McAlpine and Petraeus: removing the illusions of Internet anonymity and privacy

The news that Lord McAlpine’s lawyers intend to identify and extract damages from those twats (shorter than twitterers) who down not own up and apologise brings an overdue dose of reality to the muddled debate on the “right” to be able disguise your identity over the Internet which is implicit in much of the opposition to Nominet’s plans to clean up .UK . Meanwhile observers can also enjoy the belated US realisation of the de facto Internet regulatory regime they have created as they look at the means by which the cold war between the FBI and CIA was fanned into flames after one military “socialite” complained she was being “warned off” her prey by another.

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Re Petraeus, 37 years in the military, top graduate from the army staff college, PhD in international relations, Director of the CIA, he must, surely, have had at least an inkling about the issue of secure communications, did he really trust email, of all things? Email?

It would appear that Petraeus's e-mails were "secure" until the FBI started seizing systems. The FIPR alerts service has just sent me a link to a Guardian article giving more context:

Thanks for that Philip but just a moment – encrypted/secure emails would make the message unreadable by anyone without the keys, a foreign power for example. But Gen Petraeus and his embedded biographer were trying to keep their communications secret from their own side, the people with the keys ...

And as for Gen Allen and Ms Florida socialite, the FBI sifted through 20-30,000 pages of emails sent over a two-/three-year period, call it 1,000 days. That volume would attract attention even it was encrypted. Never mind the message, just weigh the paper. 20-30 pages a day, every day?

Just how good is the keep-your-head-under-the-radar training in the US forces? Is it really that bad? I find it hard to believe.

You forget that the "rules" do not apply to the Commanding Officer, Chief Executive, Director General etc. etc. - I seem to recollect that it was a German General who gave Bletchley one of its break throughs because ...