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"Reality Mining" Resets the Privacy Debate

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the macnealy-was-prophetic dept.

Privacy 209

An anonymous reader sends us to the NYTimes for a sobering look at the frontiers of "collective intelligence," also called in the article "reality mining." These techniques go several steps beyond the pedestrian version of "data mining" with which the Pentagon and/or DHS have been flirting. The article profiles projects at MIT, UCLA, Google, and elsewhere in networked sensor research and other forms of collective intelligence. "About 100 students at MIT agreed to completely give away their privacy to get a free smartphone. 'Now, when he dials another student, researchers know. When he sends an e-mail or text message, they also know. When he listens to music, they know the song. Every moment he has his Windows Mobile smartphone with him, they know where he is, and who's nearby.' ... Indeed, some collective-intelligence researchers argue that strong concerns about privacy rights are a relatively recent phenomenon in human history. ... 'For most of human history, people have lived in small tribes where everything they did was known by everyone they knew,' Dr. Malone said. 'In some sense we're becoming a global village. Privacy may turn out to have become an anomaly.'"

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I'm Firsty! Get me something to drink! (-1, Offtopic)

CranberryKing (776846) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936045)

Ahh... Delicious

Thread abuse (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25936187)

If the world is becoming a 'global village', who is the village idiot?

Re:Thread abuse (3, Funny)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936597)

Anonymous Cowards, obviously.

Re:Thread abuse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25936733)

</humour>

Re:Thread abuse (1)

kachakaach (1336273) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937589)

If the world is becoming a 'global village', who is the village idiot?

you can pretty much find one under every Bush...

fr!st ps0t (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25936055)

I for one, welcome relief from having to protect my privacy when I get frist ps0t!!!

Re:fr!st ps0t (4, Funny)

Antlerbot (1419715) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936193)

Oh, sweet irony.

In a heartbeat (2, Funny)

flerchin (179012) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936061)

I'd do it for a sony experia x1, or htc touch pro. If it became too obtrusive, I could always buy my own phone and walk away from it. I doubt I would. Of course, if this were forced on me, I would effect armed resistance. But for a free sweet phone.....

1G Phone (1)

troll8901 (1397145) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936457)

But for a free sweet phone.....

How about a sweet, sweet FREE Motorola DynaTAC 8000X [wikipedia.org] ?

It is revolutionary. It has:

  • 1 hour fast charging
  • Dynamic Adaptive Total Area Coverage, ensuring superior sound quality

It is so superior, it has been specially highlighted by Richard Frenkel, Head of System Development at Bell Laboratories, as "a triumph".

How about it?

Re:1G Phone (1)

flerchin (179012) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936927)

Those phones were hardly free in 1983, and I would gladly have taken one back then in return for releasing my usage data. Hell, I'd still take one no strings attached.

So (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25936085)

Goatse

Privacy as a recent phenomenon (5, Insightful)

Ash.D.Giles (1278606) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936091)

Isn't territorial behaviour a precursor to privacy? I mean, the idea of "Stay out of my room, I'm getting dressed" can't be that far off "Stay out of my burrow or I bite you, you strange animal"

Re:Privacy as a recent phenomenon (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936209)

"Isn't territorial behaviour a precursor to privacy? I mean, the idea of "Stay out of my room, I'm getting dressed" can't be that far off "Stay out of my burrow or I bite you, you strange animal""

That's kind of a bad example, many cultures have had no problem with nudity. What is strange is how human cultures differ in respect to how they view themselves, their bodies, nudity, etc. Christianity and western culture is really fucked up when it concerns nudity and sexuality when you compare it against other peoples, cultures and times. Modern people like to think they are greatest thing since sliced bread and they aren't "primitive", but anyone who is a student of history knows this is not the case. Many modern people are more primitive then many ancient cultures in their behaviour and ethics.

poly-culturalism (5, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936365)

Christianity and western culture is really fucked up when it concerns nudity and sexuality when you compare it against other peoples, cultures and times.

EVERY culture is "really fucked up" when compared to any other culture ... based upon the bias of the person doing the comparing.

Many modern people are more primitive then many ancient cultures in their behaviour and ethics.

You can find single examples to demonstrate that claim ... but you cannot find multiple examples in a single ancient culture to support it. Again, depending upon the bias of the person doing the comparing.

Culture X was more enlightened regarding Y than modern cultures ... but less enlightened regarding A, B, C and D.

mod parent up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25936443)

You make excellent points.

Re:Privacy as a recent phenomenon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25936421)

Right, because Islam and other eastern cultures are so much more balanced on the subject of nudity and sexuality. I guess we're just too primitive to pick up on enlightened practices like stoning homosexuals, female circumcision, and infant footbinding. Try to go a little easier on the kool-aid.

Re:Privacy as a recent phenomenon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25936755)

You have chosen to infer things that were not implied. This is the same as lying, and therefore you are a liar.

Re:Privacy as a recent phenomenon (0, Flamebait)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936477)

That's kind of a bad example, many cultures have had no problem with nudity.

Could you please define "cultures" for me? I'm thinking that on one hand you are viewing each little tribe wandering in the wilderness as a distinct culture, even though each one consists of a few hundred individuals at most. And if you stuck them all in a jar and shook it you'd not be able to take the mixture and separate them back into their original "cultures" by examining their behaviors. On the other hand you're placing the entirety of the United States, Canada, Mexico, all of Europe into the same culture.

Christianity and western culture is really fucked up when it concerns nudity and sexuality when you compare it against other peoples, cultures and times.

Yeah, because Indians walk around nude all day long and don't have smoke breaks, they have fuck breaks. Then there are the Chinese going back thousands of years with their phobias against clothing and monogamy. And let us not forget those whores the Japanese. Or the Arabs with their glory holes on every corner going back centuries.

Yeah it's the Western Christians who are uptight.

Many modern people are more primitive then many ancient cultures in their behaviour and ethics.

And at least one slashdot poster agrues from his conclusion. Defining primitive to mean "how western cultures act" makes it easy to castigate western cultures as primitive. Nimrod.

Re:Privacy as a recent phenomenon (2, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936651)

Right, because what happens in some other culture completely invalidates the point. I mean clearly he's being culturally insensitive for not using an example that's relevant to every possible culture.

But hey, it's not like the reader is supposed to consider the point offered on it's merits instead of making culturally insensitive remarks. What fun is posting if rational thought gets in the way of bigotry.

Re:Privacy as a recent phenomenon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25936251)

But humans were never a solitary animal. We're meant to form families, tribes and societies. It would have been "stay out of OUR burrow (or cave, or hut, or enclave, or village, etc.) or we attack you, strange animal or unfamiliar human."

Re:Privacy as a recent phenomenon (5, Interesting)

ruin20 (1242396) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936267)

I think one of the things that was missing from the previous paragraph is that in a tribal setting there is an expectation of behavior between members in the tribe. As information disseminates outside the tribe, there is a disconnect between availability of the information and an understanding of how that information is used. So it becomes harder to decide on what to share, as it has to be assumed that it could be used in any conceivable way.

in other words, a tribe is established by who we choose to share information with, and although we can now share information globally without respect to boundaries, that doesn't mean we're a part of a "global tribe" because the tribe is still a subset of the global system. Where who we choose to share info with might have once been an issue of geographic happenstance, it no longer a sufficient criteria for the designation of a tribe. There is no longer a one to one mapping of the people in close proximity and the people who have open access to my information and actions.

Re:Privacy as a recent phenomenon (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937355)

I think is another kind of thing. Territoriality goes around physical presence, and is a base instinct that should come from far enough in the evolutionary chain (from before mammals?). It fits in the "stay out of my room", anything related to some kind of personal space, but not in "dont watch" even if you are 3 km away.

Is a social behaviour or instinctive, we are wired for it? Personal privacy have meaning for all cultures?

If is just "the right thing to do", but we aren't wired, the environment/society/culture could decide that is the other way around. You know, like when in the name of public security the government decides that there are other things that matters more.

About privacy (4, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936107)

Honestly, there is very little I do or say that I care if it's kept private. What I do in the bedroom? No, really I don't care. I'm not particularly attractive with my balding head and too-large belly, but if someone really wants to watch that, it's kind of their problem.

In theory the government could use data mining to distort reality and accuse someone falsely of some crime, but really, if the government is to the point that they want to go out of their way to accuse people, there are lots of tried and tested methods that have been used throughout history. Privacy or lack of privacy is not going to make a bit of difference in whom the government arrests or kills.

If someone DOES want to kill me, having that kind of information would be helpful, but realistically, if someone wants to kill me, there are so many opportunities to kill me that just by following me around a bit they will have no problem finding a time to knock me off. Hit men have been doing their jobs for millennia, without modern technology.

The point of all this is, some people worry too much about their privacy.

Re:About privacy (5, Insightful)

ILoveCrack83 (1244964) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936317)

I'm not particularly attractive with my balding head and too-large belly

With your too-large belly you have a higher risk at heart disease, but I guess you don't mind your insurance company finding out about it and charging you a higher fee...

Re:About privacy (3, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936375)

Insurance companies shouldn't be able to charge a higher rate for pre-existing conditions. For being overweight, it might be arguable that I should get a punitive rate until I can get my weight down, since it is something I can manage. But if we as a society are not providing for the medical care of people who have no other recourse, then we need to change that.

Don't use carp like BMI to say someone is over ove (-1, Troll)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936407)

Don't use carp like BMI to say someone is over overweight and some people have no control of it.

Re:Don't use carp like BMI to say someone is over (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25936959)

You're right, I won't use carp like that. I prefer trout.

Re:Don't use carp like BMI to say someone is over (1, Offtopic)

Sasayaki (1096761) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937039)

Ridiculous, sorry.

Some people have a metabolism which lends itself to storing energy as fat more readily. So you could say that some people put on weight easier (or even far easier) than others- but to say they have no control over their weight?

I might be able to accept that someone would have a psychological reason, rather than physiological reason, for an inability to control their weight. But that shouldn't be a free pass to discounted health care- if you can't control your weight, either accept you'll have a reduced quality of life and increased health care payments... or do something about it, including getting treatment.

To pull out the ever-present car analogy, that's like saying because driving very fast gives me great pleasure, I have no control over my speed. I'm blameless! Blameless I say! *zoom*...

That's the trap of that "logic". (5, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936411)

It's okay to have the information open ... as long as the information is not used in any way that you disapprove of.

The problem is that once the information is open, you no longer control it. You do NOT have a say in how it will be used.

If it is used in some way that you do not want it to be used, sucks to be you. That is why privacy is important.

Hmmm, here's another point of view (2, Interesting)

Giant Electronic Bra (1229876) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937121)

What business do you have keeping information from the rest of society which could be used for a social good? Do you really think you live in some kind of vacuum where only you the individual matters?

How about if all these 'evil' insurance companies can drastically reduce the overall cost of health care to a point where it saves a large number of lives? Is it ethical for you to want to withhold that information simply because it benefits you personally to do so?

Human society is more than the sum of the individuals which make it up, and the interests of that society are more than the sum of the interests of its individual members.

Not that I think we should mindlessly surrender all privacy, but to insist on mindlessly guarding everything about ourselves we are paying a price, and that price may well be higher than the price of openness. It may also be a lot higher than we think it is. Seems to me the issue bears a lot more study.

Re:Hmmm, here's another point of view (1)

LEMONedIScream (1111839) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937263)

How about if all these 'evil' insurance companies can drastically reduce the overall cost of health care to a point where it saves a large number of lives? Is it ethical for you to want to withhold that information simply because it benefits you personally to do so?

No, and I probably couldn't justify it. However, show me the proof that this could happen and wouldn't be exploited before I give away my privacy.

Also, knowing the nature of a for-profit company, if I can't see a catch, and apparently neither can anyone else. I most likely still wouldn't believe a word of it. Why should I?

You're tranposing "economics" and "good". (3, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937447)

What business do you have keeping information from the rest of society which could be used for a social good?

Look up the historical records of how "social good" is defined. You'll find everything from slavery to genocide.

Do you really think you live in some kind of vacuum where only you the individual matters?

See above. Individuals throughout history have opposed the "social good" of the time and we regard them as selfless heroes now.

It is the choice of the individual. Not the society.

How about if all these 'evil' insurance companies can drastically reduce the overall cost of health care to a point where it saves a large number of lives?

I worked for an insurance company. They aren't doing it because they think they're improving society.

They're doing it because the owners believe they, personally, can turn a profit. And they believe that the more information they can collect, the greater their profit (and the smaller their losses) will be.

Don't confuse "economical" with "good".

Is it ethical for you to want to withhold that information simply because it benefits you personally to do so?

Yes, of course it is.

Human society is more than the sum of the individuals which make it up, and the interests of that society are more than the sum of the interests of its individual members.

Again, look up slavery and genocide.

Not that I think we should mindlessly surrender all privacy, but to insist on mindlessly guarding everything about ourselves we are paying a price, and that price may well be higher than the price of openness. It may also be a lot higher than we think it is. Seems to me the issue bears a lot more study.

It "may well be" ... but if you study history you'll see that the opposite seems to be the norm.

The more privacy the population has, the more "Free" that society is.

The less privacy the population has, the less "Free" that society is.

Re:About privacy (1)

david.given (6740) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937347)

With your too-large belly you have a higher risk at heart disease, but I guess you don't mind your insurance company finding out about it and charging you a higher fee...

But that's not a privacy problem. That's simply because you've decided to trade your health on the open market, by buying health insurance (which I assume is what you're talking about). The insurers are charging you a higher premium because you're a bigger risk because you're overweight --- in other words, the market is working as it's designed to.

Whether that is a problem or not is an entirely different and quite interesting question. But it's not a privacy-related problem.

Re:About privacy (5, Insightful)

D_Blackthorne (1412855) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936357)

How about this scenario, then: The religious right manages to get enough power to actually attempt to legislate "morality" (or at least their twisted version of it). They do decide that they need to know what you and your wife are doing in the bedroom. They discover that you're having sex in something other than the missionary position, and what's more, you're using birth control. "No, no!" they say, "That's illegal now, you're going to have to be arrested and punished for that!". So tell me, how do you feel now? Don't sit there and tell me it can't happen, either, since it DOES happen in one form or another somewhere on this planet all the time -- just not in this country, YET. You, sir, don't worry ENOUGH about privacy. If the above doesn't get to you, then let's see what you have to say when identity thieves ruin your life, because some nosy corporation with poor information security measures practically hands someone the keys to your life.

Re:About privacy (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25936771)

If a crazy law is passed, then the problem is the crazy law, not whether something only tangentially related makes it easier to enforce.

Re:About privacy (2, Insightful)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937143)

If a crazy law is passed, then the problem is the crazy law, not whether something only tangentially related makes it easier to enforce.

Hey, that's going to make the guy that gets arrested and persectued/tortured/whatever for some mildly kinky sex act feel *much* better!

"Hey, I realise that you probably wouldn't have got caught if they hadn't been able to spy on you like that... but that's really not the problem here! In a world where only fair and sensible laws are passed and fluffy bunnies and magical fairies live, it wouldn't have mattered."

Wake up and get real. It's nice that you have the luxury of arguing this in idealised, abstract and separate terms. However, in the real world, the fact that this would make it exponentially easier to enforce repressive laws *is* as much the problem.

Re:About privacy (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937455)

Of course if this spying was omnipresent and suddently 1/3rd of the population was on the wrong side of the law it'd increase the chances that someone will take action rather than just hide and hope it goes away.

Re:About privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25936897)

It's not what you're keeping private, it's the principal.

Don't have anything interesting in your e-mail? Oh, then, you don't mind if we're reading it?

You aren't the kind to protest the government? Then you won't mind if we corral them all into "free-speech zones".

Not a terrorist? Then you won't mind if we take a couple of your brown-skinned neighbors down to Gitmo for a little bit of "freedom tickling".

Just because it's not really important to you doesn't mean it's not important.

Re:About privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25937201)

Talk is cheap.

You, as well as most other people in our society, have never even come close to experiencing a condition without privacy.

Many of the victims of the German concentration camps testified after the war that their biggest hardship was not the starvation, the torture and the disease. Their biggest misery was the extreme lack of privacy.

Until you have lived in the open squalor of enforced communalism, please refrain from these pointless speculations.

Re:About privacy (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25937245)

"Honestly, there is very little I do or say that I care if it's kept private."

In that case, would you mind telling us
(1)... Where you live.
(2)... When you will be on holiday
(3)... Where you hide anything valuable.
(4)... PROFIT! ... I'm joking of course, but there is a very serious point, in that total information one someone, allows total power over them. The wishful thinking reply to that, is that with total information on everyone then everyone can see the crime being commited. No. That's not going to happen. In the case of a petty criminal, like the above example, yes it will stop them. But it will not stop a powerful political group seeking to use total information to gain great power over others and to push out their competitors. Even push out other political groups, in effect creating dictatorships.

Its an illusion to think that everyone will have total information on everyone else. The world doesn't work like that. The world forms a hierachy of power, its not flat and open. The ones at the top in power are not going to let that power be taken from them. They will create laws protecting against information being allowed on them, while making it open season for information on everyone else, so they can watch what others are doing. Its what is happening now. Just look at the political moves being made in the UK for example. (Ironically the home country of George Orwell).

The power stuggles will not end, with total information... This reality mining is a naive dream. It reminds me of the early wishful thinking dreams in the early stages of the Internet, where it was said and seen as some kind of utopian force for freedom of speech. Now look at where the Internet is going, with many countries trying to clamp down and monitor the Internet for decent. Detecting decent is all part of the process of seeking political power. This process is called Opposition Research and its a whole area of political activity, that most people don't usually get to see, but it occurs continuously.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opposition_research [wikipedia.org]

Now imagine total Opposition Research applied to vast majority of people on the planet. They will do Opposition Research on everyone, be absolutely sure of this one point, its all part of the process of seeking power over someone else.

Re:About privacy (1)

OldHawk777 (19923) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937301)

Data Collection of unknown, implicit, and/or explicit activities/processes and relationships, without theft/collection of personal identity/data is not an invasion of Personal Privacy. The activities/processes and relationships are not linked to a specific individual, but are linked to a specific pattern/method....

Re:About privacy (3, Insightful)

gilgongo (57446) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937721)

Honestly, there is very little I do or say that I care if it's kept private.

...

The point of all this is, some people worry too much about their privacy.

Since you take an extreme position on this, let's take some extreme examples to show that the issue is far wider than the fact that you think you have nothing to hide.

Should you walk directly to your car from the door of the supermarket, or stop to look at that attractive woman loading her groceries first? If you stop, will that action be recorded and used against you by your wife in 10 years time? Do you smack down that moron accusing you of butting into the queue when you were there before him, in case you're being videoed from an angle where he looks like he's in the right? What do you say to your boss when he asks you whether you did your 7 hours that time you were working from home? Does he know that you spent 30 mins reading the paper after lunch?

If you made literally everything in your life available to the scrutiny of persons unknown, you would have to live your life as if in one eternal press conference: every word and every action would have to be pre-meditated and vetted inside your head (the only private place you had). Look up the word "panopticon" and you'll see where I'm going with this.

Now, you may tell me not to exaggerate, that things will never get that bad. The point is though - when will you draw the line? When you have some privacy to protect? If so, how much?

Or do you think that wresting control of your life back from those who have it is going to be easier than giving it to them in the first place? After all, I suppose if you have nothing to hide...

"Privacy" in a crowd (3, Interesting)

Lupulack (3988) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936123)

Nobody thinks twice about talking on their phone in public. Anyone can listen in if they wish, but they usually don't. It's not privacy that most people have issue with, it's being singled out.
As has been said many times, it's not a problem so long as everyone is treated the same way. General trends and statistics are fine, it's being the focus of attention of Big Brother that gets creepy.

Re:"Privacy" in a crowd (1)

OriginalArlen (726444) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936293)

This is the bit I don't get:

Every moment he has his Windows Mobile smartphone with him, they know where he is, and who's nearby.'

Really? How does that work? Have the people who happen to be nearby all have to have signed up for the trial, or is their presence somehow automagically detected and uploaded? Hey, if you want to sign away YOUR privacy, feel free (though I'd rather you didn't) It doesn't give you the right to sign away my privacy at the same time!!

Does this mean I should be avoiding people who use Windows Mobile smartphones? Oh wait, the universe already took care of that for me.

Re:"Privacy" in a crowd (5, Insightful)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937037)

Nobody thinks twice about talking on their phone in public. Anyone can listen in if they wish, but they usually don't. It's not privacy that most people have issue with, it's being singled out. As has been said many times, it's not a problem so long as everyone is treated the same way. General trends and statistics are fine, it's being the focus of attention of Big Brother that gets creepy.

But that's the problem with what is happening to privacy. It's the citizens that are losing their privacy, while governments are keeping more and more secrets, and guarding them fiercely (and with heavy weaponry).

It should be the opposite. Everything the government does should be transparent (at least to their own citizens), and they should be required to go to extraordinary lengths to obtain private information about their citizens. Otherwise, tyranny will inevitably result. As they say "knowledge is power", and gaining knowledge of citizens while denying knowledge of government to the citizens is nothing but a semi-transparent power-grab.

Considering the amount of authority vested in government representatives, we should be demanding much greater transparency, just to level the playing field.

Re:"Privacy" in a crowd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25937497)

It should be the opposite. Everything the government does should be transparent (at least to their own citizens)...

Well, and there is the problem. "Free to their own citizens" will create a conflict of interests when one of those citizens has links to other goverments' citizens. Today's global world makes that easy, so the problem would be "how do we give out info only to the ones we want, or know can't compromise said sensitive info" while still making it free? Doing it wrong would result in foreigners knowing war attack dates, hidden deals with opposing / competing countries. So making it available to a few would require pretty much assuming the info was insecure.

If you open something up 100%, like the windows OS source, some would feel better, while others would feel naked. We would fall in a never-ending cycle of protecting freely available information with well-known encryption algos (using a keys as the only private parts.) But your proposed government model could not even make those keys private to its citizens and potential leakers among them... there would never be security because it would constantly leak due to transparency, until some of it were removed, to avoid this chaotic model.

To avoid this problem, the world turns to its complete opposite: the network admin methodology. Never reveal unprotected and protected port ranges, set port security to white-list-only and punish transgressions by shutting ports down until you can judge reasons for access, and keep complete security by giving passwords in a need-to-know basis even to people in the trusted rings of IT support.

DARN!!! (1)

Marko DeBeeste (761376) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936135)

FTFA 'In some sense we're becoming a global village. Privacy may turn out to have become an anomaly.'

And I've been working so hard to be like everybody else.

How much bandwidth / txtes does this use? (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936137)

How much bandwidth / txtes does this use?

Providers should bear some of the responsibility (2, Insightful)

CranberryKing (776846) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936151)

It would be nice if myspace/facebook & other social networking sites offered some information to new users educating them on what they are really getting themselves into. I don't think most young people have a real sense of what online privacy even is or why it is important.

Re:Providers should bear some of the responsibilit (2, Interesting)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936263)

Not going to happen. The social networking sites are financially fuelled by people's private info. They won't discourage people from giving up as much as possible.

We all have secrets, but it can only be a good thing when people screw up their careers/lives because they gave too much away on facebook. In a Darwinian sense I mean.

Re:Providers should bear some of the responsibilit (1)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936943)

"Not going to happen. The social networking sites are financially fuelled by people's private info. They won't discourage people from giving up as much as possible."

Yeah. When I read the GP's post it reminded me of an article that I read the other day about various parental organizations petitioning toy manufacturers asking them not to market their products directly to children as much this holiday season. Both made me think the same thing ... "yeah and I want a pony".

I wonder... (2, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936163)

How do they feel about people outside their "tribe" knowing this stuff? I know a lot of people who share pretty personal stuff on LJ but locked to friends, but I wouldn't claim to know them that well.

I also wonder how his behaviour might be different if he didn't know he was being watched.

Hit the nail on the head (2, Insightful)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936863)

How do they feel about people outside their "tribe" knowing this stuff? I know a lot of people who share pretty personal stuff on LJ but locked to friends, but I wouldn't claim to know them that well.

People have a very different emotional reaction between, "Oh, all my friends found out about it," and "Oh, everyone in town found out about it," and "Oh, crap, it's all over the internet and the news now. I will forever be known as 'the Noodle Guy'" (to quasi-steal from Calvin & Hobbes).

Some things you can live down because everybody knows you. Other things you can't because that's all most people know about you. It's the difference between having no privacy between peers and being infamous in the community.

Also, privacy gives people a chance to redeem themselves or start their lives over if things get really bad. When some incident becomes enshrined on the internet or in the news for all to find when searching for your name, your job prospects and love life can be ruined forever in a way that wasn't possible when you could just pack up and leave for somewhere where people didn't know all your past sins.

Privacy is not an anomaly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25936213)

If privacy is a recent phenomenon (arguable), then is it a coincidence that "global scale" governments are also a recent phenomenon?

For human society to be anything resembling healthy, governments must totally without privacy, and people must the right to privacy.

Privacy is about secret information, and secrets are a source of power. There must be a balance of power. We already know the result if there isn't, and the problem only gets worse with increasing technology.

Sorry, I'm not in any tribe nor in your village (1, Redundant)

CranberryKing (776846) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936225)

Now get the fuck off my lawn.

privacy not an anomaly (3, Insightful)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936227)

For most of human history, people have lived in small tribes where everything they did was known by everyone they knew

Bullshit.

First of all, "history" post-dates civilization. People have been gathering into villages, larger than small tribes, for longer than we've known how to write. So, no, we haven't lived in small tribes for most of human history. Most of us have been living in agricultural villages for all of human history - those few who still maintained a hunter-gatherer lifestyle didn't get recorded and are ahistorical.

Anyway. For most of human existence, to get privacy all you had to do was walk away a bit. If I wanted to have a private conversation with you, walking for twenty minutes out of the campsite or village would do it. And what went on in another hut or teepee was not your business; spying was non-trivial.

This idea that privacy is a temporary anomaly is a bullshit justification by lovers of a surveillance society.

Re:privacy not an anomaly (2, Funny)

pimpimpim (811140) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936313)

Yeah, the summary had several typos, it should have been:

"For most of MIT's history, MIT students have lived in small tribes where everything they did was known by everyone they knew"

Re:privacy not an anomaly (1)

BSAtHome (455370) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936787)

"For most of MIT's history, MIT students have lived in small tribes where everything they did was known by everyone they knew"

And because MIT students are geeks and nerds, the tribe's size is one. So, they do not know anybody. Therefore, they have a very private life.

Re:privacy not an anomaly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25936639)

This idea that privacy is a temporary anomaly

The Architect has not been able to eradicate this anomaly out of the equations of a perfect society. Now, go making the right choice, not the left. ;)

Re:privacy not an anomaly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25937001)

Ergo quid pro quo.

Re:privacy not an anomaly (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25936937)

Agriculture was discovered about 10,000 years ago. That is a generous estimate.

Human history is about 300,000 generations.

Most of that time was spent in foraging communities, much like the other modern apes of today. Some of it was spent as nomadic hunter gatherers, especially in the age of stone weapons.

Re:privacy not an anomaly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25937403)

[i] those few who still maintained a hunter-gatherer lifestyle didn't get recorded and are ahistorical.[/i]

American indians are ahistorical?

Bullshit. (5, Insightful)

Antlerbot (1419715) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936237)

Privacy may turn out to have become an anomaly.

Ridiculous. If this were true, why didn't everyone in those old-school villages live in the same big hut? Likewise with animal homes. As some poster above said, territoriality, and hence privacy, is inherent to all life above a certain intelligence threshold.

Though, as in all things, there are exceptions to prove the rule. Like dirty hippies.

I'd look at the exceptions a bit closer. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936507)

In those cases where they did all live in one big hut ... why did they choose that? What were their circumstances?

When those circumstances changed, did their choice of living space change?

I think that most of those situations came about because of a few circumstances.

#1. It's easier to heat one big hut with everyone in it during the winter.

#2. It's easier to defend one big hut from the enemy tribes.

#3. It's easier to re-build one big hut when the weather knocks it down.

And even in those cases, while it might have been one big hut, that hut was sectioned off into personal/family territories.

I call bullshit (-1, Flamebait)

D_Blackthorne (1412855) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936261)

"Privacy may turn out to have become an anomaly"

Hooray for anomalies, then; I'm an anomlie, you're an anomalie, don't you want to be an anomalie too? :p
If you say, "I've got nothing to hide!", then you're a moron and you get what you deserve. If you claim that "privacy isn't important", then you must be one of the assholes with something to gain from nosing into people's business, and you should be SHOT.
Come on, people, do you really want the government, corporations, and anybody ELSE who wants to know, to know your most personal things? How long would it be before someone decides they have a legitimate reason to know what sex positions you and your wife like best?
We're closer than we've ever been to living in a fucking police state, don't for one second let yourself think that it's OK!

Re:I call bullshit (-1, Offtopic)

flerchin (179012) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936385)

Oh for crying out loud. She likes missionary, then cowgirl. I usually like to finish with a little doggy style. BFD. Please don't shoot me.

Re:I call bullshit (2, Insightful)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936543)

I've got nothing to hide.

But the Government shouldn't be looking either.

Re:I call bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25936811)

If you claim that "privacy isn't important", then you must be one of the assholes with something to gain from nosing into people's business, and you should be SHOT.

Nice. False dichotomy followed up with an insistence that people who don't share your viewpoint should be killed. You are in every possible way 100% identical to those you claim to oppose. Just like them, you hate (and therefore fear) freedom.

And no, I'm not anti-privacy in the least, though you'll lie and claim that I am.

Not the same at all (2, Insightful)

fish (6585) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936269)

'For most of human history, people have lived in small tribes where everything they did was known by everyone they knew,'

Bad analogy. People in someone's physical neighbourhood would know what the person was doing. Go to another village, and the first village would not know. Take a would alone in the forest, and noone would know exactly where you'd been. Now we have an omniscient observer who knows everything we do all of the time, even if s/he is not physically around, or even unknown to us.

And even more dangerous, this flood of information is used to draw conclusions from...

-peter

Re:Not the same at all (2, Insightful)

db32 (862117) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937513)

Your use of words is interesting to me for a simple reason.

The religious right puts forward an omnipotent God that watches us everywhere we go and ultimately judges all of our actions and determines the state of our eternal soul. So they are already inherently conditioned to this big brother mentality. The part that I have a hard time following is they are also the ones that tend to be the biggest pushers for this kind of big brother society run by man. The conditioning part of it makes sense, but it seems to me by demanding it in their own society they are questioning their God's ability to watch/judge. This is actually pretty counter to the teachings they claim to uphold because it is pretty clear about the whole don't worry about what anyone else is up to because God will judge them.

It is amusing watching them try to work around that argument btw if you ever have that conversation. "So, what you are telling me is that you need the power to watch me and judge me because God can't?" What these people represent and what is actually in their little book they beat on are most often two very different things. For those of you above the intelligence level of "haha invisible sky wizard" mocking, you should flip through New Testement stuff (the basis of Christianity). In a nutshell the whole story is about an angry jewish kid who fights the legalistic approach to religion at the time and gets executed for it. That this spawned a new legalistic religion in his name is terribly ironic. There are some real gems in there that can be used to absolutely destroy fundamentalist arguments using their own "weapon". Getting them mad at sky wizard drivel isn't nearly as entertaining as watching them get stuck fighting the words of their own savior as documented in their own holy texts.

"In some sense we're becoming a global village." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25936275)

Thereby making George W. Bush the global village idiot! Come on you knew someone would say it!

Unlike the researchers, I have lived (3, Interesting)

Chicken_Kickers (1062164) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936281)

in a medium sized village during my youth. Maybe I am just generalizing based on my experience in this one village, but what they claim is a big exaggeration. Sure you will hear about who is going out with who or who is cheating on their husband or wife but you won't know how many phone calls someone makes a day or what channel he watches on TV or listens on the radio. There is an unwritten treshold of 'decency' where as long as what you do is not over this decency threshold, no one will take notice, hence the gossips about infidelity etc. So, no, we are not returning to norm with regards to privacy.

Re:Unlike the researchers, I have lived (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25936513)

but you won't know how many phone calls someone makes a day or what channel he watches on TV or listens on the radio. There is an unwritten treshold of 'decency' where as long as what you do is not over this decency threshold

I don't doubt that, but perhaps that's because these activities are so mundane and un-interesting that people don't want to take notice.

When people's movements are collected and tracked over long periods, though, patterns emerge, which can be much more titillating than seemingly innoculus movements.

But where should privacy start/stop? (2, Interesting)

mjensen (118105) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936295)

100 Students gave away their privacy to get a cell phone that probably isn't an open operating system.

All the talk is corporations need to keep their secrets, but the people don't need privacy.

Re:But where should privacy start/stop? (1)

ya really (1257084) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937215)

I'm hoping some only accepted the phone to reverse engineer it. Nothing like a free phone you have no worries about accidentally "bricking."

Can I personally accost the global village elder? (2, Insightful)

Angostura (703910) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936297)

'For most of human history, people have lived in small tribes where everything they did was known by everyone they knew,' Dr. Malone said. 'In some sense we're becoming a global village.

The metaphor is only really apt if the villagers are completely free to saunter over to the village elder's hut, in person, without hinderance - rap on his door say "Oi, why have you been peeping through my window you perve" and then poke him in the eye. I suspect that the White House, and equivalents around the world would not take kindly to this behaviour. Therefore the analogy fails.

Damn (1)

Angostura (703910) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936347)

Sorry about the failure to close the blockquote.

bait-n-switch (1)

Star Particle (1409451) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936299)

I would buy the exact same smartphone model at Best Browse, then return it the next day with the other phone given to me by the researchers.

Free phone... and some other sap gets monitored!

The problem is, it's not reciprocal (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25936301)

'For most of human history, people have lived in small tribes where everything they did was known by everyone they knew...' The key is 'everyone they knew'. That is, they knew everything about everyone who knew everything about them. With the 'global village', people I don't know can know everything about me; but I can't know everything about anyone else, including them. So, I don't know their motives or intentions with respect to the info they have about me. So, I don't want them having that info about me.

Hey, did you know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25936329)

that Dr. Malone masturbates while looking at a mirror? What about privacy now, good professor? Hmmmm?

Hey... (1)

Antlerbot (1419715) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936351)

What do you think it takes to jailbreak those phones?

Before Government (1)

longacre (1090157) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936391)

For most of human history, people have lived in small tribes where everything they did was known by everyone they knew...

Our tribal ancestors lived before the days of intense government and corporate information gathering. Had one of the villagers been an FBI agent or a Walmart VP of marketing, they might have acted quite differently

Re:Before Government (1)

quanticle (843097) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936557)

The other issue, as other posters above have pointed out, is reciprocity. In this study the researchers are taking data about the student's "private" lives, but are not giving back any data about themselves. This is quite unlike their "village" analogy, where, if you find out some private data about me, I have an opportunity to find out private data about you.

Talk about misunderstanding previous societies (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25936441)

'For most of human history, people have lived in small tribes where everything they did was known by everyone they knew,' Dr. Malone said. 'In some sense we're becoming a global village. Privacy may turn out to have become an anomaly.'"

Well, hats off to for completely misunderstanding previous societies.

Yes, before the telegraph we didn't have good comms. Messages took days, even weeks to be conveyed. Then they took a few minutes.

Now they are almost instant.

That is nothing to do with previous village societies where small groups of people would know everything about everyone else in the same small group.

The state still knew NOTHING about those people.
And industry and commerce and marketing groups and political pressure groups knew NOTHING about these people.

Its a totally different ball game. To compare the old "I know everyone in my street" mentality to global gropu associations is grossly ignorant. They are not comparable.

Therefore the privacy implications are completely different.

Stephen, can't be bothered to login.

Intelligence does not equal Common Sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25936483)

So, 100 college students have enough intelligence get into MIT, but these same 100 college students dont have enough common sense to realize/care they are giving up their privacy.

I expected more, for some reason, from those going to MIT.

Reminds me of a movie quote, "So this is how Democracy dies... to thunderous applause."

Re:Intelligence does not equal Common Sense (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25936895)

So you watched the 2008 election too?

What about the privacy of others? (3, Insightful)

quanticle (843097) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936593)

What measures are being taken to ensure that the privacy of others who communicate with these students isn't being compromised? Are they having the students tell everyone they communicate with, "Hey, I'm in this data gathering study, so everything you send to my phone is going to be collected for study?"

If they're not doing the above, how are the students any different from the informants employed by the East German STASI?

Here's the actual data logged. Play Big Brother (2, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936607)

You can download the entire data set [mit.edu] , which has had some data removed.

It's mostly cellular phone transactions. Your cellphone provider and NSA already have this data.

Quite the opposite (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936725)

It seems to me that the compromise between security and privacy has always been made. It seems reasonable that people formed village to increase security, thus hurting privacy. As villages got bigger, and not everyone was completely known, i.e. is was possible to do things that not the whole group new about, then added measures were added.

But privacy does fluctuate. One can imagine kids having the ability to venture to play whatever games kids play with no one the wiser. This was even possible 30 years ago, before parents started putting cameras in the kids rooms. On can imagine reading a book and no one knew you ever read it, which changed when library records become public information. Thinking this is a recent innovation, even in evolutionary terms, is,to me, naive.

The argument now is really what is the marginal benefit of privacy, or, to put another way, are you willing to go onto big brother, have all your movements, nude body, and sex acts, filmed for the possibility of a prize and 5 minutes of fame. Maybe privacy is not worth even that much.

Huge difference (3, Insightful)

g2devi (898503) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936843)

> For most of human history, people have lived in small tribes where everything they did was known by everyone they knew,'
> Dr. Malone said. 'In some sense we're becoming a global village. Privacy may turn out to have become an anomaly.

There's huge difference. In the tribal setting, a small group of people knew everything about each other, but that small group of people had to deal with the consequences of misusing that trust because they lived and died based on the strength of their community.

In the global village, people are numbers with attributes associated with them. You're free to misuse this lack of privacy without bearing the consequences or even seeing the faces of the people whose lives you hurt or even destroy.

An important thing to remember about privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25936859)

I can't remember who it was who said, "Privacy is dead, get over it". I have come to believe this is true (I didn't say I like that fact, however; it's just a reality) Having said that, I think that the whole debate over privacy as it is usually framed misses an important point. It's not what information you have that's important; it's what you choose to do about it. If the FBI keeps a secret dossier on me, that's not necessarily bad. If they use it to prevent me from flying or freeze my accounts because the agent assigned to my case disagrees with my political views, that's different. Abuse of information always should be punished.

Given that there's so little privacy around, why not also require those who collect information to leave an audit trail indicating from where they received the information and to whom they gave it?

Disingenuous misleading bull**** (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936975)

'For most of human history, people have lived in small tribes where everything they did was known by everyone they knew,' Dr. Malone said. 'In some sense we're becoming a global village. Privacy may turn out to have become an anomaly.'

Dr. Malone can certainly rationalize with the best of them, can't he? He's attempting to equate two radically different states:

  • EVERYONE in a collective having access to full knowledge of the activities of everyone else; and
  • A SMALL GREEDY MINORITY having exclusive full knowledge of the activities of everyone.

The former sounds rather socialistic, while the latter screams "Big Brother".

Dr. Malone is a corporate Big Brother sell-out trying desperately to justify his sell-out-ishness for the sake of his own fame and fortune.

BTW, as an aside, have you heard about the now-ubiquitous cameras in the U.K. and the accusations that it creates a Big Brother environment, similar to the latter state above? I have a solution to morph that into the former: the U.K. should make the output of all the cameras available to EVERYONE via the 'Net, and take away law enforcement's exclusive privilege to them; law enforcement then takes action when a CITIZEN reports something they are observing. It would be like a local/regional/global Neighborhood Watch, Internet Age style.

It's not the technology that is bad: it's who employs it and how. I have no problem with an absence of "privacy", as long as it's not a lop-sided absence that benefits some at the expense of others. When corporate CEOs are willing to share all THEIR private activities with me and everyone else, then I'll consider allowing them insider knowledge of what I'm on about.

cracker jack PhD (4, Insightful)

Eil (82413) | more than 5 years ago | (#25936989)

Dr. Malone said. 'In some sense we're becoming a global village. Privacy may turn out to have become an anomaly.'"

How do you get to be a doctor by spewing out crap like this? Far from actual justification, it's quite a poor analogy, even on Slashdot.

If you were to go back in time and join a tribal village, everyone else may know everything you do, but you also know everything they do. However in today's world, corporations and governments want to know everything about the populace but keep their own activities a closely-guarded secret.

In tribal communities, knowledge of others' activities is balanced. In "civilized society," the distribution of knowledge (not to mention money and power) is extremely lopsided. Those in power want to keep it that way. If everyone knew about all of their activities, they wouldn't be able to retain their power for very long.

I would actually be in favor of a surveillance state if (and *only* if) the camera points both ways. They get to see what goes on through cameras on our streets and outside every home and we get to see everything that goes on around every police car and inside every government meeting. But since that's never going to happen, the only sensible thing to do is fight for no cameras at all, losing battle though it may be.

Re:cracker jack PhD (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937399)

How do you get to be a doctor by spewing out crap like this?

I can think of two scenarios:

1) He is unaware of how dumb his statement is, and thus he is evidence that college degrees are mere club cards, not any indiction of a quality education.

2) He is fully aware of how dumb his statement is, and thus is simply evil. Willing to hurt an untold number of people for his own short term gain.

Exhibitionists? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937043)

Maybe those 100 just were a bit of exhibitionists.

I'd be filming me jacking off and making Goatse-like photos or use it as a "toilet cam" and send all this to a fake or prank contacts all day long, if I knew someone had to watch me and I would get a free and expensive electronics device for it to tinker with. ;)

As a software developer I can use it test my mobile phone software on it. And for the real real calls, I'd use my old mobile phone.

But maybe I'm just a bit evil and sexually dirty sometimes. O:-)

Researcher's arguments are specious. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25937047)

For most of human history, people have lived in small tribes where everything they did was known by everyone they knew.

I have been reading a book on Irish history. Apparently, so much as looking into someone's house required a payment of their honor price (eraic). IIRC that's the same as if you were to kill them, or at least a serious crime. This is revisionism.

Awesome but why stop there? (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937087)

Why not send out experimental drugs for me to try for merchandise based on open access to my complete DNA code. Why not stake the cops out to look for crimes I MIGHT commit based on all my other behaviors?

IMO: Activity/Process mining, not Personal Privacy (1)

OldHawk777 (19923) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937237)

Data Collection of unknown, implicit, and/or explicit activities/processes without theft/collection of personal identity/data is not an invasion of Personal Privacy.

Discovery, collection, aggregation, analysis... of unknown, implicit, and/or explicit activities/processes and relationships is the technology equivalent of creating a yellow-pages phone book, travel guides, college science and engineering text books, creating an organizational chart.... Knowing something is done is not the same as knowing someone (by name/ID) did something.

I agree, anything like a white-pages phone book would be an invasion of privacy.

Knowing by personal name/ID while tracking/collecting unknown, implicit, and/or explicit activities/processes will always be an invasion of "reasonable to expect personal privacy".

IOW/IMO: What should require a legal warrant is the question. If there is a personal privacy invasion, then put the SOBs in jail and shut down the business with court orders.

Also IMO, If enemy/crime/corruption... discovery... of ... activities/processes and relationships is required by the Government/People; AND racial/cultural and individuals' names/information are not the basis for initiating crime/corruption... discovery, then use of the unbiased discovered information/data about a specific corporatist, politician, clergy, gangster... criminal activities/processes and relationships should (as always) be usable for grand jury reviews and legal warrants allowing further investigation of the individuals discovered by applied technology crime investigation. IOW: Prove a crime was/is being committed, and then prove (+forensics) who done it is the same old flat-foot/field agent method that has always been legal and Constitutional. It ain't entrapment and it ain't invasion of privacy.

Does this apply... (1)

javilon (99157) | more than 5 years ago | (#25937441)

Does this apply to politicians, wealthy people and corporations?

What I fear is that for regular people there will be no privacy but government, corporations and wealthy people will keep working in secrecy and that is too big an asymmetry. They would know everything about us and we would now nothing relevant about them. This would allow them to control our lives completely.

If there is going to be no privacy, lets start with full transparency from government actions, and that means everything, and full disclosure of every financial transaction from wealthy individuals and corporations. And no, terrorism is not a excuse to keep important information from taxpayers.

If they have nothing to hide, they shouldn't mind. Isn't that what they say to us?

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