Collaboration

Online anonymity: Balancing the needs to protect privacy and prevent cybercrime


It's no coincidence that the name of one of today's most notorious groups of criminal hackers is "Anonymous." Whether you agree or disagree with their philosophies and agenda and the positions they've taken, there's no denying that they've broken the law by defacing websites, creating denial of service attacks, disrupting business operations, and even reportedly threatening individuals. The question of whether the illegal acts were justified as acts of civil disobedience in furtherance of a legitimate cause is something that I discussed in last month's post, "(Cyber) Rebels with a Cause."

The focus of this article is whether anonymity in cyberspace is a good thing or a bad thing when it comes to cybercrime. The ability to communicate online under a fake name (or no name at all) is a well-established tradition, illustrated humorously by the famous cartoon published in the New Yorker back in 1993 that was captioned, "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog." And it extends far beyond political dissidents and "hacktivists."

Evolution of online anonymity

One could argue that there was much more anonymity on the Internet in its early days than now. The "handles" or screen names adopted by users of Internet Relay Chat (IRC) and online services such as CompuServe and AOL often revealed little about their owners' real identities. You might talk to HeartDoc or FoxyLady229 every day for a year without knowing who he/she really was - or indeed whether you were talking to a he or a she.

Anonymity is still alive and well in many online circles. Comments on news sites and blog sites are often posted under obviously fake monikers such as FedUp in Frisco or Just Another Peon. Wikipedia, one of the largest and most popular online information resources, is - by its own description, "written mostly by authors using either unidentifiable pseudonyms or IP address identifiers."

In stark contrast, however, popular social networks such as Facebook and Google+ require as part of their Terms of Service that you use your real name. In fact, Google+ has aggressively enforced that policy by suspending the accounts of members of its beta who are suspected of using a pseudonym. And worse, by some interpretations of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, such violation of a website's terms of service is considered a criminal offense under the language prohibiting "exceeding authorized access" on a computer. (Luckily for all the Facebook users who post under their dogs' or cats' names, the Senate Judiciary Committee has, in the process of increasing penalties, proposed an exemption for those guilty only of ToS violations.

The trend to prohibit and even criminalize those who take steps to create anonymity online may seem a bit counterintuitive, given today's growing concerns over privacy issues in the electronic realm. There has been much written over the years regarding the "right to privacy" (a right that, despite widespread misconceptions to the contrary, is not enumerated in the U.S. Constitution but has been defined by U.S. Supreme Court opinions).

At the same time, as more and more innocent people have been victimized by cybercriminals, there have emerged calls for an end to anonymity. With spammers, scammers, stalkers, pedophiles and others up to no good hiding behind the anonymity afforded by the Internet to avoid detection and get away with crimes they wouldn't risk in "real life," online identity verification has become a big issue - and a big business.

The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks brought about a new attitude regarding proof of identity, both online and off. Those events spurred a push for a national I.D. card in the U.S., much more stringent rules for issuing identification documents by the states, and the Patriot Act required banks and some other entities to get more confirmation of identity before doing business with customers. Thus we now have two conflicting drives at work: On the one hand, the desire to prevent identity theft and protect those who want to be left alone and not tracked when they aren't doing anything wrong, and on the other hand, the desire to make it easier for law enforcement to track down and charge those who are doing wrong.

Here's one example of how our attitude toward anonymity has changed over the years: When caller I.D. for telephones first appeared, many people considered it a breach of their privacy for the recipient of a phone call to be able to know, before answering, who was calling (and to know the phone number from which the call was being made). Many people blocked caller I.D. so their names and/or numbers wouldn't be displayed when they placed a call. Today, most of us look at it differently; we believe we have a right to know who's calling us, and many of us won't answer a call if the caller I.D. information is blocked. Rather than seeing caller I.D. as an invasion of the privacy of the caller, we see placing anonymous calls as an invasion of the privacy of the recipient.

How anonymity enables cybercrime

There are many ways a criminal (or anyone else) can hide his/her identity in most online venues. These range from methods that work only "on the surface," concealing your identity from those who are technically unsophisticated - such as changing the name in your email client - to methods that are difficult to defeat even by professional law enforcement officials who have the resources to discover source IP addresses and subpoena records from ISPs.

Anonymizers are tools that help you to hide or disguise your identity online. Web anonymizers use proxy servers to act as a "go-between" for Internet communications, thus hiding the identifying information of the computer where a communication originates. These servers are operated as anonymizing services and are often located in a jurisdiction outside the country where the communications originate. To make traffic analysis more difficult, these services can use multiple proxies in a chained configuration so that the original sender's communications go from one to another to another, often crossing many national borders and making it especially difficult to track the path back to the original sender. They can also return your results via an encrypted channel. The more simultaneous users there are, the more difficult it will be to track back to a particular user.

Email anonymizers, or remailers, receive and forward your mail to its final destination, hiding your email address, originating server and IP address, etc. from the recipient. Remailers may or may not be chained, and often encrypt the messages and/or divide them into packets of equal size so that the data all looks the same. Remailers are often used for legitimate purposes, such as a way for sites like Craigslist or Match.com to allow potential buyers to communicate with sellers without revealing the users' email addresses. However, these types of remailers don't provide real anonymity. They hide your email address from the other users and general public, but your real information may still be logged on the server and linked to the IP address from which your mail originated. To truly anonymize your email, it would need to pass through multiple remailers so that no one server has a record of both the origin and the final destination.

There are, of course, legitimate reasons to use real anonymizers, too. In fact, anonymity is used not just by criminals, but also by those who are victims of crimes.

How anonymity protects crime victims

Most folks are familiar, at least through the movies and TV, with the U.S. government's federal witness protection program. Those whose lives may be in danger from retaliation for testifying or giving information against violent criminals charged with federal crimes are given new identities and relocated to keep the criminals from finding and hurting them. Many victims of less high profile crimes have created their own private versions of the program by moving away from their assailants, but today geographic location doesn't necessarily keep you safe. A determined stalker can find you on the Internet and torment you without ever physically coming near you (or worse, can identify your physical location through your online information).

It's easy enough to say (if you're not the one in the situation) that such victims should just stay off the Internet altogether but in today's connected world that's not easy to do. And should an innocent person who's been victimized by another have to give up a legitimate pleasurable activity such as having friends on Facebook because of the other person's obsession? The obvious solution (which Facebook prohibits in its ToS) is to create an online identity in another name to keep that violent person from your past from finding you.

Even if no one is "after" you, having been the victim of a high profile crime is something you might not want broadcast to the world every time you log onto a web site or online forum. If you have a unique name and it's been in the news, the ability to disguise your identity in Internet communications with people you don't know intimately can make your life a lot easier.

What's the answer?

There are many people today calling for more privacy rights at the same time others are advocating a complete elimination of anonymity - including requiring verified authentication credentials in order to go online; criminalizing anonymization technologies; and making it illegal to use a false name in any online venue. Is there a way to balance the valid points made by both parties to the issue? Where do you stand?

About

Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MCSE, MVP is a technology consultant, trainer, and writer who has authored a number of books on computer operating systems, networking, and security. Deb is a tech editor, developmental editor, and contributor to over 20 add...

59 comments
james_dono
james_dono

Most of us are not really conscious of how important privacy and anonymity is to maintaining the civil society that we have (albeit, rapidly loosing). Anonymous speech has been recognized by the Supreme Court and by most consitutional scholars as an absolute necessity if we are to have any semblence of liberty. Imagine a world where rogue agencies, corrupt officials, criminal corporations never need fear an investigative reporter, a whistleblower nor community activists, because they can all be intercepted and stopped before they do any work. I'm astounded that a discussion about internet privacy does not include its importance in protecting freedom of speech. Maybe it's the effect of moving the high tech sector to Asia, where such concepts are alien and irrelevent.

Interactive Communication
Interactive Communication

I beloev there should be both virtual worlds if not more over this disorganized kaps called internet. People should have the ability to socailize and comunicate with those who believe in being proud of having a online profile (and personality). There are many reason why login to a online network were your able to surf and do research and social ize with people who do authenticate who they are. This characters should have the option of being ghost ti the other have of the community who have ni authentication of who they really are. For example if you don't have profile picture here I really don't want to even text, blog with you. I feel your hidding. Yes I know gravatar really sucks because it delivers a great concept, but then they annoy you to death. I underssand all that, but if some one is interested in following my professional online trails, I provide the in formation in my profile. Now here is an excellent example were i don't want a trail. In the event i am buying stuff inline, I don't want a trail of my expendetures, or may bee I just fell like log flirting rather than going to a bar to have a on line socialization. Well my point is that those instences I would like to keep from my profiles relating to each. More importantly if some one was smart of enough to create a online authentisity service, the succses would be keep those with credetial obliviously away from those with out authentication. I only see you and communicate with those who match my online profile. Correct stealth mode professional mode Young surfer mode Ext......

LilBambi_z
LilBambi_z

Than you can begin to see that the potential victims must be protected. As others have said over time, even Jurors using Blackstone's formulation: "better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer" In criminal law, Blackstone's formulation (also known as Blackstone's ratio or the Blackstone ratio) is the principle: "better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer", expressed by the English jurist William Blackstone in his Commentaries on the Laws of England, published in the 1760s. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackstone%27s_formulation I really do not think that this has changed.

sspain
sspain

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." It was true in 1775, and it's still true today.

seanferd
seanferd

by some interpretations of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, such violation of a website???s terms of service is considered a criminal offense under the language prohibiting ???exceeding authorized access??? on a computer. Yes, for those of us in judicial fairyland, it can mean whatever we want it to, disregarding all sensibility.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Before starting to decrease anonymity for regular people on the internet (comparable to making people wear a name and address tag as they walk on the street) those parties so interested in fighting crime should start acting on the huge amount of hard evidence already present. It is a small feat to act on scanner activity, for instance. But ISPs aren't interested in tackling this ever-present nuisance, a nuisance which has no genuine non-criminal applications. There is no reason to reduce general anonymity (small as that already is) when there is ample evidence of specific criminal intent floating all over the place. Act on the evidence, against specific perpetrators - not against the general public. EOM

apotheon
apotheon

It still surprises me when some schmuck suggests that voting should not be anonymous.

LilBambi_z
LilBambi_z

So true that! By the time people realize what they have lost...I shudder to think of the consequences to liberty and freedom.

apotheon
apotheon

Now we just need to convince the Obama Administration of that fact -- and it would have been nice to convince the Bush Administration before it of that fact, but that ship has sailed.

hippiekarl
hippiekarl

"Those who would forgo a little liberty for a little security deserve neither."? ---Poor Richard's Almanac We're hearing the 'I've got a secret' version of that quote a lot lately; I miss the succinct brevity of the original.....

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Meaning that it is legislation which deprives the private person of rights *in its interpretations*. Stage two is legislation which deprives the private person of rights in interaction with other law. Stage three is : "The private person, being a threat to Lawful Corporate Rule, shall be abolished. Law-abiding citizens can ensure their compliance by signing over all private data and custodianship of the self to the corporately assigned keeper"

apotheon
apotheon

> It is a small feat to act on scanner activity, for instance. But ISPs aren't interested in tackling this ever-present nuisance, a nuisance which has no genuine non-criminal applications. Do you mean network scanning tools? Yes, they do have a genuine non-criminal application. Ask any competent security professional. Otherwise, I agree with your commentary.

LilBambi_z
LilBambi_z

That would be a total miscarriage of justice there. No one has a right to know how someone votes, unless the information if volunteered, or voting becomes useless and can be manipulated.

hippiekarl
hippiekarl

Read 'The Case for Murder Against George W. Bush', by Vincent Bugliosa (who prosecuted Manson in the Helter Skelter trial). You don't outlive the statute of limitations for murder in this country, whether it's from a bar fight or from sending thousands of US soldiers to die under totally false pretenses....He's already afraid to step off the plane in certain civilized countries (as are Cheney, Rummy, and Rice).

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

Face Book Wants all your data where they can then do as they please without any form of action from you. How dare you complain that we created a Electronic Identy that passes itself off as you when it's for your own good. :^0 Col

shryko
shryko

If someone is scanning an ISP's client base, then it's almost certainly criminal. Any security professional would be scanning his employer's/client's network for vulnerabilities... and I doubt that he is hired by an ISP to search their network...

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

of using a bot to scan an ISPs IP ranges for computers, and trying a quick set of staple credentials (admin/admin etc.) on the hapless machines that answer that their ports are closed. Dunno if that has a different name. It's annoying at best.

apotheon
apotheon

I wrote an article for TR a while back offering a basic design overview for such a voting system.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

I can see how it could be possible with encryption technology, and it would be interesting if individual voters can poke the vote hash with their key and verify that - for their vote at least - the count is correct. That would require some serious review though, even for open source.

apotheon
apotheon

The key is nobody having any way to determine how you voted, but having the ability yourself to prove that some vote was not your vote.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Everybody must be fully able to lie about who or what they vote for, with no chance of it being proven a lie. Only then can a person vote as they wish with no fear of being victimized for it.

apotheon
apotheon

Maybe a third party's clarification will be read and understood, even if mine were not.

seanferd
seanferd

Exactly what Bush Administration are you going to convince? Yes, I see what you said, and I don't disagree that these people could be prosecuted, but that is not addressing what apotheon wrote. I know I'm days late to this, but this is the exact sort of sloppy tangential thinking that annoys me so greatly. Outliving the statute of limitations has nothing to do with wishing the Bush administration could have been convinced to see their error (or convinced not to proceed with their thinly-veiled true intentions) at the time. All you had to do here is not address the statement directly, or not post it as a reply to apotheon's post. Instead of Sailed?, something like "We could still prosecute them" would have been fine, although still a digression (which, again, is fine). The point was convincing the PTB that Blackstone's Formulation is a good idea, hence the ridiculous spying and data gathering and mining is wrong, just by this light. The historical addition was there to acknowledge the immediate prior offender. You went elsewhere, which was fine, but addressed it as a response to the prior comment, which makes no sense. I read all the downhill results, which include some gems, but the overall exercise was one in futility, obviously.

apotheon
apotheon

It assumes a basis for communication. If all of reality is really subjective, I should just stop discussing things online, because it implies that no communication really occurs.

santeewelding
santeewelding

Assumes bolted-down, objective reality with no chance of else, including alter subjective at the other end of a spectrum, that spectrum also denied. It is a stance of you as sole proprietor. The rest of us just work for you.

apotheon
apotheon

TR has eaten my response to hippiekarl about a dozen times so far. Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something.

apotheon
apotheon

AnsuGisalas: There's only so much I can do to assume good faith, trying to point out that someone is misrepresenting what I've said while trying to allow for the possibility that it was accidental or through simple, unintentional misunderstanding. Eventually, there comes a time when I have to assume that the person is either incapable of having a meaningful discussion or actively malevolent. That time has come, for me, with hippiekarl.

apotheon
apotheon

I find the whole notion that people are willing to do such things to each other pretty damned disheartening, but I generally try to understand it and be willing to face the fact, no matter how unhappy that makes me at times. Living a lie is no better than perpetrating it.

hippiekarl
hippiekarl

Ever since the top of the sub-thread, I've been trying to get you to elaborate on the way you think GWB's terms related to (or should have) the Blackstone ratio...a mention of some situation, perhaps, that caused you to opine as you did. I even began, in their absence, suggesting likely possibilities. Instead of elucidating us on your initial comment, you chose to see our (or just my) interest in what you hadn't really told us fully as 'twisting your words'! We were, in fact, still waiting for them (and wondering, in the thread, "So what was on his mind when he invoked GWB and Blackstone? Pardons? Patriot II?" (I hadn't gotten to that one yet, but it was going to be next...). Since you weren't saying, the umbrage you took at the suggestions took me aback, to say the least. If you're not going to tell us, though, that's OK with me. A complete perusal of my comments (that so bugged you during your admittedly partial reading) would show that I've been (like many of us find ourselves doing here periodically) trying to elicit the 'specifics' implicit in your first, (general) comment. (Jeez; I was interested there for a while....) ^-_-^

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

I mean, they must have had some pretty sick ideas to begin with, to even go in that direction. But the idea of being incapacitated in broad daylight, in or near one's own home, then bundled up and flown out of the country to some place where one doesn't have a shred of hope for any kind of process of law... I don't think it's ever truly dawned on them what that really has meant to people, and I'm not even sure they'd get it, even if it happened to them - they might not even see others as real people at all, certainly not as people with the same basic dignities. And to think that's part what the Soviets did wrong. They did it to their own, but doing it to other people can't really be said to be better or different.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

that I would try to help people overcome the conflicts that were of form, rather than substance. I still believe that most parts of many conflicts are actually "formalities" like that - people using language in slightly different ways, giving rise to miscommunication - but these days I am far less confident of being able to solve the problem... if I can't help myself, how can I help others, eh? :p Maybe when I'm 75.

apotheon
apotheon

The sad thing about the whole "rendition" thing and CIA execution squads and the like, regarding the people who set it into motion and/or supported it after the fact, is that I think many of them on some level have imagined it happening to them and still think it's a good idea. The problem, in such cases, is that they have compartmentalized their thinking so much that they presume they are noble for being willing to accept the risk of such a thing happening to them (in a theoretical sense, of course) because the ends justify the means. They then end up with the ability to face "burn the village to save it" decisions without having to rationally confront the fundamentally contradictory reasoning behind them.

apotheon
apotheon

A special note for you . . . You're kinda on the right track there with how you interpret my purpose, except that I withheld judgment even more than that. Sometimes a question is just a question -- and more often when I ask it than others, I suspect.

apotheon
apotheon

santeewelding: Trust . . . ? Do you recall you're talking to a cynic? The fact is that I try to ensure I'm having an honest discussion with someone -- at least sometimes -- because such discussions can be of much greater value to me at least. When I finally despair of that, I sometimes try to use the intellectually dishonest participant as a blackboard on which to scrawl examples for others to read. Failing that, or if I skip that part, I might ultimately go to giving up on the person. I guess it comes from an often unrealistic desire to give someone the benefit of the doubt -- not because I believe people are likely to deserve it, but because I fear not giving that to the one person in fifty (if that) who might deserve it. I probably try too hard, simply to satisfy my tendency to hold myself to too high a standard in that regard. hippiekarl: What's most surpassingly strange about all this is that it kinda looks like we agree in principle in a lot of ways, but you are bound and determined to twist my words at every turn into something with which you can disagree. Well, enjoy that. You don't actually need me here to have a debate with things I did not say. Note that I didn't actually read your entire comment. I'm responding to how it begins, because that clearly indicates to me that I don't have the time to waste on this any further. Ta ta.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

this little subthread is like a Heavyweight Word Championship tournament. I mean that in a good way, and to all involved. I think Chad wanted me to qualify my stance because he's seen me attack the idea of using cruelty as justice before. If he believed me to be sincere then, he would be entitled to being puzzled by what I wrote above. So, no foul on my behalf. I also hope I did qualify what I wrote. I do not believe that cruelty has a role to play in bettering the world (am I crazy, or what?!? :p ) and I did not intend what I wrote to be a "Ooooh yeaaah! Time to get some payback". Instead, it was what I would like for them to think someone was actually saying (convoluted, sorry). So that they could finally get it, as some people don't have much of a capacity for empathy, except as a laborious process of projecting what happens to others into happening to themselves - and even then it has to be a believable scenario. So, obviously, as we know the people in question all read TR, this was a good place to say "PSYCH!".

hippiekarl
hippiekarl

...and keep it within the bounds of 'specific' replies to your 'specific' points is/are specious. Besides, you've yet to tell us all what YOUR idea about the Bush administration in the context of Blackstone was! I suggested the tradition of Executive pardons, but you chose not to engage with that; confirm, or mention what you WERE referring to (regarding GWB and Blackstone's ratio). At this point I doubt you will.... I've read enough of your comments in the past to surmise that you DO know fact from opinion; so you're playing 'footsie' now with the fact that Blackstone's opinion was an opinion. Your assertion that opinions to which you subscribe are 'facts' due to your 'belief' is spurious: >". . . because, from my perspective, it is factual. Calling it an opinion does not change my opinion that it is factual." The fact is, Blackstone arbitrarily chose the number 10 to indicate 'a handful' of guilty persons (being the 'ranson-price' of one innocent accused). Had he chosen 11 (or 9) for his ratio, the point he was making about crime, society, and responsible judicial process would have been the same. If his opinion had been a 'fact' (as you claim to believe), it would be demonstrable that if 11 guilty persons went free to exonorate one innocent, then justice was miscarried, and if only 9 guilty were freed, then there was room in justice to let another one go. So it's not a 'fact' from any 'perspective'; it's merely an opinion with which you (and I, for that matter) agree. Blackstone's point WASN'T a specific cut-off number; it was the concept that keeping innocents out of prison is of a magnitude more important than locking up the guilty. I've noted that although your comment-style is to copy/paste one sentence of a poster's comment for your dissection, you don't seem to care for others pasting and commenting on your own comments' individual assertions. BTW, I humbly apologize for 'getting in the way' of your attempt to get AnsuGisalis to advocate water-boarding Cheney in so many words. We got the wry humor of his 'rendition' comment; you, however, demanded a clarification (vengeance or 'something else'). I would not have felt there was a need to explain 'deterrence' to an adult had you not feigned ignorance (to elicit a particular response from AG). @santee above: thanks for that; I wanted to say the same thing, but it wouldn't have resonated had it come from a participant.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Meeting an assault head on can mean getting stalled into a back-and-forth that goes nowhere. Often, stepping aside will open new perspectives, get you past their guard, perhaps even remove the need for conflict altogether. And while the metaphor is antagonistic, the goal is to benefit the other, isn't it? To inform, to remove fallacies? A dedication to precision is a fine thing, but sometimes it is beside the point. In this, asking questions can be very rewarding - especially when the questions are made from an assumption of both sides being right. The last part is tricky, and often that assumption isn't (specifically) correct, but since it's often a given that both sides *think* they're correct, it can prevent the situation from going to a deadlock. And now I apologize for getting all that completely wrong, if that is the case :D

santeewelding
santeewelding

Trust the rest to see. You can do that -- trust, can't you? Besides, if it's quite beside what you intend, why struggle with it? Leave them to it. If anything, wish them Godspeed.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

I would like those people who decided it's a great idea to let "intelligence services" travel the world, bend all international laws, violate all the rights of certain private persons, all on the basis of sometimes highly doubtful information, some of which was extracted with torture... I'd like for the people who thought that was a good idea to think it could happen to them. So that maybe they'd get why it isn't a good idea. I don't really care if it only dawns on them when it might be their turn to face it - I believe that the world is always served by fools wising up.

apotheon
apotheon

Why would you advocate for letting people misrepresent what I say without comment?

santeewelding
santeewelding

It puts you through your paces. You don't get to control it. Don't even try. When you try, you are at your worst.

apotheon
apotheon

> A trial, conviction, and dispassionately-rendered punishment send this message and (we like to think) dissuade others from the same course. I can respect an attempt to apply a deterrent effect, assuming it doesn't take precedence in practice over justice (of course). I certainly don't need a lesson in the concept of criminal deterrence: I just wanted to know why AnsuGisalas in particular thought punishment was a good idea in this case. I still don't know, though it appears I know your reasons now. Really, "Deterrence!" is all you had to say to make your point to me. Don't make the mistake of assuming that I asked a question because I think you don't have an answer. It's far more likely that I asked because I want someone's answer -- that I seek understanding of someone's perspective where it is not immediately obvious. Hopefully, the person I actually asked will answer at some point (not that I have a problem with the fact you answered it too, a distinction I feel I must make lest you make an unwarranted assumption about that).

apotheon
apotheon

> People opined about something your comment caused them to think; not necessarily about each and all of the comment's 'specifics'. If you want to comment on only part of what I said, don't pretend the rest of it doesn't exist then draw conclusions about the whole. That's what we refer to as taking a statement out of context to change its meaning. If you want to say "We should still punish GWB, and the legal ability to do so may still apply," go ahead and say so -- but don't pretend it in any way disputes what I said when, in fact, it does not. That's the problem I have with what was said and how it ignored the specifics of what I previously said: it misrepresents my words. > I think that's OK; we're not bound to 'just the specifics' when a comment we read moves us to think of, and reply with, a RELATED idea. Sure, it's okay -- as long as it's actually related, and as long as you don't essentially reply in a manner that lies about what I said. Misrepresenting others' words is bad. > I'd want to know why you refer (in the comment directly above) to Blackstone's Ratio---a legal opinion and a 'principle'---as a 'fact': . . . because, from my perspective, it is factual. Calling it an opinion does not change my opinion that it is factual. > The 'Blackstone Ratio' as it directly applies to sitting presidents would seem to refer to the tradition of pardoning one's cronies I'm beginning to think you are intentionally misrepresenting what I said -- worse than the accidental nature I presumed applied to your earlier comment's misrepresentation of what I said.

hippiekarl
hippiekarl

To send a message to others in the future doing risk-analysis on their evil schemes. A trial, conviction, and dispassionately-rendered punishment send this message and (we like to think) dissuade others from the same course. Without the 'certainty of punishment if caught', big crimes look, I'm sure, more palateable to others who would contemplate them. I'm sure the PNAC crowd (who surrounded and 'ran' GWB) did their own risk-analysis: "Who took the heat for the USS Maine? Anybody? FDR get in trouble for allowing Pearl Harbor to be a 'surprise'? Or letting all those doomed passengers get on the munitions-carrying 'cruise ship' Luisitania, to create a pro-war zeitgeist? No? Anybody go down for the carefully-arranged Gulf of Tonkin deception? Not even McNamara when he confessed decades later? USS Liberty? Check! Looks like when you do it big (and especially if a profitable war results), there's little investigation and NO punishment; gentlemen, it's worth the (apparantly hypothetical) risk. The secret plan is a go." That's accurate risk-analysis, and the result of crime's 'deterrent' (the certainty of harsh punishment if caught) not being applied. A few more caught-and-punished presidents might have lent some restraint to their successors. As of now, the historical precedent is that: systematically decieving the American public into a war the POTUS and his cronies will directly profit from will NOT be investigated much, or prosecuted at all. So the 'result we wish to achieve by doing so' is to convince would-be copycat-criminals in the Oval Office of our resolve to hold the government accountable to the laws of the land.

hippiekarl
hippiekarl

yes, we were starting down a related tangent (an aspect of GWB's time in office as it relates to the judiciary). People opined about something your comment caused them to think; not necessarily about each and all of the comment's 'specifics'. I think that's OK; we're not bound to 'just the specifics' when a comment we read moves us to think of, and reply with, a RELATED idea. If all we could add to a discussion was based on a parent comment's 'specifics', I'd want to know why you refer (in the comment directly above) to Blackstone's Ratio---a legal opinion and a 'principle'---as a 'fact': >"What does that have to do with convincing GWB of the FACT that it's better to let ten guilty go free.....". It is, rather (and 'specifically'), an opinion---not a 'fact'. . The 'Blackstone Ratio' as it directly applies to sitting presidents would seem to refer to the tradition of pardoning one's cronies, illegal campaign financiers, inner-circle pals who got caught with their hands in the cookie jar, and so on, on their way out of office (when more ethical lame-ducks-with-mere-hours-left-to-their-term would be stealing the WH silverware). "I'd better pardon these 10 crooks I know; Blackstone avers that if one of them is innocent.....you know the rest". THAT, 'specifically', is Blackstone's Ratio as it applies to US presidents.

apotheon
apotheon

> Now we just need to have him put through rendition... What is the result you wish to achieve by doing so? Is it just to see someone punished, or is there some other purpose to it?

apotheon
apotheon

> You don't outlive the statute of limitations for murder in this country, What does that have to do with convincing GWB of the fact that it's better to let ten guilty go free than to wrongly punish an innocent man? That's about punishment, not about changing his mind.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Cheney and Rummy would probably kick the bucket from the appropriation methods, but hey, can't make a bad omelet without breaking some bad eggs, can ya?

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Turns out that your degree of disclosure has been found lacking, as you're often spotted outside the areas our forecasting service lay down for you. I mean, where would we be if we need to pick you up, and then you're not where we expect?

apotheon
apotheon

Oddly enough, I sometimes wonder whether a period of three days of playing Minesweeper about twelve hours a day might have contributed to some of my perspective on such matters as this. Really. I don't recommend that method of learning about such things, though. I started having very disturbing Minesweeper themed dreams.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

God damn it. They really laid down a minefield, didn't they? It's like they wanted to obstruct all useful avenues, just so they can say "this isn't working, we're calling in the inquisition". I dunno. Is it safe to say that Law Enforcement should just spend more time doing their jobs and less time begging for more intrusive tools? Blegh, they can probably twist that one too.

apotheon
apotheon

> I had sort of gathered that they wouldn't need to scan all ranges. No, they probably wouldn't -- but that wasn't part of the original statement about "scanners", nor part of the follow-up about scanning some of an ISP's clients. Precision matters: otherwise, you end up giving readers the impression that there's no legitimate purpose to using a scanning tool or something to that effect, leading to ridiculous results such as a Minnesotan court's decision to the effect that possessing the dig utility makes you a malicious security cracker. . . . and while I'm pretty sure you don't believe that possessing the dig utility makes one a malicious security cracker, there are no guarantees about people who might read what you've said, or about shryko -- someone I do not recall ever seeing here before. > Even if they don't get through, I still want their ISP to act on the abuse reports I send them. If you send reports, that's one thing -- but comments like shryko's and the phrasing of your initial comment suggest the ISP should be acting without even receiving such reports.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

I had sort of gathered that they wouldn't need to scan all ranges. If I haven't paid them for the service, I'd rather they not try to break in, you know? Even if they don't get through, I still want their ISP to act on the abuse reports I send them.

apotheon
apotheon

When performing an external scan of a client's network, traffic must still pass through the ISP's network to get there.

Editor's Picks