(Internet) users have no “reasonable expectation of privacy”

An article on Wired today caught my attention while scanning my feeds (FBI’s Secret Spyware Tracks Down Teen Who Made Bomb Threats) however, it was the following paragraph that concerned me even more:

“Under a ruling this month by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, such surveillance — which does not capture the content of the communications — can be conducted without a wiretap warrant, because internet users have no “reasonable expectation of privacy” in the data when using the internet.”

Digging around in this ruling, I find information regarding IP addresses and routing info in email address headers. According to the “secret spyware” story.

“Sanders wrote that the spyware program gathers a wide range of information, including the computer’s IP address; MAC address; open ports; a list of running programs; the operating system type, version and serial number; preferred internet browser and version; the computer’s registered owner and registered company name; the current logged-in user name and the last-visited URL. “

Now I am left asking, how the heck does this apply to installing software on a person’s computer and tracking information such as programs used and users logged in? This is like looking through someone’s underwear drawer when your warrant says the closet.

You will notice that I put the word Internet in parenthesis because once you are snooping around on the computer’s activities, it is no longer just the “Internet” user with the privacy issue. Monitoring offline applications is not the same as monitoring online activities nor is it monitoring visited URLs or the IP addresses found in an email header. I am left a tad bit confused as to how the ruling applies to the logic used by the FBI to install the “spyware” on the computer other than they are counting on the accused and the Courts lacking the technical information to see the difference. I lock down my system as much as possible, therefore I DO have a reasonable expectation of privacy for many of these items that this program reports on.

What do you think?


3 responses to “(Internet) users have no “reasonable expectation of privacy”

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