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

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 …

  1. DropBear Silver badge
    Stop

    There has never been anyone entrusted with any power who hasn't abused it shortly thereafter - any counterexample is so rare as to be statistically insignificant. Which leads to the logical conclusion that no-one, neither individual nor organisation should ever be given more power than the absolute, absolute, absolute minimum they actually need to do their job acceptably (and should they try to pull any "we'll show you we're useless without MOAR power" shenanigans, their head should promptly be relocated onto a spike). That is remarkably different than the current "we need ANY AND ALL power available, or else everybody DIES!" approach: one that I for one DO NOT WANT.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      or... this is why

      the world should be moving onto a "system" where nobody is given any power, and that we work as a collective to maintain our own society and communities.

      Perfectly possible to implement today, but good luck convincing the power wielders to give up their powers.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: or... this is why

        the world should be moving onto a "system" where nobody is given any power, and that we work as a collective to maintain our own society and communities.

        Leave this vague shit to insect communities and Marxists.

        Perfectly possible to implement today, but good luck convincing the power wielders to give up their powers.

        And stop reading post-humanist techno-enabled crap, too

        P.S.

        In "a short history of permafail" (or thereabouts), a renowned pamphleteer writes:

        Heavily influenced by Jakob Boehme was the mystical English communist, Gerrard Winstanley, founder of the Digger sect during the English Civil War. Son of a textile merchant who had failed in the cloth business and then had sunk to the status of agricultural laborer, Winstanley, in early 1649, had a mystical vision of the ideal communist world of the future. Originally, according to this vision, a version of God had created the universe; but the spirit of "selfishness," the Devil itself, had entered into man and brought about private property and a market economy.

        At first, Winstanley believed that little or no coercion would be necessary for establishing and maintaining his communist society. Soon, however, he realized, in the completed draft of his utopia, that all wage labor and all commerce would have to be prohibited on the penalty of death. Winstanley was quite willing to go this far with his program. Everyone was to contribute to, and take from, the common storehouse, and the death penalty was to be levied on all use of money, and on any buying or selling. The "sin" of idleness would of course be combated by forced labor for the benefit of the communist community.

        This all-encompassing stress on the executioner makes particularly grisly the declaration of Winstanley that "all punishments that are to be inflicted … are only such as to make the offender … to live in the community of the righteous law of love one with another." Education in "love" was to be insured by free and compulsory schooling conducted by the state, mainly in useful crafts rather than in liberal arts, as well as by "ministers" elected by the public to preach secular sermons upholding the new system.

        1. tom dial Silver badge

          Re: or... this is why

          Anarchy has not been seen to work well, or for long, in "societies" with more than a few dozen people.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Facepalm

          Gerrard Winstanley the communist?

          Apart from there being no communists in the sixteen hundreds, Winstanley based his philosophy on that other well known socialist, Jesus Christ ..

          "All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need", Acts 2:44

      2. Fungus Bob Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: or... this is why

        "that we work as a collective to maintain our own society and communities"

        Already been done on your little island:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAaWvVFERVA

  2. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Kaspersky Labs.....

    We're really the KGB!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Kaspersky Labs.....

      I can't figure out if it's Kaspersky that's crazy, or just his fanbois. The forums seem to be full of Kaspersky-themed lunacy.

      Still, McAfee is the winner. I'm not sure where P. Norton ended up, but his NAV ended up in the gutter circa 2007.

      Computer Sekuritee sure takes a toll on sanity.

  3. Hud Dunlap

    If all you do is sit on the couch at night.

    Couch potato's aren't a threat to anyone. Once you get off of the couch and try to do something to change your community then you become interesting to state surveillance.

    1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: If all you do is sit on the couch at night.

      Here, here. When I see documentation that the NSA is hoovering up information on subscribers of well-known dissident publications like Linux Journal or those who visit websites promoting perfectly legal encryption products that have wide commercial uses, then the "If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear" argument demonstrably falls flat on it's face.

      And of course you have GCHQ pulling crap like intercepting stills from Yahoo! Chat video sessions, including nudie videos passed between consenting adults. And then there are stories about analysts at the NSA and 5 eyes agencies passing this kind of intercepted adult content between eachother as kind of a perk of employment.

      Its sad really, that these agencies have degenerated so far from their near-legendary role of helping win WW2 by spying on actual hostile powers' communications. Now they tolerate online voyeurism and actively surveil of readers of innocuous tech publications.

    2. dan1980

      Re: If all you do is sit on the couch at night.

      @Hud Dunlap

      'Couch potatoes' might not be a threat but easy targets are always of interest to those looking to 'crack down' or 'get tough'.

      Whatever the line now, the uses that surveillance is put to inevitably widens over time.

      In Australia we have already seen in a very short space of time the language change from surveillance measures being there to stop terrorism to being an 'essential crime fighting tool'.

      Any time there's a beat up in the news about some minor celebrity being insulted on Twitter or Facebook (or whatever), Government ministers come out talking about the need to crack down on 'online trolls'. Think they won't use dragnet surveillance to do that?

      Or the next time the Government sees itself facing a controversy of their own making, as is de rigueur in Australia, does anyone really believe they won't use their new powers to identify some group to target.

      In Queensland recently, the Premier - facing backlashes from numerous unpopular measures - implemented the VLAD act which more or less makes it a criminal offence to look at a motorcycle. In just its first few weeks, there were several arrests and raids that made the papers nationally highlighting innocent people being treated like criminals.

      In one instance, a lady was arrested and was facing 6 months in jail for being in a pub with her partner and his friend who were both members of a motorcycle gang that, for whatever reason and by whatever criteria, the Government had deemed a criminal organisation, or, in spin-speak, a 'Vicious Lawless Association' (from whence VLAD comes).

      How was this woman identified? CCTV in the bar in question. Does anyone really believe online surveillance laws wouldn't be used for such crack downs? Keep in mind the best data available shows bikies involved in less that 0.8% of crime in QLD.

      But that's really just one example and the truth is that such things can, do, and will happen.

      1. Hud Dunlap
        Flame

        @dan1980

        Oh you mean like this guy.

        http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-28970473

        Only man in the room and the cops come in with their guns out.

        1. tom dial Silver badge

          Re: @dan1980

          The event referenced, of course, has nothing at all to do with any kind of surveillance. The point?

      2. tom dial Silver badge

        Re: If all you do is sit on the couch at night.

        The Queensland VLAD act sounds much like the US Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations law which, similarly, was enacted with the best of intentions and has induced police and prosecutors to engage in a wide variety of mischief. Widespread surveillance surely makes the authorities' jobs easier, but the persistent focus on it diverts attention from the larger problem that there are all too many laws, like RICO, VLAD, and the (US) Computer Fraud and Abuse Act that give those authorities the power to pursue matters that might better be left to the civil courts (e. g., copyright infringement) or are criminal acts without help of additional, more abstract, laws (e. g., murder or embezzlement). Pruning laws like RICO, CFAA, and maybe VLAD could go far toward mitigating the risks of general surveillance, which is to a degree an obligation of governments.

        1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
          Black Helicopters

          Re: If all you do is sit on the couch at night.

          "The Queensland VLAD act sounds much like the US Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations law which, similarly, was enacted with the best of intentions and has induced police and prosecutors to engage in a wide variety of mischief"

          Sounds a bit like how Blighty's RIPA is being used. Problem is the legislation - poorly thought out, rushed and voted in by the supine honourable members of parliament.

  4. brooxta

    Balanced sound bite

    > 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.

    If/when we find the balance then a handy sound bite becomes a possibility, useful as a point of reference. Until that happens sound bites only represent a particular point of view.

    Also, I'm not sure that the issue is convoluted. I think people's understanding is generally convoluted and often confused or inconsistent because the issue is nuanced.

    1. a53

      Re: Balanced sound bite

      You lost me by para 2 :(

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Everyone got something to hide

    Even though it's not necessarily illegal.

    1. Schultz

      Re: Everyone got something to hide

      With the modern 'catch all' laws against terrorism (watching videos or visiting websites), IP theft, ... everybody is a criminal.

    2. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

      Re: Everyone got something to hide

      Ask any politician if they would like their total income to be made public.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Everyone got something to hide

        Seeing how John Brennan and The Clapper are still anywhere NEAR any levers of responsibility whatsoever instead of in a well-furnished retirement home in Diego Garcia, a LOT of politicians have a LOT to hide and a LOT to fear.

  6. Graham Marsden
    WTF?

    "There is almost to zero chance that you would be of interest to any secret service on the planet."

    "a draft article by an independent author"

    Matt! When did you start writing for Kaspersky?!

  7. Arcadian

    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".

    This quotation, which exists in various versions, was originally attributed to Richelieu's agent, Jean Martin, Baron de Laubardemont (1590--1653); it was not attributed to the Cardinal himself until the mid-nineteenth century at earliest. Laubardemont is chiefly remembered now as one of the judges who presided over the trial of Urbain Grandier for witchcraft at Loudun in 1634.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Trollface

      The mic was accidentally hot

      The Cardinal liked to wield the time-tested instrument of plausible deniability.

    2. a53

      Give me ......

      And one of my favourite quotes. Particularly when running into the "you have nothing to fear" advocates.

  8. dan1980

    "Prime Minister Tony Blair . . .[argued] that . . . individuals should recognize that terrorism trumps privacy."

    This is the big problem - this is just a bald assertion, assumed to be self-evidently true. Well, it isn't. Security vs freedom is a choice that must be made by each person. In practice we do this all the time in our personal lives.

    You can't just assert, by fiat, that protecting against terrorism is more important than maintaining privacy and you especially can't do it from on high on behalf of the entire population of your country.

    This assumption is shared by most western world leaders and it is used as a win-all argument despite the fact that there is no justification for it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      terrorism trumps privacy

      "Prime Minister Tony Blair . . .[argued] that . . . individuals should recognize that terrorism trumps privacy."

      I think Maximilien de Robespierre adopted a similar line and look what happened to him.

    2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      When you accept that terrorism trumps privacy

      You may as well give up; the terrorists have already won.

      I've argued recently - here - that even recognising terrorism is both unnecessary and self-defeating. It converts a vague threat into a permanent state of paranoia, and allows politicians to allow liberties with *my* life that they wouldn't even consider with their own.

      Yes, there are arguments that without the powers already used, the security services would not have been able to save us from ever-so-many violent and potentially fatal terrorist attacks... yet strangely, we are unable for 'operational reasons' ever to find out what these putative attacks were; nor do we see people in jail or exported from the country as a result except on very rare occasions.

      When someone tells me that I must make all my personal details searchable at the whim of the state and without due process, I am being treated in the same way I might treat a three-year-old child. Worse, in that while both I and the child may have secrets we wish to keep, mine could be perfectly legal but socially or professionally embarassing - and the only person who knows which is me.

      There's something repellent about a government agency which is emphatically *not* a government agency; an agency that is effectively grabbing data because it can; which operates on a 'daddy knows best' approach and which actively refuses to reveal its extent, its resources, or its results except in the vaguest terms. Secrecy is apparently approved for the powers that be.

      And while I'm ranting: what is the basis for all this? According to David Anderson, QC, the UK's Independent Reviewer of Terrorist Legislation, in his 2011 report on the terrorism acts, an average of five people a year over the previous decade died in terrorist acts (most on July 7th 2005). An average of five people a year die from bee and wasp stings... an average of three thousand a year died in traffic incidents over the same time in the UK.

      Could it be that we are looking at the wrong thing? There seems little doubt that there have been and probably still are people who are sufficiently irritated by what they see as the injustices of life that they will strike out against anything and anyone; who will travel half-way around the world to places where they can fight and see themselves as martyrs; who believe the fake promises of politically minded people who can persuade them to kill and die and suicide on the grounds of free entry to paradise; who will take arms against an innocent for the publicity effect. And yet, and yet...

      We hear that what appears to be the work of one or two deranged people is just part of a huge global conspiracy against our freedom, our country, our work, our life - but we never hear details. We never see the court cases wherein these hidden conspirators are jailed or deported; where those responsible for attacks that never happened are jailed or deported; where... basically, we never hear anything.

      But it's all right.

      Daddy knows best.

      1. Vic

        Re: When you accept that terrorism trumps privacy

        an average of five people a year over the previous decade died in terrorist acts (most on July 7th 2005). An average of five people a year die from bee and wasp stings... an average of three thousand a year died in traffic incidents over the same time in the UK.

        Indeed.

        People seem to believe that some putative "War on Terrorism" is in their interest, yet the figures quite clearly show that a "War on BMW" would be both much more effective and much cheaper to prosecute...

        Both "Wars" are nonsense, of course. It concerns me that we're letting them get away with waging one.

        Vic.

  9. NormDP

    The argument that those who have done nothing wrong have no need of privacy is the clearest indictment of the government as an actor that is doing EVERYTHING wrong: how else to explain its obsession with secrecy.

  10. DerekCurrie Bronze badge
    Facepalm

    Thank you Kaspersky for withdrawing STUNNING stupidity.

    'Done nothing wrong, nothing to fear' is classic disrespect for human rights, found in every totalitarian and repressive regime. I've had to post this quote quite a lot over the last few years, including pre-Snowden:

    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759.

    Bravo!

  11. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

    I'd rather die on my feet than live on my knees.

  12. frank ly Silver badge

    Tony Blair was half right (*cough*)

    Politicians do need privacy to conduct negotiations. So do industrialists, lawyers, bankers, road sweepers and lorry drivers, among others. Then again, the security services would never spy on politicians, would they?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Tony Blair was half right (*cough*)

      If Tony Blair has nothing to hide, he has nothing to fear.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's strange that no one ever uses the full quote:

    If you've done nothing wrong you have nothing to fear unless you're politically active, a member of a minority some of whom currently pose a threat, rich, in a private dispute with a politician or a police officer, have a beard, own a camera or look like someone who might be up to something.

  14. moiety

    Notice how these cunts are always talking about other people's privacy and not their own.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Aargh! Localized software!

    From the cached copy:

    "f you purchase software from your home network, knowing your location will help to automatically install the appropriate localized version."

    NO YOU STUPID DUMB ARSEHOLES NO!

    A customer should be able to choose a language they can actually bloody understand, not the main language where they are located.

    I'll have a hovercraft full of eels, please.

  16. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    If you've nothing to hide etc.

    "OK, what's your bank login?."

  17. Anonymoist Cowyard

    Kaspersky products are dead to me now anyway

    Ever since they (and others like Trend) started down the road of scareware Android bullcrap. They have demonstrated they can't be trusted anymore.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's up to us

    You cannot rely on legal protection or rules to protect privacy. We all know that rules are what people like us are forced to adhere to, they don't apply to the governments and rulers. Even if they say we have rights and protections, in secret they'll be doing whatever they can to watch all of us regardless.

    It is up to the people to do whatever they can through technical means and behaviour to protect themselves. SSL wherever possible to frustrate pervasive surveillance, extensive use of Tor and obfuscation, encryption of emails between yourself and your regular contacts and so on, even if for trivial matters. None of this will really hold back determined security forces if they really want to access what you've been up to, but it will raise the cost/difficulty of doing so that will force them to focus efforts only on those people they have real reason to suspect, instead of just on everyone. Which is what they should have been doing all along, if only they had not got drunk on power.

    1. tom dial Silver badge

      Re: It's up to us

      Upvoted with reservation: It is fairly clear that, at least at present, most citizens in English speaking and NATO countries, including India, have little reason to fear targeting by their governments. They almost certainly run a larger risk, at least in the US, that a criminal beneficiary of POS skimming will empty their bank account or run up credit charges that may cost them money and certainly will be a major irritation. And that would be true even if all the signals intelligence agencies were shuttered. The case for encrypting internet traffic and securing the network infrastructure is entirely independent of any government actions.

      The moral panic over government signals surveillance that has not been shown to have been misused to a significant degree has overshadowed concern for the larger real risk from criminal activity and the risk from the overbearing laws that governments can bring to bear with or without the general surveillance.

  19. Zack Mollusc

    not blather

    It is completely true that if you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear from state 'security' 'services'.

    Unfortunately, they can just redefine 'wrong' to suit their aims.

  20. Phlogistan

    Done Nothing Wrong? Surely you jest...

    "Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions.

    There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern.

    They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters."

    - Daniel Webster

  21. croc

    "We have always been at war with eastasian terrorists." pp fr. George Orwell, '1984'

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    THIS is an example why there is a 2nd Amendment in the USA

    The 2nd amendment was drafted to empower the American people to be able to remove an unjust and tyrannical government from power.

    Abject abuse of privacy, outright theft of income, disregard for constitutional principles, disregard for private property, misuse of governmental agencies power by officials, abuse of authority, all these instances are occurring now and provide ongoing proof of this administrations overreach and are actionable offenses that should at least result in impeachment, if not censure and jail time for the perpetrators. It matters not what colors the players wear, they are ALL guilty.

    Never forget the government exists only to serve the people, the people do not exist to serve the government.

    It is long past time for the governments of this country and of each state, to remember that fact.

    1. Graham Marsden

      @AC - Re: THIS is an example why there is a 2nd Amendment in the USA

      I keep hearing that, but, tell me, when are you going to start the second American Civil War...?

  23. a53

    Privacy

    Tony Bliar is a wart on the asshole of humanity.

  24. Jonski
    Big Brother

    That old carnard

    I might be doing nothing wrong, and I might have nothing to fear, but I still lock the toilet door when I'm on the crapper.

    Which is why, after being on teh intertoobz for the past 20 years, I'm now reluctantly researching which VPN provider best suits my needs. Although I'm sure one day, some organ of the state will point a finger and say: Why is he using VPN? Must be up to no good!

  25. Hargrove

    "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".

    The Richelieu quote is a perfect example of why automated data mining is so hazardous to society. (I used to say to individual rights and freedoms; the realization has finally begun to dawn on me that human society is in peril.)

    Those who govern are always in a position to define the basis for guilt, and the search algorithms to extract the "evidence." I've frequently cited Tom Fawcett's work on ROC curves as a great read for why they can't get it right. But it goes beyond that. If those who govern decide that I am subversive, like Richelieu, they don't need to worry about whether their positive results are true or false positives. For the purposes of those who govern, either is equally as good. [See footnote:]

    As for the assurance that this is all for our own security and good, Daniel Webster said it best:

    “Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. . . . . There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.”

    Footnote: If the harshness of this offends anyone's sensibilities, ask yourself the following question: For what offense, and on the basis of what evidence, did Miriam Carey deserve to be summarily executed as she was at the hands of the state.

  26. Vociferous

    Russia is an oppressive fascist dictatorship

    ...with all the features of an oppressive fascist dictatorship. It has no freedom of speech, it's illegal to post anonymous blogs on the web, and if Putin doesn't like what you wrote you may, depending on the severity of your transgression, get anything from a threatening visit from the police, via 20 years in a Siberian prison, to a painful or even lethal visit from ultranationalists armed with bats and knives.

    English-speakers have a tendency to fear NSA and GCHQ, which is good, but unfortunately they also have a tendency to underestimate and ignore the threats from Russian and Chinese surveillance. There is even greater reason to be suspicious of software from Russia or China than from the USA or the UK.

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