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Reconciling Information Privacy and Liberty?

Cliff posted more than 8 years ago | from the stuff-to-think-about dept.

Privacy 871

thetan asks: "F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote that 'The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.' However, for many outsiders, it's hard to understand how cliques reconcile seemingly contrarian views. For example, many US Republicans are against abortion but in favour of the death penalty (no doubt they have their reasons). Amongst the Slashdot commentariat, one often hears that information wants to be free, almost as a catchcry of the open source, copyfight and related info-libertarian movements. OTOH, these same Slashdot readers stridently guard their privacy, so presumably information about their shopping preferences or websurfing does not 'want to be free'. How does the intelligent and functional Slashdot crowd reconcile the liberty of other people's information with the privacy of their own?"

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871 comments

Libre, *not* gratis. (4, Interesting)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243425)

...the intelligent and functional Slashdot crowd...

Bwah ha ha ha...are you enjoying your stay in our dimension? When are you due back in BizzaroWorld? ^_^

Seriously, though, I don't think any intellectually honest Slashdotter out there would assert that the vaunted 'information wants to be free' catch phrase should be interpreted as 'free as in beer'. Information is most certainly not free...if it was, many of us would be out of a job. This being the Information Age, information is the prime economic mover, and therefore, most slashdotters are understandably upset when their own personal information is mined by corporations and passed around as currency. This leads to a very real devaluation of our personal worth, as the intrusiveness of companies serves to reduce our quality of life.

Re:Libre, *not* gratis. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13243483)

"Free as in beer" is gratis. Beer is not libre.

Anyway, information hates it when you anthropomorphize it.

The "catchcry" is fundamentally flawed, because information doesn't want anything. People want information.

Information - knowledge - is directly related to power. Those that know are in control. The phrase, then, stems from the socialist inklings in the hearts of the Good People (TM). This is to say that people who have interest in others tend to share - or at least want to share - information with them. Now, before you go off flaming me, not being a Socialist (captialized) doesn't make you bad. We all express this in different ways.

Also, somewhat offtopic, but:

The abortion/death penalty "conundrum" is really simple.
Being pro-life is about saving innocent lives.
The death penalty is about ending guilty ones.

Plenty of hairy details and opinions to go with those, though.

Re:Libre, *not* gratis. (1)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243526)


"Free as in beer" is gratis. Beer is not libre.

That's precisely why I said "Libre, *not* gratis."

Re:Libre, *not* gratis. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13243583)

Sorry, got tripped up on the sentence... don't think/would assert/should be

Re:Libre, *not* gratis. (0, Troll)

Thalagyrt (851883) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243619)

Having pro-life forced on you could be bad when say, a girl is 16 and gets pregnant. Because then, that ruins an innocent person's life for good because she's stuck supporting that child. Quite often when that happens, the person can never get back on their feet financially for most of their life. One solution is adoption, but most people wouldn't put a child up for adoption.

Re:Libre, *not* gratis. (3, Informative)

ccandreva (409807) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243691)

Talk about contradictory views -- they can kill it, but not give it away ?

Re:Libre, *not* gratis. (5, Informative)

Kelson (129150) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243604)

Of course, "Information wants to be free" originally was about gratis. The second, forgotten half of the phrase was "Information also wants to be expensive." It was meant to describe the conflict between the ever-easier, ever-cheaper methods to store and transmit information, and the ever-increasing value placed upon information by those who create and/or use it.

Information Wants To Be Free. Information also wants to be expensive. Information wants to be free because it has become so cheap to distribute, copy, and recombine---too cheap to meter. It wants to be expensive because it can be immeasurably valuable to the recipient. That tension will not go away. It leads to endless wrenching debate about price, copyright, 'intellectual property', the moral rightness of casual distribution, because each round of new devices makes the tension worse, not better. -- Stewart Brand [anu.edu.au]

Re:Libre, *not* gratis. (1)

The Angry Mick (632931) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243660)

most slashdotters are understandably upset when their own personal information is mined by corporations and passed around as currency

While the mining of personal info bothers me, what really gets my nuts in a knot is the endless profit streams being generated from the endless re-selling of my data to "affiliates", "business partners", etc. I could probably comfortably retire on the amount of money made buying, selling, and re-selling my personal info, but do I see a penny of it? Do I even see it occur?

Great Caesar's Ghost! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13243426)

As seen in Wikipedia:Slashdot [wikipedia.org], circa 2010:

The fateful event took place on August 4th, 2005, when veteran Slashdot editor "Cliff" unknowingly set off the greatest flamewar of all time.

A discussion of Abortion, the Death Penalty, freedom of information, privacy rights, Republicans/Democrats, the sitting president, and an earlier article on Evolution and Intelligent Design proved too much for the website. Comments surged into the thousands within minutes, Slashdot's webserver farm burst into flames, and the resulting conflagration took out 23% of the global Internet (source: Netcraft) before WWW Firefighters could put it out. Hundreds of brave posters and cowardly AC's alike were consumed in the initial blast.

--picture insert: CowboyNeal rushing back into the burning building to save the polls--


You will be missed, Slashdot. Truly, you were an American icon.

Re:Great Caesar's Ghost! (4, Insightful)

eobanb (823187) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243688)

Disclaimer: I'm a hardcore liberal. But I can't stand it when liberals make the "how can Republicans want the death penalty, but not abortion." It's easy. Unborn children haven't committed crimes. Criminals have. Personally I still don't want the death penalty for a different reason, because there is a clear racial and financial bias going on in the American legal system; however, I still hate it, and feel embarassed when, my friends try to use this idiotic argument of "Republicans are contradicting themselves!" when my friends are arguing for abortion or against the death penalty.

Not at odds, one in the same (5, Insightful)

Ckwop (707653) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243432)

Not all information is created equal. The information that "wants to be free" is information that adds meaningfully to the sum of human knowledge. Whether that's an algorithm to quickly sort large amounts of information, a law of physics, or a new economic model.. these types of information want to be free.

Information that "doesn't want to be free" is the kind that doesn't give anything meaningful to humanity at large or the kind that bring me to some harm if released. If the information in question doesn't pass this test then it's okay to keep it secret. What porn I bought yesterday is not really of interest to anybody except me and therefore, under my model, this information is best kept secret. Other secret information, like passwords, credit-card numbers and social security number are outright danger to me if they are released to the public.

We have to be careful what line we tread. In the US, companies like choicepoint are collecting huge amounts of data and yet even though the data is about us, it does not belong to us. This causes huge problems for us because Choicepoint doesn't really care if this data gets out. What skin is it off Choicepoints back? Will it lose sales? These data collection companies need to CARE about keeping our data SAFE. The only way to do that is make them liable for incredible sums of money if that data ends up in the wrong hands.

Privacy is under attack and we need to defend it. A 150 years ago, I could walk out in to a field and have a private conversation and be sure it was private. These days, there could be lazer microphones and bugs. A 150 years ago, I could disappear on a horse for a couple of months and nobody would know where I am. These days they can find you with your mobile phone and CCTV. A 150 years ago you could build a house and not care about somebody using spy-satelites to check for building code violations.

Privacy and Liberty are not at odds, they are one in the same. Being free is about people not knowing everything about you. People often retort by saying "I have nothing to hide, so I don't care if they collect the data". Yes, I'm sure the Jews had nothing to hide from the government in 1920s. Only ten years later, their census data was being used to round them up and murder them. Privacy is important not for the reasons we can readily think of but for all the reasons we can't think of.

Simon.

Re:Not at odds, one in the same (3, Funny)

BaudKarma (868193) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243480)

On the contrary, I'm deeply interested in what porn you bought yesterday.

Or to be more exact, I'm amazed that people still pay for porn.

Re:Not at odds, one in the same (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13243722)

At first I thought that you, as a porn pirater, are a free rider. If no-one paid for porn, then it wouldn't get made. But then I thought about the problem some more. That's right, I thought more about porn.

If no-one paid for porn, the only porn that would get made would be made by people who would do it for free: exhibitionists. Exhibitionists come in all shapes and sizes. I assume that I wouldn't want to watch the vast majority of this kind of porn because most of the girls would be of questionable hotness. We can't have that.

What would be the solution to this problem? Perhaps a non profit organization that could fund porn made by the more attractive members of our society, which would then release the porn into the wild for the good of humanity. This would be kind of like the way the big IT companies (IBM, HP, etc) pay people to work on the kernel.

Would this be porn libre?

As my grandfather used to say... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13243497)

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Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account.

Re:Not at odds, one in the same (4, Insightful)

Sanity (1431) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243509)

Information that "doesn't want to be free" is the kind that doesn't give anything meaningful to humanity at large or the kind that bring me to some harm if released.
What if it gives something meaningful to humanity, but it will also bring someone to some harm if released - the Windows source code, for example, or even Diebold's source code and internal emails?

I think you are oversimplifying. Tools which help to share information do not distinguish between "good" and "bad" information, they either share information freely, or they don't.

Re:Not at odds, one in the same (1)

FLEB (312391) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243696)

I think one bigger problem is that the definition of "information" has been stretched, and all the old adages that depend on that definition haven't been clarified.

Things like source code and music (two big misplaced IWTBF! applications) really contain proportionally miniscule amounts of information. The only real information contained in countless songs would consist of "The writer of this song loves (someone)." I'd agree that there is more "information" in the form of educational and practical-use information in source code, but for the most part, source code is instruction, not information.

Not all nonphysical description is information. Most of that that is information is protected, in the US, by the fact that facts cannot be copyrighted. Most information already is free.

Re:Not at odds, one in the same (1)

Trillan (597339) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243523)

Take no offense, but you haven't convinced me of the difference.

Let's pretend I'm some sort of marketing company. There's little doubt in my mind that knowing exactly what you buy puts me in a better position to predict what you're interested in. There's also little doubt in my mind that this would allow me to target you more succesfully with the right brochures and product information and avoid sending you stuff you're not interested in. If we assume I'm sending you stuff through the mail, we've just saved a lot of postage and flyers.

On the other hand, you probably don't want me knowing everything about you.

I've concluded that information has no wishes one way or the other about whether or not its free. For any particular piece of information, some people want it to be free and some don't. The only question is which camp you fall in for a particular item.

Re:Not at odds, one in the same (1)

GileadGreene (539584) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243576)

But much of your "private" information could be used to conduct statistical studies that might "contribute to the sum of human knowledge" in all sorts of ways.

Information is information. Period. If you want something to be a secret, keep it secret. If you want to share information, but impose certain conditions on its use, you are entering a trust relationship where you assume that the recipient of your information will use it only as you wish. If they break the "contract" on their use of the information you provided them you may be able to seek recourse under the law (copyright law, privacy law, etc) - which is essntially a way of codifying and attempting to enforce some trust relationships. But otherwise your only recourse is simply to point out to everyone else that your trust was broken - there's no way to unshare your information. Anyone dealing in information will face this problem, be they the RIAA, MPAA, FSF, or a private individual.

Re:Not at odds, one in the same (1)

enjo13 (444114) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243676)

How do you know the difference?

After all, what porn you bought yesterday is of immense value to sociologists studying human behavior. I would think that would meet the requirement of 'adding meaningfully to the sum of human knowledge'. Same goes for your TV viewing habits and almost any other thing that wants to be tracked.

I imagine similiar thought could be applied to almost anything. Trying to deliniate between the two simply seems like an exercise in rationlization. You want the information that benefits you to be free, but want to suppress that which doesn't. Ecomomics in action really.

Re:Not at odds, one in the same (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243685)

Not all information is created equal. The information that "wants to be free" is information that adds meaningfully to the sum of human knowledge.

What about freely distributing music, movies etc? It's harder to tell whether they contribute meaningfully to human knowledge.

My opinion is that, for example, once a CD is released, it's "out there" in public and should be Free. It's not a secret, like a password. Anything that's not a secret should be Free.

My reasoning is that, for example, musicians want to spread their works as widely as possible. They like you to hear their songs on the radio, even if you didn't pay them to hear it. It's only a detail if they want you to pay for the CD, the key is that they want you to want their stuff.

Conversely, I don't tell my passwords to anyone, whether they pay or not.

Re:Not at odds, one in the same (4, Insightful)

Frater 219 (1455) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243705)

"Information wants to be free" was not originally a rallying cry to advocate the freedom of information. Rather, it was a statement along the lines of "Water wants to flow downhill" -- an observation; a statement of what is, rather than what should be.

In what sense does information want to be free? In the sense that it is frequently very difficult to keep it bottled up! To keep water from flowing downhill we build water towers, dams, levees, and so forth -- we expend a great deal of effort to resist water's tendency to flow downhill. The same is true of many kinds of information.

If we wish to keep a piece of information private, we have to expend resources to protect it. This is as true if "we" are private citizens, or a government agency. Governments have to exert a lot of effort to deter people from leaking secrets -- for instance, in punishing people who do so; or denying access to reporters who publish "embarrassing" stories. This takes effort.

The same is true of personal information. As we go about our lives, particularly online, we effectively radiate all kinds of identifying facts about ourselves -- HTTP cookies, usernames, email addresses, browsing and shopping preferences, and so on. If we want to bottle up this information and keep it private -- or obfuscate it so that nobody can build up a profile of us -- we have to make some effort to do so.

When we say "information wants to be free" in an advocacy sense, what we may frequently mean is that for some classes of information, the cost of keeping them bottled up is too high -- economically, socially, or personally. For instance, one cost of keeping the facts about the rape of underage Iraqi girls at Abu Ghraib bottled up, is that many people place an erroneous trust in the U.S. Army that its soldiers will not rape underage girls. This erroneous cost is a social evil caused by information being kept unfree.

Prejudices (4, Interesting)

bigwavejas (678602) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243435)

I've noticed if one posts anything on Slashdot going "against the grain" of popularity (differing views on War in Iraq, Linux or Apple for example) The mods immediately presume your post is either a "Troll" or "Flamebait". People often have a hard time setting aside their personal beliefs and tend to view things in a biased manner. The unfortunate outcome of this is they end up burying otherwise interesting viewpoints.

MOD PARENT UP - Please. (3, Interesting)

Karma_fucker_sucker (898393) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243550)

've noticed if one posts anything on Slashdot going "against the grain" of popularity (differing views on War in Iraq, Linux or Apple for example) The mods immediately presume your post is either a "Troll" or "Flamebait". People often have a hard time setting aside their personal beliefs and tend to view things in a biased manner. The unfortunate outcome of this is they end up burying otherwise interesting viewpoints.

I have to agree with bigwavejas. Troll" on /. == Satire. Oh, I wish there was a way to explain humor or a poor attempt at it to the mods. And Goddam /. for inventing "Troll" and "Flamebait" Famous "Troll"s and "Flaimers:" people:

Thomas Paine

Thomas Jefferson

Ben Franklin

Karl Marx

Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King

Martin Luther

Ghandi

etc ... People who spoke what they truly believed and got Fucked for it!!!

Re:Prejudices (1, Flamebait)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243638)

> People often have a hard time setting aside their personal beliefs and
> end to view things in a biased manner.

But this trend is universal on the Left. Like most issues the words they use mean exactly the opposite thing when it issues from their mouths. So when the speak of Tolerance it of course means "You must accept our views as correct and we shall not tolerate dissenting opinions."

In table form

Tolerance: Intolerace to all opposing viewpoints

Liberal: Opposed to everything 'liberal' meant before they hijacked it.

Progressive: When 'liberalism' (as we now call socialism here in the US, some other countries still use it in the original meaning) became unpopular, they rebranded themselves 'progressives'. Of course since this coincided with their being forced to play defense they have now perloined Bill Buckley's famous line and are now standing athwart history yelling "STOP!" Doesn't sound like progressive to me... sounds exactly opposite. Perhaps they should perloin "conservative" instead and force us classical liberals to rebrand ourselves yet again....

Diversity: This one is a little trickier. In thought it means exactly the opposite, i.e. absolute conformance to orthodoxy. It also means diversity of skin color, sexual organs.... so long as the minority is question votes for Democrats of course. Ever notice how racial and social subgroups who don't vote overwhelmingly Democratic find it hard to get 'minority status?'

Open Minded: Closed minded bigots, violently intolerant of any who dare speak a different view, especially any viewpoint directly opposing their enlightened visions.

mod article -1 flamebait (5, Insightful)

djh101010 (656795) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243439)

I thought this was "news for nerds", not "political drivel in article descriptions".

Re:mod article -1 flamebait (1, Insightful)

xannik (534808) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243471)

if I had mod points I would give them to you. I read slashdot for tech news not politics.

Re:mod article -1 flamebait (1)

djh101010 (656795) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243517)

Right. Further, there is a "politics" section at slashdot, and this one isn't in it. It's nice to have a bastion of nerdliness to retreat to when the real news gets too heavy; slashdot is a nice escape from all the real-world crap. Then, you get a rant disguised as a question, and it's annoying enough that I thought it was worth pointing out. Glad to know someone agrees, but I bet I'm gonna burn some serious karma today.

Re:mod article -1 flamebait (1)

Trillan (597339) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243556)

Unfortunately, the sections only work so well. I would love to drop various categories and promote others, but this doesn't impact the RSS feed. Every time I've tried it, I end up getting confused about why an article is in one and not in another...

Re:mod article -1 flamebait (2, Insightful)

danheskett (178529) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243591)

I am sure the powers that be recognize that political sites, by their contentious nature, draw huge traffic. Look over the most heavily commented upon articles. They usually have heavily provactive stuff in the description. Comments equals page views equals profits. It's the same reason the nightly news will always run a story about a spectacular firey car accident, a freak decapitation, or 800-lb man stuck in his house before an article say, examining internation relations, trade policy, or a union membership drive.

Re:mod article -1 flamebait (1)

Wile_E_Peyote (805058) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243664)

I thought this was "news for nerds", not "political drivel in article descriptions".

Since the post is about something that is technology heavy (information, privacy), I think it is entirely relevent to "nerds". Not all "news for nerds" has to be about the latest video card or a debate on Windows v Linux.

Besides, you can easily bypass the "political drivel" by not clicking the link.

Re:mod article -1 flamebait (2, Insightful)

djh101010 (656795) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243720)

Sure, it's about legitimate technical questions, but the fact remains that throwing in abortion, partisan politics, and the death penalty, is a clear case of someone intentionally trying to turn a technical discussion into a long, off-topic discussion. If that's not flamebait, I don't know what you think _is_ flamebait.

Reconciling Information Privacy and Liberty? (3, Insightful)

1ucius (697592) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243440)

Easy. I only want other peoples' information to be free.

A transparent society the only consistent approach (2, Informative)

Sanity (1431) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243459)

David Brin's Transparent Society [davidbrin.com], where everyone, including our government, is under equal scrutiny, is probably the only way forward for those who believe that information wants to be free.

Oh God, not this again! (1, Insightful)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243460)

Really, other than a cheap shot by small minds who obviously don't know better, why did the /. editors feel the need to use what should be a serious question to turn this into an abortion flamefest thread?

I say this because anyone who spends three seconds on it can see how someone can be anti abortion and pro capital punishment, while the main point is somewhat harder to reason through and would have made for a good thread. Instead we will all be wading through the same mindless twaddle about abortion that has been talked to death a thousand times.

And since I know someone will post asking the obvious....

You can be pro capital punishment and anti abortion if you think:

1. Killing the innocent is wrong.

2. Killing the irredeemably wicked is either just or at least the best option.

3. The right to Life Liberty and the Persuit of Happiness begins at any point between conception and birth.

Listen up folks, both sides are extremists, but Infanticide is as bad or worse as a position as that old Monty Python "Every Sperm is Sacred" song that seems to animate much of the pro-life crowd. And aborting viable children can't be called anything but Infanficide and science just keeps pushing back the date of viability outside the womb.

The only way out is to realize BOTH sides are wrong. Roe is wrong. So are most of the fundies. The only place for the State to be in this whole sorry mess is deciding where to draw the line where a Citizen, entitled to protection from the Law, begins. With the advances in science birth doesn't seem right to most folk anymore, but they recoil from "life begins at conception" also. We gotta find a way to 'split the baby' and stop this madness. The last time the fundamentalists couldn't let go of a moral crusade and the liberals (classical) couldn't let go of the status quo we ended up with millions dead and whole states laid waste.

Now gimme a minute and I'll post something on topic....

Re:Oh God, not this again! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13243493)

And how do you know that the person being killed is really irredeemably wicked? There's a VERY old saying, "it is better to save an enemy than to kill a citizen" - in other words, when you have a decision that is irreversible, it is better to risk sparing the guilty than to risk punishing the innocent.

Same thing? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13243548)

For some it could be that anti-abortion and pro-death penalty are both natural results of the idea that people should accept responsibility for their actions.

Re:Oh God, not this again! (1)

PhiznTRG (261350) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243559)

Thank you! An actual well reasoned and intelligent post that shows how messed up both extremes on this issue are wrong.

This is no longer an issue that the courts should decide - the problem is the lack of legislation deciding who is and who is not a citizen, as you pointed out. Until that crucial part of the equation is decided, the debate will continue to spiral out of control as it has for the past twenty years.

Just as the anti-abortion and pro-death penalty paradox is perplexing, the stereotypical pro-abortion person is anti-death penalty. That is even more perplexing if you believe that the fetus is alive and its' only crime is being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Re:Oh God, not this again! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13243565)

1. Killing the innocent is wrong.

Yes, agreed. To the extent that I think that killing wrongfully convicted people should be avoided at ALL costs.

2. Killing the irredeemably wicked is either just or at least the best option.

Yes, agreed. Can you provide either a legal or faith-based definition of irredeemably wicked? I was always taught that God was about forgiveness and unconditional love, and I'm not sure how the court can decide 100% that someone is past the point of no return (hence, irredeemable).

Well put! (1)

XanC (644172) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243597)

How can the submitter equate abortion as birth control with execution of serial killers? You shot it down pretty well.

I think the main problem with the abortion debate is that Roe v Wade set up one place (the Supreme Court) where there's a knock-down, drag-out, winner-take-all battle to the death where one side or the other prevails.

I don't see why it's a federal issue at all. Murder isn't. Back the Feds out of the debate, and the states can decide how they want to handle it. The ones who do it best will become models.

Re:Oh God, not this again! (1)

dcarey (321183) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243617)

Nice post.

Also, the "For example, many US Republicans are against abortion but in favour of the death penalty" arguement is contradictory to most who are against that statement, for simple reason that many pro choicers are under the assumption that the fetus is not classifiable as alive. Killing implies something that is living. Thus, saying "those silly republicans don't mind killing killers but don't want a fetus killed" implies the fetus is indeed alive, which is contradictory to most pro choice advocates will have you believe.

Re:Oh God, not this again! (1)

Tenebrous (119888) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243628)

Actually, we don't gotta. If we do find a way to 'split the baby', as you so eloquently put it, the politicians will quickly run out of things to scream at each other about. The phrases "Oppressive Bigot!" and "Baby killing Commie!" come to mind.

Without this argument, the general public might notice the man behind the screen and what he's up to.

Re:Oh God, not this again! (1)

mmusson (753678) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243654)

I say this because anyone who spends three seconds on it can see how someone can be anti abortion and pro capital punishment.

I think you have answered your own implied question. If you talk to a pro-choice person they would point to this contradiction (inconsistency) as an argument against pro-life. If you talk to a pro-life person they would most likely give a rationale like yours above that says there is no contradiction (inconsistency). (i.e., innocent death != criminal death)

Point of view matters greatly for whether a party even accepts that the contradiction exists. I disagree somewhat with the Eliot quote; a true contradiction is going to bother a rational person.

Re:Oh God, not this again! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13243674)

The last time the fundamentalists couldn't let go of a moral crusade and the liberals (classical) couldn't let go of the status quo we ended up with millions dead and whole states laid waste.

Umm, like what, exactly?

Re:Oh God, not this again! (1)

Kohath (38547) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243724)

If the supreme court had done it's job, we could decide the abortion question through political debate and perhaps compromise. They decided to take that choice away from the citizens though.

So we're stuck with an extreme position based on a based on a purposefully-false interpretation.

Apples to Oranges... (4, Insightful)

yellowbkpk (890493) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243474)

I think the key is that there's a very big difference between the information that "wants to be free" like algorithms, software, Cisco vulnerabilities, etc. and information like your globally-unqiue database key (SSN in the US). In one case there's you have information that has no particular relevance to any one person, but could benefit society as a whole in some way. The other case is information that identifies one person and doesn't necessarily help society in any way.

At least for the slashdot comparison, the submitter is comparing apples to oranges.

Re:Apples to Oranges... (2, Interesting)

Trillan (597339) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243679)

I think that's an oversimplification. Society is the people that make it up and the world around them. There's a lot of information about you and I that we don't want everyone to know, but would help companies better target us and be beneficial to parts of society (their workers, plus the environment).

For instance, if the local grocery store was capable of printing customized flyers (it'll happen) and knows you just bought a 24 pack of toilet paper, it could exclude that from the items offered to you. If it knows you buy milk every week and haven't yet this week, it could make sure that milk is front and center on the first page. Maybe you buy a lot of red meat, so you don't need the special coupon for that.

Now, you probably don't want your buying habits to be public information. I know I want mine guarded! But clearly, having the information public is both beneficial (in the example above we've saved ink, paper, postage and your time in browsing our flyer) and harmful (because your insurance company might raise your premiums because you eat too much meat).

I don't think there's any information out there that isn't beneficial to some and harmful ot others. "Information wants to be free!" *is* hypocrisy. It's just an adult way of getting to use other toys without sharing your own. (Not that I think there's anything really bad with that, but we should be more honest about it.)

Interesting. A Counter Argument: (1)

bmajik (96670) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243719)

Your medical records indicate that you are $[incredibly bad contagious disease] positive.

If it would be beneficial to society at large to be aware of your disease, so that they could choose to not associate with you and to exclude you from certain events, places, activities, and so on. For the good of society at large, of course.

Is your medical information public or private ?

This is a well known psychological phenomeon (1)

Raul654 (453029) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243487)

The submitter is describing a well known psychological pheomenon known as Cognitive dissonance, which occurs when someone believs in two contradictory ideas. Wikipedia has a good article on teh subject [wikipedia.org].

Functional? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13243495)

I'm dysfunctional, you insensitive clod!

not to take a side (3, Insightful)

danheskett (178529) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243498)

Not to take a side, but it's not hard to see the GOP argument here.

Fetus, embryo, pre-born child = innocent.
Capital criminal = guilty.

The general line of thinking is that if you violate or nearly violate someelse's right to life your own life is forfeit as a penalty.

It's not exactly rocket science.

Merits aside, really, it's not a mystery!

Re:not to take a side (2)

d_54321 (446966) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243672)

Haha! You got marked Flamebait for posting a non-liberal, albeit calm and rational viewpoint. Pwned!
Dude, don't you know where you are?
Here watch this:

ROB FROM THE RICH, GIVE TO TO THE POOR!

Bizzam- instant +5 insightful

Re:not to take a side (1)

tthomas48 (180798) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243687)

Yeah, it's just the names that are goofy. pro-life meaning anti-abortion, not actually pro-life.
Whereas pro-choice actually means pro-choice for a lot of people and not pro-abortion. Which is what makes the debate so difficult.

republican stance on abortion logical (0, Flamebait)

havaloc (50551) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243502)

Republicans are against killing innocent beings but for killing guilty people, while the Democrats are for killing innocent beings but for saving guilty people. Seems that the Republican stance is logical to me although I acknowledge that the government perhaps should not have say what women do with their bodies.

Re:republican stance on abortion logical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13243566)

It costs 20 times more in court proceedings to kill someone as it does to put them in jail for life and everyone says that it's republicans(before the current admin) that want to save money and not spend it.

Re:republican stance on abortion logical (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243603)

How about this: Republicans are for putting a positive spin on their own position, but completely misrepresenting any opposing opinions.

You don't seem to be a Republican, because you first misrepresent a Democratic position, then you follow it up with a more accurate representation. Our heads asplode.

Sonnn of a Bitch!!! (1)

Karma_fucker_sucker (898393) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243702)

That's been MY line for a few years!!!

You've pointed out the underlying hypocrisy of both of the major US parties!

You're either PRO-ALL LIFE or PRO ALL-CHOICE. I don't see the difference, but the mods do!!!!

Again, someone with an insightful statement gets modded as "Flamebait"!

Why the smear against Republicans? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13243511)

Note: I am not a Republican and I oppose the death penalty.

Why the smear against Republicans? Why broaden the question to *general* contradictory views? Why not just ask the specific question about information privacy?

The Republican position isn't even shaky, let alone inconsistent let alone contradictory. Fetuses are innocent human life. Murder convicts are guilty human life. Why is the idea of treating them differently so foreign? I mean, I disagree, but holding those two positions isn't contradictory. Quit disguising your smears as matter-of-fact "observation".

Re:Why the smear against Republicans? (1)

TheScottishGuy (701141) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243663)

offtopic i go just my 2 cents but i'd rather see a million guilty people sit for life in jail than have one innocent person wrongfully executed, if i thought that there was a way to prove for damn sure then i'd be for the death penalty, but there isn't, so i'd have to come out against, as for abortion, that's an entirely different badger.

Re:Why the smear against Republicans? (1)

EyesofWolf (879816) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243704)

Have you seen the Life of David Gale? It makes a very strong case against the death penalty, and even though the movie and the situation is predictable, it nevertheless proves it's point in a very powerful manner.

Personal information is not science (1)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243515)

Personal information pertains only to you. Science pertains to everyone.

Re:Personal information is not science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13243708)

It seems to me that a whole bunch of personal information put together would be science. I think they call it Sociology.

Good fucking grief (4, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243520)

1) You don't know what "clique" means.

2) You don't know what "information wants to be free" means.

3) Opposing abortion and supporting the death penalty is not contradictory. Neither is the opposite position.

4) Slashbots simultaneously demand regulation and libertarianism because they're idiots.

Not contradictory... sort of... (1)

pootypeople (212497) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243527)

Okay- from the free software/open-source standpoint, information "wants to be free" doesn't necessarily have privacy implications. They're more concerned with keeping information that is already free free (like open-source software) and enabling other information to become part of the public domain rather than being held out of the public domain by the continual extension of copyright. That is, they are trying to either maintain the freedom to disseminate information (such as the DeCSS case) or to stop companies from profiting without end from their control over information.

At least with regards to those two cases there is no contradiction. In fact, the only people I see on the web fighting to divulge that kind of priviliged information are either corporations or phishers. The open-source community doesn't seem too big on collecting information (you can tell me I'm wrong, but if you post as an anonymous coward, you've proven me right). I think "information is free" is most definitely not a "free as in beer" thing- we've discussed that alot. It's more of a "free as in uninhibited"--like a river, there are areas that we want the river to flow without boundaries. There are also inlets of that information river where we'd like to keep things a little closer to vest. I don't see how it's contradictory--it's simply a matter of how you contstruct your metaphor in your head.

Of course, this is all IMNSHO (not that I'm anything special, just that I'm not particularly humble).

James

It goes both ways (1)

ClownsScareMe (840001) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243528)

...many US Republicans are against abortion but in favour of the death penalty...

And many US Democrats think that it's ok for someone to choose abortion but are against the death penalty.

It's just not that simple.

Re:It goes both ways (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13243737)

Amen. The poster's and editor's bias sure came out of *left* field.

"Information wants to be free" (1)

Linus Torvaalds (876626) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243531)

It's obviously stupid to actually believe that, information doesn't "want" anything. What it actually means is that information tends to gravitate towards wide dissemination. It's commenting on the inevitability for information to become public. We can put effort in to try and stop that, but it's ultimately futile.

Pointing out the flaws of DRM schemes with "information wants to be free" doesn't mean that you necessarily think information should be free, merely that it's the natural state of things.

Ah, shades of gray! (5, Insightful)

FunWithHeadlines (644929) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243539)

Because life rarely gives us simple black-and-white issues. It's far more likely to be shades of gray. For example, we believe in free speech, but not to the extent that it can cause serious harm to somebody (yelling fire in the theater as the most common example). We learn balance, and circumstances.

Let's take your two examples: I'm not right-wing (nor am I left-wing for that matter), so I can only guess how they reconcile the seemingly contradicting abortion-no/death penalty-yes issues. It's probably a shade of gray like this: Every newly-formed life deserves a chance to live. But a criminal who does something so heinous that he forfeits his right to live among society should be put to death. Not a contradiction, but a recognition of differing circumstances.

On to 'information wants to be free.' That refers to knowledge that can benefit humanity, whether it's sharing of source code so that other coders can learn and improve, or sharing of knowledge so that everyone can benefit from the wisdom of the group. However, we do not want to give up our personal privacy because harm can come to us if that happens. Stalkers, criminals, cranks, whoever wants to harm us for either personal gain or vendettas, can do so if they know our name and SSN and so on. Not to mention spammers. See? It's once again not a contradiction but a recognition of differing circumstances.

Open Information Society (Transparent Society) (1)

under_score (65824) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243546)

Well, in the previous article about IBM, I mentioned that technology is forcing us in a direction of less technology. David Brin wrote an essay called Transparent Society [davidbrin.com]. Very interesting stuff.

Of Orwellian Environments (1)

jbfung (310231) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243549)

It's almost an interesting case of doublethink [wikipedia.org] isn't it?

I've always felt that such an incongruency rises from people's motivation. In the case you're asking about, the movivation is rebellion - "Damn the man" syndrome you might say.

So the value of protecting their privacy is the same value of competing against corporate products with free alternatives.

It's a little silly and childish in several ways, but I think it's pretty easy to see why it happens.

Oh yes - and they "didn't" reduce your chocolate ration this morning....

Single vs. multiple (1)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243551)

Simply put, the information that "wants to be free" is general information going from multiple points (say, the Internet) to a single point (say, a /. User). The private information, on the other hand, is the information of a single point (same said /. user) going to multiple points (the BlackHatters). While they are both information, personal information, by definition, is personal; whilst broad information is general.

Abortion/death-penalty false dichotomy (3, Insightful)

John Miles (108215) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243579)

It's perfectly possible for someone to oppose abortion and support the death penalty, although I'm not sure how it would fit into the Christian ethic espoused by Republicans of late in the US. I, personally, oppose both, but not for the usual reasons.

Since I'm not religious, I believe that there is no inherent right to human life -- or anything else -- because no one has demonstrated the presence of a universal authority who could bestow that right. We are each granted "the right to life," such as it is, by our society. There are things you can do, such as committing a capital crime, that represent a voluntary renunciation of that right.

An unborn child, conversely, has done nothing to give up whatever right to live that society can confer.

I am troubled by abortion rights -- even in the absence of religious motivation -- because I can't answer the question, "When is it no longer OK to kill a baby?" At the moment of viability outside the mother's body? No; that fails as a test because technology will eventually make in vitro incubation a reality. At the moment of conception? Yeah, that would be fine, except for the point I just made. At the moment of discernible brain activity? Same problem. At the moment of birth? Only a barbarian would be OK with that. At the onset of conscious awareness? That happens after birth.

The reason why I oppose capital punishment is purely pragmatic -- I don't trust the government or the judicial system to get much of anything else right, so why should I trust these proven-fallible institutions with a decision that by definintion can't be reversed?

Information != Privacy (1)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243584)

Information has levels. Personal information is the finest level of granularity as it is associated with only one individual and only that individual usually has access to it.

The more he shares this, the less granular it is.

True information longs to be free but does the individual long to free that informaton?

oh the irony of willful ignorance (3, Insightful)

prgrmr (568806) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243589)

For example, many US Republicans are against abortion but in favour of the death penalty (no doubt they have their reasons)

The reasoning is generally based on accountability and culpability. A feutus is neither, while presumably an adult facing the death penalty is both. The larger problems with the death penalty isn't the taking of a life, but that the process is so potentially flawed for a miriad of reasons that the life in question may in fact not be culpable at all.

Please note that I'm not advocating, just clarify what was a needlessly murky aside which could have very appropriately removed by a more astute editor.

The web article linked in TFA is so blatantly biased and the author full of his own agenda that it makes for a poor basis for discussion, and ironically underscores the point illustrated by juxtaposing the Fitzgerald quote with the remainder of the topic at hand.

You must compare like with like (1)

Beautyon (214567) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243594)

A CDR of the Shopping habbits of 10 million people is private data.
Secret facts about a new planet kept secret on a server [theinquirer.net] is information.

One wants to be free, the other does not.

This is not keeping two opposing ideas in your head at the same time; this is being able to distinguish between two ideas that only apear to be the same on the surface, due to the form that they take.

Commencing from infancy.... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13243599)

However, for many outsiders, it's hard to understand how cliques reconcile seemingly contrarian views. For example, many US Republicans are against abortion but in favour of the death penalty (no doubt they have their reasons).
Don't you think this might have something to do with the fact that the former kills an innocent baby while the latter executes a convicted murder who's perhaps raped, tortured and killed several people?

Even assuming that they commenced from infancy tried very, very hard, I still wonder how some people can make themselves this stupid. But then I'm not a liberal, so what do I know about such things? I'd never vote for a Dean or a Kerry. I knew Clinton was a con man from Day 1.

And most important of all, I can tell the difference between a little baby and a remorseless serial killer.

--Mike Perry, Seattle, editor, Dachau Liberated

Information Does not "Want to be Free" (2, Insightful)

pdabbadabba (720526) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243605)

Lets get real: Information does not want to be free. Information does not want anything. Information is just information.

The only basis we could have for moralizing as we do about information is of a consequentialist bent. Saying "Information wants to be free" really means that, In general, the best consequences obtain if information is free. With this as a premise, the burden of proof when we talk about "information ethics" then falls on those who would restrict it.

Now, this shifting of the burden of proof should not be mistaken for (as it seems to have been by the poster) an objective and universal assessment of the ideal fate of *all* data. Obviously the best ends are not reached by my (or someone else's) making my banking information public. Its just that, thanks to the "Information wants to be free" mantra, the burden of proof falls on me to demonstrate why this particular information should be kept private, as opposed to the other way around -- wherein all data is kept private and proprietary and I have to argue for exceptions open standards, OSS, etc.

Hope this made sense.

There is no paradox here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13243608)

"Information wants to be free" is an observation on the fragile nature of censorship - if Alice knows a secret, she can only tell people she chooses. But if Alice tells Bob, she can't stop Bob from telling anyone HE chooses.

In other words, information may want to be free, but we may not want it to escape. We can make observations on trends without personally supporting those trends.

There are two things at work here (3, Insightful)

Concern (819622) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243615)

First, as Orwell very correctly observed, the human mind is not the least bit troubled by self-contradiction. Logic is much more of a conceit or a learned skill than a human trait. Or as Swift said, human beings are just Rationis Capax. Well, it doesn't really surprise any observer of humanity that we're all so often blithely illogical even as we express pride at our reason and intelligence. It's just an all-too-familiar fact of life.

The second thing is that people who are ungifted or unfamiliar with the subtleties of a situation very often mistake nuance for a self-contradiction. We've all watched politicians make our most cherished freedoms into evils to be ground under the bootheel of a five word slogan. The truth is that we reason modularly with symbols and representations that reduce the immediate and full impact of what they represent, and we communicate using the same imperfect tools.

Slogans about information wanting to be free are symbols that make a far more specific case than they appear - because (forgive the half-hearted semiotics) of their context. Take them out of context and you are now merely playing dishonest rhetorical games. To clarify this as one example: "we" (not really, but lets say for the sake of the example) don't want "information to be free" - we want copyright to be limited (or at least its enforcement to take a backseat to civil liberties). And yes, we consider privacy to be one of those civil liberties.

Remember, too, that common law, and indeed all of our human society, is not a mathematical model descended from the heavens. It's a permutation of our instictints and our necessities - strictly arbitrary and animal in nature.

There are many "inconsistencies" around us that deserve our full attention. And I take it as a compliment that the story's attempt at producing one for the slashdot crowd's approach towards copyright and privacy amounts to a vapid, dishonest hat-trick. :D

ALL information should be free (1)

egburr (141740) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243636)

I don't care who can find out what I am doing, if I can find out who is checking and for what purpose.

In a completely open world, it shouldn't matter if you have my bank account and credit card numbers, because enough information should be available to verify that it really is me who is authorizing their use. The government may be able to track my movements and activities, but I should be able to track theirs, too.

Sadly, all those people who value their supposed privacy maintain the status quo where only the government and the big corporations have the means to gather our data while most people have relatively little ability to see who is doing what with it or to research the people who are gathering and using our data.

Furthermore, just because the information may be free, that doesn't mean you can make whatever use of it you want to. For example, just because you can get my phone number doesn't mean I want you calling me to sell me something. Currently, people pay extra to keep their numbers private primarily because they are afraid other people with abuse that piece of information, and they are right! If we could stop the abuse, there would be no need for the secrecy.

Abortion vs Death Penalty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13243640)

Against abortion, and for the death penalty is *NOT* inconsistant.

Abortion = killing an innocent child

Death Penalty = killing a convicted criminal / menace to society

Show me an unborn child that's commited treason or murdered someone...

Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13243647)

Information that 'wants to be free' is that way because people want to share and do so (like open source software). Shopping preferences are not like this at all -- it's clear that the corporations have to dig this out of people using spyware or whatever. This is information people generally don't want to share.

Point of view (3, Insightful)

jkarlin (171967) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243652)

To paraphrase one of my favorite musicals, 1776 [imdb.com]
"You should know that information always wants to be free when its in the 3rd person, such as 'Your Information'. It is only in the 1st person, 'My Information' that it wants to be unfree.

Causes & Justifications (1)

Niban (227391) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243673)

Privacy works like this. I dislike having my time wasted unnecessarily, if that involves filling out registration forms with blatant lies to ward off the otherwise inevitable surge of spam, so be it.

Basically, if a company provides some assurance that they will not A) spam me, B) sell the info to someone who will spam me, C) lose, misplace, or get hax0red in some manner that causes my information to wind up in the hands of people who would do A or B. Then I have no problem sharing info.

If personal information got used for basically anything other than marketing, (people who want you to give them your money), or fraud (people who cut out the middleman and take your money). The whole personal privacy thing would be a non-issue.

It should be a non-issue.

Getting from here to there may require a better crop of humanity than we have to hand, however.

Simple Answer (1)

krgallagher (743575) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243680)

"How does the intelligent and functional Slashdot crowd reconcile the liberty of other people's information with the privacy of their own?"

This is easy. I want what makes my life easier, and I want you to have what makes my life easier.

People (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13243681)

People that are given the death penalty usually deserve to die for what they have done. An unborn baby does not!

Keep the hordes out (1)

Lulu of the Lotus-Ea (3441) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243707)

Gee, the quality of articles (this one an "Ask Slashdot", I guess) is ever declining.

The "paradoxes" the pos(t)er claims are completely bogus. Even as wrong-headed as the pro-death (penalty) Republicans are, their position is not a logical contradiction. Under their warped way of thinking, "an eye for an eye" and all that. That is, it's good to kill people who did something bad; but the innocent zygotes never did something bad (since, after all, they don't have brains, intelligence, or even motility for that matter). But if you can go along with the fantasy that a few cells with human DNA (and a "soul", no doubt) are human, the whole crazy belief system is self-consistent.

Likewise, the information that wants to be free is the broader discourse of human knowledge. And the information that wants to be private is purely individual, confidential content. The distinction is clear in the legal forms around it: the bad stuff is copyright, patents, trade-secrets, and to an extent trademarks. I don't protect my sex life and credit history by copyrighting it, but by NOT PUBLISHING it. The anti-freedom types want to publish information (a book, a song, an algorithm), and yet retain control after that publication. If I were to (voluntarily, deliberately) publish a book "All about my sex life", I would not expect the information to be private (say, via copyright)... it's the fact I don't publish it that makes it merit privacy.

Women.... (1)

Himring (646324) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243709)

"F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote that 'The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.'

That's also a perfect description of women....

Ideas, not information, want(s) to be free (1)

Dr.Evil (47264) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243711)

It's not that we think all information should be free, it's that we believe ideas should be free. Scientific, cultural, and even economic progress is built on the free flow and exchange of ideas. It is hard to make a good case for the perpetual monopolization of ideas or art, as the WTO "intellectual property" regime seeks to do. You can't make the case on scientific, cultural, economic, or moral grounds.

Frankly, it's a matter of good public policy. Does it make good sense in the long run to deprive the public of its cultural and scientific heritage, to the point that an entire generation of people will die before it becomes public domain, in the name of profit? Similarly, does it make good sense to expose the public to thieves, scam artists, and stalkers, to the point that their livelihood and even lives could be in danger, in the name of profit?

Now, there are occasions where some types of privacy data - web surfing habits or credit purchases, for example - can be used for scientific progress, but it is appropriate to be careful with that information. Data of this type, when stripped of its personal identifiers and used in bulk, can be very useful in tracking trends and improving products and processes. When it is identifiable with a person, however, most of the time it is only used to annoy, harass, or steal.

For me, it comes down to this: with ideas, the burden of proof should be on the creator to show why it should not be shared freely with the world as soon as possible. With private information, the burden should be on the collector to show why it shouldn't be kept private. And "because I'll make more money" is not an acceptable answer in either case.

Free information! Free Information! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13243714)

I talked to Information about this, and he said that he is tired of being shackled to Mrs. Information, and definitely wants to be free.

Stupid Joke? More intelligent than this article anyways. RIP Slashdot

privacy (1)

Dharh (520643) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243717)

Information doesn't _want_ to be free. It can't want. Many people, on the other hand, want information to be free. Whether that is free as in beer or free as in whatever the heck else type of free information can be is part of the debate.

I for one do think some information should be private, like say what I'm thinking, and what I do inside my home, but also think that if one has nothing to hide then they shouldn't be so afraid of video cameras on every corner of the commercial district.

Part of hoopla of the debate is about feeling. It is a little unsettling to some that companies try to compile every little thing you do so they might send you (e)mail or commercials or whatever that you might not be able to resist. But what really unsettles people is the possibility that what you buy at the bookstore 10 years ago might be used against you by some government gone wrong.

Yeah I monitor my cookies and deny/approve them as I surf, but not necessarily cause I care that they will know how many times I've been to their site or want to keep surfing records about me. I do it because I don't really need 200,000 cookies cluttering my computer and I do like to know who's setting cookies.

Which is my last point, the only thing I really care about privacy is I want to know when my privacy is being invaded.

Well... (1)

Momoru (837801) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243728)

To explain this supposed hyprocracy (and feed the flamewar):

For example, many US Republicans are against abortion but in favour of the death penalty (no doubt they have their reasons)

I would say that a person receiving the death penalty had a choice in the matter, ie if you don't murder anyone, you don't get the dealth penalty (even if maybe 1% are really innocent). While a child is an innocent person 100% of the time.

Why not use the example that Democrats are against the death penalty but for abortion? (Which isnt true...MOST Americans favor the death penalty and MOST Americans favor abortion, we just like killin' stuff, regardless of politics)

Forced Parallels (1)

tyler_larson (558763) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243730)

The key to understanding how these groups believe in two seemingly contrary views is to understand how these views are not actually contrary at all. In doing so, you remove the hobbles from your own mind and can better comprehend another's perspective.

The key to understanding how someone can favor the death penalty and be against abortion is to understand that there's a fundamental difference between unborn children and convicted murderers. Once you understand that concept, you can move on to the fact that certain groups see this difference as significant when forming views about how to treat another person.

If you don't understand how someone can favor privacy while fighting for openness is to understand how information can be used. And once you have that added enlightenment, you can begin to understand how the potential use of knowledge can affect the people's opinion of whether that knowledge should be made public.

These forced parallels, this forced grouping of dissimilar ideas based on a single commonality at the exclusion of all other attributes, is not the product of analytical thinking. Rather, it's the result of the manipulation and selection of data to fit a hypothesis.

The key, of course, to understanding others is to actually try to understand them, rather than trying to contradict them.

Common Sense (2, Insightful)

boatboy (549643) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243731)

As with so many debates, the real problem is the issue is being misstated, so that there appears to be a contradiction where there is none. "Information should be free" refers to knowledge about facts such as history, public policy, etc. It does not refer to my bank accounts or medical history. Same goes for abortion vs death penalty. The former has not commited a crime that suggests he may not be cabaple of living in society. You may still disagree with views on either, but to juxtapose the two issues for purposes of debate is ignorant.

it's about who decides (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243734)

for abortion and the death penalty, republicans believe they can deicde best

for information, slashdotters believe they can decide best

the way forward is for everyone to understand that some decisions don't always fit their preconceived notions about how the world should work

and sometimes you need to change your theory to fit the evidence about what is "best"
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