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Dean on privacy?

2004-01-27 18:00:16.247283+00 by Dan Lyke 21 comments

Wow. Will one of you Dean supporters confirm or deny that these are the words of Howard Dean speaking at Carnegie Mellon?

On the Internet, this card will confirm all the information required to gain access to a state network -- while also barring anyone who isn't legal age from entering adult chat room(sic), making the internet safer for our children, or prevent(sic) adults from entering a children's chat room and preying on our kids.

So: No more anonymous discussions about public policy. No more anonymous whistleblowers on corporate misdeeds. As I read that speech, he's advocating that if you log on to the 'net the government knows.

If so, then... well... Getting rid of Dubya is important, but since Clark has already spoken out against the First Amendment, with Dean apparently hollering for an end to anonymity, and the rest of the Democrats being roughly generic business-as-usual politicians, I'm no longer so sure that the alternatives presented are better.

Thanks to Jay who turned me on to News.com.com on the topic.

[ related topics: Children and growing up Politics Law Current Events Civil Liberties Net Culture ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: Dean on privacy? made: 2004-01-27 18:09:34.789504+00 by: Dan Lyke

Related question: Anyone know what the path was that took this speech into the media? We know that news.com.com isn't exactly hard-hitting journalism, nor are the other references I saw to this speech. Whose publicist sent this puppy out?

#Comment Re: Dean on privacy? made: 2004-01-27 18:18:56.759576+00 by: John Anderson

WRT the route, it seems worth pointing out that Declan McCullagh (the by-lined author) was also the person resonsible for breaking the "Al Gore claims to invent the internet" "story".

Intuition tells me that there's more to this than meets the eye, but I unfortunately don't have the time to dig into it at the moment...

#Comment Re: Dean on privacy? made: 2004-01-27 18:22:50.026241+00 by: Dan Lyke

Same text of the speech from a CMU source.

#Comment It stinks of a smear, but I can't confirm it. made: 2004-01-27 19:37:09.761442+00 by: whump

Which is exactly what I'd expect the bushies to do.

But as John points out it's entertaining to see that Declan's being the willing patient zero again.

#Comment Re: Dean on privacy? made: 2004-01-28 00:49:29.902345+00 by: kingbabar

I think Declan is a CMU alumni, which may help explain how he caught wind of it.

#Comment Re: Dean on privacy? made: 2004-01-28 13:07:12.28077+00 by: ziffle

It seems typical of Dean's entire mess of a philosophical viewpoint. What has always surprised me is why anyone ever supported him in the first place - and why when this stuff actually surfaces some would attempt to spin the stituation by attacking the messenger.

Not that Bush is any better, but he gives good war, and the world is better for it.

Ziffle of Mayberry

#Comment Re: Dean on privacy? made: 2004-01-28 20:15:21.286841+00 by: threat_or_menace

Well, first off, what I find great here is that the Dean supporters are neither confirming nor denying. They're squirming.

I also think it's good that people are alert that this story was broken by Declan McCullagh, who I've not thought well of for many years. I remember one particularly amusing piece he wrote for a Boston paper in which he claimed (well before 9/11, back in 97 or 98) that laser printers could be remotely detonated by terrorists using the tcp/ip stack, more or less.

I wrote him at the time and said "look, buddy, I know a guy's gotta eat and you gotta sell copy, but are there no limits?"

He wrote back all hissy and said something along the lines of "oh yes you could *too* set those Tektronix Phasers on Overload."

All that said, you should go to CMU and read what Candidate Dean had to say about privacy. It's very disturbing stuff. It's well informed and corrosive as hell on privacy issues.

His campaign manager, Joe Trippi, was the focus of an article lately in the Register (UK.) Trippi was whoring himself to the digital rights managament crowd before signing on with the Deaniacs. Trippi's particular interest is in operating systems that build in DRM from the ground up. From a privacy viewpoint, the only way that would work would be a Huge Fucking Problem.

Dean in his CMU remarks seems to think that it's only a bad thing if the government its own self builds a grotesque uber-database. It's okay, apparently, if corporations have them.

What Dean chooses to gloss is that governments can then simply rent time on them. Better still, they can own them in all but name, as they're doing with a multistate database named - I'm not making this up - the Matrix in Florida. That one is particularly cute. It's being developed as an information ominivore by a private company under contract to several states. Technically, it's not a government entity; in practise, it's primarily a government entity - but it is exempt from all the pesky rules that apply to government entities.

Dean's many things; dumb isn't on my short list. So it bugs the hell out of me that according to CMU, he's now on the record as saying essentially that since big corps already have credit histories on us, why not use those as law enforcement tools?

and "In many ways, privacy is the new urban myth."

and yes, the exact text you quoted appears on the CMU PDF as well.

So, Declan McCullagh likes to see his name in print, but Candidate Dean has said some pretty ghastly things, and they're worth knowing about. Overall, that speech is in striking contrast with *anything* Gore or Clinton or Bush or Cheney has ever said, in terms of how much information about technology is in it.

Dean's speech establishes a well-informed privacy realpolitik. I find the position outlined by Dean disheartening. The reaction is to that elicited by the State Department position established in '48 and outlined by George Kennan, in which having won a war supposedly fought to prevent world domination, we set ourselves the goal of world domination:

"We have about 60 per cent of the world's wealth but only 6.3 per cent of its population. Our real task in the coming period (will be) to maintain this position of disparity. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford the luxury of altruism and world benefaction ... the day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are hampered then by idealistic slogans the better." -George Kennan, head of U.S. State Department Planning, Feb 24, 1948.

Trippi piece in the Register:


Coverage of the Matrix project:


#Comment Re: Dean on privacy? made: 2004-01-28 20:37:20.562405+00 by: Dan Lyke

Ziffle, in the past few years I've come to realize that there will never be a majority of those with any sort of ethical structure. Further, to be able to win, a candidate has to straddle a set of issues, choosing to take the right position on the primary concerns of enough different groups to build a coalition between those otherwise opposed groups.

For a while the Republicans were able to do this by appealing to the those for who an economic laissez faire stance was the primary issue, and by appealing to those who wanted heavy government social control. Slowly, those who want the economic laissez faire stance have been realizing that giving up control of social issues to the government has gone too far, so they've been sliding further Democrat, while the Republicans have been getting more of the social control folks, and started giving up those for whom a liberal economic stance was a moral stand and keeping those for whom a liberal economic stance was self-serving.

Dean's platform papers had him out to be, modulo health care, fairly liberal economically and fairly liberal socially. True, he was probably building that stance as a way to build a coalition between disagreeing groups, but any chance I have to encourage those things in the national discourse seems good. And I was willing to let him slide on health care 'cause it's not like the assorted drug, insurance and hospital services companies aren't already heavily... socialized is the wrong word, but certainly they've asked for and gotten an awful lot of help from the feds.

The simple fact is that there are enough different factions in this country that I will never be able to have a candidate that I actually mostly agree with win any sizable election. Only a few people share my ethical structure, and the rightness of my ethical structure sure isn't born out by evolution; if we go by what's worked rather than what I believe is right we end up with a structure which says roughly "whatever belief system builds the strongest coalition willing to use violence will wipe out the others".

Whether or not you and I agree with it, that's what wins, and that's what will keep winning. What I can most effectively do to promote my ethical system is use that knowledge to build a strong coalition that's not willing to use pre-emptive violence. That, alas, means making some compromises.

I thought Dean was the right set of compromises to work towards that. Instead I'm finding that he might be the right set of compromises to work away from where Dubya and his cronies have been pulling us. But then, so's ol' Botoxed up whatsisname from Massachusets, and depending on how strong support for him is in my electoral college district his nomination might even give me the opportunity to make a conscience vote.

threat_or_menace: I think your take on it is right on. I read that speech as saying he's fine with the government mining private databases, and fine with letting those private databases run hog wild with a government mandated ID. Essentially everything bad that's come about from the use of the SSN as a federal ID, with the additional issue that we're no longer able to make one up when dealing with private entities.

On the more general case, I'd love to see the folks over at Value Judgement tackle this one.

#Comment Re: Dean on privacy? made: 2004-01-28 20:40:45.55776+00 by: Dan Lyke

And on the "Who said it" issue, I strongly recommend reading Bush's Brain[Wiki], not so much for the "takedown of Karl Rove" aspects, but because those tactics are ones that advertisers and campaign managers are using, Rove just seems to be particularly effective and doesn't bother to cover his tracks more than necessary. (mentioned in the comments here)

#Comment Register Piece made: 2004-01-29 01:35:00.219382+00 by: whump

That piece that threat_or_menace links to in the Register appears to be a debunking of the DMC CNet story when you read it all the way through.

The summary's so badly formed that you have to read the whole thing for it to make sense.

By the way, threat_or_menace, do seeing Dean supporters 'squirm' do you any good? Dean supporters evaluating their candidate's stance on Civil Liberties is good, making people 'squirm' is just being annoying.

#Comment Re: Dean on privacy? made: 2004-01-29 03:09:06.679241+00 by: threat_or_menace [edit history]

The piece in the Register does not like the spin that McCullagh puts on Dean's speech. They also don't like McCullagh, and rightly note that the hoo-ha about what Gore didn't actually say about his role in funding tcp/ip development was overdone.

But they give Dean a pass. The speech is very data-rich; they decide that Dean can be given naivete as his excuse for advocating smart cards.

I disagree with them on that; Dean's a bright boy. Trippi's a bright boy. An analogy would be that we should give Bush a pass for Karl Rove's behavior.

Here, to me, is the real problem with Dean's rhetoric:

"we have already ceded our private information to faceless credit card companies and direct marketers who then sell it for a profit."

First, not all of us have. Second, is this a fait accompli, or can it be reversed? As presented, it's done and irreversible.

Dean follows the execrable "privacy is an urban myth" line with an outline of some of the business databases many folks are in, and continues:

"So, is the answer to create an Orwellian Ministry of Information? No. It's about creating safe passage through a free but threatened life.

"We will not, and should not, tolerate a call to erode privacy even further --- far from it. Americans can only be assured that their personal identity and information are safe and protected when they are able to gain more control over this information and its use.

"Again, this points to Smart Card adoption and development of card readers that limit information access but also confirm it --- when appropriate."

Who will be selling the cards and readers, and who will be controlling them?

He sets up a false dichotomoy between the Ministry of Information and private rights to control information.

The elephant in Dean's speech are the corporations who'll develop, encode, and control the smart cards. You and I won't have any control over those records just because we've told the government that we'd rather it not directly control them, either.

As to the value of squirming Deaniacs, the Deaniacs where I am have a tremendous amount in common with the religous nutters who used to sell flowers at airports or want to invite you to the temple for supper. With Krishnas and Moonies.

If they're thinking, they'll be squirming in discomfort because thinking is an uncomfortable process for the True Believer. And yes, causing such to think is a Good Thing. But in the first few posts in this thread, the only thing they seemed to be thinking about was how to put daylight between Fearless Leader and what he'd said. The squirming I was referring to, sadly, was what read to me as evasiveness.

As to the comment from Dan, who'd hoped supporting Dean might lead to something and is realizing that at best supporting Dean might lead away from something: spot on. From my friends in Vermont, I've long heard odd, disturbing things about Dean (here's a little-known one: he's an MD who cancelled the methadone program, both because he could and because he needed red meat to throw to cultural conservatives? Tom DeLay I would be less bothered by doing that; I'm a harder grader when someone's performing malpractise at a statewide level and is formally trained to know it.)

So, Bush opponents may find themselves in primarily reactive mode - liberal reactionaries - by supporting a Dean in the elections as an "anyone but bush" candidate. A real unity candidate for the blue states and metro areas.

There are arguments that are reasonable that say "yep, that's the thing to do." Bush is not just one country's president, but holds huge influence over many more areas. Remediating the harm he's doing is not a bad thing. But will moving Bush out of office affect US companies ordering their Latin American workers to use their pesticides without protective gear or instructions? Will it affect US banks' diktats to governments throughout the developing world?

No. Those practises continue unabated, unchanged, uninflected by US "politics," which do not have a meaningful political difference to discuss. At their very best, they have some policy differences to iron out; at their worst and most common, they're about who gets what civil service jobs.

#Comment Re: Dean on privacy? made: 2004-01-29 03:51:12.230226+00 by: Dan Lyke

I find The Register story a bit credulous too:

So there we have it: Dean wasn't advocating a national ID card, nor was he blithely inviting smart card vendors to breach citizens' privacy even further.

I'm not a smart dog, but if he wasn't "advocating a national ID card" what does it mean to call on State Chief Inormation Officers to create a situation where:

...one state's Smart Card driver's license must be identifiable by another state's card reader. It must also be easily commercialized by the private sector and included in al PCs over time...

This is kinda like all those Republicans who are claiming that since Dubya didn't actually use the word "imminent", anyone reporting that he'd claimed Saddam Hussein was an "imminent threat" was a liar. Further, I don't care if it was an unscrupulous campaign manager, if he can, with a straight face, say "digital Pearl Harbor" and quote Dick Brown then he's not exactly the socially liberal economic conservative with a moderate amout of techno-savvy that I've seen advertised. If he's asking:

When you entered the airport or the train station to travel to this conference, how many times did you use your driver's license?

(emphasis on "train station" mine) without a sense of outrage, he's no advocate of civil liberties. As soon as he's rolling over and allowing that we need valid ID to hop on a freakin' train, we're only steps away from guards at state border crossings walking through the cars asking for "your papers, please." Perhaps he's afraid that someone will hijack a locomotive and drive it into the Pentagon? Or are we really looking at a situation where the National ID Card driver's license that must be readable by every state and every personal computer is necessary to ride BART?

As The Register article says:

...his advocacy leaves Dean guilty of little more than naivety.

If I wanted someone naive who could be molded and guided by an unscrupulous campaign manager, I'd have voted for Dubya.

I've avoided much direct Dean advocacy because I'm much more concerned with the ability of a candidate to take on the current administration than the pipe-dream of a candidate who might actually support my goals, but I had held out some hope. I'm still willing to be swayed, but this kinda confirms that unspoken fear in the back of my mind, that Dean was just another politician, just one who happened to understand how to target my demographic, and if it's between him and Botox boy I'll hold my nose and support whoever reverses the direction of the current administration, with special props to anyone who seems like they'll be stymied in their agenda so that I don't have to support their opponent in the following election.

#Comment Re: Dean on privacy? made: 2004-01-29 04:05:02.457824+00 by: threat_or_menace [edit history]

(oops. hit the reload button to see followups, didn't catch on that what would happen would be I'd repost. 'pologies, and thanks for the edit button!)

#Comment Re: Dean on privacy? made: 2004-01-29 07:30:22.784883+00 by: Diane Reese

...the Deaniacs where I am have a tremendous amount in common with the religous nutters who used to sell flowers at airports or want to invite you to the temple for supper.

Bingo. Good description. I can't even stand to listen to or read about what Dean says anymore: he totally creeps me out. He's got those Scientology eyes (although I've never heard any talk about him being a devotee), and that creepy intense way of staring and emoting. I can't take him seriously, he makes *me* squirm, but for a very different reason than discussed above!

If I have to, I'll hold my nose and vote for him, just to be rid of Dubya, but I am hard-pressed to think he'd be the one to be able to win. If he creeps *me* out, think of how he must go over in "middle America".

And while we're at it, here's a plug for everyone who cares to try to convince Ralph Nader not to run in '04. (Note: link takes you to a Flash piece.) We don't need him to play spoiler in another election: we need to be rid of Dubya.

#Comment Re: Dean on privacy? made: 2004-01-29 07:34:56.650938+00 by: Diane Reese [edit history]

(Dang, I hate it when that "refresh to see new comments" thing ends up duplicating comment entries.... very frustrating.)

#Comment Re: Dean on privacy? made: 2004-01-29 14:20:57.349258+00 by: Dan Lyke

I think I need to implement a fix for that duplicating comments thingie. Sorry, y'all, I'll see what I can figure out.

#Comment Re: Dean on privacy? made: 2004-01-30 01:09:16.516216+00 by: baylink

On duplicate comments, put a UNIQUE SERIAL column in the database, and put it in the returned page as a hidden field. When you try to insert it a second time, it will puke, and you can catch it.

On Dean... <sigh> how old was this speech? I missed it. Not happy now, though. Thanks, Diane; my local Dean-listies will find it... thought provoking. I hope.

#Comment Re: Dean on privacy? made: 2004-01-30 01:32:28.194091+00 by: Dan Lyke

That second PDF is in the context of the notes for the conference. The speech was the keynote for the Workshop on States Security: Identity, Authentication, and Access Controll presented March 27-28, 2002, paper heading cites the machine name www.security.scs.cmu.edu, and then goes on to say "Workshop sponsored by" http://www.ams.com/ and http://www.wave.com/ . I do not see the specific date of the speech, but in the list of events Dean's speech is fairly early on, so I assume it was on the 27th.

Jay, I've thought about the "generate a unique serial number with each page view" thingie, but I think it'll be easier to check for identical comment text than to do the error handling and user interface that'd require. But I'm hung up right now 'cause I'm caught by some issues on syncing data to my test machine.

#Comment Re: Dean on privacy? made: 2004-02-02 18:50:48.410891+00 by: Dan Lyke

Okay, I think the "reload" issue is gone. This is somewhat of a test for that.

#Comment Reload Fix made: 2004-02-02 19:19:17.764032+00 by: aiworks

Hey Dan,

I don't know what's behind flutterby.com (I know, I can check... I'm lazy) but aren't you using DBI or something else akin to a flat file? Regardless, I'm curious about your fix. Are you hashing comments (MD5?) as they're inserted and then checking for duplicate hash values?

This might be a better question for flutterby.net...

#Comment Re: Dean on privacy? made: 2004-02-02 20:33:14.594738+00 by: Dan Lyke

I'm doing a SELECT articles.title, articles.text, articles.texttype FROM weblogcomments, articles WHERE weblogcomments.article_id = articles.id AND articles.author_id='$userid' AND weblogcomments.entry_id='$entryid' and failing if all of those match the values that the user is about to insert. I guess I could just change it to SELECT articles.id WHERE ... articles.title='$title' AND articles.text='$text'... and fail if that returns anything, too. There are inefficiencies in this, but aside from the thread that shall not be named the most comments we've ever had here is 40 or 50, and I'm doing most of that SELECT every time I show a page with its comments, the additional load is a fraction of a page view.