1997-05-31 - Re: Rotenberg as the Uber Enemy

Header Data

From: Lucky Green <shamrock@netcom.com>
To: Marc Rotenberg <rotenberg@epic.org>
Message Hash: b34fc5af7b720061c69a2abe750faad1f947c764e11d90a63e524007bc1b5439
Message ID: <>
Reply To: <v03007801afb61ffec219@[]>
UTC Datetime: 1997-05-31 22:46:34 UTC
Raw Date: Sun, 1 Jun 1997 06:46:34 +0800

Raw message

From: Lucky Green <shamrock@netcom.com>
Date: Sun, 1 Jun 1997 06:46:34 +0800
To: Marc Rotenberg <rotenberg@epic.org>
Subject: Re: Rotenberg as the Uber Enemy
In-Reply-To: <v03007801afb61ffec219@[]>
Message-ID: <>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

>At 12:02 PM -0700 5/31/97, Marc Rotenberg wrote:
>>To be clear, I do believe that there should be
>>laws to protect the right of privacy and that
>>there should be an office within the federal
>>government to advocate on behalf of privacy
>>interests. I also believe that if such an agency
>>had been established in 1991 when it was proposed,
>>it would have been much harder for the government
>>to push subsequently for digital telephony, Clipper,
>>GAK, etc.

I am somewhat surprised that you would make this claim, given that you must
have researched the situation in Europe for your article.

European style Privacy Commissioners solely limit the ability of _private_
entities to keep databases. They do not limit the ability of public
entities to keep databases. Sure, when a European government wants to bring
a new Big Brother database online, the Privacy Commissioner has to sign off
on the plan. This is typically a rubber stamp approval. Even worse, the
Privacy Commissioner rubber stamping the plan usually ends discussion,
since the government now can claim that their database is harmless because
the Privacy Commissioner has approved it.

German "dragnet investigations" and "pattern investigations" come to mind.
The German BKA (the equivalent of the FBI) keeps a giant database that
correlates "suspicious" behavior. Paying your utilities bills in cash
(unusual in GIRO-happy Germany) gets you points. If the person on the bill
isn't registered with the police at the address on the bill you get more
points. Paying your rent in cash gets you points. If they don't have a
social security record for you, more points yet. There are many other
criteria that will get you points.

If you collect enough points, the feds come by to interrogate you. Yes, the
Privacy Commissioner approved this "pattern investigation". In the interest
of space, I will spare the list what "dragnet investigation" entails.

It appears naive to claim that GAK could not happen under a Privacy
Commissioner. It could and it will.

--Lucky Green <shamrock@netcom.com> PGP encrypted mail preferred.

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