Saturday, July 11, 2015


Privacy is a big deal for most people.

Like the dictionary says -- it's the state of being apart from company or observation. It's seclusion. It's freedom from unauthorized intrusion.
Many of my friends are adamant, passionately upset, that Facebook and Google are selling their data to advertisers or to the National Security Agency (NASA).

I am not -- what I write in an email, say on the phone, post on my blog, share on Facebook and tweet isn't seditious, pornographic, or about buying/selling drugs.

Okay, I don't use a smartphone or tablet, but I have desktops and a laptop and they could be invaded, accessed by NASA, or some advertisers.

Well, so what? I express how I feel. It's me, I am proudly me. What harm could come to me, or to you, if private something-or-other things are used?

I read this to my husband, John Cullum. He said, "Lots of people don't agree with you," shook his head worriedly, and added, "I would NOT like my personal data being used or sold."


Okay, please explain to me, "What are YOU saying, doing, revealing on your various communication devices that could be harmful to you, if this personal data is used or sold?"

If it could be harmful to you, why oh why share it?  Get together with a friend, or a trustworthy pal, and talk.

Hey, talking is ... well, being with someone face to face and exchanging words and ideas is ... well, it's an easy, natural, normal, helpful thing you can do without wondering about stuff like privacy.        


Carola said...

It's never bothered me that much. But I do treasure my privacy against other people on the Internet (people who might attack me for my opinions, for example). I guess that means I trust businesses and the gov't more than other individuals

Ragtag Giggagon said...

Education is the same: People can study how students take in information, how best to teach the majority of learners, and then more resources can be devoted to those with learning difficulties, for example. Some people might need visual explanations, others work better through listening. And they can do best-fits for all, or special classes for some, and they can deliver just-in-time, just-enough information to students so that they can work in some field. Bankers can learn about how to spot fraud, for example, or their obligations to report suspicious activity to governments. Engineers can learn how to operate machinery, surgeons how to perform an operation, mechanics how to fix things.

But these advantages are not dependent on the NSA or Google or Microsoft or Facebook having my information in the way that they retain it. And as a non-national, it's wrong of the US government to have any of my details, should they choose to store it. It's wrong of the EU to allow it. But many European governments have cooperated in this, when they should have opted out. If any government covertly bugs its allies' phones, as the US has done with Germany's Angela Merkel, they clearly have little insight into boundaries.

Almost a decade back, Google was criticised for sharing its data with the Chinese government so that the Chinese could locate and arrest human rights activists. Google realised its mistake too late, but its argument at the time was that it was operating within the law, on foot of whatever warrant the Chinese authorities had served. If I am operating within the law in one country, and I go to another and my technology reveals that I have disobeyed the law coz it uploads pics to the cloud, to a private account, and I'm arrested, and I get a paddling and deported, that's not really right. Sure, I shouldn't be breaking any laws. But we don't know how politically motivated a corporation will be at a given point in time, or how keen it will be to cooperate with nasty stuff. Same goes for world governments. We could never have imagined the good guys torturing people 15 years ago. So we don't know which idiots are going to be in charge at whatever point in time.

But your data will be out there somewhere forever. And a canny private investigator who wants to make life difficult for somebody could probably get dirt on them that they don't even recall sharing or storing.

In various countries we shouldn't be speeding, we shouldn't be dancing naked on mountaintops, or drinking alcohol, or assisting others in seeking asylum from territories where they're being tortured.

We automatically do things today, like opt in for services that could actually hurt us. That's our fault because we tick the checkbox. But we shouldn't have to be placed in a position where we either have to opt out and not use a service at all, or opt in and risk all!

No doubt lots and lots of companies have embarrassing information on me. People will look at somebody's internet history, put two and two together, and make five. And there are things that are really nobody's business but yours, even if you've nothing to hide.

If you've just sent an email to me about dancing tips while you're on vacation, over an airport's wifi, in a Latin American country with a dodgy record, and then you're hauled into a Customs office and some goon with a big scar on his face and a gun in his hand asks you "Ahhh, Senorita hermosa! Emily! Have you got any dancing tips for ME?" would you feel violated then? :-) You've nothing to hide, but that's out of line! So I think that there's a discrepancy between having something to hide, and privacy. Your privacy's important!

So they're my broader arguments, Em. Very best to you. Your blog is always very interesting and thought-provoking, and I always look at it when I have the time.