Dec 142011
 December 14, 2011  Posted by  Misc, Surveillance

Criminal defense attorney Scott Greenfield has an interesting commentary on revelations that the FBI may be availing itself of some of  Carrier IQ’s “features” that its customers may be deploying:

 … this doesn’t mean they already have their hands on your text messages, or even that there’s any cooperation on the part of Carrier IQ.  Indeed, there may be a passel of issues surrounding any effort to gain access to every keystroke you ever tapped on your smartphone, though it would appear that since it’s in the hands of a third party, no Fourth Amendment right attaches.  On the other hand, since no one knew this was happening, and it came as a huge, and scandalous surprise to the public, a court should be hard pressed to conclude that it passes scrutiny under Katz’s reasonable expectation of privacy test.

But now you do know. And so does the FBI. And as long as you continue to tap, tap, tap on that cute little qwerty keyboard, you can’t deny you took the risk of exposure to the government by Carrier IQ.

We’re inundated with the magic of technology, making our world easier, faster and perpetually more fabulous.  Those who adore technology gush over every shiny new toy.  And to a large extent, the toys are great fun and occasionally useful.  But nobody wants to be serious about the perils.  And there is no shortage of perils.

My deep understanding of all things technical precludes me from discussing the potential of evils that could stem from this rootkit.  I don’t even know what a rootkit is.  But I know too well that the government will have no qualms about using it to their advantage if they can get their hands on it.


By the time a court rules that some technology I’ve never heard of is so common and pervasive that no reasonable person could expect privacy, the cutting edge is already a thousand light years ahead of it.  I learn about it via some of the more technologically astute (and, naturally, younger) lawyers, like Keith Lee, but so does the government.  If there’s data to be mined, they’ve got their pith helmets at the ready.

So enjoy those new, shiny toys.  Tap to your heart’s content.  Hang in the clouds.  Eventually, we’ll find out whether you had some unexpected company with you, and by the time it reaches a circuit court and a decision is made about how unreasonable you were to expect that your private, personal communications and messages would remain private, it will be too late to worry about it.  By then, you will be informed that everyone knows that there’s no privacy in the technological, digital, shiny toy world.  But by then, it will be too late to worry about it.

I couldn’t agree with Scott more, which is why I have always been something of a technological dinosaur. Maybe it’s a genetic thing. My dad used to buy new clothes but then let them age in his closet for at least a few years before he’d wear them.  I was never sure why he did it, but I seem to have inherited the reluctance to rush into new things. I wait years to see if something is really safe or valuable to use and I still use a Palm Pilot because I don’t like the idea of my patient scheduling calendar being up in some cloud where others might be able to access it.  My new devices come with BlueTooth but I have no idea what I want to do with that. By the time I figure it out, BlueTooth will probably be passé.

On a positive note, I avoid all the weekly Facebook privacy worries by having had the foresight to never create a profile on most social media platforms (Twitter is the exception and there, I use a #noloc app to keep my tweets out of the Library of Congress).

Games? Apps? They sound great – and often free – but as I learned as a health care professional decades ago, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. And if the price of lunch is the government amassing tons of data on me without judicial oversight, well, thanks, but no thanks.

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