Feeds

Kaspersky backpedals on 'done nothing wrong, nothing to fear' blather

Founder (and internet passport fan) now says privacy is precious

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Russian security software vendor Kaspersky has yanked an article from its website arguing that netizens shouldn't fear state surveillance unless they had done something wrong in the first place.

"Remember if you’re doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide," the cached version of the unsigned article states.

"There is almost to zero chance that you would be of interest to any secret service on the planet. The only nuisance to you will be advertisement robots – and there are more effective tools against them than online anonymity."

The piece, entitled "Why we should not be afraid of being watched while online," was published in Kaspersky's Academy site, which is designed to foster the next generation of security talent. It was yanked almost immediately and replaced with a notice explaining it was a draft article by an independent author – something the firm's founder Eugene Kaspersky reiterated.

It's not the first time Kaspersky's founder has stirred the privacy pot with the suggestion that we have too much of it. Back in 2011 he kicked up a storm by suggesting that every internet user should be forced to use a passport showing their identity.

"I'd like to change the design of the internet by introducing regulation - internet passports, internet police and international agreement - about following internet standards. And if some countries don't agree with or don't pay attention to the agreement, just cut them off," he said at the time.

His firm's latest posting used one of the oldest canards in the privacy versus surveillance playbook - that only the 'bad guys' have something to feel from being monitored – but Kaspersky's views are common in the tech field.

Google's Eric Schmidt has made the same argument repeatedly, although he's very touchy about his own privacy – having called for control of civilian drones over private property and ordered the blacklisting of journalists that published information about his personal life found using his firm's own search engine.

Some politicians are rather fond of it too; there's seldom a debate in Congress on digital privacy without someone bringing it up. The UK's former Prime Minister Tony Blair used a keynote at the RSA 2012 security conference to passionately argue that, while politicians needed privacy to conduct negotiations, individuals should recognize that terrorism trumps privacy.

Privacy advocates argue that the only way terrorism (or a similar threat,) could only be stopped by surveillance if it was total, highly efficient, and immune from error. These are not qualities associated with government IT projects, and even if a surveillance system worked perfectly it's not the type of society most people would want to live in – and one which would give enormous power to those doing the spying.

As cited by security guru Bruce Schneier, France's 17th-century statesman Cardinal Richelieu famously stated "If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged".

That is as true then as it has ever been, and the intelligence services have prying powers that would make the late cardinal drool.

Finding the balance between privacy and surveillance is probably never going to be sorted in our lifetimes. It's a tremendously complex and convoluted issue, and it's questionable if the intricacies can be covered in a handy sound bite. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression?
Justice minister's attack to destroy ability to challenge state
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
Hey Brit taxpayers. You just spent £4m on Central London ‘innovation playground’
Catapult me a Mojito, I feel an Digital Innovation coming on
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
EU probes Google’s Android omerta again: Talk now, or else
Spill those Android secrets, or we’ll fine you
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.