PRIVACY Forum Archive Document
PRIVACY Forum Digest Friday, 2 April 2004 Volume 13 : Issue 02 ( http://www.vortex.com/privacy/priv.13.02 ) Moderated by Lauren Weinstein (email@example.com) Vortex Technology, Woodland Hills, CA, U.S.A. http://www.vortex.com ===== PRIVACY FORUM ===== ------------------------------------------------------------------- The PRIVACY Forum is supported in part by the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) Committee on Computers and Public Policy, and Telos Systems. - - - These organizations do not operate or control the PRIVACY Forum in any manner, and their support does not imply agreement on their part with nor responsibility for any materials posted on or related to the PRIVACY Forum. ------------------------------------------------------------------- CONTENTS Risks in Google's New "Gmail" Service (Lauren Weinstein) Balancing security and privacy by splitting behavior and identity (Kurt D Fenstermacher) *** Please include a RELEVANT "Subject:" line on all submissions! *** *** Submissions without them may be ignored! *** ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- The Internet 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. 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It's a law." -- Jason Eldridge (Jim Hutton) "The Honeymoon Machine" (MGM; 1961) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Fri, 02 Apr 2004 07:48:14 PST From: Lauren Weinstein <email@example.com> Subject: Risks in Google's New "Gmail" Service Google (or ISPs) getting into the business of routinely scanning users' e-mail for "interesting" keywords is of staggering import, even if the reason is "merely" to insert ads (or spam control, for that matter, though Google's plan to act as a massive long-term e-mail repository ups the risk ante considerably over e-mail pass-through ISPs). What would Google's legal responsibilities and actions be if they "stumbled" across discussions of apparently illegal activity (everything from overdue library books to adultery to murder...), or terrorism, or illicit pornography? Since they've apparently opened the surveillance box, it's quite possible they'd be legally required to report everything that might even potentially fall into questionable categories. This of course would include all the false alarms that would be generated by innocent messages that only looked suspicious but really weren't, not to mention purposely faked messages spiked with likely nasty keywords to try upset the system. Even with the best of motives, do we really want Google or ISPs becoming the commercial equivalent of Total Information Awareness? We all want to prevent crime and terrorism, but is the creation of massive surveillance machines in the guise of free e-mail services the proper way to do so in our society? And what of the proprietary information that will inevitably find its way into Google's scannable e-mail treasure chest? "Innocent" scanning could reveal all sorts of goodies. (I've thought in the past about all those new product names and future trademarks that first drop into Google's logs when initial searches are performed...) Can we trust Google not to abuse this potentially lucrative power? For now the answer is probably yes, but market forces make the future anything but certain. Don't get me wrong. I like Google -- a lot. I think overall they've got a good attitude, and a superb search engine (though the privacy implications of their search logs have long been a matter of concern, as I noted). But I fear that they have not fully thought through the ramifications of their new e-mail project, and how it can, even with the best of intentions, be rapidly turned to the Dark Side. That risk won't only result from Google's decisions, but also from actions by government, lawyers, law enforcement, courts, and even ISPs and Google's competitors. E-mail is arguably the most sensitive form of Internet communications, and deserves the highest possible levels of protection. Mere trust or good faith aren't enough. In the classic (and highly recommended) satirical film "The President's Analyst," the protagonists gradually come to the realization that every phone call in the country is being tapped. The 1967 film has been prescient in numerous ways, and doesn't seem quite so funny anymore. Centralized scanning of e-mail (even for ostensibly innocent commercial purposes), the push for expanded surveillance of conventional and VoIP telephone systems, and many other moves, together point towards a future where all use of telecommunications is monitored through close alliances of commercial enterprises and government, and where encryption will be banned or tightly controlled. Even if one assumes completely benign motives on the part of these firms and governments today, what of the future? Will the incredibly powerful and pervasive monitoring infrastructures now being woven always be in the hands of such trustworthy entities? History suggests that we have a lot to worry about in these regards. --Lauren-- Lauren Weinstein firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800 http://www.pfir.org/lauren Co-Founder, PFIR - People For Internet Responsibility - http://www.pfir.org Co-Founder, Fact Squad - http://www.factsquad.org Co-Founder, URIICA - Union for Representative International Internet Cooperation and Analysis - http://www.uriica.org Moderator, PRIVACY Forum - http://www.vortex.com Member, ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy ------------------------------ Date: Wed, 31 Mar 2004 15:57:24 MST From: "Kurt D Fenstermacher" <KurtF@Eller.Arizona.edu> Subject: Balancing security and privacy by splitting behavior and identity Hello, I have been working with a colleague in public policy (Chris Demchak) on ideas for balancing security and privacy in an open society. The key idea in our current thinking is to separate monitoring of behavior from the tracking of identity. (We've labeled it the BIK framework, for Behavior-Identity Knowledge.) By enabling law enforcement and intelligence agencies to record behavior, they can focus on what ultimately concerns them: actions. Information on identity would be maintained separately and could not be linked to behavior without cause. Behavioral databases would have identifiers, but the identifying information would be encrypted with a private key. Agencies allowed to maintain behavioral information could petition (I imagine something like a search warrant) for the key to decrypt identifying information associated with suspicious behavior. We're writing to Privacy Forum readers for your feedback on the overall notion of tracking behavior and identity separately and for ideas on cryptographic techniques (e.g., key escrow systems) that would enable the idea sketched above. I've included some more detail below from a paper that we had accepted for an upcoming conference, as well as links to the paper and they key diagram. BIK Framework diagram: http://eller.arizona.edu/~kurtf/writing/BIK-diagram.png From the paper: While both sides of this debate have entrenched themselves, we argue that the question is not, "How can citizens enjoy total privacy?", but instead, "In an open society, what is the right balance of security and privacy?" We begin by proposing that the usual notion of privacy - the inability of others to know what we do - confounds two simpler notions: knowing what we do (behavior) and who we are (identity). By separating behavior and identity, we propose a compromise that enables effective security policies while protecting the rights of the individual. Fig. 1 ( http://eller.arizona.edu/~kurtf/writing/BIK-diagram.png ) illustrates the separation of knowledge about behavior (the horizontal axis) and knowledge about identity (the vertical axis). Recent government policies and many government officials argue that we should value security over privacy, and this weighting places such policies in the upper right-hand region, where there is extensive knowledge of individuals' behavior and identity. Privacy advocates look to shield individuals from prying eyes and advocate that knowledge of either behavior or identity is unacceptable. The debate to date is captured in the diagonal line labeled "Security-privacy debate line", where advocates try to push along the line toward their position. We argue new thinking is needed on both sides and that an optimal balance of security and privacy lies not on the line of the current debate, but below it. The preferred policy region (in the lower right of Fig. 1) favors knowledge of behavior over knowledge of identity. Because it is ultimately actions that concern security personnel, they can capture the most relevant information by monitoring behavior. Privacy advocates can be assured that institutional safeguards will ensure that monitoring organizations cannot associate an identity with an individual without a reasonable suspicion of a past or future crime. While we argue that the default policy should be that security organizations cannot associate extensive data on identity with deep knowledge of behavior, there must be some provision for doing so. We propose that security organizations must meet a minimal threshold to obtain identifying information. In addition, we argue that because errors are inevitable, organizations that can join data on identity and behavior must support rapid procedures for validation and appeal. As an example, we consider the ubiquitous video cameras that pervade American life today. By themselves, video cameras enable security personnel in store, parking garages and office buildings monitor behavior, but a standard closed-circuit television (CCTV) system does not reveal identity. However, a face recognition system (see http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/954339.954342 ) that attempts to match images from the same video cameras threatens anonymity, but does not monitor behavior. During Super Bowl 35 in Tampa, Florida, officials used a face recognition system to scan the crowd in attendance and identified 19 petty criminals. [ Note that face recognition systems have generally shown extremely poor performance when it comes to identifying individuals from large groups of random people. In the Super Bowl case, since nobody was stopped or questioned, the "hits" were apparently not really confirmed. Many other tests of such systems have been suspended after dismal results. -- PRIVACY Forum Moderator ] By linking a CCTV system with a face recognition system, an organization ties identity and behavior together. While this potentially offers the greatest value to law enforcement, it is also fraught with the most danger for the average citizen. In the following sections, we discuss the conflict in policies recently implemented in the United States and explore these policies in the context of our behavior-identity knowledge (BIK) framework. For more details, the complete paper is at: http://eller.arizona.edu/~kurtf/writing/Balancing-security-privacy-ISI-2004.pdf Thanks for your time and we welcome your comments, Kurt Kurt D. Fenstermacher MIS Department Eller College of Business Computer Science Department (By courtesy) and Public Administration Univ. of Arizona 1130 E Helen St Tucson, AZ 85719 Voice: (520) 621-4016 Fax: (520) 621-2433 Email: KurtF@Eller.Arizona.edu Web: http://eller.arizona.edu/~kurtf/ [ I converted the Roman numerals on the Super Bowl reference to avoid triggering brain-damaged spam filters... We've hashed (no pun intended) over this identity ground before, and the results are always the same. Systems that allow for the mass collection and mining of personal data, and then try depend on somehow "protecting" individual identities -- to put it bluntly -- are fool's gold. Once the information has been collected, it takes only a failure of the encryption/protection algorithms, or even more likely a change in policy, to render all of the "protections" moot. The assumption that the ability to reconnect data with individual identities will only be used responsibly is a tenuous one at best. As I mentioned in the previous article about Google's "Gmail," there is no guarantee of powers-that-be remaining benign when it comes to these systems. With the flip of a virtual switch these surveillance infrastructures could become very personal and totally devoid of even a modicum of protections. The only sure way to protect personal data from such abuse it not to collect it en masse in the first place. Does this mean that we choose not to use some potential tools against terrorists and criminals? Indeed. It means we make a conscious decision not to create the societies envisioned in "1984" -- or "Fahrenheit 451" -- or "Brazil" -- all of which no doubt developed with the best of intentions. In those fictional societies, the terrorists really were the winners in the police states they helped to create. We don't want terrorism to win in our real world. The critical balance between liberties and security cannot be maintained through technological trickery, but only through dedication to the proposition that we will not allow the values of our societies to be effectively destroyed by our own hands, in an attempt to stave off our enemies. -- PRIVACY Forum Moderator ] ------------------------------ End of PRIVACY Forum Digest 13.02 ************************
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