

I don't like viruses, and adware. But have never been infected with either. Can you believe? But I always let MS do whatever it wants on my machine. I let programs automatically call home to see if there are updates.

I'm neither careless nor overzealous about security. I keep my eyes open, but it's not something that worries me terribly.

Syl said...

Oh, sorry.

This is about privacy.

I should have been clearer. All of this is through programs we've allowed on our machines. They may bring something else with them. But we've actually downloaded and installed, or in the case of DRM installed from a CD (though the process may have been transparent).

My point about transparency is that someone will always discover, and hopefully early on, what is going on so we can be informed.

But we open the door, so to speak, and have to know the person before we let them in.

Knucklehead said...


Lemme guess...

1) you have no teenage children using you computer

2) you don't use an instant messenger product like AIM (these can introduce no end of adward-like crap when installing/updating)

3) you use a mail client other than Outlook

4) you use a browser other than Internet Explorer

How many of the 4 did I get correct?

Syl said...


I use IE. :)

And Eudora lets you preview messages with IE. So perhaps that counts too.

But no teens to download crap.

And I burned out on messaging years ago...even legitimate messages are too intrusive for my tastes.