Governments Worldwide Using Google to Spy On You


By Patrick   Follow   Sun, 30 Dec 2012, 9:37am   1,705 views   44 comments
In Menlo Park CA 94025   Watch (0)   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/14/governments-worldwide-asking-google-to-hand-over-more-data/

There is more uncomfortable news for people concerned about the privacy of their e-mail accounts after the F.B.I. investigation that led to the resignation of the C.I.A. director, David H. Petraeus. The number of government requests to Google to hand over user account data is markedly increasing, according to a report published on Tuesday by Google. In the first six months of this year, governments around the world made 20,938 requests to Google to provide information on 34,614 accounts, the company said. In the same period in 2011, governments made 15,744 requests on 25,342 accounts, according to company data. During...

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  1. Kevin


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    5   11:30am Sun 30 Dec 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    Note that requests aren't the same thing as compliance. Lots of data requests can be denied legally.

  2. bob2356


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    6   12:06pm Sun 30 Dec 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Just use a service like Anonymizer to hide behind. I've used it for years for anything I want private.

  3. Patrick


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    7   12:09pm Sun 30 Dec 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    Which Anonymizer do you use?

    I wouldn't trust any commercial anonymizer.

  4. bob2356


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    8   12:31pm Sun 30 Dec 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    I've bounced around between commercial and free products with mixed results. Back to using anonymizer.com for now. Seems like a lot of the free products route through Russia which doesn't give me a warm fuzzy feeling. I don't bother for things like patrick.net or realtor.com anyway.

  5. Dan8267


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    9   8:38pm Sun 30 Dec 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (3)   Dislike  

    Patrick says

    The number of government requests to Google to hand over user account data is markedly increasing, according to a report published on Tuesday by Google.

    The solution is quite simple. Whenever a government agent demands information about private citizens, Google should reply by publishing the search history of the high ranking state officials of that government including their at-home searches. This will quite governments damn fast.

  6. Patrick


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    10   10:03am Mon 31 Dec 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Some unknown number of these requests are Stalinist-type "National Security Letters" which may not even be discussed in any way, directly violating the First Amendment:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_security_letters

    In fact, you should expect to receive one now for your impertinance...

  7. TechGromit


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    11   10:37am Mon 31 Dec 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Patrick says

    In the first six months of this year, governments around the world made 20,938 requests to Google to provide information on 34,614 accounts, the company said.

    Can they spy on you, Yes, but are they really interested in what Iwog, Patrick or TechGromit are doing, most likely not. The number requests vs the of existing number of accounts is so small that it not even a concern for me. You have to be involved in some serious Anti-government to even get on the governments radar.

  8. Moderate Infidel


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    12   10:45am Mon 31 Dec 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    They spy on us so they can find out which porn sites are the best.

  9. Dan8267


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    13   10:57am Mon 31 Dec 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (2)   Dislike  

    TechGromit says

    You have to be involved in some serious Anti-government to even get on the governments radar.

    That was true in the analog age when you had to pay humans to spy on humans. Today, computers spy on humans and it's damn cheap. So, yes, the government is interested in knowing everything about everyone.

    It turned out that the greatest defense against tyranny was the cost, but now cost is no longer an issue.

    Of course, the real problem is that those in government do not have good intentions when spying on people. They don't define "bad guy" as someone who is trying to commit an act of violence, but rather as anyone who's actions might interfere with my career ambitions, expose a scandal or crime, embarrass my party by revealing its incompetence, limit my ability to make wealth by exploiting the system and stealing it from the public, etc.

    If everyone had access to the same information that government did, it wouldn't be nearly as scary. The problem is the asymmetry of power.

  10. Moderate Infidel


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    14   11:15am Mon 31 Dec 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (2)   Dislike  

    The solution is for everyone to openly search for things that the government might flag so they have to spend their time and resources on wild goose chases.

  11. Moderate Infidel


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    15   11:18am Mon 31 Dec 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Here, I'll start.
    Taliban. dirty bomb. terrorist. gold hoarding. militia. anti-government.
    assassination. boob. guns. penis. plot. aliens in government.

  12. Dan8267


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    16   11:24am Mon 31 Dec 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    Moderate Infidel says

    The solution is for everyone to openly search for things that the government might flag so they have to spend their time and resources on wild goose chases.

    Hackers thought of that years ago. They created software to exchange emails that sounded like terrorist plots, to do Google searches on refining uranium, etc. Ultimately, that approach leads to an arms race and arms races are always won by the side with the most money. In the case of spammers vs. anti-spammers, the spammers win. In the case of government vs. private citizens, government wins.

    Best to starve the beast of funding. That's why we should completely defund the TSA and the DHS and mostly defund the CIA and NSA. We really don't need to spend all that cash fighting the cold war, now that it's over.

    In case no one else has notice, the country's paranoia over terrorism started before 9/11. It started in the 1990s when the cold war ended and the CIA and NSA had to either massively lay off people or invent a new boogie man to justify their massive funding. Guess which one they did.

  13. Moderate Infidel


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    17   11:38am Mon 31 Dec 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    But were talking about google searches not emails.

  14. Dan8267


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    18   11:41am Mon 31 Dec 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Moderate Infidel says

    But were talking about google searches not emails.

    Actually, those information requests from government are far more likely to be email (GMail) than Google searches. You see, email stays around for years. Google is required by law to forget about what you searched for within something like two weeks. Evidently the politicians in various countries including our own don't like the idea of their Google searches being around forever.

  15. Moderate Infidel


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    19   11:46am Mon 31 Dec 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Dan8267 says

    Moderate Infidel says

    But were talking about google searches not emails.

    Actually, those information requests from government are far more likely to be email (GMail) than Google searches. You see, email stays around for years. Google is required by law to forget about what you searched for within something like two weeks. Evidently the politicians in various countries including our own don't like the idea of their Google searches being around forever.

    Problem solved then! Don't Gmail.

  16. Dan8267


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    20   11:56am Mon 31 Dec 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Moderate Infidel says

    Problem solved then! Don't Gmail.

    Problem only partially solved. The government routinely gets access to email accounts from any provider. Also, the government can copy the packets as they are sent over the network.

    Use RCA encryption for all emails if you want to solve the problem But most people can't handle decrypting the email even though this was standard practice back in 1993. People would generate their public keys and put them on their website. When you send an email to that person, you encrypted it with their public key and they decrypt it with their private key.

    Real simple, but must dumb ass Americans can't even handle that. So email became completely unencrypted and now everyone looks at you funny when you ask them to generate a public/private key pair so you can send them encrypted mail.

  17. Kevin


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    21   12:38pm Mon 31 Dec 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    I hate to break it to you guys, but when a totalitarian despot takes over the government, it won't matter what kind of encryption you use. They'll just break your fingers until you give them your keys.

  18. lostand confused


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    22   12:40pm Mon 31 Dec 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  
  19. Dan8267


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    23   12:42pm Mon 31 Dec 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Kevin says

    I hate to break it to you guys, but when a totalitarian despot takes over the government, it won't matter what kind of encryption you use. They'll just break your fingers until you give them your keys.

    Which is exactly why encryption is so important right now. It prevents that totalitarian government from coming to power. Totalitarian regimes never happen overnight. They grow slowly and insidiously like a cancer.

  20. Dan8267


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    24   12:43pm Mon 31 Dec 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    lostand confused says

    Obama extends warrantless wiretapping through 2017.

    Another legitimate reason to hate Obama. Fox News will ignore this.

  21. Call it Crazy


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    25   12:44pm Mon 31 Dec 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Moderate Infidel says

    Problem solved then! Don't Gmail.

    Or Yahoo mail, Hotmail, AOL mail, or any other "free" email.

  22. Kevin


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    26   2:03pm Mon 31 Dec 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Dan8267 says

    Kevin says

    I hate to break it to you guys, but when a totalitarian despot takes over the government, it won't matter what kind of encryption you use. They'll just break your fingers until you give them your keys.

    Which is exactly why encryption is so important right now. It prevents that totalitarian government from coming to power. Totalitarian regimes never happen overnight. They grow slowly and insidiously like a cancer.

    All evidence is to the contrary. Pretty much every totalitarian regime took power through a coup, civil war, or other rapid transition.

    There are basically no examples of a good government turning totalitarian gradually.

    Nazi Germany? Nope
    Soviet Union? Nope
    China? Nope
    Cuba? Nope
    Cambodia? Nope
    North Korea? Nope

    I can go on.

    You encrypting your email will have zero effect on a totalitarian government coming to power. Aside from the fact that nobody cares about what you write, electronic communication is an insignificant aspect of controlling a society. When an armed brigade kicks in your door and hauls you off to political prison, nobody is going to care that they couldn't actually read whatever you were writing in your emails.

    When / if it happens, it will be a black swan event. A nuclear bomb goes off, civil war breaks out, or some other disaster occurs that allows the bad man to sieze power. Nobody will be able to predict it.

    For general security concerns (data thieves, not governments),
    encrypting email is probably not worthwhile, because it's a bandaid on a poorly secured protocol to begin with. Never send anything important directly via email.

  23. CL


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    27   2:11pm Mon 31 Dec 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    "You have to be involved in some serious Anti-government to even get on the governments radar".

    It would seem to me that they would just keep it all, then pull it out when they needed it. Storage space is cheap since the old echelon days.

    And unlike the old telephone network, all of our communications goes over the interweb nowadays. Wasn't that what the Quantico circuit was all about?

  24. Dan8267


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    28   6:50pm Mon 31 Dec 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Kevin says

    There are basically no examples of a good government turning totalitarian gradually.

    Hitler took decades to rise to power. China has steadily become worse over the past 50 years. Hell, even the ancient democracy of Rome deteriorated into a republic which then deteriorated into a dictatorship.

    Never underestimate the power of atrophy to kill freedom.

  25. Moderate Infidel


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    29   6:51pm Mon 31 Dec 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Dan8267 says

    lostand confused says

    Obama extends warrantless wiretapping through 2017.

    Another legitimate reason to hate Obama. Fox News will ignore this.

    Yeah, you can give up all your" illegitimate" reasons now. They probably still outnumber your "legitimate" reasons though.

  26. SoftShell


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    30   7:40pm Mon 31 Dec 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    Well, i guess if you ain't fuckin up you ain't got nothing to worry about....

    Dan8267 says

    Today, computers spy on humans and it's damn cheap. So, yes, the government is interested in knowing everything about everyone.

  27. SoftShell


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    31   7:41pm Mon 31 Dec 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    Better to sacrifice some 'rights' to secure what's left of 'freedom'

    Dan8267 says

    lostand confused says

    Obama extends warrantless wiretapping through 2017.

    Another legitimate reason to hate Obama. Fox News will ignore this.

  28. SoftShell


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    32   7:42pm Mon 31 Dec 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    There is no reason to hate Obama. Maybe his policies......

    Dan8267 says

    lostand confused says

    Obama extends warrantless wiretapping through 2017.

    Another legitimate reason to hate Obama. Fox News will ignore this.

  29. Kevin


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    33   12:42am Tue 1 Jan 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Dan8267 says

    Kevin says

    There are basically no examples of a good government turning totalitarian gradually.

    Hitler took decades to rise to power. China has steadily become worse over the past 50 years. Hell, even the ancient democracy of Rome deteriorated into a republic which then deteriorated into a dictatorship.

    Never underestimate the power of atrophy to kill freedom.

    Hitler had no power until he seized it. He failed, went to prison, then tried again and was successful. He seized his chance in the middle of a complete financial collapse. There was no slow decline where the government gradually turned bad. The day he stole power totalitarianism took hold.

    China has become *worse*? Are you nuts? They used to execute people for reading books published in English. And, of course, China became a totalitarian dictatorship via civil war. The old government was kicked out, not co opted.

    Rome became a dictatorship through a seizure of power by a leader, but its an awful example since the average roman had the same life under both models.

  30. Moderate Infidel


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    34   1:03am Tue 1 Jan 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    SFace says

    I actually don't mind. In all honesty, that's what government should do, track terrorsist and significant illegal activities. It's not like they care about your mistress (unless you are a politician maybe) or politics.

    The only people who are afraid has something sinister to hide.

    You won't mind if we put cameras in your house too just to make doubly sure your not a terrorist. don't worry, we won't use them unless we have to. We also need your DNA on file. Thanks comrade.

  31. bob2356


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    35   6:05am Tue 1 Jan 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    SFace says

    The only people who are afraid has something sinister to hide.

    So you are saying the government has never made a mistake, that everyone single person ever imprisoned in the USA was guilty? There has never been a case of someone innocent getting shafted by some rogue officer just looking to make numbers, a lazy crime lab just making stuff up, someone just plain grabbing the wrong person? Must be nice still believing in Santa Clause and the Easter bunny at your age.

  32. lostand confused


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    36   6:13am Tue 1 Jan 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    SFace says

    I actually don't mind. In all honesty, that's what government should do, track terrorsist and significant illegal activities. It's not like they care about your mistress (unless you are a politician maybe) or politics.


    The only people who are afraid has something sinister to hide.

    Not true. While Elliott Spitzer was a politiicans and terrorists laws were used to catch him hiring a hooker-there were others who were caught in the web, who just paid the fine-to avoid public humiliation.

    Who knows how many other secret investigations are going on in the name of terrorism. This will not end well.

  33. SoftShell


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    37   6:56am Tue 1 Jan 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike (1)  

    not at all.
    what are you hiding...?

    Moderate Infidel says

    You won't mind if we put cameras in your house too just to make doubly sure your not a terrorist. don't worry, we won't use them unless we have to. We also need your DNA on file. Thanks comrade.

  34. SoftShell


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    38   6:58am Tue 1 Jan 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike (1)  

    the world turns....
    governments change...
    evolution marches on....
    get over it.

    lostand confused says

    Who knows how many other secret investigations are going on in the name of terrorism. This will not end well.

  35. lostand confused


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    39   7:42am Tue 1 Jan 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    SoftShell says

    the world turns....
    governments change...
    evolution marches on....
    get over it.


    lostand confused says



    Who knows how many other secret investigations are going on in the name of terrorism. This will not end well.

    I guess since all this started under Bushie and the repubs, you are unable to criticize it, even though the dems continue it with nary a shame.

    Evolution leads to many dead ends-eg dinosaurs.

  36. SoftShell


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    40   2:10pm Tue 1 Jan 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike (2)  

    why bother?
    you can shit your pants for a year and a day and nothing will change, other than your diapers.

    lostand confused says

    SoftShell says

    the world turns....

    governments change...

    evolution marches on....

    get over it.

    lostand confused says

    Who knows how many other secret investigations are going on in the name of terrorism. This will not end well.

    I guess since all this started under Bushie and the repubs, you are unable to criticize it, even though the dems continue it with nary a shame.

    Evolution leads to many dead ends-eg dinosaurs.

  37. lostand confused


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    41   2:31pm Tue 1 Jan 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    SoftShell says

    why bother?
    you can shit your pants for a year and a day and nothing will
    change, other than your diapers.

    Speak from experience??

  38. SoftShell


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    42   2:40pm Tue 1 Jan 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike (1)  

    Yes.
    What...your mother started you out in Fruit of the Loom??

    lostand confused says

    SoftShell says

    why bother?
    you can shit your pants for a year and a day and nothing will

    change, other than your diapers.

    Speak from experience??

  39. msilenus


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    43   3:39pm Tue 1 Jan 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    Personally: I was potty trained before my first memories; so shitting my pants is not within the range of my personal experience. Some of us are later bloomers, I suppose.

    This topic is forcing me to develop unpleasant associations with the moniker "SoftShell."

  40. SoftShell


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    44   4:41pm Tue 1 Jan 2013   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike (1)  

    Nothing wrong with being a late bloomer.
    You still have time to recreate what you missed....
    Embrace the human experience....

    msilenus says

    Personally: I was potty trained before my first memories; so shitting my pants is not within the range of my personal experience. Some of us are later bloomers, I suppose.

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