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The Internet is a surveillance state


By Bruce Schneier, Special to CNN
updated 2:04 PM EDT, Sat March 16, 2013

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Part of complete coverage on

Opinion on the news


Sandberg: Speak up, believe in yourself, take risks
updated 11:26 AM EDT, Mon March 18, 2013

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
Bruce Schneier: Whether we like it or not, we're being tracked all the time on the Internet Schneier: Our surveillance state is efficient beyond the wildest dreams of George Orwell He says governments and corporations are working together to keep things that way Schneier: Slap-on-the-wrist fines notwithstanding, no one is agitating for better privacy laws

Editor's note: Bruce Schneier is a security technologist and author of "Liars and Outliers: Enabling the Trust Society Needs to Survive." (CNN) -- I'm going to start with three data points. One: Some of the Chinese military hackers who were implicated in a broad set of attacks against the U.S. government and corporations were identified because they accessed Facebook from the same network infrastructure they used to carry out their attacks. Two: Hector Monsegur, one of the leaders of the LulzSac hacker movement, was identified and arrested last year by the FBI. Although he practiced good computer security and used an anonymous relay service to protect his identity, he slipped up. And three: Paula Broadwell,who had an affair with CIA director David Petraeus, similarly took extensive precautions to hide her identity. She never logged in to her anonymous e-mail service from her home network. Instead, she used hotel and other public networks when she e-mailed him. The FBI correlated hotel registration data from several different hotels -- and hers was the

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Ric Simmons says social media helped make the Steubenville, Ohio, rape case a source of national headlines.

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updated 7:39 AM EDT, Mon March 18, 2013

Bruce Schneier

common name. The Internet is a surveillance state. Whether we admit it to ourselves or not, and whether we like it or not, we're being tracked all the time. Google tracks us, both on its pages and on other pages it has access to. Facebook does the same; it even tracks non-Facebook users. Apple tracks us on our iPhones and iPads. One reporter used a tool called Collusion to track who was tracking him; 105 companies tracked his Internet use during one 36-hour period.

Michael Oren says the president's trip to Israel, his first while in office, will demonstrate the strength of the connections between the two nations.

Why consumers are fleeing the media


updated 12:20 AM EDT, Mon March 18, 2013

Become a fan of CNNOpinion Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.

Increasingly, what we do on the Internet is being combined with other data about us. Unmasking Broadwell's identity involved correlating her Internet activity with her hotel stays. Everything we do now involves computers, and computers produce data as a natural byproduct. Everything is now being saved and correlated, and many big-data companies make money by building up intimate profiles of our lives from a variety of sources. News: Cyberthreats getting worse, House intelligence officials warn Facebook, for example, correlates your online behavior with your purchasing habits offline. And there's more. There's location data from your cell phone, there's a record of your movements from closed-circuit TVs. This is ubiquitous surveillance: All of us being watched, all the time, and that data being stored forever. This is what a surveillance state looks like, and it's efficient beyond the wildest dreams of George Orwell. Sure, we can take measures to prevent this. We can limit what we search on Google from our iPhones, and instead use computer web browsers that allow us to delete cookies. We can use an alias on Facebook. We can turn our cell phones off and spend cash. But increasingly, none of it matters. There are simply too many ways to be tracked. The Internet, e-mail, cell phones, web browsers, social networking sites, search engines: these have become necessities, and it's fanciful to expect people to simply refuse to use them just because they don't like the spying, especially since the full extent of such spying is deliberately hidden from us and there are few alternatives being marketed by companies that don't spy. This isn't something the free market can fix. We consumers have no choice in the matter. All the major companies that provide us with Internet services are interested in tracking us. Visit a website and it will almost certainly know who you are; there are lots of ways to be tracked without cookies. Cellphone companies routinely undo the web's privacy protection. One experiment at Carnegie Mellon took real-time videos of students on campus and was able to identify onethird of them by comparing their photos with publicly available tagged Facebook photos. Maintaining privacy on the Internet is nearly impossible. If you forget even once to enable your protections, or click on the wrong link, or type the wrong thing, and you've permanently attached your name to whatever anonymous service you're using. Monsegur slipped up once, and the FBI got him. If the director of the CIA can't maintain his privacy on the Internet, we've got no hope. In today's world, governments and corporations are working together to keep things that way. Governments are happy to use the data corporations collect -- occasionally demanding that they collect more and save it longer -- to spy on us. And corporations are happy to buy data from governments. Together the powerful spy on the powerless, and they're not going to give up their positions of power, despite what

Howard Kurtz says financial pressures are prompting news outlets to cut back on reporting, and audiences are tuning out.

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updated

Deficit reduction is one of those issues that the party likes to talk about more than it has an interest in actually tackling, says Julian Zelizer.

The Internet is a surveillance state


updated 2:04 PM EDT, Sat March 16, 2013

Bruce Schneier says our surveillance state is efficient beyond the wildest dreams of George Orwell, and consumers are given little chance to opt out.

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updated

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the people want. Fixing this requires strong government will, but they're just as punchdrunk on data as the corporations. Slap-on-the-wrist fines notwithstanding, no one is agitating for better privacy laws. So, we're done. Welcome to a world where Google knows exactly what sort of porn you all like, and more about your interests than your spouse does. Welcome to a world where your cell phone company knows exactly where you are all the time. Welcome to the end of private conversations, because increasingly your conversations are conducted by e-mail, text, or social networking sites. And welcome to a world where all of this, and everything else that you do or is done on a computer, is saved, correlated, studied, passed around from company to company without your knowledge or consent; and where the government accesses it at will without a warrant. Welcome to an Internet without privacy, and we've ended up here with hardly a fight. Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Bruce Schneier.

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Why consumers are fleeing the media

Waronalloffus

3 days ago

Isn't it funny that the phone company knows with unerring precision where you are but yet is somehow not able to shut down the robo callers who spoof their caller ID?
643 4

Men don't have it all either

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Truth Hurts

Waronalloffus 2 days ago

I wouldn't be surprised to find out that Facebook, Google, YouTube, Twitter, Microsoft....... are agencies working for CIA. They are watching us when we talk with friends online (Facebook), when we share our pictures and videos online (Facebook, YouTube), when we are searching for something online (Google), while checking our mails online (Yahoo mail, Gmail), while shopping online, we access our bank accounts online, we have to apply for a job online....... and the most recent one, we could save all our computer data online (Microsoft Cloud), so there should be nothing that we know of that the government don't, and we still wonder how much the government knows about us. P.S: Lets not forget Disqus. They blocked my IP address so i wouldn't be able to leave comments. Why? because they didn't liked one of my comments. I have to use VPN now for commenting.
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Lance Rogers

Truth Hurts 2 days ago

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lol thats the entire point, for you to think it is STILL the govenrment, when the government is doing very little, corporations and capitalism is doing this. there is very little chance we will be ruled by a government but by a business, already international corporations have more expendable money and manpower than most western countries and they are the ones who have control over all manufacturing, not the government.
259 3

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james
280

Lance Rogers 2 days ago Reply Share

Corporations ARE the government


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AllWorkAllPlay

james 2 days ago

Exact sentiment I came to express. It's not the government. It's the guys controlling the government.
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Obama Sucks

AllWorkAllPlay 2 days ago

So how do you "unplug" from the corporations? Maybe "BitCoin" will take hold? But with all this power they could track down all the illegal aliens. Till then we need one big solar flare to wipe the data.
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LilSquirel

Obama Sucks 2 days ago

you force them to become democratic. a rule where ownership would be any parts. -investors -creators (no more symbolic 1$ for engineering patent, or music) -workers -customers -the country -the state -some day the world government, galactic government ... etc because no corporation is an island. if google get strong its because of where it was born, who worked there, their customers, the innovators, and to some point investors but much less than right now, at most 10%
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nakerpel

LilSquirel 2 days ago

nakerpel

LilSquirel 2 days ago

We can blame corporations all we want; but when Facebook has "1 billion" users ... the blame can more accurately be found, in a mirror. What is so unsettling about that is ... there has been more than one article in the news about (insert favorite government agency) using Facebook as a database of citizens ... and the sheep keep signing up. That goes for all social media sites. When it is self-inflicted, is it completely the governments fault for abusing it? Like it or not, a large section of our Nation is flat out moronic at best. Thank you, to the author for attempting to sound the alarm for what seems to be a very deaf audience.
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Nancy Smith

nakerpel 2 days ago

facebook is your FRIEND remember? they prey upon your need to be needed, like a street whore who serves you anything you can pay for.
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disqus_tmvkwX9LhA
12

Nancy Smith 2 days ago Share

Nothing, and no one on the internet is your friend.


Reply

NeoPrudentist
9 1

disqus_tmvkwX9LhA a day ago Share

Would you feel better if I friended you?


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Bond ..... James Bond

nakerpel 2 days ago

Which is why a shut down my facebook account over a year ago. I'm not sure why so many sheep are willing to post their names, address, phone numbers, birthday, etc, for the whole world to see. Also, if you have friended a cousin then your mother's maiden name is available.
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southbound88
27

Bond ..... James Bond 2 days ago Share

This account leaves a footprint too.


Reply

disqus_tmvkwX9LhA

southbound88 2 days ago

Sure that is why now you have to be signed up to something to access this crap.
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PuZZleDucK

disqus_tmvkwX9LhA 5 hours ago

Is that a randomly generated user name? ... Nice work my friend!


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NeoPrudentist

southbound88 a day ago

He's 007. His message will self-destruct in exactly ten seconds (I know I've crossed sixties spy references but go with it).
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The_Wiki_Police

Bond ..... James Bond 2 days ago

Because most of us are not significant enough for the whole world to give 2 shts about that they would all be inclined to dig in to our

lives? I understand... CIA. FBI. Corporations. And of those, the only one who cares to mess with me are the corporations-- by displaying Ads they think I'm going to like.
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NeoPrudentist

The_Wiki_Police a day ago

For now, until they can correlate what you say here with speech they think is against whatever government agenda they have going. Things are going to get interesting someday...
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disqus_tmvkwX9LhA

Bond ..... James Bond 2 days ago

The sheep you mentioned use to go to church and get fleeced there.
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Kathleen A. Eastwood

Bond ..... James Bond 2 days ago

It's not just Facebook; anytime you access a web site, you are being tracked. Walk down any city street and you are being watched by television cameras, your charge cards track your buying habits because retailers routinely sell you information, so does your bank in many cases. Your social security card can track where your are working and anything else you need to identify yourself with your SS number.
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voxleo

Kathleen A. Eastwood 17 hours ago

you forgot about the little "club cards" and loyalty discount programs st every supermarket, drug store or chain retailer ...tracking everything you purchase from deodorant to dog food. What do you think they know about you based on your shopping habits? They know I saved 40 bucks at Ralphs and those receipts can also tell them I don't cook much and I am a woman and I have pets. If they look at the one for petco they will know exactly how many and what size and how old they are too. And the really scary part was the information disclosure I just signed to get my mammogram at cedar's sinai last week. I decided early on that Facebook would be a lost cause to "secure" in privacy. I decided the only way to not sweat the details was to just let it all hang out and go public with everything. i am aware that I am naked to the world with anything that goes up there, and maybe by advertising my whole true self to the world I will be set free from being ashamed of anything that is really me. There's very little point in fearing what I cannot escape, at any rate. i might be better served by embracing it fully and using it to my
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Finrod Felagund

voxleo 16 hours ago

How to defeat loyalty card tracking: get together a group of friends and swap loyalty cards now and then. I've known multiple people that do this regularly.
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Facebook User
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Finrod Felagund 14 hours ago Share

That only works if you always pay with cash


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DocNo42

Facebook User 8 hours ago

"That only works if you always pay with cash" What's wrong with that? I weened my self from credit and debit cards by also taking up Where's George as a hobby - I turned the "inconvenience" of cash into a game. And by paying in cash, I very quickly got re-grounded in exactly how much many things cost and have saved a good chunk of change vs. using credit cards or debit cards on a whim. Sure, I could afford it - but why spend frivolously just for the sake of spending? I can think of far worse things than people having to <gasp> pay with cash...</gasp>
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momzna

nakerpel a day ago

Web servers have been recording IP addresses of every connecting computer since the web was invented. It is not even a hack, - it's a standard feature of every computer. Which makes all that fear mongering about "surveillance" kinda meaningless. The problem is that people are using wrong allegories for the Internet. There is no such thing as "cyberspace". It's just your machine connected to another machine. There is no room in a "chat room", and you are not "entering" anything or "talking" to anybody. It's just your computer exchanging 1-s and 0-s with another computer, creating an illusion for you that you are talking to another person. It can be that as far as computers are concerned, a 15-year old boy is talking to a 14-year old girl, while in fact it's a 60-year old pervert talking to a 40-year old FBI agent, or the other way around. That beautiful young lady on a dating site, - it's just a picture uploaded by somebody. You never know until you actually meet that person in the real world. If you don't want wrong people to read your e-mails or want reasonable assurance for the identity of the person you are communicating with, use encryption. PGP has been in existence since the early 90-s and it's not that difficult to use. You just have to bother using it.
12

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NeoPrudentist

momzna a day ago

Only problem is any encryption can be cracked by a powerful enough computer given enough time. For now, it's just not worth taking the time to crack your messages (probably). If the CIA/NSA/fill in your acronym here decided you were some kind of terrorist, I'm sure they would find a way to get through any protections you put in place. But with your encryption you are making it unpleasant for any casual corporate interest trying to mine your data for marketing purposes. It's not full-proof, but it is a marked improvement.
5

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momzna

NeoPrudentist 14 hours ago

You are absolutely right about fending off casual pocking into your data. That's the whole idea. I wouldn't worry about somebody's ability to crack encryption. The government would just ask one of your "friends" for the keys "nicely", and criminals would put a welding torch up your butt. I never heard about law enforcement having obtained digital evidence by cracking somebody's encryption. However, I've read about several mafia cases in which FBI have picked the locks to the mobster's house

mafia cases in which FBI have picked the locks to the mobster's house and installed a chip into his keyboard, so every time he pressed a key the chip would get it before the cpu. When hackers stole 30 million credit card numbers from TGX several years ago, it turned out that those corporate doofuses had cash registers transmitting credit card transactions over open wi-fi network. So all those hackers had to do was to walk into a store with a laptop and sniff the traffic.
3

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pokie72

momzna 16 hours ago

momznaSome well-informed commentary and some good, solid, practical advice. Many thanks.
2

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disqus_tmvkwX9LhA

nakerpel 2 days ago

Yeh if we really wanted a raise we could cut out the internet bill, the telephone, our I phones our Ipods,our beer and potato chips,cars, lotteries and play toys. Ever stop to think what it cost to go see the sorry movies now being produced especially if you take a hungry family?
9

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NeoPrudentist

nakerpel a day ago

I'm going to defriend you for that comment :-) But yes, totally agreed. It's like when people complain about simple-minded campaign advertising. "Why do people keep making these commercials that are so shallow and mindless?" Answer: "Because people watch them and listen to them. Campaigns don't spend money on things that don't work. If enough people ignored them they would go away."
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DocinPA
0

nakerpel 7 hours ago Reply Share

Which is why I don't belong to any of 'em.

Donna Martin

Obama Sucks a day ago

Let's boycott them all. Learn to grow/ forage own food, stop consuming plastic crap and go back to living simple, meaningful lives in harmony :)
9 1

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NeoPrudentist

Donna Martin a day ago

Wouldn't you need plastic crap as gardening tools? :-) But yes, your point is valid. Problem is self-sufficiency has become quite unfashionable lately, unless some TV show is branding you as a crazy zombie-apocolypse believer.
5

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SDN

NeoPrudentist 20 hours ago

Self-sufficiency has become impossible. Neither you nor anyone else has the complete skill set to produce everything you need.
4

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NeoPrudentist

Obama Sucks a day ago

Buy an island, and don't connect any phone lines or internet.

Buy an island, and don't connect any phone lines or internet. Put a big tent over it so it can't be seen by satellite. Then live totally alone for the rest of your life. Pretty sad though that this would be what it would take...
4

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disqus_tmvkwX9LhA

Obama Sucks 2 days ago

We need someone willing to work for less than the government pays to sit on their can and have children.
3

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Andrew Lokkebo

Obama Sucks a day ago

Even a solar flare wouldn't take it out. I'm sure they have backups that are hardened from EMP.
2

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Joe
2

Obama Sucks 2 days ago Reply Share

hope you're off the grid if you are asking for that :/

bABY jESUS
1

Obama Sucks 2 days ago Share

Was that english?


Reply

Juan Montiel Heath

james 2 days ago

Syndicracy: Rule by corporation. From syndicate, a business group and -cracy, to rule or govern.
9

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IamMark

Juan Montiel Heath 2 days ago

No need to create a new word for this - we already have one. As used by Mussolini, it's called Fascism.
27

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Josh Jack

Juan Montiel Heath 2 days ago

With republicans waiting to get re-elected and democrats powerless because republicans are playing every card they have to maximize their minority influence this country will soon be totally ruled by corporate/government facist power.
28 6

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NeoPrudentist

Josh Jack a day ago

How bout this instead? BOTH parties are selling you out.
13

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melancholy man

NeoPrudentist 18 hours ago Share

There it is.
2

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dickduckworth

Josh Jack a day ago

Are you kidding? Democrats represent the biggest corporation of them all--the federal government. Democrats don't care about liberty and freedom just increasing their power OVER the people through a massive and ever-expanding bureaucracy. The Democrats sole reason for existence is to create and expand the dependance class. Used to be called the proletariat, now it's called Obama/democrat voters.
12

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anthonyNtx

dickduckworth a day ago

Obama did it. That's very funny... He created the Internet, Facebook, twitter and the like, just to watch over the rest of us.
4 1

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rickeyroma

Josh Jack 2 days ago

thats the dumbest comment I've ever seen.....democrats, who are the majority are powerless????, because the republicans, who are the minority are doing all they can to influence power???? what did you smoke before that thought entered your tiny brain?????
17 1

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melancholy man
4

rickeyroma 18 hours ago Share

I think he smoked some Bacrack :)


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Adrian James
9

Josh Jack 2 days ago Share

Haha Minority influence?


Reply

NeoPrudentist
2

Juan Montiel Heath a day ago Share

I like Corporatism better.


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