Dynamic IPs and Anonymous Surfing: an Open Letter to my ISP

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006

Dear Speakeasy folks,

I’m sure you’ve heard about AOL’s recent release of search engine data. I’m sure you also know that various other search engines such as Yahoo, Google, and MSN store their search data indefinitely. While one hopes that they take greater precautions than AOL did to protect their users, the simple fact is it’s still accessible via subpoena and search warrant, as well as system cracking, bribery, and other illegal attacks. I know none of this is your fault, of course. In fact, I suspect you’re as concerned about this as I am. However, I do need your help in your capacity as my ISP to do something about it.

Why Law Enforcement Needs Probable Cause

Sunday, July 23rd, 2006

This quote from today’s Washington Post explain really clearly why probable cause is necessary for competent, effective law enforcement:

Feeding the interrogation system was a major push by U.S. commanders to round up Iraqis. The key to actionable intelligence was seen by many as conducting huge sweeps to detain and question Iraqis. Sometimes units acted on tips, but sometimes they just detained all able-bodied males of combat age in areas known to be anti-American.

Senior U.S. intelligence officers in Iraq later estimated that about 85 percent of the tens of thousands rounded up were of no intelligence value. But as they were delivered to Abu Ghraib prison, they overwhelmed the system and often waited for weeks to be interrogated, during which time they could be recruited by hard-core insurgents, who weren’t isolated from the general prison population.

Bottom line: if you waste your time arresting the innocent, then you don’t find the truly guilty parties. Probable cause isn’t just about protecting the rights of the accused and innocent. It’s also a critical factor in making sure the guilty are caught.

Disposable Phone Numbers

Friday, July 7th, 2006

For years I offered my fax number when asked to give a phone number to a credit card company, bank, merchant, politician, or other organization that I knew was going to turn around and sell it telemarketers. After I disconnected my fax line a couple of years ago, I switched my standard fake to my office number since it has no answering machine and I’m only there about one hour a week. (If I actually want to talk to someone, I’ll give them my home number.)

However, now NetZero has launched Private Phone which provides an unlimited supply of disposable phone numbers for free. This is like Mailinator for phones (though unlike Mailinator you do have to sign up before using a number, and you’ll have to clear your cookies if you want to change numbers).