Analysis & Opinions - IEEE Spectrum

How Online Privacy Is Like Fishing

| June 03, 2024

In the wake of a Microsoft spying controversy, it’s time for an ecosystem perspective.

Microsoft recently caught state-backed hackers using its generative AI tools to help with their attacks. In the security community, the immediate questions weren’t about how hackers were using the tools (that was utterly predictable), but about how Microsoft figured it out. The natural conclusion was that Microsoft was spying on its AI users, looking for harmful hackers at work.

Some pushed back at characterizing Microsoft’s actions as “spying.” Of course cloud service providers monitor what users are doing. And because we expect Microsoft to be doing something like this, it’s not fair to call it spying.

We see this argument as an example of our shifting collective expectations of privacy. To understand what’s happening, we can learn from an unlikely source: fish.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Raghavan, Barath and Bruce Schneier.“How Online Privacy Is Like Fishing.” IEEE Spectrum, June 3, 2024.

The Authors

Barath Raghavan