PRIVACY Forum Archive Document
PRIVACY Forum Digest Wednesday, 9 September 1992 Volume 01 : Issue 16 Moderated by Lauren Weinstein (firstname.lastname@example.org) Vortex Technology, Topanga, CA, U.S.A. ===== PRIVACY FORUM ===== The PRIVACY Forum digest is supported in part by the ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy. CONTENTS Re: Wells Fargo Bank changes customer security system (Bob Leone) Re: Wells Fargo Bank changes customer security system (Randy Gellens) Re: Vernam Cipher (Bob Leone) Re: Vernam Cipher & Privacy (Willis H. Ware) Re: Vernam Cipher (Tom Ohlendorf) Transferring ownership of private data (Larry Seiler) Usenet privacy? (Jim H.) Re: Usenet privacy? (Brian Reid) *** Please include a RELEVANT "Subject:" line on all submissions! *** *** Submissions without them may be ignored! *** ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- The PRIVACY Forum is a moderated digest for the discussion and analysis of issues relating to the general topic of privacy (both personal and collective) in the "information age" of the 1990's and beyond. The moderator will choose submissions for inclusion based on their relevance and content. Submissions will not be routinely acknowledged. ALL submissions should be addressed to "email@example.com" and must have RELEVANT "Subject:" lines. Submissions without appropriate and relevant "Subject:" lines may be ignored. Subscriptions are by an automatic "listserv" system; for subscription information, please send a message consisting of the word "help" (quotes not included) in the BODY of a message to: "firstname.lastname@example.org". Mailing list problems should be reported to "email@example.com". All submissions included in this digest represent the views of the individual authors and all submissions will be considered to be distributable without limitations. The PRIVACY Forum archive, including all issues of the digest and all related materials, is available via anonymous FTP from site "cv.vortex.com/", in the "/privacy" directory. Use the FTP login "ftp" or "anonymous", and enter your e-mail address as the password. The typical "README" and "INDEX" files are available to guide you through the files available for FTP access. PRIVACY Forum materials may also be obtained automatically via e-mail through the listserv system. Please follow the instructions above for getting the listserv "help" information, which includes details regarding the "index" and "get" listserv commands, which are used to access the PRIVACY Forum archive. For information regarding the availability of this digest via FAX, please send an inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org, call (310) 455-9300, or FAX to (310) 455-2364. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- VOLUME 01, ISSUE 16 Quote for the day: "I don't want a pickle--just want to ride on my motor-sicle." -- "The Motorcycle Song" Arlo Guthrie ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Sun, 6 Sep 1992 23:51:17 -0400 From: Bob Leone <email@example.com> Subject: Re: Wells Fargo Bank changes customer security system > [ Yes, I know that such automated systems are now becoming widely > available. However, the question for this Forum is, should such > information be freely accessible, without any controls by the > customer, no recording of who is requesting the information, and no > notification to the customer that their account information is > being queried? Also, does the widespread move from "manual" to > "automated" systems for dispensing this information possibly > encourage abuse through easier repetitive access? -- MODERATOR ] There is a potential technological "fix" for this: the caller-id feature that phone companies are starting to offer. This feature becomes especially easy to work with under ISDN. (Caller-id supplies the phone number of the caller to the callee). All a bank would have to do is: 1) Record the caller-id of all incoming account-balance-request calls in an audit-trail log. 2) If this incoming caller A) has queried the same account more than once on this current day, or B) is using caller-id-blocking (something that a legitimate merchant would not do), or C) is calling from a pay-phone (which can be determined from the first three digits of the incoming phone number), then reject the call and log a message in the "security violation" log. Of course, for banks to go through the extra effort, they have to have a reason. A few lawsuits and newspaper articles resulting from criminals misusing the bank's system should do nicely. Bob Leone [ Any kind of serious reliance on caller-id would probably be impractical for this purpose. For a variety of well-founded reasons (well discussed in previous issues of this digest) a range of restrictions on caller-id are being imposed in many areas; some areas may not be supporting it at all. Also, tracking of merchant calling numbers for this application may do little good, since you might find calls from any number of lines randomly selected by the normal trunking functions of most PBX systems. More importantly, such a procedure does not give the bank customer any say over who has access to the information regarding their account status, and on what basis. Ideally, the customer would be able to specify that a particular query from a particular entity would be permitted when they were writing a large check or applying for credit, but perhaps "random" queries would be rejected since they would not be so authorized. The key, of course, as noted by Bob above, is that if the institutions involved don't think it worth their while to provide such controls they won't bother doing so. -- MODERATOR ] ------------------------------ Date: 08 SEP 92 06:12 From: <MPA15AB!RANDY@TRENGA.tredydev.unisys.com> Subject: Re: Wells Fargo Bank changes customer security system >[ Yes, I know that such automated systems are now becoming widely > available. However, the question for this Forum is, should such > information be freely accessible, without any controls by the > customer, no recording of who is requesting the information, and no > notification to the customer that their account information is > being queried? Also, does the widespread move from "manual" to > "automated" systems for dispensing this information possibly > encourage abuse through easier repetitive access? -- MODERATOR ] This comment from our moderator got me thinking about how I've come to accept automated privacy risks as just another aspect of our society which I prefer were different, but don't have any control over. What would it take to change our institutions so that technological advances were used to help people retain more privacy, instead of causing us to have less? I know TRW offers (for a fee) to notify me when they give out my credit report. I like the idea of being told this, but dislike the concept that I must pay for the privilege, as it reinforces that TRW, not I, own the information. Several nearby supermarkets offer to let me pay for purchases through a debit card. Of these, Lucky uses a common system to ring up items and process the debit, producing one receipt and of course linking my choices with my identity. Another store, Alpha Beta (owned by the same company), has two different systems, producing two receipts, and the hope that the databases aren't linked. A third, Vons, does not perform an electronic debit, but rather an electronic check (which takes several days to clear, unlike the debits). None of the stores make any mention of the privacy aspects. If one of them were to tout their system as offering both convenience and privacy, would they do more business? Is the profit motive enough to get change? Or are laws needed, and if so, are they likely to be passed? I see increasing evidence that given a choice, people prefer the promise of safety or convienence over privacy. ===================================================================== = sua cuique voluptas (everyone has his own pleasures) = = Randy Gellens firstname.lastname@example.org = ------------------------------ Date: Sun, 6 Sep 1992 23:58:28 -0400 From: Bob Leone <email@example.com> Subject: Re: Vernam Cipher >If an inexpensive and quite secure method of encryption were >available to all, would not use of end-to-end encryption go some >distance toward solving the privacy problem ? > >This would not be a popular idea with law enforcement agencies, >the NSA, and other spooks. Aside from obvious objections from >this quarter, are there any good arguments against general >availability of such an encryption method ? The immediate rationale for govt opposing this is "But drug dealers will use it to prevent police monitoring of their conversations. Therefore, in the name of the War on Drugs (all salute, now), this must be prohibited" My response would be "If the War on Drugs (alias 'Prohibition, the Sequel') requires regular people to give up their privacy and civil rights, then maybe we should just cancel the War, as we did with Prohibition in 1933." Bob Leone ------------------------------ Date: Tue, 08 Sep 92 10:37:25 PDT From: "Willis H. Ware" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Re: PRIVACY Forum Digest V01 #15: Vernam Cipher & Privacy Art Zimmerman -- GlasNet <email@example.com> -- asks: >> ..............would not use of end-to-end encryption go some distance >> toward solving the privacy problem ? The answer depends on what you mean by "some distance." E2E encryption would handle any problems which are related to intercept of traffic while in transit over communications systems. In a precise sense, such an event is not a privacy issue but a communications security one resulting in a breach of confidentiality -- which the in-transit message presumably enjoys. For example, intercept of the Royal Family's cellular telephone conversations is not a privacy infraction, but rather an intrusion on the confidentiality of the connection. Usage is careless, however, and privacy is often loosely used as an inappropriate synonym for either security or confidentiality. Aside from that, interception of communications is of unknown magnitude. There is anecdotal evidence of such things, and the presence of scanners and much other contemporary consumer electronics leads to speculation that comms interception is widespread. The US of course did pass a law protecting specifically the bands used by cellular phones; it is illegal to listen in on such connections since it is considered an extension of the Wiretap Act. Surprisingly, cordless connections have no protection. Put a cordless fone in your car and connect the car by cellular; part of the circuit is legally protected; part, not. I have never seen hard data on the amount of such intercepts. Thus, one doesn't know whether E2EE addresses a big problem or a small one. People engaged in illegal actions of course go to some lengths even now to avoid interception by law enforcement agencies. The < issue in privacy is the collateral or unauthorized use of information about people. It's the old story: collect information for one purpose and usually legitimately; then use it for anything else the recordkeeper can think of -- combine it with other data, sell it, target mail with it. Typically exploitation of personal information is by 3rd parties who have either acquired it legitimately from public records, from list sellers, from database sellers, or as a result of being in business; e.g., video rental records, the sale of driver license records by the California DMV. E2EE does nothing of course for this major component of [true] privacy. Infractions of privacy such as the ACLU or CPSR worry about is of growing magnitude and almost certainly dwarfs any other use of information about people that one can imagine. Privacy is a long and involved topic. We'll save the tutorial for another time. Willis H. Ware Santa Monica, CA [ While there are no federal laws regarding cordless phone interception, there are apparently some state laws that apply, including a recent one here in California, I believe. -- MODERATOR ] ------------------------------ Date: Wed, 9 Sep 1992 09:19 EDT From: "Tom Ohlendorf - TSU Admin. DP, (410) 830-3642" <D7AP002@TOA.TOWSON.ED Subject: Re: Vernam Cipher > Date: Sun, 30 Aug 92 17:00:47 PDT > From: GlasNet <firstname.lastname@example.org> > Subject: Vernam Cipher > > There is a well-known cryptographic technique - the Vernam > Cipher, also known as the one-time pad - which is secure against > any known form of decryption attack. The problem with this > technique has always been in key distribution; an amount of key > equal to that of the plaintext is required. > [additional quoted text removed by moderator] I would be very interested in applying this variant of the Vernam Cipher. There are many instances where I can find it to be useful. For example, I am involved with an organization in my area that runs several client based service programs. I and others have set up a network which includes an infrared data link to a building nextdoor and a dedicated landline data link to another building several miles away. Most of the data travelling along these links reference clients of the respective programs (client privacy). If I could encrypt this data using the metjod described above, it would be quite useful. Many thanks, Tom ----- Tom Ohlendorf, Programmer/Analyst INTERNET: D7AP002@TOA.TOWSON.EDU ------------------------------ Date: Mon, 7 Sep 92 18:37:54 EDT From: "LARRY SEILER, DTN225-4077, HL2-1/J12 07-Sep-1992 1815" <email@example.com> Subject: Transferring ownership of private data In digest V01 #15, Larry Hunter says that selling a defunct video store's customer/rental list is within the law because the "ordinary course of business" is defined to include "transfer of ownership". Certainly if a video business is sold, the customer records should go with it. However, the case here is a defunct business whose assets were being sold off. Can "transfer of ownership" really be defined to mean parts of a defunct business? If so, I suppose any video business, defunct or not, could sell its rental records and call it "transfer of ownership". To me, the thing wrong with this picture is permitting businesses to treat records of private information (whatever one puts in that category) as a marketable asset. I've heard defenses of the practice as being necessary for effective business. However, the phone companies do not (I hope!) market their billing records of the numbers we call, and neither do I think that any other sales data (whether video rentals, groceries, or loans) should be marketed without explicit permission from the consumer. Larry Seiler ------------------------------ Date: Wed, 09 Sep 92 11:49:40 -0700 From: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Usenet privacy? One of the newsgroups I subscribe to is news.lists, on which a variety of sources periodically post a number of interesting analyses of usenet traffic, such as USENET FLOW ANALYSIS REPORT, Top 25 News Submitters by User by Kbytes, Changes to List of Periodic Informational Postings, etc. None of the current postings seems to be an objectionable invasion of privacy. However, it seems that the analysis techniques used for some of them could easily be refined to collect (and presumably sell) detailed information about individual usenet users of a kind that readers of this forum would probably consider abusive if it were done by a telephone company, video store, or department of motor vehicles. I'd be interested to know what safeguards (other than the restraint of those doing the analysis) and/or guidelines there are for such activity. Is it assumed that usenet users realize there is no right to e-privacy? Jim H. ------------------------------ Date: Wed, 09 Sep 92 12:00:08 PDT From: Brian Reid <email@example.com> Subject: Re: Usenet privacy? I do the USENET flow analysis and USENET readership analysis. Both of them have the potential for harming the privacy of individuals if mis-used. My safeguards are as follows: * The raw data-gathering software strips the identity of individuals; I ensure that before the data ever reaches me all specific identifying information has been removed. I have no control over the system administrators who produce this data, but I don't want there to be stored on my system, even for one second, information that would let me learn about the reading habits of individuals. * All data are kept private. I do not release raw data to anyone. It would be possible to write programs that analyzed flow data and readership data that could impute a lot about the identity of individuals. * All reports that I produce are aggregated over a geographically- defined population. I will not produce custom reports for anyone, and I will not perform an analysis of any subset that is defined by any factor other than geography. I rely on my own judgment for deciding which reports could potentially violate privacy. There is an interesting duality here: there is privacy to be had from summaries, but there is also a threat from aggregation. If I tell you that the summary of data from 100,000 people shows certain trends, that is potentially interesting. However, the knowledge that I have data about 100,000 people is potentially dangerous. This is the reason why I ensure that I do not have the opportunity to store data about individuals: if I kept it and relied on the security of my own computer system, then somebody with a search warrant could force me to divulge it. By making sure that it never gets here I can make sure that it cannot be released to law enforcement. ------------------------------ End of PRIVACY Forum Digest 01.16 ************************
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