Friday, 2 August 2013

surveillance paranoia

This morning I tweeted a link to a story by a US journalist about how the FBI came calling because her and her husband been searching (separately) on the web for information about pressure cookers and backpacks.

It's since been confirmed that it wasn't Google searches, but instead her husband's ex employer looked at his web search history on his work computer before was let go, found some searches for backpacks and pressure cookers, and called the cops.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the story it speaks of a degree of paranoia on the part of all parties. I could have believed either version.


A long time ago I wrote a post to this blog about internet security and I perhaps didn't choose my words as carefully as I should have.

Looking at google analytics a few days later I saw some accesses from the TSA in the States. My guess, and it is only a guess, is that some routine automated scanning picked up the blog post and someone decided to check it out.

They obviously decided it was innocent. I've travelled to the States since then and had no problems with the TSA or US immigration.

Personally, and despite my left liberal leanings, I'm not worried. After all the blog post was a public document, and meant to be read.

What this little story shows is that the system on the whole works. It's unfortunate, but we have to tolerate a degree of security paranoia these days no matter how liberal our views.
Scott McNeally once said that privacy is over. It seems he might have been right
Written with StackEdit.


Arthur said...

" we have to tolerate a degree of security paranoia these days no matter how liberal our views."

Why? That's the whole point. Accepting that argument means you concede the debate before it's started.

Arthur said...
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dgm said...

Bruce Sterling has a quite wonderful rant on this subject at

Let's just say that silovki are not just a Russian phenomenon