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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Little Rant on Privacy

Just a little rant. Not a big one.

Privacy. Yes. In theory we all want it, and, of course, we don't want the Feds or the cops snooping on our private lives. Understood, well, I think so, maybe not.

The issue of privacy and security of the person from the Leviathan was, of course, a main concern of the drafters of our amazing Constitution. They wanted limits on the power of the state, and saw the inalienable rights of individuals to assembly, free speech, religion, bearing of arms, and due process as ways to limit that power, and give those individuals a level playing field (well, as close as possible) when having to confront the state. The authorities are not allowed supposed to go on fishing expeditions, poring through your private affairs looking for some violation of the law or material for blackmail.

Understood, well, I think it is understood, or I thought so.

Watching my kids and their friends, however, I have to wonder how deep-seated that desire for privacy remains. We are in the world of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Whatsapp, Google, YouTube, etc. We are wrapped up in a narcissistic competition to see who can pump out more personal information into the digital world, a world where information remains forever and ever--or, at least, until the advent of a zombie apocalypse in which the walking dead develop a taste for crunchy electronic components.

Just saying: On the basis of purely anecdotal evidence which might be wrong, the "outrage" over the Feds' snooping seems a generational one. Folks my age, not used to the new ethos of "total transparency," seem the ones most upset by the confirmation that the digital age is not a privacy friendly one. I don't find any great outrage on the part of the young; they seem to have realized and embraced that fact long ago.

End of rant.

Back to my oatmeal, ah, cinnamon and apple, yes . . . .

24 comments:

  1. I believe our children have no idea what privacy really means. Just wait until they try and find a job and waiting for them in the interview is a trove of their digital lives. It will eventually catch up to them and they will realize they have made a huge mistake sharing their stream of conciousness with the world for all to see. Everything is cyclical, and it will be our grandchildren that will embrace privacy again.

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  2. Perhaps we elders might have a slightly greater appreciation than youth for the evil machinations to which information may be put, to the detriment of country and soul?

    It would be nice to know that we had learned something from the wars of the 20th century (I, II, and Cold), and the menace of totalitarianism.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. From everyone is an informer (old eastern bloc) to everything informs(social media, electronics).

      Delete
    2. When history, real history not today's sanitized lefty drivel, isn't taught to our grandchildren anymore in school what hope is there of our twenty-somethings understanding the great "ism" evils of the last century? How many attentive and informed parents are out there to correct this? That's the scary question.

      Penny

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  3. I thought the real issue is not the one of privacy, but what is going to be done with the data. The various scandals in the US point to the probability that NSA and other data collection will be used to target people whether for the IRs style shake-down or for voting. The democratic party-Google links are not encouraging.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, but I was just trying to make the point that nobody, well, the young anyhow, seems particularly outraged by it. The new generation seems to accept loss of privacy in a way we older folks cannot.

      Delete
    2. The analogy is the medieval (or third world) village, where everything is known to everyone about everybody. In itself not such a fearsome thing until social pressure is brought to bear. And at 65 (my age) a touch opporessive. To the young though maybe it is not a matter of privacy but an opportunity to explore positive and negative aspects of their evolving ego. Acting out. When the ego calls everything else is irrelevant. Not in itself a problem (except bullying) at the time - but a problem later just as acting out could be in the real world. Also 99% of young people have little or nothing to protect other than their own stupidities.

      Delete
    3. Anon, John Perry Barlow got there first.

      WV: "25 askari", which is kind of scary given the Spencer/Geller thread...

      Delete
  4. The African king has no clothes.....June 25, 2013 at 7:49 PM

    Talk-action=zero.

    At a minimum ditch Microsoft, Facebook and Google, here is how: https://s3.amazonaws.com/sm-cdn/reports/NSA-Black-Paper.pdf

    ReplyDelete
  5. I will give some credit to Google. When President Obama laid his “They are mad about the video” smoke screen and Google was told to take down the video. Google said no. So now a corporation has more adherence to the rule of law in the United States, than our Federal Government?

    In light of the fact that Google easily possesses as much, if not more information than the NSA, and employs that information more adroitly. Perhaps, we should contract out the NSA functions to Google.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Back in the late 60s there was a computer program called ELIZA. It was one of the first (if not first) natural language processing experiments. The subject would sit in front of a teletype terminal and have a "conversation" with the computer. There were many spinoffs of this program.

    One such spinoff was used by some psychologists/psychiatrists on some of their patients that were suspected of being suicidal.
    This ELIZA spinoff was far more accurate in predicting this behavior than the psychiatric staff. They analyzed the patient-computer conversations for any clues of why this was so.
    They discovered that the patient answered one question more honestly to the computer than to the staff: Do you have a gun in your home ?

    Apparently people (still) feel less inhibited pouring out their hearts to a computer than a person.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Your "little rant" (your words) is a textbook case of the old "something, but something else entirely". An example would be "You're a great guy, but you're not my type". One can just eliminate everything up to and including the "but" as essentially inconsequential to the speaker and/or just "CYA".

    ReplyDelete
  8. I've been trying to figure out for many years which was going to win, 1984 (forceful oppression) or Brave New World (willful submission). Right now, I think Huxley has it by a nose.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nah, Huxley has been pulling ahead for quite some time, and now has it by a miles and miles.

      Delete
  9. A while ago, I was researching the background of a young man who had applied to my company for a job. It was a travelling position that with per diem would have grossed somewhere around $1700/week. A quick Google search landed me on his Facebook page where I was greeted by a picture of him holding two beers and a statement that noted his favorite thing was "smoking a doob and watching the sun set". Needless to say, this person's resume was promptly canned.

    Someone like this does not understand, nor cherish the thought of personal privacy....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Excellent. You made my point in far fewer words than I used.

      Delete
  10. I'm not certain (or for that matter, confident) how to interpret various news reports indicating "people" are opting in increasing numbers to use Search Engines other than Google, Bing etc.

    For instance, even if true, I can find no breakdown by age-group of those turning to Startpage, ... one I hadn't been aware of, "DuckDuckGo" (or somesuch) etc.

    (Of course, if anybody with/using social media EVER, thinks that by now opting trying to go dark is gonna help - the cow left the barn on the Midnight Express the moment "I agree to the terms" was clicked.)

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  11. Might want to get in touch with your Representatives Fellow Readers. (And for what it's worth I found in the second comment, good reasons why we should use faxes rather than emails [ even old fashioned stamp requiring letters! ] to correspond with our Congress Critters:)

    http://www.wired.com/opinion/2013/06/how-ridiculous-is-it-that-email-but-not-mail-has-been-left-out-of-privacy-laws/

    Arkie

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  12. Full text of the bill from above:

    http://beta.congress.gov/113/bills/hr1852/BILLS-113hr1852ih.pdf

    Ark

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  13. I want to know when the NSA surrendered to the White House. When I was in the military (64-91), it took an act of congress, practically, to get access to most of NSA's "products" (I finally got it, though. It's rough when you're allowed to see things your bosses aren't). How did a little snit get access so quickly, and to so much?

    As for privacy, I know that nothing I put into an online system, or say over a telephone, or fax to someone else, is private, and hasn't been since at least 1965. Both I and the NSA know I don't hold conversations with Islamist terrorists, that I don't REALLY plan to overthrow the US government (although they also know I strongly believe in the Constitution, and allegiance to what is actually WRITTEN there, not what some sloppy Supreme Court judge decides SHOULD be there, but our Founders were old fuddy-duddies), and that much of what I comment about are actually ideas for future novels I'm writing. They don't have time to read my emails, or my comments on Facebook, or my weblog (although sometimes I wish they would!). There are three hundred twenty million people in the United States. Forty million of those people have an Internet account, a cellphone, or some other electronic device. I put 20 things a day on the Internet, and I'm rather conservative. If you use my access as average, the NSA would have to sift through 800 MILLION transactions DAILY, just to keep up with people in the US. Add in what they legitimately collect, and you'd see they're soon overwhelmed. There has to be suspicion of wrong-doing to single out any one person, and check their output.

    The problem isn't the collection itself, however. The problem is that we have an administration that is paranoid, aggressive, and narcissistic to the extreme. They WILL single out their enemies. Unfortunately, we have no way to stop them short of the next election (if we're allowed to have a truly free election, with only legitimate citizens voting, and no fraud), or by revolution. I don't like the choices, but then, I'm not able to do much about it. What I can do, I will do, as long as I have breath.

    ReplyDelete
  14. You are far behind the technological curve. Security thru obscurity died when massive datamining became possible (fault Walmart, with the first terabyte sized database). Collection by government means the data never dies. Collected in order to bill you data would disappear at year's end, unless in the possession of government. The problem is that these are run by people, many of whom share the administration's ideological slant. They see no reason why their evil fellow citizens who impede "progress" should not get what the good people think is their just deserts. And have no conception of what Thomas More articulated about the devil and the law, because they will never lose power and therefore never be subjected to the violations of law they inflict. And even if it happens, those fools on the other side would never dare to use their own tools against them....

    ReplyDelete