Computer Ethics, Sum 2021

Class 4 Readings

June 3

Read Baase chapter 2 on privacy

Supreme Court interprets the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

This is big news. Violation of a site's Terms of Service makes ones access "unauthorized", and the CFAA criminalizes "unauthorized" access. But the Supreme Court has just ruled that the two uses here of the word "unauthorized" have meanings that are not the same:

  1. The first "unauthorized" means that the site's rules prohibit it, but it's possible with your existing technical authority
  2. The second "unauthorized" means that you had to hack in to commit the act, bypassing existing technical access-limitation measures

(BTW, an interesting line-up of Justices in the 6-3 decision!)

Paypal shuts down Tor supporter

Is Tor actually the reason for the shutdown? Brandt was using Paypal to buy server space to run Tor nodes.

Reddit and censorship

For a while, claiming that Sars-Cov-2 might have been accidentally released by the Wuhan Institute of Virology was regarded as a right-wing conspiracy theory. From

The paper aroused [Yuri] Deigin's suspicions. He wondered if SARS-CoV-2 might have emerged through some genetic mixing and matching from a lab working with RaTG13 or related viruses. His post was cogent and comprehensive. The Seeker [see Newsweek article] posted Deigin's theory on Reddit, which promptly suspended his account permanently.

Lots of sites did at the time have rules about promoting Covid "misinformation".



I'm back from a week at my mom's house and now I'm getting ads for her toothpaste brand.

How are they doing this?

Short answer: Mum and Bob have shared an IP address for a week (the IP address assigned to the house Wi-Fi external interface). So everybody knows they are probably connected. (Pro Tip: everybody actually is pretty sure it's a residential IP address, not like Loyola's, because they can look it up.) And advertising to everyone in a household is a Thing.

Is it a problem?

Would it be a problem if the government were doing it?

Privacy Notes

From Julie Cohen's 2013 paper, What Privacy Is For:

Privacy is shorthand for breathing room to engage in the processes of boundary management that enable and constitute self-development.

Is that a concrete theory?

How about the theory that we tend to behave more circumspectly when we are being watched?

Is privacy a liberty (like free speech, or the right to hire an attorney) or a claim right (like the right to be provided with an attorney)?

Is privacy part of the "classical liberal" sense of personal autonomy and independence from the state?

Why do so many people (including "The Seeker" in the news item above) use pseudonyms on the Internet? One way or another, this seems to be a form of privacy protection.

And why does Cohen begin her paper with a section entitled HOW PRIVACY GOT A BAD NAME FOR ITSELF. Does it deserve this? Is privacy really a fundamentally suspicious goal, something you want only if you have something to hide?

Why does the government invade your privacy?

Why do web advertisers invade your privacy?

Jerry Day