NYT coverage of internet privacy

The Times has some interesting articles in today’s paper beginning with an article on the increasing use of privacy software and internet anonymizers:

A few reasons exist for the surge, which is hard to measure – it is nearly impossible to track how many people have made themselves invisible online. People who want to continue to swap music via the Internet but fear lawsuits brought by the recording industry want to hide their identity. Some people wish to describe personal experiences that could land them in jail. And some Web authors share their thoughts about repressive regimes and face government reprisal if they are caught.

Additionally, Kate Hafner has an analysis of the government’s subpoenas of search engine companies and how internet users have been responding. She writes:

The government has been more aggressive recently in its efforts to obtain data on Internet activity, invoking the fight against terrorism and the prosecution of online crime. A surveillance program in which the National Security Agency intercepted certain international phone calls and e-mail in the United States without court-approved warrants prompted an outcry among civil libertarians. And under the antiterrorism USA Patriot Act, the Justice Department has demanded records on library patrons’ Internet use.

Those actions have put some Internet users on edge, as they confront the complications and contradictions of online life.

Adam Liptak writes that the subpoena really has nothing to do with the privacy of Google’s users:

the case itself, according to people involved in it and scholars who are following it, has almost nothing to do with privacy. It will turn, instead, on serious but relatively routine questions about trade secrets and civil procedure.

Google, who has thus far resisted the government’s subpoena and request for information, is launching a Chinese version of its web services at Google.cn.

Google is citing a number of reasons for resisting the government’s subpoena, including concern about trade secrets and the burden of compliance. While it does not directly assert that surrendering the data would expose personal information, it has told the government that “one can envision scenarios where queries alone could reveal identifying information about a specific Google user, which is another outcome that Google cannot accept.”
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Google’s new Chinese platform, which will not allow users to create personal links with Google e-mail or blog sites, will comply with Chinese law and censor information deemed inappropriate or illegal by the Chinese authorities. This approach might help the company navigate the legal thickets that competitors have encountered in China.

Foreign companies say they must abide by Chinese laws and pass personal information about users on to the Chinese government. In one case two years ago, Yahoo provided information that helped the government convict a Chinese journalist, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison, on charges of leaking state secrets to a foreign Web site.

Meanwhile, the Chinese economy has grown to the fourth largest in the world.

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