What is Metafilter's stance on handing over information to the authorities? September 26, 2006 1:31 AM   Subscribe

matt, jessamyn -
as far as i can tell this is nontrivial.
what is your stance on handing over information to the authorities? at&t, google, other, or something entirely different?
posted by dminor to Etiquette/Policy at 1:31 AM (59 comments total)

Are you taking about metafilter specifically or the topic in general?
posted by davehat at 1:51 AM on September 26, 2006


Other than idiots posting about their illegal activities in AskMe, what interest could the authorities have in MeFi information?

"We need to find out where he got that pissing elephant picture!"
posted by antifuse at 2:57 AM on September 26, 2006


This question has come up before. I seem to remember Matt saying that he only keeps access logs for a couple of days or so, so the actually useful data would be pretty small. I don't want to put words into Matt's mouth, but I think he'd also say something like "If I'm served with a subpoena or a warrant, I'll comply. What do you think I am, a millionnaire?"
posted by Plutor at 3:26 AM on September 26, 2006


as far as i can tell this is nontrivial.

Tell farther.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 4:15 AM on September 26, 2006


*windmills arm and strikes dramatic dminor chord*
posted by quonsar at 4:20 AM on September 26, 2006


Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
posted by bigmusic at 4:31 AM on September 26, 2006


There's no worming your way out of it, dminor. Rest assured, you have committed seditious acts against me, and you will pay, either on a farm, an island, or in prison.
posted by Smart Dalek at 4:38 AM on September 26, 2006


The only piece of info I have on anything aside from what is public on the site is your IP when you make posts to mefi. If the fascist pig cops came after me with guns blazing, that's the only piece of info I could give.

But then again, I have a low tolerance for torture, so I'm sure they could make me crack with a minimum of effort. In my own tests, it only takes a 9V battery on my nuts before I sing like a bird. I can take a AAA and AA battery though, so if that's all they brought, then you'll be fine.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:17 AM on September 26, 2006 [29 favorites]


everybody's goin waterboardin.
waterboardin usa.
posted by riotgrrl69 at 5:34 AM on September 26, 2006 [2 favorites]


it only takes a 9V battery on my nuts before I sing like a bird

I think we should all be issued shock-resistant Metafilter-branded codpieces.
posted by tpl1212 at 5:35 AM on September 26, 2006


Wow, you guys are weak!
posted by thirteenkiller at 5:35 AM on September 26, 2006


I have a low tolerance for torture... heh.
posted by R. Mutt at 5:38 AM on September 26, 2006


I, in the meanwhile, have been keeping carefully detailing records of what everybody on the site has been up to, and have regularly turned them over to the FBI. They say they don't really want my notes, and can't understand my graphs drawn in multiple-colored crayons, but I remind them that our nations security is at stake. OUR SECURITY, people. And so they will continue to get my shoeboxes full of transcription of "chats" on these forums, and written in long-hand.

Sure, I know they claim they can just access the site and read what I have transcribed. But they're not thinking. After all, what would they do if the Internet went down???
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:46 AM on September 26, 2006 [3 favorites]


Instead of charging newcomers $5, henceforth mathowie will ask each prospective new member of MetaFilter to go toe-to-toe (or rather nut-to-nut) with him to see who can take the most torture.

It's not as lucrative, but it would be a helluva lot more entertaining.
posted by briank at 5:48 AM on September 26, 2006


reading some of those newsfilter posts on the front page feels like torture am i rite
posted by brain_drain at 6:09 AM on September 26, 2006


it only takes a 9V battery on my nuts before I sing like a bird

You know, Matt, we've got Music for a reason. Get a 9V and a microphone and post something already.
posted by cortex at 6:09 AM on September 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


I asked about server logs before.
posted by theora55 at 6:09 AM on September 26, 2006


mathowie: "But then again, I have a low tolerance for torture.."

Seven years of running MeFi says differently.
posted by Plutor at 6:12 AM on September 26, 2006 [5 favorites]


My stance is I won't tell anyone anything, they'd have to ask Matt. With the exception of people's IP addresses and possibly their email addresses, I don't have much in the way of incriminating information anyhow.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:19 AM on September 26, 2006


The power of 9V over AA is most certainly nontrivial.
posted by If I Had An Anus at 6:20 AM on September 26, 2006


I like the way Jess is dropping Matt in it.
"No sir, he's got all the keys and secrets sir, torture him. I have a battery here, sir."
posted by NinjaTadpole at 6:34 AM on September 26, 2006 [2 favorites]


You'll notice how carefully Jessamyn skirts the issue of her own resistance to torture.
posted by OmieWise at 6:35 AM on September 26, 2006


I probably have a higher tolerance for torture than I do for cute FBI guys and jello shots.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:52 AM on September 26, 2006 [3 favorites]


"dear askme

what's the best trash compactor for disposing of bodies?

if the drains clog, can you direct me to a good plumber in new york city who won't call the cops?

thank you"
posted by pyramid termite at 6:56 AM on September 26, 2006


Drano!
posted by thirteenkiller at 7:03 AM on September 26, 2006


All I gotta say is mathowie's nutsack story is nothing with out jpgs. plz.
posted by frecklefaerie at 8:12 AM on September 26, 2006


BEST
METATALK
EVER

*wipes giddy tears*
posted by loquacious at 8:17 AM on September 26, 2006


Yeah, frecklefaerie that's just what we need. Then bob sarabia can post pictures of Matt's nutsack in every lame thread from now til hell freezes over.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:26 AM on September 26, 2006


I'm glad dminor brought this up, because I was just thinking about mentioning the time in my childhood when one of the local bullies was hit by a car, and I kind of fiddled around with his neck a bit, and...

Oh, wait. Crap.
posted by MrZero at 8:34 AM on September 26, 2006


Coming up on AskMe: "What carrier would you recommend for a suitcase nuke: FedEx, UPS, DHL or the US Postal Service?"
posted by clevershark at 8:42 AM on September 26, 2006


With the exception of people's IP addresses and possibly their email addresses, I don't have much in the way of incriminating information anyhow.

Well, they also have my name and exact geographic coordinates, but they'd have to do a whois search to get my address and phone number.

Besides, Canada wouldn't let a foreign government do anything bad to a citizen, would it Maher?
posted by timeistight at 9:13 AM on September 26, 2006


Coming up on AskMe: "What carrier would you recommend for a suitcase nuke: FedEx, UPS, DHL or the US Postal Service?"

If you want it to be a random attack on a location that you don't know, and thus can't have tortured out of you, go with DHL. They specialize in delivering stuff to any address but the one you've put on the box.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:27 AM on September 26, 2006


Is there a permanent record of who posted what anonymous question?
posted by scarabic at 9:29 AM on September 26, 2006


""What carrier would you recommend for a suitcase nuke: FedEx, UPS, DHL or the US Postal Service?""

Heh. Before seeing PST's response above, I was going to say DHL because they've always seemed spectacularly incurious about anything that I shipped.
posted by klangklangston at 10:10 AM on September 26, 2006


Is there a permanent record of who posted what anonymous question? IIRC it's connect-the-dots-able if you had access to the whole DB, but the posted question maintains no link, secret or otherwise, to the original poster.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:10 AM on September 26, 2006


I HOPE YOU KNOW THIS WILL GO DOWN ON YOUR PERMANENT RECORD.
posted by keswick at 10:16 AM on September 26, 2006


I take one, one, one...
posted by klangklangston at 10:27 AM on September 26, 2006


Yeah, frecklefaerie that's just what we need. Then bob sarabia can post pictures of Matt's nutsack in every lame thread from now til hell freezes over.

There is a paradox here. Any thread with a picture of Matt's nutsack in it can no longer be lame.
posted by BobFrapples at 10:34 AM on September 26, 2006


it's connect-the-dots-able if you had access to the whole DB

Well, it's stuff like this that maybe dminor is worried about. If the feds asked for it, would you give them the whole DB, Matt?
posted by crunchland at 10:45 AM on September 26, 2006


There is so much anger at Bush simmering around this site, wouldn't it amount to misfeasance for the Secret Service not to be monitoring it?
posted by jamjam at 10:56 AM on September 26, 2006


i guess the ip's is what i was referring to. even though it may seem like it isn't very incriminating, it is the only piece of data that can conclusively tie an online persona to the corporeal world.

man, where's the squirrel with the huge nutsack jpg? with a battery hooked up to it?
posted by dminor at 11:21 AM on September 26, 2006


Actually, it's not connect the dots-able in the db itself. There are no hooks between a user account and an anon question in the data model. I would have to turn over the entire db plus my inbox for them to associate any user with a question, since my only indicator is an outgoing email.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:27 AM on September 26, 2006


The only piece of info I have on anything aside from what is public on the site is your IP when you make posts to mefi. If the fascist pig cops came after me with guns blazing, that's the only piece of info I could give.

Plus the original email address users registered through, and, for the newer ones, whatever information you get through paypal, right?
posted by gsteff at 12:03 PM on September 26, 2006


Actually, it's not connect the dots-able in the db itself.

Excellent, I stand corrected. Agitate the dots all you want.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:05 PM on September 26, 2006


There is so much anger at Bush simmering around this site, wouldn't it amount to misfeasance for the Secret Service not to be monitoring it?

Actually, that'd likely be nonfeasance.

I would have to turn over the entire db

Hey, how's that coming, anyway?
posted by cortex at 12:25 PM on September 26, 2006


i guess the ip's is what i was referring to. even though it may seem like it isn't very incriminating, it is the only piece of data that can conclusively tie an online persona to the corporeal world.

That's actually completely untrue. Lots of tcp and http details (like the time-to-live, precise timing details, initial sequence number selection patterns, etc) can be used to fingerprint what kind of system you're using and how far away you are (which can be used to guess whether you're using a proxy, bringing extra suspicion on you). Older versions of windows would actually randomly leak the contents of other internet activity into the "padding" after the end of the actual packet content. Read Michal Zalewski's Silence on the Wire for more details.
posted by gsteff at 12:26 PM on September 26, 2006


If it really came down to it, I don't think it would matter much if matt really "wanted" to give up information. I'm guessing interested gov't parties would just seize what they wanted or make matt's life hell via lawsuits until he had to. This is just kinda the country we (or at least the mefi servers) live in, now, unfortunately.

So always assume that whatever you post here is public information available to anyone, like any other web forum.
posted by rsanheim at 12:28 PM on September 26, 2006


gsteff - true, i stand corrected. what i meant was "it is a readily available and basically irrefutable piece of evidence that ties an online persona to the corporeal world"
posted by dminor at 12:34 PM on September 26, 2006


There is so much anger at Bush simmering around this site, wouldn't it amount to misfeasance for the Secret Service not to be monitoring it?

Actually, that'd likely be nonfeasance.


If the Secret Service were to be playing frisbee or surfing for porn instead of trying to protect the life of the president, it would be nonfeasance.

If they merely didn't give a particular threat proper priority, but were trying to protect the president, it would be misfeasance.

I'm glad to know there is at least one member who is more cynical about the competence of the Bush administration than I am.
posted by jamjam at 2:13 PM on September 26, 2006


Do IP address == individual person associations (without eyewitness or other hard evidence) even stand up in a court of law?

I was under the impression that they don't, outside of proving IP == physical street address of ISP contract/service, and that IP != person.

The reason why I bring this up and/or believe it to be true was that I read about it being used recently as a defense against an RIAA lawsuit - namely that the RIAA couldn't conclusively prove that the defendent in question was the actual agent who initiated or managed the alleged downloads, and that it could have been any number of people passing through his house, or using the wireless without permission.

(The articles/comments I was reading further suggested that this would be a valid reason to open up ones home access point(s) to further enable this defense.)

Heh. Security through nonsecurity.
posted by loquacious at 2:51 PM on September 26, 2006


If it really came down to it, I don't think it would matter much if matt really "wanted" to give up information

Yeah I thought the phrasing of the question was funny. Which approach would you take, Matt? AT&T's or Google's? Life is very different with big legal resources.
posted by scarabic at 3:01 PM on September 26, 2006


I can't be the only one here who wonders whether this question was asked due to a guilty conscience, can I?
posted by dg at 3:38 PM on September 26, 2006


If the Secret Service were to be playing frisbee or surfing for porn instead of trying to protect the life of the president, it would be nonfeasance.

If they merely didn't give a particular threat proper priority, but were trying to protect the president, it would be misfeasance.


Ah, but that presumes they were aware of the threat such that they could neglect it. We can suppose it is non-feasance as we have no reason to believe that someone has ratted out Metafilter to the SS, or that they would reasonably been able to discover the anti-Bush sentiments present on the site.

Although you seem pretty sure about this misfeasance thing...!

He's a rat! Get 'im, boys!

(In all fairness, though, it's possible that a diligent SS lackey would find mefi when googling for prez-snuff references. Can we split the difference and peg it at hypofeasance?)
posted by cortex at 3:41 PM on September 26, 2006


Despite the fact that dios appears to read here with an obsessive dedication, I am happy with 'hypofeasance' (it does actually seem to cover a gap...).
posted by jamjam at 4:07 PM on September 26, 2006


Oh, dios wouldn't snitch us out to the Feds. He knows we know where the bodies are.
posted by cortex at 4:41 PM on September 26, 2006


This is why I only post from a public library.

Never mind that it is the one I work in...
posted by QIbHom at 4:52 PM on September 26, 2006


"it is a readily available and basically irrefutable piece of evidence that ties an online persona to the corporeal world"

As pointed out above, this isn't true for any number of reasons, including using a proxy server or, as my horrible laptop is doing, deciding to jump on any one of 3 nearby unsecured wireless networks rather than my actual router at its own whim. Furthermore I si...
posted by hoborg at 5:35 PM on September 26, 2006



Where was I? Oh yeah, I was saying that I wouldn't blame Matt in the least for giving up the db. After all it's his b...
posted by hoborg at 5:35 PM on September 26, 2006


I think I'm gonna start a band called 9 Volt Nutsack.
posted by spilon at 10:58 PM on September 26, 2006


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