Category Archives: privacy

We Don’t Know What ‘Personal Data’ Means

Mark Zuckerberg Data

It’s Not Just What We Tell Them. It’s What They Infer. Many of us seem to think that “personal data” is a straightforward concept.  In discussions about Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, GDPR, and the rest of the data-drenched world we live in now, we proceed from the assumption that personal data means something like “data about […]

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The Terribly Thin Conception of Ethics in Digital Technology

robot teacher fooled students

Thanks in part to ongoing revelations about Facebook, there is today a louder discussion than there has been for a while about the need for deep thinking about ethics in the fields of engineering, computer science, and the commercial businesses built out of them. In the Boston Globe, Yonatan Zunger wrote about an “ethics crisis” […]

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Please Consider Supporting Our Legal Challenge to Cambridge Analytica’s Role in the Trump Election

Crowd Justice campaign header

Since December of last year, I have been part of a small group of concerned citizens engaged in a series of actions against Cambridge Analytica (CA) and its parent corporation, SCL Group. I am writing this post in the hopes of gathering support (that is, funds) we need to continue this action. You can support […]

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Article: “The Militarization of Language: Cryptographic Politics and the War of All against All”

boundary 2 cover

I have an article in the latest boundary 2 titled “The Militarization of Language: Cryptographic Politics and the War of All against All.” It is my most sustained attempt to locate and critique a political philosophy in the discourse of encryption advocates, a project I’ve addressed as well in pieces like “Code Is Not Speech” […]

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Encryption and Responsibility: A Note on Symphony

Typically, those of us concerned about the widespread use of encryption and anonymization technologies like Tor are depicted by crypto advocates as “anti-encryption” or “freedom haters” or “mind-murdering censors” or worse. Despite the level of detail these people can bring to technological matters, they often portray the political options as very stark: either “encryption” or […]

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Tor, Technocracy, Democracy

freedom is slavery

As important as the technical issues regarding Tor are, at least as important—probably more important—is the political worldview that Tor promotes (as do other projects like it). While it is useful and relevant to talk about formations that capture large parts of the Tor community, like “geek culture” and “cypherpunks” and libertarianism and anarchism, one […]

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‘Is It Compromised?’ Is the Wrong Question about US Government Funding of Tor

cia dissemination of propaganda

In many ways, the most surprising thing about Yasha Levine’s powerful reporting on US government funding of Tor at Pando Daily has been the response to it. From the trolling attacks and ad hominem insults by apparently respectable, senior digital privacy activists and journalists, to repeated, climate-denialist-style “I’m rubber you’re glue”-type (or, as I like […]

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All Cybersecurity Technology Is Dual-Use

geer at black hat

Dan Geer is one of the more interesting thinkers about digital security and privacy around. Geer is a sophisticated technologist with an extremely varied and rich background who has also, fairly recently, become a spook of some kind. Geer is currently the Chief Information Security Officer for In-Q-Tel, the technology investment subsidiary of the CIA, […]

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Social Media as Political Control: The Facebook Study, Acxiom, & NSA

NSA Facebook

Although it didn’t break the major media until last week, around June 2 researchers led by Adam Kramer of Facebook published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) entitled “Experimental Evidence of Massive-Scale Emotional Contagion Through Social Networks.” The publication has triggered an flood of complaints and concerns: is Facebook […]

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Glasslinks: Privacy, Glassholes, Panics, & Take-Backs

google glass

A colleague asked if I had any links to writings about Google Glass, so I dug around in my files and found quite a few things. I thought they might come in handy for others doing research on the topic. I have even more, but this is overwhelming enough as it is. The final pair […]

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