Privacy on the internet is certainly one of the hot topics of today. The article "Practical Internet Privacy" is now a year old, but I still get email from it.
So, I thought readers might benefit from a question and answer email session I did for publication by a young student at a private Christian high school, on internet privacy-related matters. Here it is, almost word for word, just tidied up a little:
Q: Would you consider Internet Privacy to be a problem in our government and daily life? And why?
A: The biggest problem (of no privacy) is that it means the government can target dissenters. It also means private enemies can track, trace and therefore attack you.
Q: What are some ways that you would describe internet privacy?
A: Free speech is only possible if anonymity is possible. Internet privacy means internet anonymity or "pseudonymity." But this would be natural, were it not for government intervention. It is normal for customers to expect at least confidentiality from those who they are paying for a service — it is not natural to have someone in your paid service breathing down your neck and monitoring you all the time.
Q: What are the main causes of the internet privacy problem?
A: The lack of privacy is a government created problem — they are the ones doing the surveillance or mandating that ISP’s log everything you do. They are the ones who are forming alliances with big businesses and who, through non-free-market privileges, monopolies, and a central bank money-lending system, create the atmosphere for unusually large mega corporations to exist.
Q: What are some tools that make it easy for privacy to be invaded?
A: Black boxes at internet providers, logging or forwarding without proper standards of evidence. The ISP’s themselves have servers that are supposed to just forward your data, but now record it or transfer it to others, without your permission. The secret police agencies now have fibre optic wire taps at key internet traffic exchanges that go to huge surveillance computer centres.
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Q: What laws are used to regulate ISP’s? What specific ones can you say are being broken here?
A: Rather than saying that law being broken is the problem (although spook agencies do it all the time) my point is that laws are the problem:
Various laws specifically mandate surveillance and identification of users both in the US, the EU and around the world. Data retention and Patriot Act type laws for example. Also card payments and banking (therefore many internet purchases and subscriptions) require personal ID to be disclosed all the time — by law not because it is necessary. Laws also create monstrous bureaucracies like the NSA/DHS, etc., and take money by force to enable them to monitor the internet and all communications in real time — e.g. through fibre optic wire taps at key locations. In the UK, even local education officials can tap your internet or phone line.
Q: How exactly does the government form alliances with other companies and such?
We have unusually large corporations that facilitate easy, centralized surveillance, not because of the free market but because of privileges from the State. The US Bell and cable internet providers for example have a geographic monopoly. There was some news recently about Microsoft and privacy — a leaked manual about the info it keeps on users. I made the moral point in my article “Christianity and IP” that intellectual “property” laws help create monster monopoly corporations (like Microsoft, Apple and the RIAA mega media corps).
Then there is the Federal Reserve itself, the private controller and ally of government that has a monopoly on creating huge amounts of money. That money goes first to commercial banks and from there elites get to decide which of their corporate friends get the massive loans. Thomas Jefferson said that if ever the US had a central bank, the corporations that would grow up around it would make the people homeless. This process has happened in most areas of business: government-media, government-military, government-medical, government-auto industry, government-telecoms, government-energy etc.
Q: If you are religious, does your religion have an effect on how you feel about this topic? And why?
A: I am a Christian. You can read my specific beliefs in this area by Googling “The Exclusive Kingdom of God." Also, an article I actually wrote some years ago is called “Christianity and IP." Other articles are at LewRockwell.com
In short, I believe governments are false deities, trying to play God and trying to make themselves omnipotent. I believe that God has made each human being in His image as a sovereign being with dominion over their own affairs. Governments do not have moral exemption from God’s law, they do not have the right to kill or steal or violate that God-given jurisdiction. Privacy violations are just gearing up to treat us like animals in their pen and to enable attacks on their opponents. Jesus said: “The rulers of the ungodly lord it over them…. but it shall not be so among you.”
Q: How would you solve this problem and what would be the best way to carry it out?
A: Christians are ignorant in this area and often lead the charge to violate others because they believe the State is the arm of God. The answer is enlightenment and teaching at grassroots level and repentance from Christians who see earthly salvation in an all-powerful State, if only it is their kind of State.
There is not much hope in politics itself, but we should nevertheless pray for a “quiet and peaceable life in all godliness” and God will restrain things. I think if Ron Paul ever got elected, he would have some restraining influence. But the main benefit Ron Paul offers is in educating people in the ideas of liberty.
Most advances in liberty however, come through disturbances. It is then that people rethink their misplaced trust in government.
Q: One more question, could you give me a little background on your job — how you came to know so much about this topic?
A: I do help people (including the world of offshore finance) with computer security and privacy problems on a daily basis.