Even online, you have the right to not be crushed like a bug

The nice people at EFF would like to remind you and the police about a thing or two

I'm sure it's not a real concern for you, personally. ITWorld readers are obviously a cut above most of the rest of the web, even the IT pros among whom the kind of anarchic thrill-hackers like the LulzSec children don't find many fellow travelers.

I know you're not running phishing scams or pirating software or movies or music or pictures or blog content or everything else available on ThePirateBay or a million other sites.

Sometimes it's not possible to avoid a little violation.

Sometimes you're having a look at something or researching how safe a site is that a bunch of your users have been visiting, and you have to have a look at the kinds of things they're pulling across your network and storing on your servers and making your company liable for whatever it is.

It's your responsibility. That's clear. No one is accusing you of anything.

You, clearly, are one of the honest, upstanding ones who should have no worry about the rabid content-pirate-witchhunt investigations of the RIAA, mistaken-identity search-and-seizures of the FBI or local police (who don't always know an IP address is not always an IP address, or at least not the one they think it is).

Despite your best efforts, you might have been infected with something like TDSS – currently the most effective rootkit out there infecting the machines for which you're responsible and turning them into unknowing proxies (at $100 per month) for people willing to pay $100 per month for proxies rather than the free ones everyone uses or $10/month ones used by people impatient with the mud-glacier-speed of free shared-resource sites.

Those people are up to no good, obviously. The ones paying the hundred bucks, not the impatient ones. The impatient never make it as hackers; they always have something more important to do just as they're about to crack your password.


Obviously you'll never need to worry about law enforcement wanting to seize your computer at the airport, or download all the data from your phone at a traffic stop.

An no one lacking a warrant will ever want to put an agent on your ISP's router that will copy them on every byte you send out over the 'net just because a special agent at Black Hat, pissed off at being spotted right away (and every 30 seconds thereafter) during a game of "Spot the Fed" thinks you looked suspicious as you passed by the building on your way from work to Starbucks to get a latte for the little old lady in the apartment next door.

You will never need this advice. That's clear. So just disregard it, unless you have friends who might not be as upstanding, or might be plenty upstanding, but dress in dungarees and sandals and leave their hair a little long and not talk about hackers with quite the level of enmity the boss thinks is appropriate.

Just in case, keep the link, and maybe skim the headlines so you can advise your friends.

Those nice people at the Electronic Frontier Foundation would like to remind you that you have rights, even when you're using the Internet, and think you should know what they are.

There's an overview of your rights online here.

There's a white paper with more detail and explanation of your rights here.

They also offer some tips on what police can do with you and what you can do to stop them.

I don't imply anything negative by posting this.

Obviously you'll never need this information due to your own actions.

It's just important, in case you're wrongly accused because of malware or whatever, to know what your rights are and whether all those things your employer and the traffic cop and the feds say they're allowed to do without the approval of a judge or a warrant or a subpoena actually are legal and whether you have to put up with them.

Not surprisingly, in general, you don't.

Just keep that in mind. And maybe on a printout on your wall. And stored on your phone where you can show them to someone official-sounding if necessary.

Rights tend to go away if you don't insist they really mean what the laws say they do.

Just sayin'.

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