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I've been wondering for weeks (well, months, actually) whether it was even possible to write this diary on any kind of neutral basis. Let's see.

There is more information available about a greater percentage of more people than there ever has been before. Some of it is collected with our direct consent, some with our indirect consent, some without any consent at all. It's collected by our friends and neighbors, our employers, financial institutions, retailers, online search engines, and governments. When that collected data improves our lives, we tend to have some sympathy for the collection process; when that same collected data creates obstacles for us, the sympathy disappears.

Calls for transparency of information and worries about privacy and misuse of information compete on a number of different levels, from the personal to the global. Arguments about the subject are based on all kinds of different premises; Constitutional, ethical, moral, rational, etc..

For the moment, assume that the arguments are beside the point (mostly because I don't have any good answers...). Let's instead look at a number of different questions, most of which are going to be hard to answer well.

Does it bug you more that other people and institutions have access to your data, or that you don't have comparable access to the same data, both about yourself and about them? Note: that's a throwaway question, because I was feeling snarky at the time I wrote it. It's still worth thinking about.

What changes do you think other people or institutions would make if they knew that everything they did would become publicly available information? What would you change if you did?

In what ways might society change, both for the better and the worse, if the concept of secrecy were to become null and void at all levels? Or at all levels above the purely personal?

Is it fair to say that transparency is what we want from other people, and that privacy is what we demand for ourselves? Can the concept of privacy be redefined to fit in with the call for transparency, or will it need to be scrapped either partially or entirely?

How many of the problems our society has today do you think are due to inadequate access to, or nontransparency of, information?

Some general thoughts on data limitation, in no particular order: The concept of privacy assumes that no one else has access to, or control over, some subset of your personal actions and/or data. Secrecy means trying to limit access to certain data to a selected number of people. Security (data security) is thinking you've achieved secrecy, worrying that you haven't, and spending an increasingly larger share of resources on trying to bolster your protections. Since a secret held by more than one person is potentially no secret at all, security cultures generally involve a strong tendency toward paranoia. Blackmail, when it doesn't involve real hostages, involves the threat to publicize private or secret data. Inequity in power, apart from real weapons, generally involves the acquisition of useful data, and the ability to subsequently limit its dissemination.

While direct threat will continue to be a useful tool for intimidation, blackmail and corruption on any large scale depend on there being a culture of privacy and secrecy, where the ability to obtain and potentially release negative private data is a major status marker.

One of the reasons that there is a general lack of trust between people, or people and institutions, or between institutions, is that, if you have a culture based on privacy and secrecy, it's easier for people and institutions to lie when it's profitable for them to do so. When verification is impossible, trust depends on blind faith; not a good basis for productive reasoning.

How might we go about making access to information broad enough that it cannot be effectively used as a weapon against the average citizen because of inequality/inequity of access? This is one of the kickers. Repurposing the NSA as a public information access system might do the job, but I suspect a fundamental shift in society will be easier to accomplish, and would probably need to be done first.

What specific things can you see better information access doing for you? I'm thinking about things like
- being able to find what kind of money "radical" writers and activists are making, and how they're spending it, so I can judge the extent of their sincerity or hypocrisy for myself
- being able to look at actual salaries and hierarchy in a corporation I'm thinking of working for
- checking out the driving record of a cabbie before I get in
- looking at the records of police activity or environmental medical problems in a neighborhood I'm thinking of moving to
Some things are more selfish, some less so. All are possibilities if we can get a handle on the information that's already out there for a few, but not available broadly.

I can envision some really good scenarios, as well as some pretty scary ones, coming out of real answers to these questions and others that might need to be asked, but in either case I think it's time and past time to start asking them. The only thing I can't envision at this point is any way to shove the genie back into the bottle. This, I think, is part of what living in the information age has to encompass.

Originally posted to serendipityisabitch on Wed Nov 27, 2013 at 04:24 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Cognitively Dissonate much? ;) (4+ / 0-)

    Dudehisattva...

    "Generosity, Ethics, Patience, Effort, Concentration, and Wisdom"

    by Dood Abides on Wed Nov 27, 2013 at 04:40:10 PM PST

    •  All the time. And your point was? ;) (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dood Abides, johnnygunn, dannyboy1

      At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

      by serendipityisabitch on Wed Nov 27, 2013 at 04:53:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  maybe I missed a lot.... (4+ / 0-)

        ... but much of your diary was about (paraphrasing/interpreting here)...'what might be some benefits associated with 'all your data are mine' ? '

        Just me... but I see no good ultimately for humanity because of "human nature"... and am totally opposed to the NSA's activities...

        The classic experiment re: Cognitive Dissonance...


        ...take home message starts at about 3:25(IMHO)... ultimately, "any time there is insufficient reward, there will be dissonance... the general principle is that people come to believe and to love the things they have to suffer for."

        No criticism, here, just pointing out the way that I saw what you wrote... keep it up! I'll keep reading! ;)

        Dudehisattva...

        "Generosity, Ethics, Patience, Effort, Concentration, and Wisdom"

        by Dood Abides on Wed Nov 27, 2013 at 05:18:14 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I do not like the NSA (6+ / 0-)

          I do not like it any way
          (additional lines left to Seuss fans)

          But, I think that even without its presence in our lives, the question of where transparency and privacy stand in relationship to each other could stand to be reviewed. Our standards are shifting because of the information we can now access - information that we want - more information in more forms than ever before in human history. It's changing all our institutions, in all kinds of different ways.

          As we get used to having more information, we also come to realize more fully where it's blocked, and, I think, start resenting that blockage. I do, anyway. There's a great deal of dissonance there, because I'm a pretty private person. I want enough information to let me make good decisions, and it bugs me when I know it's there, just not accessible. Grmph.

          At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

          by serendipityisabitch on Wed Nov 27, 2013 at 05:37:49 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Hey Dood - (5+ / 0-)

          Been a long time since I saw the Festinger study - BUT -
          I wonder whether gender was a control.

          In the 1950s, I suspect a young woman would have been far less willing to contradict a middle-aged, male authority figure than a young man.

      •  If you are going to work for a public company (7+ / 0-)

        There is very detailed compensation information for the top five corporate officers in the annual proxy statement filed with the SEC and available for free at edgar.gov.  However, nothing below the top five is easily available to the public.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Wed Nov 27, 2013 at 05:24:33 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Told the clerk at Radio Shack yesterday that I (12+ / 0-)

    avoid coming into the store because of the information they want any time I try and make a purchase.  If it is that valuable to them, they should either pay me or give me an on the spot discount.  

    Tell the folks who want my opinion that I want to be paid for such valuable information.  Ten bucks, in quarters.  Before I answer.  I don't get as many calls as I used to.

    If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever. & http://www.dailykos.com/blog/Okiciyap

    by weck on Wed Nov 27, 2013 at 04:48:12 PM PST

  •  Didn't Woodrow Wilson Say - (3+ / 0-)

    Almost 100 years ago:

    "Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view."

    How naive of him.

    •  Perhaps naive, or perhaps 150 years too early? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladybug53, native

      As individual citizens, we now have access to more information about actual events in real time than I think he could ever have imagined. We ignore most of it, but it's available. A diplomat from that time would be appalled at how far into the tent the public's nose has already gotten.

      Our information appetite has been whetted; we now see how much more there is to know, and we want to know it, or at least know we could. I think it's legitimate to ask how we might be changing, or how or what we might need to change, in the face of the tumultuous river of information that's potentially available.

      At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

      by serendipityisabitch on Wed Nov 27, 2013 at 11:21:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Show us a 24/7 camera of the spy agency (5+ / 0-)

    and corporate info-gathers, with microphone, keystroke capture, and each with their own website.

    Then, after the field is level, let's talk about how people are interested in using information.

    In the meantime: a warrant based on probable cause for government; and for business a fee (flat plus royalties) for using my information for trade (bindable on each user it is transferred to) and after I sign an agreement. No agreement? Felony penalties for using it.

    Of course, every government report and study, except a very small handful of what's now classified, should be available to any citizen.


    Actual Democrats: the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats. And actually addressing our various emergencies.

    by Jim P on Wed Nov 27, 2013 at 09:10:24 PM PST

    •  Somehow, I'm not following this. (0+ / 0-)

      You want a "level playing field". Until we have one, you won't consider how we might get there from where we are?

      I'm sorry if I'm misconstruing what you said, but that's how I ended up reading your comment.

      At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

      by serendipityisabitch on Thu Nov 28, 2013 at 12:04:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  There's nothing else worth considering (5+ / 0-)

        but the immediate cessation of the stalkers, whether they be government or business.

        I don't accept that it makes any sense to fold the Stalker State under the wing of 'information.' That 'the information is out there and we have to live with it' is hornswiggle.

        As long as you have stalkers, any and every attempt at honest dissemination/discussion will be noted, and let's remember the next dot in this picture, trolled, dis-info'd, etc.

        I use software every day which works: after this length of time, do thus, do such. No reason it can't be written 'after, say, 1 millionth of a second, erase all traces. And then any trace that your erased something.' And certainly it takes deliberate effort to actually save information. Especially for years.

        Ending the Stalker State is the pre-requisite to 'doing anything about using information for our well-being.'

        And the reason for privacy, btw, is because it used to be in King George's England that agents would burst into your home and take your private writings, and slice you into quarters for treason based on how they interpreted that. A private letter wherein you said "saw the King; looks sickly; don't feel he could last another month' would be turned into plotting the King's death.

        Just because electrons are replacing paper and face-to-face communication doesn't mean the imperatives of privacy as a bulwark against government (or private business) evil has disappeared.

        Human communication, unfettered, is what privacy is about. Not the paper, the spoken word, or even the electron.


        Actual Democrats: the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats. And actually addressing our various emergencies.

        by Jim P on Thu Nov 28, 2013 at 01:56:49 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, thank you for your further explanation. (0+ / 0-)

          I'm curious whether you apply this principle to all human communication or only to non-business, non-governmental personal communication between individuals. Your original comment suggested that you do make some distinctions.

          At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

          by serendipityisabitch on Thu Nov 28, 2013 at 02:37:02 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I always say no (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53, dannyboy1, dizzydean

    to requests for more information before I make a purchase. I still get to make a purchase, but the clerks (sorry, associates), have to ask. That's their job. My refusal makes some associates uncomfortable, but it's still ok to refuse.

  •  Privacy of information should be inversley (6+ / 0-)

    proportional to power. If the very powerful were subject to the greatest public visibility of their information on an individual and institutional basis and the least powerful had absolute privacy of their information it would be best for all of us. The powerful have a very large impact on all those around them and I believe that gives those effected a moral right to know about the powerful people and institutions impacting them. Those with small impact on those around them have a much smaller scope of moral obligation to inform others.

    Love = Awareness of mutually beneficial exchange across semi-permeable boundaries. Political and economic systems either amplify or inhibit Love.

    by Bob Guyer on Wed Nov 27, 2013 at 09:34:21 PM PST

    •  I'd rather not argue this on moral grounds, (4+ / 0-)

      since my experience is that it gets incredibly complicated unless we're both coming from the same belief set.

      Do we start with parents having the necessity to give their children the information the children want, while children have no obligation to tell their parents what they're doing? They do, after all, have a much smaller voice in the family than their parents do, and thus less moral obligation. It's the situation you're describing, applied to the smallest social unit. I'm being a bit cynical here, and I do apologize, but I believe it's actually to the point.

      I'd rather start with the situation we have, and try to figure out just how to apply the leverage we've got, or might develop, in a much less than perfect world. And, I think, clarifying the concepts we're using is one means of finding whatever leverage there is.

      At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

      by serendipityisabitch on Thu Nov 28, 2013 at 12:27:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  just stepping back (4+ / 0-)

        Methinks the moral grounds are important because we can't set a direction if we don't know which direction we need to go. I agree that some Moral Stances are really unhelpful in direction-setting, but I don't think that is an issue here.

        Maybe Bob Guyer's principle can be stated a bit differently: the more power an individual or institution can wield, the more urgent it is to restrain how that power is used, or to be able to intervene if it is misused. While the Koch brothers have more power than I do, that doesn't mean that we care what they're having for breakfast. Parents' power over their children doesn't mean that they aren't entitled to privacy vis-a-vis their children.

        "I am not sure how we got here, but then, I am not really sure where we are." -Susan from 29

        by HudsonValleyMark on Thu Nov 28, 2013 at 06:08:10 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Power differences need to be factored in (2+ / 0-)

          because in modern state societies role and power differentiation lead to moral questions about one person's actions affect another.

          On the purely individual level where people interact directly and power differences have an affect it is only on those directly interacting people with some contagion into effects in their social networks. We have moral codes and laws that govern aspects of that level of human encounter. Privacy of information at this level or at the level of more intimate relations doesn't need any more transparency that it naturally has because the normal social feedback mechanisms that have been operative since the inception of our species work pretty well.

          When one entity or individual has wide spread affect on many others we have a different moral and practical situation. Here is where I think the argument that less privacy is deserved as the power (defined as having impact on others outside the sphere of ones direct relations) increases is applicable. I also think there is leverage in moral argument, as does George Lakoff, is a good place to ground an argument that can have a political affect. Is it morally justifiable that oil companies that inject chemicals into the ground can keep the information about what those chemicals are private when the chemicals may seep into the water table and possible have an effect on those people, animals and plants who must consume that water to live? As a society I don't think we factor in power differences into our moral/ethical thinking very well and use the more intuitive individual frame reflexively. I am pointing out that it isn't an adequate frame for our thinking and also saying that it would be healthier for society overall if transparency increased as power increased. I don't think the ownership privacy argument overcomes the if you are effecting me I have the right to know about it argument.

          Love = Awareness of mutually beneficial exchange across semi-permeable boundaries. Political and economic systems either amplify or inhibit Love.

          by Bob Guyer on Thu Nov 28, 2013 at 08:29:38 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  that makes sense (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Bob Guyer, serendipityisabitch

            The notion of "privacy" conveys that your business is yours alone. But to the extent that your actions affect others, they aren't just your business, and an appeal to "privacy" no longer applies.

            Saying that much doesn't settle all the practical issues, but it seems to be a good place to start.

            I think it's reasonable for democratic citizens to accept certain compromises of privacy for broader purposes. For instance, I doubt that the U.S. taxation system could operate strictly on the honor system. (But the IRS can't operate strictly on the honor system, either, so it's a real problem.) Obviously the NSA wasn't trying to promote a democratic debate on compromises of privacy.

            "I am not sure how we got here, but then, I am not really sure where we are." -Susan from 29

            by HudsonValleyMark on Thu Nov 28, 2013 at 10:00:05 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  I agree with you in general, but I think that (0+ / 0-)

            any real solution needs to work at all levels, and especially on the individual level.

            This statement

            Privacy of information at this level or at the level of more intimate relations doesn't need any more transparency that it naturally has because the normal social feedback mechanisms that have been operative since the inception of our species work pretty well.
            is where we most part company. Intra-familial abuse depends on privacy and secrecy. At the family level, at the small town level - everywhere up to the highest concentrations of power - privacy and secrecy can be a hindrance to the ability to solve real problems.

            And, like any social construct, they can provide positive benefits even while they enable some people to game the system. What I'm asking is that you not ascribe some inherent good to the concepts, that you consider, on both a personal and a societal level, how they might be both used and abused, and how they might need to be changed to support a more just society.

            At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

            by serendipityisabitch on Thu Nov 28, 2013 at 10:54:24 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Let me step 'way back for a moment. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          HudsonValleyMark

          I am very much inclined to agree with Bob Guyer about the problem, though not on a particularly moral basis. The more powerful an entity is, the more I want to make sure I'm protected against that entity. That I can run, or hide, or fight effectively against it. Or that it is constrained from acting against me, at some level. Put really simply, I don't like feeling helpless.

          The problem of how to effectively constrain power has been around for a long time, and both the machinery of power and the machinery of constraint keep evolving. I don't see it as a problem we're ever going to have a final solution on.

          My gut feel is that assuring transparency and availability of a large amount, potentially a majority, of information might go a long way to help with constraining power. Insider trading becomes less possible, and less potentially harmful, when outsiders have access to information than when it's supposed to be closely and secretly held. And so does child abuse.

          Privacy and secrecy. At all points in the spectrum of power, they can inhibit the potential for justice. Which is why I don't want to limit the discussion to how the powerful might be constrained.

          At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

          by serendipityisabitch on Thu Nov 28, 2013 at 10:33:46 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  fair enough (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            serendipityisabitch

            I think your interest in self-defense counts as a moral basis, but it doesn't have to be construed as such. Call it peace or call it treason, call it love or call it reason....

            The problem of how to effectively constrain power has been around for a long time, and both the machinery of power and the machinery of constraint keep evolving. I don't see it as a problem we're ever going to have a final solution on.
            Hey, I'm a political scientist, you're preaching to the choir. :) Seriously, I think this is a very important point.
            My gut feel is that assuring transparency and availability of a large amount, potentially a majority, of information might go a long way to help with constraining power....
            I see your points, but I'm not sure where to go with that as an organizing principle, partly because I'm not sure how we're operationalizing "information" here.
            Privacy and secrecy. At all points in the spectrum of power, they can inhibit the potential for justice. Which is why I don't want to limit the discussion to how the powerful might be constrained.
            I agree that we shouldn't limit the discussion to "the people vs. the powerful," so to speak. The challenge is to be broadening the discussion without just changing the subject. Hmmm.

            "I am not sure how we got here, but then, I am not really sure where we are." -Susan from 29

            by HudsonValleyMark on Thu Nov 28, 2013 at 12:40:20 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  My thanks to the Rescue Rangers - first time (4+ / 0-)

    I've made Community Spotlight. ;)

    At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

    by serendipityisabitch on Thu Nov 28, 2013 at 02:49:11 AM PST

  •  Too much 'raw information', brain overload. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dizzydean, serendipityisabitch

    It isn't a problem for computers but it is a problem for human brains. No wonder people self-select more than ever. It can only  get worse.
    People need context for information processing. That used to be the purpose of public education.

    When you control the mail you control information!

    •  All breadth with no depth n/t (0+ / 0-)

      To be free and just depends on us. Victor Hugo.

      by dizzydean on Thu Nov 28, 2013 at 07:54:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Oh, it's a problem for computers, too. (0+ / 0-)

      But you're right, it's a real problem for people, and getting worse and more obvious as more and more data become available. I suspect one of the new professions that will develop in the next few years will include people whose whole study is how to pattern and contextualize data into forms that people can interpret, and who train in techniques that make that kind of work more possible for more people.

      At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

      by serendipityisabitch on Thu Nov 28, 2013 at 11:02:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You pose an excellent series of questions, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dizzydean, serendipityisabitch

    and I'm having a hard time trying to answer even one of them. I do see an immediate threat coming from NSA and its client law enforcement agencies. They are shielded by draconian laws regarding "classified" information, at the same time they are entitled to prosecute people. It's a dangerously unbalanced situation.

    As for the rest, I don't know. McCluhan's "global village" analogy is good, but it only goes so far.

    •  Then I did it right. Thank you. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HudsonValleyMark

      The current situation is dangerously unbalanced. Aside from my concern about what's currently happening, though, I have a healthy respect for all the things that can go wrong when someone is trying for a quick fix to any problem without understanding why the problem exists.

      If I had a magic wand to wave that would make it all go away, I'm not sure I'd wave it, because I'd expect the whole problem to reappear in some even more hidden venue. At least we know part of what's going on now, and have some modicum of control, even if it's not enough.

      At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

      by serendipityisabitch on Thu Nov 28, 2013 at 11:12:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  We could sure use a truly objective (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        serendipityisabitch

        "think tank" to objectively examine these issues in depth. I doubt that the Heritage Foundation is quite up to the task, and the Cato Institute has been rendered utterly useless.

        I mean, it's high time we started at least trying to come to grips with what's happening to us, in a non-partisan way. We need input from philosophers and historians, rather than from political hacks.

        •  I think we need to have lots and lots of (0+ / 0-)

          individuals think about them for themselves. Not an easy task, but potentially doable. This isn't, I don't think, something that can be imposed from the top down. Aside from that, philosophers, historians, and IT people, too. And semanticians, and science fiction readers,... And painters, definitely painters.

          Institutions don't create new paradigms, they're built to study the effects of those in place already. Which means they tend to be status quo organizations at best, if only to try to get what they're studying to hold still. It never does, of course.

          Chaos is a long way outside the norms. There's a much more flexible world, and worldview, that goes outward for a long ways before you chance getting tangled in it.

          At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

          by serendipityisabitch on Fri Nov 29, 2013 at 11:53:52 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I can't wait 'till my kids can review my browsing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    serendipityisabitch

    I'm guessing it's just a matter of time until all of the data that the NSA hoovered up gets released as a result of a Freedom of Information act request, or a hack (another one), or a simple screw up. Then my kids, or my grandkids, or relations further along will get to do a name search on me and find out just where I visited on the Internet during it's early, open days. What will they say when they find that I posted at Daily Kos, that I checked out Red State, that I know more about Jenna Jamison's physique than is quite polite?

    I don't think discussion of these issues matters much. The data will be collected by business and government. The data will be outed, whether for free or for cash. Neither business or government cares anymore about what you or I think about it. The corporate beast doesn't even care about privacy or information management laws. After all, corporations are never punished to the point or real pain. Why shouldn't they just view fines as the cost of doing business and keep on doing business just as always?

    It's dawn. It's gray and cold out. I'm as cynical as it gets right now. But I bet I'm not far off.

  •  I will believe that a person is genuinely ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    serendipityisabitch

    ... concerned about what merchants and credit card companies know, assemble, analyze, distribute and sell to others when - and only when - that person reads the privacy statements on websites and pushes back at the sponsor. And checks away all those boxes on applications that authorize the vendor to notify about special deals.

    We are participants in the invasions of our own privacy.

    As for all those surveillance cameras on the streets and in places of business, we are (for the most part) in public and we can't realistically expect privacy. We can, of course, object to what happens to the recordings of that surveillance, but how many of us even ask?

    Bottom line: We readily forego privacy concerns for our own benefit and for the security of those who do business with us.

    Nothing here is to argue in favor of NSA's indiscriminate collection of call data and e-mail, or the Patriot Acts' enormously broad authorizations, or Congress's deliberate refusal to inquire into these practices.

    The diarist, in my reading, is trying to encourage realism in how we think about these issues. Privacy/security is not a clear bright line. We should be acting as if we realize that.

    2014 IS COMING. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

    by TRPChicago on Thu Nov 28, 2013 at 07:46:07 AM PST

  •  Resolve no longer to be a slave and you are free! (2+ / 0-)

    Etienne de la Boetie wrote his Discourse on Voluntary Servitude from which this line is a quote back in the 16th century, but its message applies to our tech land today.  We don't have to participate in the tech world and allow ourselves to be commodified.  After all, does anyone really NEED the social media platforms?  How often do we freely give up our personal information in the name of ease of access?  Or to purchase something?

    Yet, sadly, as the younger generation--the so-called "digital natives"--comes of age, they are so used to swimming on-line that they have no idea about privacy or protection of information.  Giving consent to commodification is just the cost at the door.  Again, from de la Boetie:

    It is incredible how as soon as a people becomes subject, it promptly falls into such complete forgetfulness of its freedom that it can hardly be roused to the point of regaining it, obeying so easily and so willingly that one is led to say, on beholding such a situation, that this people has not so much lost its liberty as won its enslavement. It is true that in the beginning men submit under constraint and by force; but those who come after them obey without regret and perform willingly what their predecessors had done because they had to. This is why men born under the yoke and then nourished and reared in slavery are content, without further effort, to live in their native circumstance, unaware of any other state or right, and considering as quite natural the condition into which they were born.
    I'm not sure where the tech thing will lead--we are already seeing the advent of wearable devices and further miniaturization.  Already, young people today have their entire lives digitized from birth, as family and friends record everything, while the young people themselves willingly put their lives on youtube or facebook.  The darker side of this is cyberbullying and cyberstalking.  Yet, corporations are standing there too--looking for the next platform (Instagram) to lure people into exposing more of themselves.

    It truly is a Brave New World out there...

    To be free and just depends on us. Victor Hugo.

    by dizzydean on Thu Nov 28, 2013 at 07:51:50 AM PST

    •  I agree. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dizzydean

      It appears that the passages from Discourse on Voluntary Servitude that you posted are an accurate and timeless observation on human nature, with respect to voluntary servitude and acceptance of subjugation.

      Unfortunately, widespread support for, and acceptance of, subjugation seems to be becoming culturally institutionalized in the US, judging by the amount of support for blanket, invasive personal information monitoring and retrieval by the authoritarian Corporate State Complex that I have seen increasingly expressed by many who self-define as progressive.

      She told me I could choose anyone I wanted to help me save the planet, so naturally, I chose you.

      by Lavender Menace on Thu Nov 28, 2013 at 08:48:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well, you're here, and I am here. I do believe (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dizzydean

      that you are here voluntarily, and as far as I know, I am also. And we're both participating in the tech world, at a number of levels, with whatever consequences it may bring.

      It used to be that scholars needed to gather in the towns around the great universities if they were to be able to hold conversations with their peers, exchange ideas freely, and keep learning. Now, we are here. And if we are gathered on a darkling plain, at least it's one that facilitates the exchange of ideas.

      At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

      by serendipityisabitch on Thu Nov 28, 2013 at 11:25:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good essay, tackling a big topic. n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    serendipityisabitch

    Venceremos! (We shall overcome!)

    by Redfire on Thu Nov 28, 2013 at 08:56:19 AM PST

  •  Comprehensive privacy law (0+ / 0-)

    We need a large privacy law that respects and protects people instead of the need for the government to store every bit of information about you or the corporations to know every purchase we make.  We should have a basic right to privacy expressed in law much like the Miranda laws that say you have certain rights.  If someone steals my Grandkids photos off Facebook and uses them, I want a clear law when I go after them.

    •  Umm... you need a clear juridstiction first. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      serendipityisabitch

      If the US has a law against using your grandkid's photos, can we really expect a sysadmin in China to care?

      Local laws don't mean much against a global network. How do you "go after" somebody who's committed an act that's illegal where you are, but not where they are?

      The rest of the world, surprisingly, is not subject to US law.

  •  "The genie is out of the bottle," people say to (0+ / 0-)

    tell you something can't possibly be undone.

    I'll note that in the original story someone does figure out a simple way of getting the genie back in the bottle.

  •  Mixing different universes adn types of (0+ / 0-)

    entities.

    People, individuals, should be in control of their own data. It should be as private or transparent as they see fit. Proviso: Information they provide to agencies, companies, doctors and the like should not be further distributed by such entities without their permission.

    Government and official acts of government employees - full transparency, no sekret law or rulings, no sekret trials, no sekret negotiations, etc.

    Businesses: partly transparent. Truth in advertising. Anything that has an effect on health, safety, environment, etc. to be disclosed as well as any licenses and/or credentials.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Fri Nov 29, 2013 at 08:40:10 PM PST

  •  We want information... information... (0+ / 0-)

    information!

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