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Understanding Privacy

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the information-available-but-not-to-you dept.

Privacy 164

privacyprof writes "Slashdot readers familiar with Professor Daniel J. Solove's essay, 'I've Got Nothing to Hide and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy,' might be interested in his new book, Understanding Privacy, which develops many of the ideas in that essay. As rapidly changing technology makes information increasingly available, there has been a great struggle to define privacy, with many conceding that the task is virtually impossible. The book argues there are multiple forms of privacy, related to one another by 'family resemblances.' It explains the framework for understanding privacy which was briefly discussed in the 'Nothing to Hide' essay. The book covers the framework in greater depth and explores how it applies to a wide array of privacy issues, such as data mining, surveillance, data security, and consumer privacy. Chapter 1 is available for free download."

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Privacy isn't that difficult. (4, Insightful)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 6 years ago | (#23832365)

Personally, I think the idea that privacy is difficult to comprehend is overblown. Privacy is not at all difficult to define, understand, or to properly address in either the social or political sense.

Privacy is defined by the set of social boundaries dealing with information in any one society that we are expected not to cross. How well you respect privacy is essentially whether you elect to cross those boundaries against those expectations.

Here is my essay on privacy [wordpress.com] ; see if reading it doesn't nail the issue for you in very short order.

There is literally no need to invoke "multiple kinds" or "family resemblances", to mistake the hardening of a boundary (increasing difficulty of access) or the softening of it (as in data becoming easier to get to) for the idea that there actually is one, or to imagine that digital data is somehow qualitatively different than a letter. That's just making a ridiculous mess out of things that weren't all that complicated to begin with.

Further, it isn't that there has been a "great struggle" to define privacy in a practical sense; any reasonably intelligent citizen knows perfectly well what it is, and they know when it has been violated, too. The problem is that the government (in the USA, at least) has found it to its great advantage to ignore privacy at every level it can; and that we are nearly powerless to do anything about it. That's what is causing all the fuss, and deservedly so.

Re:Privacy isn't that difficult. (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 6 years ago | (#23832435)

Darn it, because I was thinking of information issues, I typoed my own definition. What I meant to say was:

Privacy is defined by the set of social boundaries dealing with ACCESS in any one society that we are expected not to cross.

Re:Privacy isn't that difficult. (5, Funny)

Aussenseiter (1241842) | more than 6 years ago | (#23832485)

Privacy is defined by the set of social boundaries dealing with ACCESS in any one society that we are expected not to cross.
So basically, my kitten society has no business venturing into your private blender?

Re:Privacy isn't that difficult. (1)

WaltBusterkeys (1156557) | more than 6 years ago | (#23832715)

But it's a little complicated more than just pure societal rules. There's also the question of what I individually choose to disclose and what not to disclose. I'm free to have privacy in my bedroom, just as you're free to be an exhibitionist. Maybe society sets the outer limits of what we can declare to be private, but we still make individual choices within those boundaries.

I personally think I have nothing to hide. That's why I use my real name on Slashdot. /sarcasm.

Re:Privacy isn't that difficult. (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 6 years ago | (#23832929)

What you're talking about is scope and grant of access. They're still social boundaries; it isn't a matter of law by nature. That is simply hardening boundaries — not creating them. I encourage you to read the essay I linked; I talk about issues of large scope and small scope there, as well as grant of access and the (ir)relevance of hardening boundaries, directly addressing your points.

Re:Privacy isn't that difficult. (5, Insightful)

Drakonik (1193977) | more than 6 years ago | (#23833117)

So if you have nothing to hide, you would be perfectly comfortable with "THEM" listening/watching/observing all communications made between you and: your friends; your family; your significant other (God knows I don't want some NSA operative reading some of the pet names I have for mine)? You're okay with them having access to all information relating to you, including name, age, sexual orientation, date of birth, blood type, medical history, insurance history, credit history, dating history, and I would go on, but I'm having trouble thinking of more personal things "THEY" would be interested in.

There's a concept known as the "slippery slope" that basically mirrors the saying, "Give X and inch, and they'll take a mile." If we let "THEM" listen in on phone conversations so that "THEY" can prevent terrorism, it'll be a matter of time until we're asked to endure the wiretapping because there are 'harmful dissidents' in the country, trying to harm the nation. Actually, for a real-world tangible example where you can see the effects of allowing your government to invade your privacy, look at China. Yeah, you can call semi-Godwin's Law on me for citing Communists, but tell me that I'm wrong. They claim that the censorship, the firewall, and all that is to help keep the country safe and sane, but who really believes that?

Re:Privacy isn't that difficult. (3, Insightful)

WaltBusterkeys (1156557) | more than 6 years ago | (#23834083)

So if you have nothing to hide,

I think you missed the sarcasm tag there. WHOOSH.

The point is that most people on /. post in these discussions using pseudonyms for a good reason; we like to be able to control who knows our IRL identity.

There are a few people who use real names, and for that I commend them.

Re:Privacy isn't that difficult. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23833767)

You're a douche

Re:Privacy isn't that difficult. (4, Insightful)

nebaz (453974) | more than 6 years ago | (#23832483)

This is essentially saying privacy is privacy. "The set of social boundaries ... that we are expected not to cross" really varies from person to person. In fact, if you use this definition, if people accept warrentless wiretapping as the norm, then social expectation will dictate that there really aren't any privacy violations going on, which is a neat little way to define away privacy erosions. What social boundaries are we talking about here, and who is the "we" that are expected not to cross them?

Re:Privacy isn't that difficult. (-1, Offtopic)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 6 years ago | (#23832529)

The set of social boundaries ... that we are expected not to cross" really varies from person to person

Yes, of course it does. Did you even bother to read the linked essay?

if you use this definition, if people accept warrentless wiretapping as the norm, then social expectation will dictate that there really aren't any privacy violations going on

Ah. Obviously you didn't read it. Go read it.

What social boundaries are we talking about here, and who is the "we" that are expected not to cross them?

Go. Read. The. Essay.

Re:Privacy isn't that difficult. (1)

genericpoweruser (1223032) | more than 6 years ago | (#23833133)

RTFA? You must be new here.

Re:Privacy isn't that difficult. (4, Interesting)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 6 years ago | (#23832647)

This is essentially saying privacy is privacy. "The set of social boundaries ... that we are expected not to cross" really varies from person to person. In fact, if you use this definition, if people accept warrentless wiretapping as the norm, then social expectation will dictate that there really aren't any privacy violations going on, which is a neat little way to define away privacy erosions. What social boundaries are we talking about here, and who is the "we" that are expected not to cross them?
I have argued with people in the past who don't care when I show them the keylogger on their Windows computers. They bank online, and I show them that there is a keylogger installed, and they are so stubborn in the mindset that "I don't know what it is, so it won't hurt me and please I don't want to learn". This is actually normal, as I've found this behaviour in many people. It's maddening. These are people that must be saved from themselves.

Sometimes I think that simple GUI computer interfaces like KDE or Windows did to the PC what the automatic transmission did to the automobile. The bar of entry was lowered so low that now the complete idiots of the world can operate the technology and get themselves killed.

Re:Privacy isn't that difficult. (1)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 6 years ago | (#23834169)

I would think the inclusion of messages like "Are you sure you want to shutdown?" would be a clear indication of how low Windows set the bar.

Re:Privacy isn't that difficult. (3, Insightful)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 6 years ago | (#23834181)

Perhaps they should not be saved from themselves. Being wiped out financially just might alter their value systems in such a way as they now VALUE UNDERSTANDING instead of shallowness.

Re:Privacy isn't that difficult. (3, Insightful)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 6 years ago | (#23835957)

No, then they blame the banks, or the virus writers, or MS, or the guy who sold them the computer. They themselves are never to blame.

Re:Privacy isn't that difficult. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23832489)

The problem is that the government (in the USA, at least) has found it to its great advantage to ignore privacy at every level it can; and that we are nearly powerless to do anything about it.
Don't pin everything on the government. There are numerous incursions into our privacy.

Re:Privacy isn't that difficult. (5, Insightful)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 6 years ago | (#23832589)

I don't pin everything on the government. However, they are indeed the primary source of privacy problems in the USA right now. We have, historically speaking, had good legal backup for the concept of privacy as embodied in the 4th amendment. The government is doing a great deal to erode those protections on many fronts at once, and this is, I maintain, the key area we need to focus on this issue. While I am not happy if John Q Moron personally invades my email stash, I am a lot more concerned if the government decides that's OK in the face of its own constituting authority. I'll deal with John Q later.

Re:Privacy isn't that difficult. (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23833135)

If you had a honest government, it would make it its business to deal with John Q for you.

Unfortunately, if John Q owns some kind of corporation, chances are that you're in the wrong if you kick him out.

Re:Privacy isn't that difficult. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23835795)

Unfortunately, if John Q owns some kind of corporation, chances are that you're in the wrong if you kick him out.
Why don't we ALL get ourselves some kind of corporations! Let's do Reductio ad Absurdum like Church of FSM does in defense of separation of State and Religion. If The Law favors X over Y with some special exempts, we all go to X, our own way. Injustice has to be chased out in the open to be apparent.

Re:Privacy isn't that difficult. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23835979)

That's pretty much the point about privacy laws. Within the government there are still opportunists who might wish to profit off of someone else's ideas. Government employees can still become private citizens. In effect, if intellectual property is exposed in any way to people who would use it for their own profit then there would be no defense for businesses when it comes to corporate espionage. Society would become lawless and money would be wasted on trying to prove who owns what more than what we are already doing. Then there is the whole exploitation thing without any reference or acknowledgment to the people who should be recognized.

Re:Privacy isn't that difficult. (4, Informative)

KGIII (973947) | more than 6 years ago | (#23835005)

Just an observation... The 4th only applies to the government specifically and not towards anything else (I have wondered about private entities and then submission of the information to the government for a while now). Additionally, the word privacy doesn't appear in there at all.

I think it needs fixing. That is just my opinion though.

I'm kind of old and kind of have some odd memories. For instance, I used a party line on the telephone as a kid. I guess, to ask a retarded (slowed) question... Does anyone REALLY expect privacy when they talk on a phone or use the internet or the likes? I mean, really? Do you expect it? I *wish* it but I don't expect it. I don't think I have a reasonable expectation of it because, well, it would be unreasonable for me to expect it in this environment? I still WANT it but I don't expect it.

Re:Privacy isn't that difficult. (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#23832817)

Ah, but who other than the government has the power to pick your pocket, then write laws declaring the practice legal?

Re:Privacy isn't that difficult. (5, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23833175)

The action alone is already anything but ok, but the fact that you even wrote it in the right order to reflect the actions (read: commit the crime and retroactively make it legal) is what really kicks anything resembling an orderly state into the proverbial nuts.

It basically means the government can commit any crime. Should they be caught red handed, they just legalize it retroactively. If they don't get caught, no reason to talk about it altogether.

That doesn't really increase the faith and trust in the government and its agencies either. It's a sad time indeed when you're more afraid of your own country and its organisations rather than some kind of enemy.

Feels a bit like Soviet Russia, if you ask me...

Re:Privacy isn't that difficult. (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#23833297)

You ever see those Gary Kasparov interviews last year? Judging from that, we've plenty of room to go down. Yet descend we will.

Sorta.... (2, Interesting)

dwayner79 (880742) | more than 6 years ago | (#23832573)

Agreed that the majority of people understand privacy, though not all (mentally challenged, etc.).

Disagree on the US government. Frankly, the type of data the US Government works with is mostly public knowledge anyway. I do not see the major infringement on privacy from the US Government. I see other terrible failures wrt individual rights (i.e. Bush's disregard for Habeus Corpus), but privacy seems a minor one.

Re:Sorta.... (5, Informative)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 6 years ago | (#23832631)

Frankly, the type of data the US Government works with is mostly public knowledge anyway.

Yes? What you say on the phone? The amounts, times and participants in your banking transactions? Your medical records? Your email? Your borrowings from the library? Your purchases from Amazon? Your credit card records? These comprise "public knowledge"?

I'm sorry, but I have to call your position the definitive "head in the sand" position. I cannot agree, even slightly.

How's this for privacy? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23832603)

http://tennesseepolicy.org/main/article.php?article_id=764 [tennesseepolicy.org]

Our self-appointed leaders should lead by example, shouldn't they?

Re:Privacy isn't that difficult. (4, Insightful)

greenguy (162630) | more than 6 years ago | (#23832723)

Agreed, it's not that complex. I didn't RTFE/B, nor your FE, but we talked about this at length back in my grad school. It comes down to this:

Privacy = I decide who knows what about me.

This, to me, does away with the "I have nothing to hide" fallacy, because that attitude surrenders power. It's not about what they find, it's about who decides when and where they can look in the first place.

To put it another way, if you argue that the authorities can do whatever they like because you haven't done anything wrong, you surrender any right to make a case that they might be doing something wrong.

Re:Privacy isn't that difficult. (5, Insightful)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 6 years ago | (#23832813)

Privacy = I decide who knows what about me.

That's a good working model. It doesn't account for someone who comes into your house and sprays graffiti on your walls, though.

Consider defining your equality this way:

Privacy = I decide who has access to me, those people I am responsible for, and those things that are mine.

Then go look at the fourth amendment. Carefully. Think about the role of persons, houses, papers, and effects as stated there, as well as how those things generalize into today's realities, and then take a moment to marvel and just how right those people got the issue.

Then take another to be absolutely horrified at how wrong today's government has gotten them.

Re:Privacy isn't that difficult. (1, Redundant)

greenguy (162630) | more than 6 years ago | (#23833323)

I take your comments as a friendly amendment. In fact, it's really only an elaboration. My information is an abstraction of my sphere of direct, personal influence. My house and other possessions (car, papers, hardware/software/data) are the concrete manifestation of my sphere of influence. They are a logical extension of "knowing about me." I have a right to exclusive power over them, barring some VERY urgent social need to forestall harm to others. Of course, that's the argument used to invade privacy all the time, but, like you, I go with an originalist interpretation of the rights of the individual.

Re:Privacy isn't that difficult. (4, Insightful)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 6 years ago | (#23833603)

Not really. Knowledge is not a synonym for physical or human-free (computer) non-storing access; yet access -- to knowledge certainly, but also to property, your person, your effects, your home -- directly addresses the issue at hand.

Personally -- and I seriously mean that, this is not about you -- I find that boiling things down to be concise is a task that, while eminently worthwhile, is fraught with the risk of error. One of the signals that I've gone too far is when I find myself trying to make what I said into an abstraction of an abstraction. That's why I would not adopt your formulation.

In this case, I find the fourth amendment instructive. Those were incredibly insightful people. When they said the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, that really covers the bases very well, without having to get all hand-wavy.

...unless you're a government stooge, that is. In which case, like the commerce clause, the prohibitions against ex post facto laws, the phrases "shall make no law" and "shall not be infringed" and "shall enjoy the right" and "nor shall be compelled" and others, we are being told we should believe it means the exact opposite of what it says. I have a severe problem with that.

Re:Privacy isn't that difficult. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23832985)

I don't think it's a lack of recognition or lack of value. Fear is being used to brainwash people into willingly giving it up. I think respect for privacy is good manners. It distinguishes a thoughtful and sensitive person from a empty fool. Did you ever stumble upon a couple alone in a heated and personal argument and feel the urge to give a polite cough to announce your presence so as not to appear to be 'lurking' before walking purposefully away trying not to snoop? Or did you lurk in the bushes nearby fascinated? Are you the kind of person who a friend can trust alone in their house, or would you find the urge to rummage through their possesions too much?

As a good rule, a persons respect for boundaries says a lot about their inner sense of self and personal security. Normal, mentally healthy people don't need to be taught these boundaries, they are implicit social contracts. We respect other peoples privacy because we expect the same freedom. Freedom? Well, "The right to be let alone is indeed the beginning of all freedom." (Justice William O. Douglas).

There are two causes for this to go wrong. One is exhibitionism, and the complementary feeling that others too share a desire to be understood, scrutinised, exposed. It is an exposure of the false self, a persona masque, these people who say "I have nothing to hide" would be mortified to think anyone would know the real self they haven't meticulously cultured and presented to the world. But this schizoidal thing is rare.

The other, much more common and easily provoked is self loathing. The lack of self respect and autonomy that makes an adult willing to accept pseudo-parental oversight is a cry for help. They're hoping that Nanny state and corporate Big Brother are really going to save them from themselves. They dispense with any real personal responsibility because they are made to feel the world is out of their control.

Decent societies are founded on the freedom of priviacy. Even commerce and matters of state cannot survive without it. Privacy, the desire to have it and the desire to bestow it is a mark of sanity. It demonstrates a lack of fear, mature boundaries, self assurance, trust and dignity. To give up on this freedom is no different than giving up on the right to vote, to raise a family, to practice religion or freedom of movement and association.

It beggars belief that something so fundamental and obvious is even debated.

Re:Privacy isn't that difficult. (4, Funny)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 6 years ago | (#23833047)

Normal, mentally healthy people don't need to be taught these boundaries, they are implicit social contracts.

[says nothing, waves hands in general direction of congress, the executive, and the judiciary]

Privacy thwarts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23833065)

Here is my essay on privacy; see if reading it doesn't nail the issue for you in very short order.
Enjoying your deft segue into looking up women's skirts was worth the price of admission alone. Furthermore, it convinced me that we must stamp out the last vestiges of privacy.

Re:Privacy thwarts (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 6 years ago | (#23833089)

Perhaps you'll enjoy this joke of mine, then:

Q: Why are men's minds always in the gutter?

A: Because it is easier to look up women's skirts from there.

Re:Privacy isn't that difficult. (4, Insightful)

Marful (861873) | more than 6 years ago | (#23833595)

An Excellent post fyngyrz!

The problem is one of convenience. The average citizen is uneducated as to the nuances of liberty and freedom. (Not, I should say, uneducated in general). Given then the ignorance of liberty and freedom, they are easily swayed into giving up their constitutional power under the guise of necessity. For it is much more inconvenient to object and much more convenient to acquiesce.

Take a look at every legislation that resulted in the encroachment, or out right infringement of the 4th amendment. Every single incident was precipitated by some perceived "danger" to society as a whole in which that specific piece of legislation was to address.

Ironically, this is nothing new. And again, the masses are ignorant. Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.

Give the masses their bread, give them their entertainment, and they will become complacent. Make it too inconvenient for them to question and they will not until the very end.

"Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual." - Thomas Jefferson

"The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first." -Thomas Jefferson

"They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of Human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves." - William Pitt

"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." - Daniel Webster

Re:Privacy isn't that difficult. (1)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 6 years ago | (#23834171)

To me the danger exists when one entity or several entities have more power to collect data than all other people. It is fine if everyone in the world spies on me with great intensity. And I am sure that some things could be found that could do me some harm.
            But as long as I am free to totally collect data on all governments, businesses and individuals then I'm sure that they also might have some dings in their history as well. All in all I think I would come out better than most people if everything in my life could be compared with everything in their lives.
            I suppose what i fear is allowing government or businesses to spy on me while cloaking their own activities in any way.
            Most of the things that people fear in regard to privacy are actually fairness in action. For example a tape of a traveling businessman trying to pick up a girl in a bar only exposes his true nature. We are supposed to value truth. Privacy and truth are in opposition. I'll go with truth.

Re:Privacy isn't that difficult. (1)

JoshJ (1009085) | more than 6 years ago | (#23834243)

The problem is that a lot of people only want privacy for the specific set of actions they take, but not for any others; so they call for invasion into others' internet access and so forth because "I don't have anything to hide!"

They, of course, don't really think about what they do hide in many other aspects. It's pathetic.

Re:Privacy isn't that difficult. (1)

grcumb (781340) | more than 6 years ago | (#23834995)

Here is my essay on privacy; see if reading it doesn't nail the issue for you in very short order.

Nicely put. But let's play duelling essays. This is a layman's introduction to understanding the nature of online privacy [imagicity.com] , written for my weekly Communications column in the Vanuatu Independent newspaper.

To summarise: You're dead right on your definition of privacy. Most everyone is at least innately aware of this. While technology has transformed our ability to access information, nothing about the nature of privacy has changed. Unfortunately, that doesn't resolve the problem that people often can't visualise the public and private sphere where computer data is concerned.

Put most simply, I would certainly take exception to someone reading my private email without permission, but I'd have to know they were doing it first. It's not even enough to know that 'Goverment X is reading everyone's email.' People need to see that Person X has read their email in order to trigger that sense of impropriety that is natural to us if the snooper is in the same room.

The Internet empowers the observer precisely because the observed almost certainly won't know they're being watched. This apppeals to a part of human nature that exists in all of us: If we could get away with it, we would invade others' privacy all the time.

Gossip, rumour-mongering and prurient spying are innate human instincts - and precisely why the social conventions on privacy arose. Social awareness and taboos need to be adjusted to the fact that the snoopy ones are no longer in the same room with us.

"I've Got Nothing To Hide" (5, Insightful)

HeavensBlade23 (946140) | more than 6 years ago | (#23832519)

*Everyone* has something they'd like to keep hidden. Can I watch you have sex with your spouse, or read your bank statement? Can I have your exact height and weight, and maybe get a glance at your mental health records? Do you mind if I videotape your grandfather's funeral? Got any love letters left over from Junior High I can read?

Re:"I've Got Nothing To Hide" (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23832677)

asdfasdfasdfadfs

Re:"I've Got Nothing To Hide" (5, Funny)

Broken Toys (1198853) | more than 6 years ago | (#23832753)

You can have all that and *more* if you subscribe to my newsletter.

Re:"I've Got Nothing To Hide" (5, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23832765)

It's not even about having anything to hide.

Being under surveillance is a stressful situation. Unfortunately I lost the link to the survey, but I think everyone can relate to it. Remember the time when you were at school and were asked something, maybe something trivial, yet everyone in class looked at you. Think of an interview in the street, maybe a camera team asking for your opinion. Think of a police car driving behind you on the road, even if they don't want anything from you, where you aren't even under any kind of surveillance but you feel like you are.

Being monitored creates stress. Now imagine putting people permanently under stress. I could see a few flipping before long.

Re:"I've Got Nothing To Hide" (4, Informative)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 6 years ago | (#23832873)

Being monitored creates stress. Now imagine putting people permanently under stress. I could see a few flipping before long.
In fact this is precisely what happened during the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment [wikipedia.org] .

Re:"I've Got Nothing To Hide" (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23833001)

That's actually not what I meant, and frankly, I think it doesn't compare well to the situation.

I do see an increased threat for riots, though. When you're constantly forced to "behave", when you're constantly put under undue stress to watch your own behaviour, you will sooner or later lose it. The bar to engage in violent behaviour is lowered considerably because everyone will be edgy already. All it takes is a spark to blow that keg of powder.

Re:"I've Got Nothing To Hide" (1)

myowntrueself (607117) | more than 6 years ago | (#23833383)

This is pretty much the exact scenario outlined in the (in)famous "Unabomber manifesto".

He starts from the premise that high tech societies need tighter controls on individual freedoms as their complex infrastructure makes them vulnerable to the vagaries of a free society. The more complex the infrastructure the more requirement there is to make sure that everyone required to manage and maintain that infrastructure does not dick around.

He believes that as societies head toward ever more delicate infrastructures the pressure on individuals to 'behave' becomes more intense and that this will lead to one of two states; either society will become almost hive-like or the technological society will break down because the individuals composing that society will crack under the strain.

Now, I don't agree with him blowing people up, well blowing fingers off of people, but he makes a LOT of sense in that manifesto.

A very scary kind of sense.

Re:"I've Got Nothing To Hide" (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23834559)

Great, now I express the same thoughts as someone who blew up something. I guess I get some stuff packed and turn myself in, I hate it when they wake me up with a nightstick to my neck.

Re:"I've Got Nothing To Hide" (5, Insightful)

inviolet (797804) | more than 6 years ago | (#23833083)

Being monitored creates stress. Now imagine putting people permanently under stress. I could see a few flipping before long.

Yes, and more. Privacy lets you behave morally (as judged by your own moral code) in a world of people who would wrongly criticize you. For example, right now I need privacy in order to spank my children in a world that is presently running a perilous anti-spanking experiment.

As social creatures, disapproval and disenfranchisement cause us physical pain. Privacy shields our proper actions from that.

Re:"I've Got Nothing To Hide" (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23833585)

Inviolet, please don't spank your children. While it reduces the offending behavior in the short-term, the evidence suggests that the offending behavior usually returns more strongly than it was previously within three to six months. More importantly, corporal punishment is harmful to developing minds and teaches very bad lessons. There are healthy alternatives to spanking that are better for everyone in the long run.

Your private life shouldn't be judged by the ethical theory du jour, and while I agree with you that there are many dangerous trends in current culture , the anti-corporal punishment movement is not one of them.

Re:"I've Got Nothing To Hide" (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23832849)

Can I watch you have sex with your spouse
I can't even watch that!

or read your bank statement?
Might as well give it a look, every one else seems to be.

Can I have your exact height and weight
6'2", 321 pounds. Damn you fast food!

maybe get a glance at your mental health records?
Well, you probably won't believe in the little blue men either.

Do you mind if I videotape your grandfather's funeral?
Already done, but would you mind editing in the Benny Hill theme?

Got any love letters left over from Junior High I can read?
None that you'd want to touch.

Re:"I've Got Nothing To Hide" (3, Insightful)

statemachine (840641) | more than 6 years ago | (#23832899)

That's very courageous, coming from Anonymous Coward.

Re:"I've Got Nothing To Hide" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23832993)

Sure, video tape of me and my wife having sex. That could be fun, especially if at my fathers funeral!

Re:"I've Got Nothing To Hide" (1)

WaroDaBeast (1211048) | more than 6 years ago | (#23832997)

Can I watch you have sex with your spouse (...)?

Re:"I've Got Nothing To Hide" (1)

WaroDaBeast (1211048) | more than 6 years ago | (#23833045)

Hum, sorry. I clicked the wrong button. Well... Funnily enough, you can watch someone having sex with their spouse in some countries (namely France) since voyeurism isn't punished by law there. Then again, if you have to break into people's houses to do so, you may be indictable for violation of private property.

grr. (0, Troll)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 6 years ago | (#23832533)

don't be silly it was privacy or fighting terrorism.

after all, who wants privacy if you cannot be safe to enjoy it?

..and thus the steady erosion marches on...

Re:grr. (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23832787)

after all, who wants privacy if you cannot be safe to enjoy it?

Me. Unfortunately, I was not offered the choice.

Forcing security upon someone who does not ask for it is nothing but paternalism.

Re:grr. (2, Insightful)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#23832843)

I'm more worried about the steady growth of entitlements. Bread and circuses will snuff even the biggest economy, eventually. What a bipartisan disaster.

Re:grr. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23833105)

I have to admit you lost me on this one. I think I have a hunch what you mean, but would you please elaborate so I can be sure?

Re:grr. (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#23833275)

Those not-exactly-in-keeping-with-the-10th Amendment programs which the Fed uses to tax individuals into dependency. Once started, they become politically bulletproof, and we will start to neglect things like national defense to feed these beasts.
Kudos to Massachusetts, by the way, for showing real leadership and demonstrating the proper level of government for funding social welfare programs: not the Federal.

Re:grr. (1, Insightful)

Falconhell (1289630) | more than 6 years ago | (#23833393)

By neglecting national defence, I hope you really mean "Not continuing to invade other countries and kill the citizens of other countries for the benefit of corporate commercial interests"

That would actually be a *good* thing. Nearly everything the US does in the name of "national defence" is actually to the benefit of US based multinational corporations.

Re:grr. (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#23833509)

Carrying your thought through, if "US based multinational corporations" (UBMCs) are really the drivers, then, is the US merely the messenger?
If the US is merely the messenger, do you really think a "[dis]continuing invad[ing] other countries and kill[ing] the citizens of other countries for the benefit of corporate commercial interests" will magically stop UBMCs from finding other henchmen?
I disagree somewhat with your premise, and don't think it models the situation well. The history and politics and personalities are a bigger hairball than simply blaming UBMCs.

Re:grr. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23834515)

Hmm... so let them find other henchmen? It sure's cheaper for the taxpayer.

Re:grr. (0)

Falconhell (1289630) | more than 6 years ago | (#23834845)

Given the US has the best equipped armed forces, and a national love of violence as evidenced by the ongoing love of being armed in public, even though it is quite clear to thinking people that an armed society is more dangerous, it is unlikely that could occour. Remeber the US is refered to as the last remaining super power, so no there are no henchmen of equal power and bloodlust. The US Govt is firmly sold to UMBC owners by all evidence I have seen, RIAA, MPAA, Haliburton, Sont rootkits etc.

Re:grr. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23834621)

I have to admit, I'm not up to date with the US wellfare system and also don't know exactly what Massachusetts did. What I do know, though, is that the more "abstract" a wellfare system is and the further from the real issues, the less efficient it will be. The more wellfare is handled at a "general" level, the more people will slip through and siphon away the money to fuel their lazyness by abusing the loopholes in the system while people who really do need it but who just happen to be honest enough fall through it.

Wellfare is best handled locally. Ony a case by case level. One-size-fits-all hardly applies to such a complex problem, you have vastly different situations in differently sized towns and it also depends on various other factors. Using an ewer to shower down water on people has never been a good idea.

Privacy is a lie (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23832545)

Privacy is stupid western notion designed to facilitate structures of imperialism and expolitation of working class.

Here in People's Republic of China we have no need for foolish notions of privacy instead rely on working harmoniously to further state socialism and filial piety for the betterment of self and others. All do our part to insure proper information flow to authorities for preservation of law and order. In America terrorists roam free and destroy buildings but in People's Republic of China all terrorists are swiftly eliminated from social stream by all workers contributing together for cause of justice.

This is why stupid fat Americans are bankrupted by gasoline bills and mortgages while here in People's Republic of China we move forward together into the greater future. No wonder capitalist countries lose wars while terrorist groups never attack People's Republic of China for fear of all citizens working as one to extract atomic socialist retribution.

Re:Privacy is a lie (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#23832867)

Titanic Troll Tuesday Triumph!

Re:Privacy is a lie (1)

wellingj (1030460) | more than 6 years ago | (#23833591)

common people, that shit should be modded +1 funny.

Those old white dudes had it right (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23832619)

Property privacy:
"No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law."

Property Privacy Rights, part two:
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Just something to think about.

Asterisk (1)

maz2331 (1104901) | more than 6 years ago | (#23833459)

* UNREASONABLE shall not be construed as to exclude hunches, guesses, gut feelings, roadblock searches, or any other reason for a search.

** SHALL NOT BE VIOLATED hereby means "shall not be violated unless we feel like it."

*** Warrants aren't really necessary.

**** Descriptions can be vague and all-encompassing, and nobody will ever be held to account for false Oaths or affirmation so long as their intention was "good" at the time.

Re:Those old white dudes had it right (2, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | more than 6 years ago | (#23834299)

This was the jist of Bruce Schneier's essay on this very topic. One big issue in privacy is the imbalance of power. One example he used was that the police routinely video tape a traffic stop, and there is nothing wrong with that, but that while they have the freedom to use it was they wish, you have no formal method of gaining a copy. It appears that while the public has no right to privacy, the cops have something to hide. A more recent example in the news is the Bush administrations lack of email archives. While the private emails are supposed to be open for inspection, public emails, paid fo by tax payers dollars, remain hidden. Then there was the reluctance of the McCain family to release tax returns, something done by all presidential hopefuls to prove they have nothing to hide.

The founding fathers certainly knew the dangers of such asymmetries. It is sad that their heirs care only about exploiting such asymmetries to satisfy some personal greed.

"I have nothing to hide..." (1)

Derek Loev (1050412) | more than 6 years ago | (#23832627)

When the discussion of privacy comes up with friends or family the overwhelming response from people I know is: "I have nothing to hide so it doesn't matter." To those more knowledgeable on the subject, what's the best response for me here? And has anybody else experienced dealing with this type of thinking?

Re:"I have nothing to hide..." (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23832911)

My usual response is "You don't have now. Are you sure you won't have in the future?"

With the changes in laws and the creation of more and more patronizing laws, can you be sure that what you do will not violate the law soon? Worse, is what you are doing today maybe illegal tomorrow, or seen as an indicator for illegal behaviour, and you'll be labeled a criminal because you happen to have similar habits to someone who actually commits a crime?

We have a lot of pseudoscientific "evidence" thrown at us, showing correlation where there is none, used to create laws and, worse, put labels on people who have nothing to do with it. The alleged correspondence between computer games and violence has been discussed a lot lately, can you be sure that you won't be seen as a possible loose cannon because you play certain games?

Oh, you don't play games? Well, maybe you enjoy watching swimsuit contests? Who says they won't create some correlation between people who enjoy watching model shows with people who rape women? Still not worried that your cable company wants to know what you watch, and that government wants, too?

Maybe you're a smoker? Well, are you sure it's still going to be legal tomorrow? And we all know how hard it is to stop smoking, it's almost sure you will try to get your tobacco somewhere, and most likely from that guy you can also get other stuff. Mind if we did a search of your home, just to make sure you don't?

You've been talking on your phone quite a lot lately. And you know, the people you called happened to live next to some guy we arrested yesterday for terrorism (or something else, pick any kind of random crime). Mabye you'd like to explain to us who you called abroad?

That convenience store you shopped at? That funny talking guy running it was arrested because we think he has contacts with some terrorists. Maybe you did more than just shop there, too?

You buy an aweful lot of trans fat grease junkfood, your health insurance decided to up your premium due to your risky behaviour.

Do I have to go on?

Re:"I have nothing to hide..." (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 6 years ago | (#23835345)

``My usual response is "You don't have now. Are you sure you won't have in the future?"''

This is a good argument. Just because something can't be used against you _now_ doesn't mean it won't be used against you later. And once collected, it stays collected - at least, it's safe to assume so.

But for the rest, I think the problem is more with allowing people to be harmed (arrested, convicted, harassed, discriminated) for the wrong reasons. Just to pick a few examples:

``Who says they won't create some correlation between people who enjoy watching model shows with people who rape women?''

That's fine. And if you watch model shows, they can indeed charge you for rape. Just as they could if you didn't watch model shows. It doesn't matter. What matters is if you actually did commit rape (which we will assume you did if you got convicted for it during the trial). If so, good job on them for accusing you. If you didn't, boo on them for falsely accusing you, and they'd better make it up to you.

``That convenience store you shopped at? That funny talking guy running it was arrested because we think he has contacts with some terrorists. Maybe you did more than just shop there, too?''

Yes, yes. And if the guy really is a terrorist, wouldn't it make sense to check up on the people he dealt with? That doesn't mean they will all be arrested and locked up. And if they do all end up arrested and locked up - without having been found guilty - then the problem is that innocent (because they haven't been found guilty) people are being arrested and locked up.

If the government, or anyone else, can harm you based on what is really innocuous information, I don't think the solution is to keep that information hidden from them. In fact, if you so strenuously try to keep it hidden from them, that is a piece of information that they can use against you. The problem isn't that they have the information. The problem is that that they can use it against you, even though it isn't conclusive evidence that you harmed anyone.

With regard to privacy, what I do have a problem with is that I am the one paying the cost of the whole system. It starts with the gathering of the information. That costs effort. Often, that's my effort. Even if it isn't, it's my tax money that pays for it. If, subsequently, the information gets used to send me spam, that's more cost and effort to me. If it is used to chase after innocent people, that's more of my tax money gone to waste. And if these innocent people are subsequently harmed (by the government or by the masses - it wouldn't be the first time someone was harassed by the neigborhood after having been acquitted) for crimes they didn't commit, my money and effort has paid to do harm to innocent people. So there are real costs associated with lessened privacy. I want to see evidence that there are benefits that outweigh these costs, before I am willing to pay them.

So let's turn the question around. By default, only you know private things about yourself. It's not about you hiding something. It's about you disclosing something. "If you have nothing to hide" is a red herring. The real question is "Why would you want to disclose your private information?"

Re:"I have nothing to hide..." (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#23832933)

To those more knowledgeable on the subject, what's the best response for me here?
I would float questions like:
What do you think a Denial of Service Attack is in a network context, and at what point does repeated "trust but verify" activity constitute a DoS on your life?
or,
Your taxes are paying for security services at the airport. At what point do you buy the right to say "Enough"?
Yeah, I have a relatively boring life, too. Cast as a reality show, it would make an effective insomnia treatment. There is still a "reasonable person" line that need not be crossed, particularly when it involves some homo bureaucratus requiring me to fill out paperwork or stand in some godforsaken line.

Re:"I have nothing to hide..." (2, Insightful)

statemachine (840641) | more than 6 years ago | (#23832937)

what's the best response for me here?
"When's a good time for me to come over and start installing video cameras in your house?"

Re:"I have nothing to hide..." (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23833085)

"But that's not what they're doing, don't be ridiculous. That's why you privacy tinfoil hatters can't be taken serious. All they wanna do is monitor public places and make sure terrorists can't talk with each other".

Your turn.

Re:"I have nothing to hide..." (1)

statemachine (840641) | more than 6 years ago | (#23833147)

"And... will tomorrow be OK? ... Oh, you're not fine with that? What do you have to hide?"

Re:"I have nothing to hide..." (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23833215)

*throws hands up*

"It's really useless discussing with you. That's NOT what they're doing, ok? They don't come in here and mount cams in my bathroom, they just watch public space."

Don't forget that you're fighting a lot of propaganda and a long campaign to call everyone concerned with privacy a paranoiac. If you want to create concern, you have to use examples of what can really happen with the surveillance at hand, not create some privacy invasion scenario yourself.

Re:"I have nothing to hide..." (2, Interesting)

statemachine (840641) | more than 6 years ago | (#23833353)

The point got across. The person does have something to hide and now sees there is nothing wrong with excluding people from seeing it -- whether that person calls it "privacy" or something else.

Once you demolish the silly argument of "I've got nothing to hide," you immediately win the battle. Now that person has to acknowledge privacy as necessary. At this point, we're only talking about the degree -- which has nothing to do with this particular thread.

Of course, you might get someone who wants to see if you're bluffing. That's when you set up an Internet website and follow through. If they balk and ask for money, then you still win, because now they see that their privacy is worth *something*.

Re:"I have nothing to hide..." (2, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23834499)

The problem is that you do not win. They still accept the loss of privacy, they still accept the surveillance and snooping, they still accept being monitored. All you won is a silly, pointless argument.

You won the argument, ok. He has something to hide. But now he thinks you're some professional tinfoil-hat wearing paranoiac who blows stuff way out of proportion. The government/corporations/whoever don't want to put a cam into his toilet.

He doesn't even understand the connection. You argue from a rather esotheric, on-principle point of view. Most people don't care about that, they see only what's currently happening, they don't see the abstract behind it. The government wants cams on the streets, they want a look at your email and webpage, they want to know who you call, corporations (and the feds, in turn, but who cares?) want to know where you shop and what you buy, and so on.

That's usually none of a normal person's concerns. They don't see the long term effects. They only know that the feds won't put a cam into their home, and that they can easily keep you from doing it. Case closed. Nothing to worry about. And if everything fails they'll bluff back and say that the government could put a cam down their potty anytime, but you don't.

Re:"I have nothing to hide..." (1)

TheDugong (701481) | more than 6 years ago | (#23833339)

"Ok, in that case, can I have you bank account details and PIN codes?"

Re:"I have nothing to hide..." (1)

Trekologer (86619) | more than 6 years ago | (#23833421)

You might not think that you have anything to hide but let's say you are driving in your car and pulled over for a traffic violation. Should you let a crooked cop search your car? After all, you have nothing to hide. Maybe the cop finds a piece of rope in your trunk. Now you are a suspect in a kidnapping. Or maybe he finds a pry bar. Now you are a suspect in a robbery.

Re:"I have nothing to hide..." (1)

Nephilium (684559) | more than 6 years ago | (#23833443)

Easy. Ask them for their bank account numbers and their PINs.

If they do online banking, ask for their usernames/passwords for their accounts...

Amazingly, I bet they want to hide that information...

Nephilium

Re:"I have nothing to hide..." (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23833765)

Ask them if they think the government should be informed if they buy a pregnancy test or a prescription. Not just the government though, all of the people that work for the government, including their friends.

Re:"I have nothing to hide..." (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23834007)

Privacy has nothing to do with hiding something. Privacy is a basic need of any
individual (as opposed to communal) human being.

The survivors of Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps, when asked following
their liberation about the greatest deprivation or torment they had endured, the almost
universal response identified the lack of privacy. Even living in filth, disease,
and hunger cannot compete with being denied a private existence.

Few of us have experienced, or will experience, a total lack of privacy. But be assured,
the loss of private moments, private property, and a private life can be devastating and
inimical in the extreme. It derives from the core of our human nature. Protect it above
all else.

Re:"I have nothing to hide..." (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 6 years ago | (#23835113)

The one I like best is "If you have nothing to hide, why don't you take off your clothes?"

Re:"I have nothing to hide..." (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 6 years ago | (#23835209)

I think the first question to ask is "Why do you want to convince them that their privacy is important?" I suppose it is because if their privacy can be violated, so can yours. Now, why don't _you_ want your privacy to be violated? Perhaps the same argument works for them.

But then again, I honestly don't have a problem with people knowing things about me. It's not like I'm going about blathering about my private life, but if you want to put in the effort to find out what strange things I might be doing, go ahead. I am not ashamed of anything I do, and if you can use any of it against me, I think that is more a problem with people's attitudes than with me not keeping things hidden well enough.

The Problem is Not Misunderstanding of Privacy (4, Insightful)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 6 years ago | (#23832721)

but rather insufficient penalties for violating the privacy of another. If the perceived profit, whether that be money or some other reward, outweighs the perceived loss (i.e. punishment for violating the privacy of another) then privacy will always be violated assuming that it can be. Many of the perceived problems with protecting one's privacy today have been created by or occurred as a consequence of the introduction of new technologies, so it follows then that solutions must also be technological rather than strictly social or legal because of the aforementioned favorable risk/reward quotient for breaching the privacy of another. That is why it is important for people to take the necessary steps to protect their own privacy including use of strong encryption, strong passwords, fake identities, mail drops, etc. I find that it is best to view the entire exercise as an adversarial process [wikipedia.org] where the reward for winning is continued privacy and the cost of losing is a breach of privacy. You are continually seeking to protect your privacy while others are actively seeking to breach it.

Privacy defined (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23832889)

Privacy as used by citizens of the United States of America is a "right" afforded to "citizens" as regards the "government.

Therefore what individuals do with regards to each other is not the issue. What the government does to citizens (sovereigns) is. Therefore any violation of privacy by ANY government agency for ANY purpose adverse to citizens, from red light tickets to murder investigations is strictly prohibited by the constitution. PERIOD.

I am NOT wrong.

Do I need to read the constitution to you?

"nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

For example using your computer files against you.

I really do have nothing I need to hide... (1)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 6 years ago | (#23833093)

...but plenty that I want to keep hidden.

Expose it all and I will be fine - free as a bird, no lawsuits, no divorce.

That is not to say that life wouldn't become quite inconvenient.

Simple Solution? (1)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 6 years ago | (#23833211)

Here's my suggestion: Any piece of personal data that is allowed to be shared without restriction between entities, or read by the government without a warrant (a real warrant, the way the founders intended), shall be classified as "privacy excluded data."

Then, for any level of government that authorizes "privacy excluded data", every elected official at that level will have that data published. Any data which is not published about the appropriate elected officials is considered private data, and breach of privacy will have severe enforcement.

If you want to know it about me, or will not prevent others from sharing it about me, then I get to know it about you while you are a public servant. You want to read my email without a warrant? Fine - all your email goes up on public servers (with reasonable restrictions, subject to FISA oversight, for national security).

Simple accountability. If I've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to hide.

From the mouths of others: (0, Offtopic)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 6 years ago | (#23833217)

  • Stark: My side, your side. My side, your side. ...
  • Ophelia: You sleep on the couch.
  • Brad: Doesn't anyone knock anymore?
  • Old Guy: Get off of my lawn.

Privacy? How about protection from bad data?!? (0, Offtopic)

Jason Pollock (45537) | more than 6 years ago | (#23833243)

I just had an interesting experience on the F-line in San Francisco. A woman was having a discussion in the seat behind me. It seemed that her husband had been stopped by the police in a parking lot and told that his license had been rescinded. That meant that if he got into his car, he was driving illegally. The police took his license, told him not to get in the car and left.

Now, the interesting thing is that his license was not invalid. There was a problem at the DMV. He went down to the DMV (taking a cab, he can't drive remember) waited in line for a couple of hours, got it sorted out, got a letter and went back to the police.

They still refused to give him back his license. He has to wait for a new one to appear in the mail. So, what does that tell you? A bureaucratic error resulted in lost hours, lost income and hassle. Was he guilty of anything? No. Caused by a loss of privacy, allowing buggy data to be accessed in real-time by the police.

Oh, perhaps you haven't heard of automatic license plate recognition systems? The police only have to drive by a car, and the computer pops up data on it.

A short story about privacy (5, Interesting)

Kingston (1256054) | more than 6 years ago | (#23833303)

A friend of mine grew up in Spain under Franco's regime. By the time she was ready to start work in the local factory, Franco had been dead for six years and Spain had become a democracy. A relative asked her to join the trade union at the factory and help out with the admin work.

You may or may not agree with trade unions just bear with me.

Most of us are lucky enough to live in democracies where we can make these choices and think nothing of it, we have nothing to hide after all. A few weeks after she started work, on the night of 23rd February 1981, fascist elements of the Spanish military attempted a coup and took control of the parliament. She spent the night along with her relative and other union officials burning and burying all the union membership details and correspondence because all of a sudden they did have something to hide, the mass graves of student radicals and trade unionists are still turning up from Franco's time [bbc.co.uk] .

Luckily the coup failed and democracy was quickly restored. The point being we can't burn or bury our electronic records, emails, phone logs, forum posts, blogs, journeys logged by electronic numberplate recognition and cellphone records because we don't have control of them. Privacy matters more than ever, the record of what you do now could last forever and you don't know who will use that information and for what purpose.

Re:A short story about privacy (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23833679)

Brilliantly written. I keep an copy of Ann Frank on my desk. People ask why. I tell them it is a reminder of what happens when information is given to the wrong people and how people die as a result. In the future great books will be written and great movies will be made dealing with privacy issues and destruction resulting therefrom.

   

Re:A short story about privacy (3, Insightful)

Sperbels (1008585) | more than 6 years ago | (#23835515)

There are plenty of people who would counter this by saying that this could never happy in my country. They'd be fools, but they'd still say it.

Why Privacy: The First Reason (4, Insightful)

ghostunit (868434) | more than 6 years ago | (#23833401)

Because knowledge is power. Therefore, information about me can be used to gain power over me. Privacy keeps others from having such information.

There are other reasons I guess, but that's the most important one when relating the concept of personal privacy to institutions such as government agencies, corporations, etc. It has nothing to do with shame or morality, it's all about power and control.

Great (1)

Sir_Real (179104) | more than 6 years ago | (#23833659)

Yet ANOTHER framework to learn

sh1%t (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23834107)

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Privacy is dead, get over it (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23835179)

A couple years ago, a private investigator named Steve Rambam gave a talk at (well, after) Hope Number Six in New York. His speech was titled "Privacy is Dead, Get Over It."

* Every time I heard someone quip this phrase or something similar, it made me want to scream. But after listing to his talk, I found that I had to agree with the premise. Thanks to the last two decades of technology, there really is no more expectation of real privacy as most of us think about it. Here are some of the key points that I remember from the talk:

* Almost everybody leaves an electronic trail of their daily activities whether they realize it or not. Paying with a credit card, walking through a downtown area, driving through an intersection with a red-light camera, and buying cough medicine are all ways you can end up with your exact location recorded in that particular point in time.

* Practically any company can get more information on you (especially your financial history) than you can.

* The Internet has made it possible to get extremely detailed background checks on anyone you like for a very small fee and almost no effort.

* The U.S. government has fairly tight controls on how they're allowed to compile and use private information on citizens. Corporations, however, do not. There are a number of companies now that do nothing but compile vast amounts of information on everyone they can and then sell full access to their database to government agencies because it's not illegal for the government to *buy* your private information. They don't even need a warrant to access it.

* Ask any investigator and they'll tell you that Google is their favorite tool. Followed by MySpace, Facebook, and blogs. If you have any significant social interaction online, they don't even need to spend any money to find information on you because chances are you've already told the world far more than you realize.

You can hear Steve's talks here: (three parts)

http://www.hopenumbersix.net/mp3/16/privacy1.mp3 [hopenumbersix.net]
http://www.hopenumbersix.net/mp3/16/privacy2.mp3 [hopenumbersix.net]
http://www.hopenumbersix.net/mp3/16/privacy3.mp3 [hopenumbersix.net]

If you're in doubt, just try googling a few email addresses and/or aliases you've used over the past few years. I did just this a few weeks ago and was completely floored. There are traces of my online interactions going back over a decade.

(Posting anonymously because I don't want anyone to get any bright ideas.)
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