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"Online Privacy Alliance" Claims Privacy Too Expensive

michael posted more than 13 years ago | from the pre-emptive-strike dept.

Privacy 126

Non-Newtonian Fluid writes: "An industry group headed by the usual suspects (Microsoft, AOL, Sun, AT&T, etc), just released four industry-funded studies that claim privacy is just too darn expensive, so why bother? They seem to want to kill any privacy legislation before it can get off the ground. Interestingly enough (though not surprising), they also seem to be working with the Direct Marketing Association on this." Scott McNealy, working hard to make sure we get over it. I should probably also mention that since the new health privacy regulations have been delayed (possibly indefinitely), the USA is firmly committed to remaining the industrial nation with the least privacy protection.

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What about France? (2)

Fjord (99230) | more than 13 years ago | (#366725)

Where personal encryption is illegal?

I'll sell you my privacy for $19.99 (1)

SpanishInquisition (127269) | more than 13 years ago | (#366726)

but no refund

what if the shoe is on the other foot? (2)

elmegil (12001) | more than 13 years ago | (#366727)

I wonder what would happen if we started telling these CEO's details about their medical history, or their web visits, how long they would resist privacy legislation....

Re:What about France? (3)

jd (1658) | more than 13 years ago | (#366728)

That law has since been dropped. Interestingly, because it, too, was too expensive. :)

Darned if you do, knitted if you don't.

Re:What about France? (4)

abischof (255) | more than 13 years ago | (#366729)

That is no longer the case [] in France -- crypto up to 128 bits is now allowed (IIRC).

Alex Bischoff

And voiding privacy too lucrative... (1)

Brento (26177) | more than 13 years ago | (#366730)

By inference, you can read between the lines and surmise that the money to be made off personal privacy is simply too lucrative to ignore. When companies like go out of business, the customer list is just one of the assets that creditors drool over.

Get me a baggy.... (2)

PorcelainLabrador (321065) | more than 13 years ago | (#366731)

"..the group Monday went public with four industry-funded studies asserting that privacy legislation would cost consumers billions of dollars annually." and have "undertaken a campaign to nip Internet-privacy legislation in the bud"

So, let me get this straight. A big group of companies is saying that the reason they don't want privacy regulations, is that it would hurt the consumers?? Excuse me while I cough up a lung.

When was the last time that these companies stood for consumer's rights? Let's not forget that AT&T currently has a 40% stake in the cable TV market, and I'm sure would love to grab as much info about consumers from Digital TV as possible.

More of the same (1)

ReconRich (64368) | more than 13 years ago | (#366732)

As soon as I saw that the DMA was involved I knew this was worthless. Remember that this is an institution whose sole existence involves acquiring information about people, so they can sell stuff nobody wants. Unfortunately, here in the USA, if people are making money, it must be OK. The DMA is an institution which produces nothing, is annoying as Hell, and has taken advantage of a lot of people. And now they're trying tell me that its just too expensive for them to NOT know all about me ? Please.

-- Rich

I can see this (2)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 13 years ago | (#366733)

After all, effective privacy would ruin their economic model for cheap and easy money selling out their friends and neighbors.


People moan about morality being outdated, and then they run into something like this, an utter disrespect for the rights of others.

There is not that much distance between this and outright thievery, looting, and pillaging, and plundering. All it takes is a little less respect for others. That's all.

Re:What about France? (1)

job0 (134689) | more than 13 years ago | (#366734)

What re u getting at? Being able to encrpyt stuff on your pc dosen't mean that your privacy is protected does it?

Disgusting, but unsurprising. (2)

RareHeintz (244414) | more than 13 years ago | (#366735)

I'd like to take this opportunity to urge all the U.S.-ian readers of /. to write their legislators about privacy legislation. Since it's now been made clear that the big players in the industry are actively against it (no matter how much lip service they give to the idea of privacy), we can bet they'll be spending plenty of money for either our legslators' silence, or (more likely) some legislative fig leaf that they can point to as an example of how tightly they're "regulated".

Keep it up, y'all.

- B

Legally enforced privacy? (1)

Ronin X (121414) | more than 13 years ago | (#366736)

Led by the Online Privacy Alliance in Washington, the loosely organized campaign is attacking legislative proposals on three fronts: identifying expensive regulatory burdens, raising questions about how any U.S. Internet law would apply to non-Internet industries, and assuring lawmakers that privacy is best guarded by new technology, not new laws.

On a certain level, I have to agree with this. What we need is an informed consumer base able to make decisions with the knowledge of what privacy is being traded for what benefit. Having a mish-mash of laws to 'protect' us only confuses matters and sends MegaCorps scrambling for loopholes, which they are adept at exploiting.

Privacy should be based on technology and an infrastructure that supports it. The problem occurs when the same MegaCorp writing the software and influencing the infrastructure has a vested interest in using personal private information.

Indiana University Professor.... (1)

PorcelainLabrador (321065) | more than 13 years ago | (#366737)

Fred H. Cate, head of Indiana University's Information Law and Commerce Institute and a critic of new privacy laws, said the overall financial impact of privacy protections on all of the U.S. economy would be "in the trillions."

Can someone go and smack this guy please. Honestly, I know there are people from IU around here... Does this guy do a lot of LSD?

Imagine the future - I regard this as inevitable. (5)

euroderf (47) | more than 13 years ago | (#366738)

2050 AD:

Privacy is a thing of the past. Everybody can freely find out all details about everybody else - past relationships, earnings, educational achievements, you name it it is just a short search away. The most amazing thing of all is that the people of this time like this state of affairs.

Imagine, the honesty in society. You can check up on prospective dates. Crime is incredibally low in this environment.

Society has become transparent. 'Privacy' is regarded as an outdated and rather curious concept, and everyone is of the opinion that the lack of privacy is a good thing for society as a whole - it engenders honesty.

Is this the future? I think it may well be. I can see that attitudes like this are becoming more and more common - my teenage neice already searches google for information on people she knows.

There is a case for saying that the lack of privacy leads to a transparent and crime free society, but there is a problem - corporations.

I think that the lack of privacy could well be abused by powerful corporations, this is the bugbear we must avoid.

I think that the EU is showing the way forward here, by standing against Corporations where America will not.

I must admit I am scared by the possibilities of this future, but I think it will happen.

Re:what if the shoe is on the other foot? (2)

Brento (26177) | more than 13 years ago | (#366739)

I wonder what would happen if we started telling these CEO's details about their medical history, or their web visits, how long they would resist privacy legislation....

I bet they wouldn't resist it at all - not because they don't mind the privacy intrusion (they would) but because the money they stand to make is so much greater than the money you or I stand to make.

For example, if I was a multimilliondollar CEO, I'd be perfectly fine with the fact that I lived a public life under public scrutiny. That's one of the drawbacks that comes with making the big bucks. However, I don't make six figures, and I'm certainly not a public figure, so I don't accept a lack of privacy as part of my job duties.

I'm not saying Princess Di deserved to get followed by papar^M^M^M^Mpappar^M^M^M photographers, but in this particular case, I'm sure these guys are all expecting someone to violate their privacy sooner or later. Bill Gates got one of his credit card numbers stolen a while back, and you didn't hear him whining about personal privacy. Stuff happens.

You gotta love it (3)

CaptainZapp (182233) | more than 13 years ago | (#366740)

"I fundamentally object to carving out the Internet. Let's not single out and attack the medium,"

Except of course, if something on the internet is happening, which prevents it from turning into how we see it.

Namely those terrorists, who want to keep us from turning the Internet into a huge Cable Television thingie and a gigantic technicolor shopping mall, generation Bazillions of $$$.

The studies published Monday conclude that proposals to limit companies from sharing or selling customer information without permission would cost 90 of the largest financial institutions $17 billion a year of added expenses, and would result in a $1 billion "information tax" on consumers through costs tacked onto products from catalogs and Internet retailers.

Yeah right, of course those companies have the right to waste my time, by spamming me by every available means and at my expense.

What's really worrysome is that given enough money, those jokers are actually able to turn this into a repectable organisation with near-official status. See the BSA.

Re:Get me a baggy.... (1)

cavemanf16 (303184) | more than 13 years ago | (#366741)

Exactly. I especially like the fact that this psuedo-study was performed by some of the worst performers in the privacy arena today. Microsoft built one of the least secure email programs (Outlook), AT&T can't seem to stop telemarketing me, Sun wants to make companies 'rent' software over the internet (sure, lots of privacy there), and AOL/TimeWarner are the biggest conglomerate media company ever in America.

I think the reason they did this study was to show to the politicians just how much money they could skim off of consumers in a farce to 'protect our privacy'. Hmmm, I'll bet some of that money will find its way into some deep political pockets.

Re:I can see this (2)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 13 years ago | (#366742)

What we should really do is investigate and expose all of the personal information of Mr. Scott McNealy.

After all, he has said there is no such thing as privacy, and we should get over it. Well, we should give him a taste of what that really means.

Now this is just a fantasy, a wild opinion, but it is interesting as an educational exercise. It might be a very effective way to handle a lot of these jokers who want to pry into every one else's lives, but who would be very protective of their own privacy.

Re:Imagine the future - I regard this as inevitabl (4)

Brento (26177) | more than 13 years ago | (#366743)

Imagine, the honesty in society. You can check up on prospective dates. Crime is incredibally low in this environment.

That giant scream you just heard was the collective noise of every woman who's ever been stalked. If we could all suddenly get an unlimited amount of data on anyone we chose, Natalie Portman's every move would be stalked by thousands of drooling trolls. Do you see that as a good thing? A reduction in crime? Me, I don't.

It looks like it is the other way round (1)

ishrat (235467) | more than 13 years ago | (#366744)

E-mail encryption use is low despite potential for snooping. Here [] is Kehoe who has tried to persuade friends to install the free software, too, but they couldn't be bothered.

Re:what if the shoe is on the other foot? (1)

Ronin X (121414) | more than 13 years ago | (#366745)

An interesting example of just this is detailed on [] where some ICQ logs of eFront's CEO were nabbed and posted by a disgruntled employee. He was discussing his plans to screw affiliates....

This just in: (5)

kyz (225372) | more than 13 years ago | (#366746)

"Hospital consortium" claims cost of saving people is "too expensive", points at rising costs of treatment. Recommends against seeking medical advice for illnesses, advises killing oneself now to lower hospital expenditure.

The reality though... (4)

HiQ (159108) | more than 13 years ago | (#366747)

I don't know how privacy regulations are in the USA, but I do know we have privacy laws here in the Netherlands. If they actually *work* is a completely different story. Companies *must* give you insight in data they haven on you, but in reality it is almost impossible to track down what information the do have on you. I have tried this with a few companies: I was constantly being put on hold, talked with a lot of different people, and nobody knew anything. One company could tell me that they regularly bought personal data from 'another' company, but they couldn't which one. So you can have all the laws and regulations thath you want, but what companies do with your information is quite something else!

Re:I'll sell you my privacy for $19.99 (4)

Brento (26177) | more than 13 years ago | (#366748)

That was the general idea behind free ISPs, actually, and your price was right on target. For the equivalent of $19.99 per month, you lost all privacy of internet surfing. The company knew where you went, what you bought, who you e-mailed, you name it. You weren't alone in being willing to sell out.

Me, I was holding out for $40, the free DSL [] , but when it finally became available in my area, I'd wised up.

Privacy is only 50U$D /year (1)

chris613 (237882) | more than 13 years ago | (#366749)

By far one of the most interesting services I've seen in the privacy industry of late has to be zeroknowledge systems (

They have a distributed-trust network of anonimizing routers. All your traffic is layered in a multi-level encrypted route ball and is spit onto the internet once it has been decrypted by each hop on the way.

The windows version comes with a decent personal firewall, and the linux version is a kernel module and a GTK based client program. It intercepts all network communications at the socket layer and disallows any traffic generated by the user running the client that isn't to/from the freeom network. Very cool.

Re:The reality though... (1)

HiQ (159108) | more than 13 years ago | (#366750)

Wow, forgot to preview, and what do you know: I'm the typo king of the world!

Microsoft vs A. Loon, 2005 (4)

jd (1658) | more than 13 years ago | (#366751)

A. Loon's Lawyer: If it pleases your honour, I wish to submit as evidence Bill Gates' credit card details, mental health reports, school records and favourite color, along with video evidence of nocturnal activities.

Judge (skeptical, but interested in that video): Are these -really- relevent to the case? They seem very intrusive.

Lawyer: Your honor, privacy was deemed too expensive, by Congress, in 2001. I am merely trying to save this court an unnecessary financial burden.

Microsoft's Lawyer: Ummmm, when we said "too expensive", we did not mean "too expensive". We were misquoted.

law will make it a even field (1)

Big Torque (196609) | more than 13 years ago | (#366752)

This is not a good reason. Microsoft and other big companies would want to make expensive things like this law because they can afford it and small upstarts can't. This would make it even easier to stop competition. The real reason is that privacy is not really expensive, it just gets in their way of having no government control once again it about there power not the consumers interest. Next they will say that security is too expensive so let the hackers have there way with you. This is bullshit. Make it law and they will do it with little complaint or trouble once everyone else needs to do it too.

This should scare you (1)

java_sucks (197921) | more than 13 years ago | (#366753)

Not to be an alarmist, or a paranoid freak, but we need to look at the big picture here.

1) What do we know about big giant corporations?
They are ultimatly concerned with growing their revenues, this is usually at the expense of the truth, or privacy, or "fair play."

2) What is the trend among big business today?
Mega-merger. The big boys keep merging and forming even bigger corporations. AOL-Time Warner anybody? This trend will continue too. What's the joke... in a few years we will only have 3 or 4 companies.. Sony, IBM, MS, GM...

3) Who will be able to protect us in the future when these giant companies, with gross amounts of money, want to track us like a dog?

What kind of legislation? (1)

Nick Arnett (39349) | more than 13 years ago | (#366754)

It seems quite likely that *stupid* privacy legislation would carry a huge, unnecessary price tag. So what kind of legislation is appropriate? How much privacy can be achieved with technology alone, without any change in current law?

Considering the nature of the Internet, isn't it possible to achieve a high level of privacy without new laws? What kind of laws would smooth the way for technology-based solutions?


Actual privacy laws? (1)

Dutchy (312061) | more than 13 years ago | (#366755)

Just out of curiosity, is anyone going to actually comment on specific privacy laws, or just spout off knee-jerk reactions to The Man putting the little guy down?

They are IS too expensive... (4)

BillyGoatThree (324006) | more than 13 years ago | (#366756)

...for THEM.

Consider: Corporations now make money using data that belongs to you (phone number, ssn, number of children, etc). They either make this money directly (by selling it to advertisers) or indirectly (by using it themselves in "targetted advertising", etc). Privacy laws stop them from making this money.

But it gets worse than that: Really STRICT privacy laws actually COST them money. They'd have to have compliance officers, regulatory reports, privacy consultants, policy creators/enforcers, etc.

Imagine YOU were a company that was making, say, $1,000,000/year on private information. Then a law is passed and you are looking at paying OUT $100,000/year instead. You'd be pretty pissed, wouldn't you?

NOTE I'm not saying that we should just bend over and let the corps give us the shaft, however. I'm just saying that anyone who didn't see this coming must have fallen off the turnip truck recently. The only antidote to lobbying is MORE lobbying. Call or write you congresscritters and tell them how YOU (not your cable or phone company) feel about privacy. It would probably also help to call the companies in question, but that should be a second step, not a first one.

Re:You gotta love it (1)

O2n (325189) | more than 13 years ago | (#366757)

Speaking of which, The money spent to produce the four studies underscores the importance the industry attaches to the issue. This isn't included in the mentioned "information tax", is it? It's taken right out of their profits ... not.

Re:Imagine the future - I regard this as inevitabl (2)

hey! (33014) | more than 13 years ago | (#366758)

Society has become transparent. 'Privacy' is regarded as an outdated and rather curious concept, and everyone is of the opinion that the lack of privacy is a good thing for society as a whole - it engenders honesty.

This might not be such a bad thing, if everyone were on an equal footing. But that is unlikely. Some people will benefit from this tremendously and others only indirectly if at all.

Also, a shift to a transparent society is one that people will simply not be able to opt out of.

The end of privacy will be a non-voluntary transaction which benefits one side only. That could be a reasonable definition of the word "robbery".

Grocery cards? (2)

abischof (255) | more than 13 years ago | (#366759)

On a related topic, what is The Right Thing to do with those grocery cards, such as Giant's "Bonus" Card or Safeway's "Safeway Club" card? As someone who values his privacy, I see three alternatives:
  • Lie on the application. This worked nicely when I needed a Kroger card (Blacksburg Kroger, for those who are curious), and the sales-droid was none the wiser. If you choose to use this technique, I'd recommend writing an at-least-plausible address. And, of course, be sure to check the "don't mail me" checkbox, as returned mail would be a dead giveaway ;).
  • Don't shop there. This seems to be the Most Pure solution, from a cypherpunk point of view. Then again, it could be expensive, if it means missing out on sales. Pleasantly, there's at least one grocer near me (Shopper's Food Warehouse) that doesn't yet require a grocery card to get the sale prices.
  • Trade cards / make fake cards. I read a webpage about some cypherpunks creating their own barcodes (?), but dammit if I can't find the link at the moment. I also read on that page that apparently cypherpunks regularly trade supermarket cards at their meetings. This approach seems to have the dual benefits of both get-the-sales-prices and mess-with-the-supermarkets. Unfortunately, it seems to be the case that there aren't any cypherpunk meetings near me (DC metro area), AFAIK.
So, any ideas?

Alex Bischoff

Democracy in action (2)

w00ly_mammoth (205173) | more than 13 years ago | (#366760)

"There is a real fear that some politician riding his horse is going to say, 'I'm going to tell my constituents that I'm protecting their privacy,' " said Michael Turner of the Information Services Executive Council

Imagine that. A politician trying to protect his constituents....

Wait, this can be done better.

Senator's sysadmin: "We get signal!"

Senator: "Main screen turn on."

Lobbyist: "How are you gentlemen...all your privacy are belong to us!"

Lobbyist: "You have no time to ride your horse. Make your time."

Senator: "What you say!!"

Now, that's more like it. :)


A while back... (2)

leviramsey (248057) | more than 13 years ago | (#366761)

I submitted this article [] to Slashdot. This sort of plays right into that topic. View your privacy as an asset of yours, one that can be sold or bartered. In other words, if you want to buy something without having your privacy violated (e.g. the store keeping an entry for you in their records) be prepared to pay extra.

What I am essentially saying is that you can view receiving spam from Amazon with their recommendations, and having them know what you buy, is part of the price that you paid for that book (or CD, etc.). If Amazon isn't willing to accept this deal, then I'm sure that some other e-tailer will.

For instance, you can use NetZero et al. You're paying for internet access, but instead of paying in cash, you're paying in privacy. Whereas, should you go to a regular ISP, you pay more cash, but less privacy (a good ISP only logs stuff that's directly related to QoS; limiting the number of ICMP packets that can be sent from one account to, say 1 per 20 seconds, or so is a good idea, imho).

You are too late... (1)

BillyGoatThree (324006) | more than 13 years ago | (#366762)

...this book has already been written. The Light Of Other Days [] by Clarke and Baxter. Pretty good book, although the end is lame with a capital "suck".

Short synopsis for the lazy: Tech breakthrough allows cheap devices to create wormholes that into any location at any time. So you can spy on what your neighbor is doing or what your husband said yesterday.

Re:You gotta love it (1)

CaptainZapp (182233) | more than 13 years ago | (#366763)

It's taken right out of their profits ...

Yes, of course. This is because they are so concerned about our well-being.

Oh, and since I have the chance to educate you, never forget that the earth is flat and pigs can fly...

Circular arguments (1)

jayfoo2 (170671) | more than 13 years ago | (#366764)

What I really object to is statements like 'we shouldn't impose any regulation on the Internet that we don't have in meatspace'.

Actually I think that argument makes a lot of sense, however they are using it to get the wrong conclusion.

They are saying that because it's ok (or at least legal) to do this offline, it should be legal to do it online.

Of course the other logical argument would be that it should be illegal regardless. How come none of these people make that argument? I wonder....

Privacy you pay for (3)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 13 years ago | (#366765)

Anybody can have as much privacy as he/she is willing to shell out for. You can buy things on-line, it's cheaper but you give out your information, such as your name, address, credit card numbers etc. You can buy things in a usual store, it'll probably be more expensive, don't use credit card, only use cash, don't feel in any customer service cards, don't bother with warranty and at least you will have more and better control of your financial information, your name and address info. Buy yourself a power generator and your energy company will not know anything about you. Dig your own well, you won't have to be worried about your water supplier selling your personal info. Don't use banks, whatsoever and don't have any credit cards, don't buy a cell phone, don't use a computer that is connected to any network (only use anonymous connections from libraries.) Only work for cash and never ever file tax returns. Never buy any property, only rent space for cash (then you don't have to bother with the electric line and your water supplier.) Keep all your information with you at all times. Do not own a vehicle or a driver's license.

Then you are really entitled to talk about privacy, but you wouldn't want to, because it will disclose the important information about your current location and your name.

Re:Imagine the future - I regard this as inevitabl (2)

wunderhorn1 (114559) | more than 13 years ago | (#366766)

to quote the great Tatsuya Ishida [] :

I knew this dude from Metropolis
Who's mightier than all of us
The villains they hate him,
The media chase him
And that's why he stays anonymous!

This utopian "lack of privacy" does not "engender honesty" any more than the conditioning of Alex in Anthony Burgess's Clockwork Orange engendered in him lawfulness, kindness or respect for his fellow man. The same way The Brave New World engendered contentment in Bernard Marx.

I don't even think your scenario is that accurate. Not without some Huxleyan conditioning.
Any sociologist will tell you that privacy is a basic human need. Haven't you ever wanted to "just get away from it all"??

Just Like Communism Reduced Crime in Russia (2)

markt4 (84886) | more than 13 years ago | (#366767)

Speculating that "transparancy" will reduce crime is like positing that communism should reduce theft. It is incredibly nieve. Looking at communism from an "academic" or theoretical standpoint, it would be easy to say that since everyone shares in the product of each other's labor and resources are allocated according to need, there would be no need to steal, so theft would be non-existant. It didn't work out quite that way in the real world though did it?

Transparency would only work in theoretical ideal world where everyone's inforamation was available equally and powerful elites could not choose to share or not share at their desire. Not very likely in the real world.

Its not the corporations.... (1)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 13 years ago | (#366768)

>I think that the lack of privacy could well be abused by powerful corporations,

Why worry about large corporations? All they want you to do is to buy things and not harm you.

What I'm afraid are individuals and informal groups who want to do harm to me because of my past. They could look up my sexual orientation, the type of pr0n sites I prefer or my religous background.

Except that privacy costs nothing... (3)

Mikiso (178087) | more than 13 years ago | (#366769)

The real problem (at least in the corporate eye) is that they can't MAKE money on privacy. Think about all the demographics they can sell by collecting your information. Actually storing all of that into a database costs money, be in in hard drive space, computer power, or electricity. If it wasn't collected, stored, and processed, they wouldn't spend a dime.

But a corporate funded "study" is like a comercial saying "eggs are good for you" being paid for by the Egg Farmers of America or a "study" paid by M$ stating that "yup. windows is the best." Really.

Now LACK of privacy costs a lot. It costs the victims everything. And the next time someone gets turned down for a job because they smoked a joint 14 years ago or because their brother's wife's cousin was arrested for writing a computer virus, then maybe people will start to realize privacy isn't just about hiding crime, its about protect ourselves being victimized.

Take the card... (1)

Wiggin (97119) | more than 13 years ago | (#366770)

but don't fill out the application. it worked for me a couple times at a grocery store near where i live. They were in a hurry, i asked for a card. They gave me the card and told me to bring the application back on my next visit. I never brang the application back, and the card still works.

although if they really want to they can always tie it to my credit card... same as any other store.

Open source? (2)

interactive_civilian (205158) | more than 13 years ago | (#366771)


If these companies (AOL, Microsoft, Sun, etc)are so concerned about not keeping things "under wraps" or "private" if you will, then why don't they open up all of the source code of all of their major software for everyone to see?

Surely, this would be an excellent gesture of their faith in the idea that Privacy (and keeping secrets) hurts consumers.


Re:wb Bob (1)

Bob Abooey (224634) | more than 13 years ago | (#366772)

Actually, no. I suggest you carry on with the benefit concert, Peter Frampton is fine, see if maybe Tiffany and Metallica are available too. We need to get the word out about how it's bad to try to oppress freedom of speech. In fact, I risk being on topic for once as this story is about freedom of speech, but here goes.

We all learned the story about how Pablo Cruise was imprisoned in 1802 in Spain because he spoke out about the oppression of the Spanish government. We know that Pablo spent 20 years of his life in prison fighting that fight. We also remember back to the early 1900's when a little known man named Bob Segar who ran a printing press was put in jail for 10 years because he stood up for freedom of speech. These are some of the lessons we learned about in grade school as we were growing up, but they don't tell the whole tale. They don't tell about a man from Nicarauga named Ted Nugent who was shot by the federalies because he yelled the truth from the top of buildings...Or the thousands of others who have given their lives for freedom...

So yes, please do continue on and get the word out about how Bob Abooey has been oppressed on Slashdot and had his freedoms taken away from. THE TRUTH MUST GET OUT ! Say, by the way, do these pants make my butt look big?


Re:A while back... (2)

SecurityGuy (217807) | more than 13 years ago | (#366773)

What I am essentially saying is that you can view receiving spam from Amazon with their recommendations, and having them know what you buy, is part of the price that you paid for that book (or CD, etc.). If Amazon isn't willing to accept this deal, then I'm sure that some other e-tailer will.
Not necessarily. Try buying prescription medicines without signing a piece of paper giving them rights to distribute your data to someone who doesn't need it. Most businesses cater to "most" customers. Most customers don't even know they should care about their privacy. Most customers don't even read what they sign. When the set of all businesses in a given market is a small number, most quickly becomes all. All major long distance companies I've dealt with have abysmal customer service. They don't have to do better because there's nowhere else to go unless you want to try your luck with a no-name company, and they know most of us won't do that. All e-tailers can and probably will invade your privacy because you'll shortly have nowhere left to turn. Fight for your privacy now while you still have privacy left to fight for.

Individual Responsibility (2)

Farq Fenderson (135583) | more than 13 years ago | (#366774)

Personal privacy is the responsibility of the individual, it's that simple. There's no universal rule that gives people the right to privacy, although it's something we obviously aspire to have.

In essence, privacy should, or perhaps has, beceome a technology. It should be treated like one. This, however is difficult because companies and organizations have been given (undue) priveledges that interefere with the ability of people to choose the privacy that they want. Also, regulations and concerns of "national security" have added to the availabilty of privacy.

Sometimes it's in the form of monopolies, or centralized government systems (like hospitals, and even citizenship.)

Clearly, though, membership in society generally involves some compromise of privacy.

So, perfect privacy is unattainable, but that which we do have is truely up to ourselves to maintain.


William Safire (1)

grappler (14976) | more than 13 years ago | (#366775)

Check out William Safire's column in today's paper. I couldn't have put it better myself.


Earth (3)

wiredog (43288) | more than 13 years ago | (#366776)

Earth, by David Brin, imagines exactly this future. Lots of people carry video cameras which stream live to the web. People who want privacy are regarded as strange, and possibly dangerous. Switzerland has gotten nuked for refusing to reveal the account information of its bank customers. Lots of other stuff in there as well. Good book.

health privacy regs (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#366777)

Just a quick note that the health privacy regs (HIPPA) are going to take effect. Some of the regulations became law in Feb., the rest become law ~ Easter. (The reason for the delay in the second set is some clerk forgot to print them in the federal register before Clinton left office, so it was done ~ mid Jan, and the regulations become law 90 days after publication) Companies then have 2 years after the effective date to become compliant, or they (and the people in the organization that broke the law or should have known about policies not being followed) can be held financially and criminally liable.

Sound like the Sec Argument... (2)

Fatal0E (230910) | more than 13 years ago | (#366778)

from not too long ago. PHB's complained that security is too costly to invest the time and money in because it doesnt realize a tangible return. It wasnt until everyone got hacked that they realized how backwards their thinking was. Once the Thought Police come a knockin people will realize what they lost.

It wont be until a majority of people, of which the /. readership certainly isnt, realize just what their privacy really means. Until then "The Big Four" are rightly trying to debunk user privacy. Why should they put forth the effort if no one perceptively cares?
"Me Ted"

Make money fast! Sell your friends out! (2)

bahtama (252146) | more than 13 years ago | (#366779)

If everyone is REALLY serious about privacy, then STOP buying products from companies that will sell you out. Although, with mergers and all that sometimes you can't always know who will have your info in the end. But, you can at least try and buy from companies you trust.

I think a nice idea would be a anonymous way to buy stuff online. But the reason govt and businesses don't like anonymous people running around is because of the few that abuse that system. The swiss banking system is great, but when you have the Russian Mafia holding their money in it, then you need to change some regulations. The person on Ebay who gets ripped off isn't going to be happy with privacy and anonymous sellers.

Plus, by combining all the info available on the web from different companies you can have exact demographics and know the markets needs and wants. I run a website that has a mailing list which I am sure someone would love to buy. Speaking of that, what Linux/Computer/Geek type site (Hmmm...let me THINK of a GEEK site) wouldn't love to get the mailing list from /.? They know the demographics of the site, they know we like to keep our bawls cool. I see dollars signs already!

The more electronic the world gets, the more personal information will be available to anyone with some cash. It's sad, I don't like it, but that's the way it is. Just remember though, the govt and businesses are there for YOU. If you don't like it, post your comment on the door of City Hall, not just here.


Re:Open source? (2)

swordgeek (112599) | more than 13 years ago | (#366780)

Not a problem. You can download Solaris source code from Sun.

Let those willing to pay for it pay for it. (1)

nanojath (265940) | more than 13 years ago | (#366781)

We could choose to make the internet essentially a public utility, like water or a quasi-public utility like electricity, and then one could rationally seek legislation to insure our privacy online. We have not made this choice. The internet is an almost entirely private enterprise and what they do with your information is between you and them, based on the terms YOU AGREE TO when you sign up to whatever. If you get your access through a rapacious corporate monster like AOL or MSN then you deserve what you get. If you spend all your time surfing scummy porn sites then you deserve what you get. If we want privacy on-line, let's ask for it as a value-added commodity and pay for it up front and let idiots who don't know enough to protect their privacy help subsidize the total package for the rest of us. All I need by way of legislation is penalties for stealing information and an assurance that a pre-agreed privacy arrangement cannot be dissolved due to the failure of a business.

A couple problems. (5)

coyote-san (38515) | more than 13 years ago | (#366782)

There are a couple problems with this utopia.

  • You can't make a fresh start. Remember that psycho date you had in college? Her comments about you can now be reviewed by any future date, including the woman who would have become your wife. Don't count on the potential date remembering to check the trustworthiness of the reporter.
  • You can't trust the data. Credit reports today have significant errors in about a third of them. My own credit reports originally showed several accounts I never opened, but which were simply misfiled. Other entries involved a dispute, but the "fair credit reporting act" has some loopholes that allow the CRA to ignore consumer comments. When more data is collected, more errors will occur and the portrait they paint is increasingly inaccurate.
  • You can't trust the data. The more important this data becomes to everyday life, the more pressure there will be to manipulate it. For every legitimate change (e.g., hiding information about tempting kidnapping target) there will be hundreds or thousands of fradulent changes. Look at the primary effect of the law requiring documentation before anyone can be hired in the US - an explosion in identity theft as illegal aliens masquerade as citizens so they can be hired - and multiply it a thousand-fold.
  • Society will become ultra-conformist. Because nobody has a private life, everyone will act like the proverbial Oldsmobile dealer in a small Texas town. He might not be religious, but he'll be prominent in church every week because his many of his customers are. He might not like football, but he'll be a leading member of the HS's booster club because many of his customers do. When your future boss can find out what church you attend, what books you read, what movies you watch, what music you enjoy ('cause you now download it all and those records are available), etc., and the reason why you aren't hired is one of the few things that isn't transparent, you'll find yourself under immense pressure to always second-guess how others will perceive your actions.

Unfortunately, I agree that we're moving towards a world of transparent information on the wage-slave class. But the information will most assuredly not be transparent for those with power, money, or criminal intent.

Re:Grocery cards? (1)

Col. Klink (retired) (11632) | more than 13 years ago | (#366783)

> Don't shop there.

Shopper's not only doesn't have any club cards, it's *way* cheaper than Safeway, even with the discounts. You may have to get used to bagging your own groceries, but they don't even charge for the bags anymore.

This just in! (2)

cybercuzco (100904) | more than 13 years ago | (#366784)

THe Open Source Software alliance announced today that according to industry funded studies, Intellectual Property is too expensive. According to industry spokesman Richard M Stallman, "Intellectual property costs consumers hundreds of billions of dollars a year, essentially a corporate tax on them. In the interests of protecting consumers, we must abolish all Intellectual property rights immediately". Stallman then began giggling uncontrollably.

Re:Imagine the future - I regard this as inevitabl (1)

Engmir (152832) | more than 13 years ago | (#366785)

Imagine, the honesty in society. You can check up on prospective dates. Crime is incredibally low in this environment.

What can I say? Incredibly naive.
Do you honestly believe privacy laws are meant to protect criminals? Or increases crime? Or that in such a society crimals could and would (be able?) not hide their acts?
In an enclosed community where everyone knows each other you don't need privacy laws. Why not? You know who you are dealing with and probably what they do with what they know about you.
Privacy is the right to hide information about yourself from people you don't know, (or don't like), who may use it to meddle with you life against your wishes
I can't keep tabs on everyone who has information about me, or what they say or do with it. I can be affected by it.
If you remove my right to privacy how will this stop people from messing about with me?
It only makes it easier for people to fuck with you!

How much spam, junkmail, abuse do you want?
I don't want everyone to know religion/hobbies/whatever because I can't trust people I do not know.
Privacy is not about dirty little secrets, it's about a horde of little things about you which all add up to you, your persona, your life. Knowledge is power and I prefer to choose who to show my vulnerable side.
Think, before you post please!

Re:William Safire (2)

gowen (141411) | more than 13 years ago | (#366786)

Check out William Safire's column in today's paper.
Hey, if you can't read it in today's paper, why not look at the web page. (oh right. Well if I don't get a clue to which paper, you don't get a link)

Re:Grocery cards? (1)

SecurityGuy (217807) | more than 13 years ago | (#366787)

Don't shop there. This seems to be the Most Pure solution, from a cypherpunk point of view. Then again, it could be expensive, if it means missing out on sales. Pleasantly, there's at least one grocer near me (Shopper's Food Warehouse) that doesn't yet require a grocery card to get the sale prices.
Locally, there's VBS#1, who has a "MVP card" and VBS#2 who prides themselves on not requiring a card. One day in VBS#1 I noticed a product I often buy on sale for 33% off if you have a MVP card! Wow, usually $1.49 and they're selling it for $0.99! Uhmmm, wait a second, now! I've *never* in my life seen that product sell at $1.49! In fact, its *always*, you guessed it, 99 cents! So are you in fact getting a sale price, or are you being fooled into believing you're getting a sale price? You may be trading your privacy for nothing. In fact, you certainly are because those same sale prices used to be available without the VBS insisting on tracking your purchases. Just Say No.

BTW, yes, I just went to VBC#2 and paid 99c for the product. :)

Re:Dehumanizing (1)

decipher_saint (72686) | more than 13 years ago | (#366788)

A definition of "Dehumanizing [] " reads as follows:

"1.To deprive of human qualities such as individuality, compassion, or civility:"

Individuality, compassion, civility. Would such noble qualities survive in a world where others can pry into EVERY facet of your life? Would society "damn forever" people who made bad decisions at an early age? Freedom is the condition of being free of restraints, not having to fear what others think about your past, your monetary position or what colour socks you wear on Sunday. So, then, what is the opposite of freedom? Slavery? Would average people be blinded by the innocent notion that they really do have the right to view information about anyone, anything and believe all that they read? It would be simple for those who control the information to feed false hopes and illusions to the populace, and they would swallow it without question, for in the future as you describe they wouldn't have a choice. Society would perceive itself as free, but in reality they would be slaves to the scourge of Information, clamouring for her favour and cringing from her retribution.


Re:Microsoft vs A. Loon, 2005 (1)

(void*) (113680) | more than 13 years ago | (#366789)

Nothing is too expensive for Bill Gates. Privacy is only for rich people like him. Everyone else get in line, and bend over!

Re:Imagine the future - I regard this as inevitabl (1)

room101 (236520) | more than 13 years ago | (#366790)

America will never keep Corporations in check while all of our politicians are financed by them. How do you think they stay so powerful?

But Corps are not the only problem, citizens need protection from the government too. (think: big brother). Do I sound crazy? Maybe, but hundreds of novelists and movie makers can't be all wrong!

Privacy all or nothing (1)

PineHall (206441) | more than 13 years ago | (#366791)

I think of David Brin's book,Earth, where there was no privacy what so ever. I think the rich and powerful should ask if that is the world they want to live in, where it is very hard to keep secrets. Do those corporations want everyone to know everything about their plans?

I think not. Rather they should consider that what makes it easy for them in the short run, may have dire consequences for them in the long haul.

Most people will not want to know my health history and DNA, but Bill Gates' health history and DNA would be news. How much would he have to pay to keep his and his family's health facts secrect?

Information wants to be free.

Re:What about France? (2)

El Cabri (13930) | more than 13 years ago | (#366792)

a) personnal encryption with up to 128 bits key is totally legal in France.

b) privacy is not cryptography. Privacy is your doctor not selling your health data to insurers or drug companies.

c) French legislation addressed IT-related privacy problems in 1978 or 1979. The resulting law, dubbed "freedom and IT", became the template for European online privacy standards, and is backed by a permanent independant enforcement commission (CNIL). Basically, anyone owns his/her data, has a right to access and modify it. Filing the race, religion or political opinions is illegal.

Noticable enforcements of this law have included the finance ministry being refused access to a private pay-TV customers files (to x-check with people paying or not the TV tax), and the defense ministry being kept from having a file of HIV-pos servicemen.

A t ypical statement when somebody doesn't (1)

Vicegrip (82853) | more than 13 years ago | (#366793)

want you to have something:
"It's too expensive"... "It's too hard to do"... "oh, and by the way, not doing that conveniently saves my ass on a few issues"

Unfortunately, this time, these corporations should have no choice-- regardless of how much it fucking costs. Privacy is at the very center of everything that allows us to be individuals. If intellectual property is sacred then my most cherished intellectual property, which is my identity and privacy, better fucking be sacrosanct.

Maybe Scott has a vision of everyone running around like Borg drones with no rights to personal thoughts or privacy but I certainly don't.

Forgive me (2)

Auckerman (223266) | more than 13 years ago | (#366794)

How can it cost ME money in form of a "consumer tax" to keep a company on the internet from collecting private information? It just doesn't stand up to reason. I think the only way this "consumer tax" would exist is if they actually started trying to lock down their servers from outside break-ins and keep some 7337 5cR1p7 k11613 from taking my CC number when I purchase from a company stupid enough not to apply security fixes on a regular basis. If that is they case, I'll gladly pay my "consumer tax"...

Re:what if the shoe is on the other foot? (1)

guinsu (198732) | more than 13 years ago | (#366795)

I'd love to have the cash to put a PI on McNealy 24-7 and post all of live on a web site. See how he would like really having no privacy, maybe then he'd change his tune.

Re:Grocery cards? (2)

bluesninja (192161) | more than 13 years ago | (#366796)

I think that getting a grocery card is a pretty clear-cut case of explicitly trading some information about you in exchange for discounts. What makes you think you are entitled to a grocery card?

Even with privacy laws in place, it is up to people to protect their own privacy. Worried about corporations misusing your information? Don't give it to them! I know it's not always that simple, but in the case of grocery cards, it certainly is.

Just because invasion of privacy is wrong, doesn't make it okay for you to volunteer faulty information in exchange for something of value. That's called cheating, lying and stealing.

Your overblown sense of entitlement is repulsive. Corporations don't owe you shit. Learn some ethics and take some bloody responsibility for your own privacy.


Coprighted Personal Information? (1)

rao (118784) | more than 13 years ago | (#366797)

If I copyright my personal information, can it be distributed without my permission?

If yes, why?
If no, why not?


Privacy will continue for the powerful (1)

mkcmkc (197982) | more than 13 years ago | (#366798)

This sort of a future might (might) be benign if everyone shared the same lack of privacy (and therefore shared equally in the benefits).

This will never happen. Does anyone seriously believe that Dick Cheney or Bill Gates will allow everyone to pick through their bank records, or that Microsoft and McDonald's will allow the general public to listen in on every part of their business dealings?

This is really about determining how little privacy those who are not rich and powerful will have. Ba aa aa...


Re:Imagine the future - I regard this as inevitabl (1)

guinsu (198732) | more than 13 years ago | (#366799)

Except it won't be equal on all sides liek your predict. Companies will be able to find out anything about you, but youwon't be able to find out nearly as much about corporations or politicians. Sort of like how t is now.

Re:Grocery cards? (2)

Trekologer (86619) | more than 13 years ago | (#366800)

It all depends on the supermarket in question (I work for one so my views might be a little biased, bet hey, here they are). From what I've read, Safeway is the worst-case senario when it comes to supermarkets. There aren't any in my area so I don't have any first-hand experience with it.

The supermarket I work for has a "shopper card" program (I believe it was the first supermarket to have one). On the application (which just asks for name and address) you have the choice not to receive any mailings or have your purchases tracked for marketing purposes. Yes, the store does track your purchases but that data isn't collected with your personal info. Any mailings are send out by the store; personal information and shopping records don't leave the company.

For example, let's say Brand "K" wants to increase sales of their cereals. They'll have the store send out coupons to customers who have been regularly purchasing Brand "G" or Brand "P" cereals as an incentive to get them to switch.

As I said, it all depends on the supermarket, so YMMV.

But, if you're so inclined to be anonymous, fill out the application to get the card and then (like you said) generate your own barcode for it. Go to this site [] and enter a fake number. This will work for most stores that use a standard UPC barcode (12 digit) and most do, especially if they have IBM registers (which most do). The first digit is a 4, the next 10 can be your random choosing, the the 12th is the check digit that will be calculated by the CGI script.

But, IMHO, the real problem right now is companies that store your personal information in internet-accessable databases that are full of security holes that almost any script kiddie could break into. THAT is the real privacy danger and that's probablly why Microsoft, Sun, and AOL say that its "too expensive" to protect privacy. Any legislation passes to protect provacy could make them liable for security holes in their software.

Re:Imagine the future - I regard this as inevitabl (2)

Mignon (34109) | more than 13 years ago | (#366801)

That's a good point - it's not clear that crime would go down (or up.) As much as I strongly tend to your side of the privacy argument, it's an interesting hypothetical situation. I can't help but wonder if just as the stalkers' ability to snoop on people increased, so would the ability of people to know who's snooping on them.

As a simple example, a friend of mine once wrote a program that would alert him whenever someone fingered his account.

Then there's the Webcrawler search voyeur, which lets you see all search requests made to Webcrawler. In this hypothetical future, it is conceivable that any search engine would be required to provide such an interface, and people could set up programs to monitor these streams for their own names, for example.

Re:Imagine the future - I regard this as inevitabl (1)

praedor (218403) | more than 13 years ago | (#366802)

Except for one big problem...My private life is none of your goddamn business. What I like, dislike, do (and whom with) is none of your goddamn business. If I wanted people's noses stuck into my personal life, I would create one of those lame, ridiculous personal websites with all my personal details up for every buttwipe, geek, dweeb, pervert, psycho, and yes, even normal to dive into. But I don't do this and I wont.

Unless I agree otherwise, my medical history, personal beliefs and attitudes, my hobbies, my preferences, my sex life is NOBODY'S business but mine (and those directly involved). Period.

I'm no gun nut, but I would certainly take up arms to protect my ultimate rights of privacy from the world you seem to envision as desireable. No. It. Is. NOT. Desireable.

Re:William Safire (1)

grappler (14976) | more than 13 years ago | (#366803)

He's at the New York Times, and it's a syndicated column. It's in lots and lots of papers. Where I live, both major papers have his column. And I'm sure an enterprizing slashdotter such as yourself could find the same thing on the web in about one minute. I wrote what I did because I had already read it in the morning paper and didn't feel like looking up a link.


Being there (2)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 13 years ago | (#366804)

Remember that wonderful movie with Peter Sellers, Being There [] ? (here, too [] ).

Here is a guy with the ultimate privacy: absolutely NO RECORD AT ALL, and when the President of the United States asks the FBI to do a background check on him, and when they come back totally empty-handed, the big-shots really start to shit in their pants, and some even think of having him run for president (I guess that's a prophecy of Ronald Reagan)...


Excuse me? (1)

BLAMM! (301082) | more than 13 years ago | (#366805)

The studies published Monday conclude that proposals to limit companies from sharing or selling customer information without permission would cost 90 of the largest financial institutions $17 billion a year of added expenses, and would result in a $1 billion "information tax" on consumers through costs tacked onto products from catalogs and Internet retailers.

I can't sell your information so I'm going to charge you extra. Something here doesn't sound right. Like 90 of the "largest financial institutions" couldn't handle 17 billion less in income. Cry me a river.

Orwellian organization names (1)

dkwright (316655) | more than 13 years ago | (#366806)

Calling a group that is working against expansions of privacy a "Privacy Alliance" is just too shameless. I know there never will be, but there should be consequences for companies that participate in such deceitfulness.

The Nazi's had a "Charitable Transport Company for the Sick", which was responsible for picking up sick and elderly people and having them euthanized.

I'm not suggesting a moral equivalency betwen the Nazis and the corporations in the Online Privacy Alliance. But if these sorts of deceitful names are loathsome when tyrants use them, it should be made clear that they are just as loathsome when corporations use them.

Can't have it both ways (2)

Twid (67847) | more than 13 years ago | (#366807)

So let me see here:

The Napster lawsuit says that I have no right to share corporate data personally across the internet.

This group is saying that I have no right to stop corporations from sharing my personal data across the internet.

I'll make them a deal, drop the Napster lawsuit, repeal the DMCA, and they can do what they want. Fair?

- Twid

Hmm... (1)

nologin (256407) | more than 13 years ago | (#366808)

And to think that less than a year ago, these same corporations tried to state that self-regulated privacy initiatives was the best way to go. They touted their privacy policies in the noses of every customer that visited their website or bought their product.

The sheer volume of mass privacy violations have proven that these initiatives are only PR fronts. The simple fact is that these companies don't care at all about the privacy of individuals.

As far as I am concerned, the US government has given them a chance and they failed. Now it's time to pay the piper.

Re:A couple problems. (1)

Rudeboy777 (214749) | more than 13 years ago | (#366809)

Very insightful. I plan on paraphrasing these points and some others in a letter I'm preparing to send to my congressman (and anyone else who will listen), and I encourage others to do the same.

Re: Random barcodes! (1)

Enigmafan (263737) | more than 13 years ago | (#366810)

I have been thinking about the following for a while; is it possible to create a little LCD-display that at the flick of a button produces a random barcode within a given range? This would be a very nice way to f*** the system. It would have to fit in a credit-card sized container ofcourse, and one would have to make sure the person behind the counter would actually accept it. But it would be fun.

Re:Imagine the future - I regard this as inevitabl (1)

jmccay (70985) | more than 13 years ago | (#366811)

***This is breaking news****

2025: Politicians and Media people are proven to stretch and distort the truth. They are running to 4th world countries that only have basic cable and dial up net access....

Re:A couple problems. (2)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 13 years ago | (#366812)

1. All your other psycho ex-girlfriend's crazy comments will be available too. If your potential wife is too stupid to evaluate the credibility of the source, then why are you marrying her?

2. The reason errors occur so much, and are so hard to catch, and the credit bureau's are so obnoxious is that we treat identifying information as secrets. Once upon a time, you couldn't even get your own credit report. If the industry weren't so stupid as to treat identifiers like secret keys, and we weren't so paranoid about it, it would be a heck of a lot easier to verify information, and the power provided by the credit bureaus' monopoly on your credit history would be destroyed.

3. The more data there is to cross-reference, the harder it is to pass a forgery. One instance of anything can be a forgery, or signed by a stolen key, or whatever, and you'd never be able to prove it.

4. Or, because no one has any secrets, people will realize that social conservatism is hyporcracy, and people will stop giving a damn about prudish things. And if you are concerned about your boss judging you for what you do outside of your work, then get over it, because they can already. With total transparency however, you can turn the tables on him, as can everyone else under him.

More importantly, there will be greater awareness to that sort of thing in the workforce as a whole, thus changing the very nature of the labor market that currently allows that sort of thing. In addition to full knowledge of salaries and past employment history of other workers, it will be a lot easier for people negotiate a fair salary and fair working conditions.

The fact is, people are already paranoid about people will perceive their actions, because of that knowlege can be used against them by those in power. Transparency removes that power. The most conservative societies are the ones where secrecy reigns. Open societies are the most open to difference. Compare thehippie commune to the corporate boardroom. Which one trades secrets like a commodity?
Bush's assertion: there ought to be limits to freedom

Re:Privacy is only 50U$D /year (1)

davecb (6526) | more than 13 years ago | (#366813)

A broader article on privacy, and the business of making money by providing it, is in this month's Atlantic, here [] . And I love the cartoon!

Re:A couple problems. (3)

kaisyain (15013) | more than 13 years ago | (#366814)

There are a couple problems with this utopia.

Certainly there are, just there are problems with the current system. The current systems tends concentrate power, whereas a more open system holds the possibility of distributing that power by distributing the information.

You can't make a fresh start.

Certainly this is a big problem but I would also argue that it is a artifact of the current information hiding culture that we expect people to be perfect. We don't tolerate mistakes of any kind. And this is allowed to continue because we hide the mistakes. We lie about smoking pot in college rather than collectively admitting the sometimes people make mistakes but that doesn't mean they are bad people. We expect saints where none can be found. Of course, it certainly isn't guaranteed that removing privacy will automatically force people to be more accepting; who can know how technology will shape society in the future? But it certainly is harder to throw stones when everyone lives in a glass house.

Don't count on the potential date remembering to check the trustworthiness of the reporter.

I would argue that this is because of the up-to-present practice of accepting as gospel information because it came from The Powers That Be. How many media stories on 20/20 even have much in the way of references? And how easy is it to check on those references? But I'll often read a paper on the net and the references will include links to other papers on the net, allowing me to check facts on my own.

You can't trust the data.

But in the transparent society the idea is that when something goes on your credit report you know about it instantly. You don't find out about it two years later when you go to take out a mortgage on a house. And since all information is open it is much easier to prove your case. When you have tracking numbers for every piece of email you send to your credit card company, when you have a copy of every piece of email exhanged, when you have a record and transcript of every phone call made, it is much harder for Visa to say "you never send in a payment". By making the data continually available it is much easier to incrementally validate it.

For every legitimate change (e.g., hiding information about tempting kidnapping target) there will be hundreds or thousands of fradulent changes.

And you will know immediately when the change happens and you can take preventive action. What's more, the more open society it is, the harder it is for some one to make these fraudulent changes anonymously. Did they connect to the internet from a payphone? Well, every pay phone has a video camera and fingerprinting.

Society will become ultra-conformist.

In my opinion this is certainly the most likely and negative downside to a complete loss of privacy. In some circumstances, the comformity may be a blessing. After all, if everyone conforms to respecting other people's opinions and tolerating differences you will be hard pressed to find people saying that's a bad thing. On the other hand, I could easily see life being extraordinarily difficult for homosexuals, swingers, Monkee's fans, and other alternative lifestyle advocates. But again, I would also argue that our current intolerance is largely because we hide these things right now. If they are brought out into the open people become forced to deal with the fact that their favorite musician is homosexual or that the CEO of their company likes the BeeGees. After all, ignorance is the foundation of intolerance.

Re:Privacy you pay for (1)

dachshund (300733) | more than 13 years ago | (#366815)

Only problem is... the FBI will immediately decide you're deranged and possibly a dangerous criminal and open a file on you.

Expensive? (1)

3247 (161794) | more than 13 years ago | (#366816)

"Privacy is too expensive" actually means: "We could make a lot more money if we were allowed to sell your private data".

Re:Privacy will continue for the powerful (2)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 13 years ago | (#366817)

They will when it is impossible to prevent. When nano-bugs become available, how likely is it they will be outlawed? When outlawed, how likely is it that the rich and powerful will use them anyways?

Your argument is essentially the position that we should prevent private citizens the use of survelance technology, while trusting the government to be responsible with it.

Yea... I thought you'd see it my way.
Bush's assertion: there ought to be limits to freedom

The importance of privacy... (2)

Ektanoor (9949) | more than 13 years ago | (#366818)

What value does the Alliance gives to it?

Well we see that:
"The money spent to produce the four studies underscores the importance the industry attaches to the issue. Turner said his study, which examined catalog sales, cost $50,000. Another was funded with a $10,000 grant from the World Bank. The two other studies, funded by Ernst & Young LLP and the Tower Group consulting firm, each cost more than $50,000, but the firms declined to say exactly how much they spent."

That is what they spend to save US$17 billion of expenses and a US$1 billion of a foggy "information tax"... Well US$18 billion that they save us from paying (anyway the consumer pays all)

It looks great...
But they claim that 17 billion will be saved by tacking your privacy. Besides the save is made thanks to the fact that someone sells and another buys such information. So there will be people getting some profit from it... Well, under such a figure, profit will be by the hundreds of millions. May be a billion, what is an interesting coincidence with that "information tax"... Well corps don't like to loose money. Not even that one they expect to get...

Now, let's go back to the citation. They paid nearly US$160,000 for these studies. DAMN! Nearly 0,02% of the profit they may be waiting to get. THAT'S A GOLD POT STUDY!!..

Re:Opportunity (1)

tomcounsell (315692) | more than 13 years ago | (#366819)

I think its a requirement in most (all ?) european countries that companies give you access to data that they hold on you (although they can charge an administration fee).

What interests me is the requirements are for identifying yourself to an organisation in order to get the information they hold on you.

Can you assign a third party the rights to collect your data ?

If so, I can see a business opportunity for a firm to collect all your data from all the companies with which you have contact. They could develop relationships (and possibly even direct data connections) to simplify the whole process.

Revenue streams could be :
1) Users wanting to collect their own data (if each firm currently charges ~£10 'administration' then this could be reasonably high)
2) Firms wishing to get rid of the hassle of providing customers with their own data
3) Once the data such as telephone / gas / other bills are centralised then a service could be offered where the bills are analysed to see if you could get a better deal with another company (I think both individuals and other companies would pay for this ?)
4) Others ?

Anybody interested in getting started on it ?!!

Of course they're anti-privacy (2)

defile (1059) | more than 13 years ago | (#366820)

Corporations in the United States enjoy plenty of freedoms. One being the ability to collect and own information about you. They oppose laws that would aim to curb this?! No kidding!

With Dubya in the White House, you can bet that their concerns will be more important than all of what you whiney pro-privacy anarchists have to say.

Realistically, true privacy is a matter of personal devotion/paranoia. You can whine and bitch all you want about insecure is with your credit card, but most people don't think twice when they hand their credit card to a waiter and he leaves the room to charge it.

There are very few people, some you might consider insane, who will drastically inconveniance themselves in the name of privacy. Scott McNealy's ranting isn't all that unfounded.

Wrong, they want to charge HMOs for killing you (2)

crovira (10242) | more than 13 years ago | (#366821)

Meanwhile, the HMO's consortium is claiming that leaving you outside at night on US soil (like Alaska in January,) would be more effective if they could get the federal guvmint to pay for freight.

Dubya decides that the death tax could be used to pay for shipping if he can't makes states pay.

Re:A couple problems. (1)

mvdwege (243851) | more than 13 years ago | (#366822)

Your comment sounds very insightful and interesting indeed. I do however see one fundamental flaw in your whole reasoning.

Consider this: in your utopia personal information is freely available. Errors in your personal data can always be corrected because you will be aware of them. There's the rub: the burden of taking care of personal information in all ways is on the individual. Unfortunately with the masses of databanks holding our info this task is positively Herculean.

Privacy OTOH lays the responsibility of dealing with your info on society in the form of a negative: noone gets your info unless you specifically give permission for it. This is easier for an individual to track and enforce (as long as said individual has the force of law to back him of course).

Thanks for a thought provoking dialogue anyway,


Gosh! Everything just costs so-o-o much! (2)

rnturn (11092) | more than 13 years ago | (#366823)

Let's see... In the last few months we've, so far, heard:

  • Assuring your customers' privacy costs too much. (Corporations have the right to invade everyone's privacy if it furthers the cause of commerce.)
  • Protecting the health of the employees that make the corporation money costs too much. (If we had to make sure out employees had protections against RSI, we've never be able to hand out those multi-million dollar raises and huge stock option packages to the CEO and the $10M severance package we had to pay his predecessor.)
  • Corporate regulations that protect the environment will be too expensive. (This is an old one. Beside the old fogies that are running the company will be dead long before the environment is shot to hell anyway. What do they care?)

Let's add a couple more. You know they're coming:

  • Supplying clean air and potable water to the building where the employees work will be too expensive. (Do you have any idea how much it costs to replace air and water filters each month? Just be thankful we're changing them every two years. We wouldn't do it at all if we could get away with it. Besides, the air on the golf courses and resorts where we hold out meetings is just fine.)
  • Office supplies are too expensive. Employees must bring their own. (You folks are just stealing them anyway. And we have you on videotape so don't think we don't know.)
  • The courts have told us that it's alright to monitor you at work so guess what... (So be prepared to defend your keystroke counts at your next review.)

It boggles the mind that an entity that exists only on paper and by the permission of the government (You remember the government, don't you? That little thing ``By and Of The People''?) has more rights than ordinary citizens. How long before there is a major backlash by the public against the perks handed out to corporations by local, state, and the federal governments? I'm guessing not too long.


I don't mind,as long as Co. gives up their privacy (1)

paranormalized (278300) | more than 13 years ago | (#366824)

for an exercise in turnabout is fair play, look at this Wired article [] about the idea of a Transparent Society [] . For instance, which washing-machine makers don't also produce weapons, or play fast and loose w/ environmental laws? If the Corps released transcripts of board meetings and information about affiliate/subsidiary companies, people could find out and adjust their buying habits accordingly. But ask any CEO if he wants people listening in on his meetings, or reading his mail, he'll say "Hell No!"

Why do the rich and powerful deserve more privacy than I have? Our current Gov. knows more about each of its citizens than any repressive 19th century leaders did, but since they are held accountable through representative democracy and the Freedom of Information act, we have the highest degree of freedom of any known society. So make the system fair. If Corporations want to invade our privacy, make them face the same.

IANASRP- I am not a self-referential phrase

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