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How much privacy do you expect?

There's a common wisdom now that "you have no privacy". That's a common quote: "get over it". But there's a Dickensian quality to this technology: we have the best of wires, we have the worst of wires; it has the potential to uplift and ennoble, and it has the potential to degrade and debase.
    - Representative Edward Markey (D - MA), on CNBC, discussing legislation against cell phone "pretext calls"1


Edit, 22:30 CST - BTW, guess who's coming to dinner?

1 "Pretext calls" are an impersonation-based cell phone number harvesting technique where someone calls your cell phone service provider, tells your provider they are you, asks for your number and gets it, then sells it to paying customers as part of a "cell phone directory" for direct marketers. You would think this is illegal, and many congresspeople claim that selling your data is; but harvesting it apparently isn't, even if they do it by impersonating you.



( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 19th, 2006 01:58 am (UTC)
why do we need any?
Jan. 19th, 2006 02:23 am (UTC)
Your guess is as good as mine
At the risk of sounding like Dr. Phil, I would say "if you have nothing to hide, hide nothing".

I personally think it's reasonable to respect privacy and to defend it, but it is never reasonable to take it for granted, nor rational to expect that if someone has a motive to violate privacy, that they will not.

There is neither a hard moral stricture nor a technically feasible preventative measure to stand between the individual's privacy and the person who stands to gain by taking it away.

Jan. 19th, 2006 02:09 am (UTC)
If privacy is only available to those who can pay for the privilage of insulating themselves from data thieves and whomever else may come a-knocking, it's an unjust system, every bit as wrong as the best health care and the best schooling going to those who can pay for the privilage, and in some ways more dire a need. I honestly don't think that the people who insist that there is no right to privacy have ever been really and properly violated, because when you are, you understand how miserable, frightening and potentially crippling an experience it can be. I wish we had the European "opt-in" system here in America rather than the "opt-out" system. If people have to constantly be looking over their shoulders and covering their tracks because there is no general rule regarding one's privacy, the boundaries thereof, and who and when they may be crossed, we are by definition not free.
Jan. 19th, 2006 02:27 am (UTC)
I never understand people who want to protect their privacy. Dude, we have more privacy than any person could dream of even 100 years ago. Just think, we don't all live in one-room huts and you can walk down the street and not know every secret of the people you pass. If someone wants to know what food I buy or what books I read. Big deal. I can still keep the real me private. The rest is just numbers. It isn't me.

Jan. 19th, 2006 02:38 am (UTC)
The relativity of privacy

There's a big difference between putative privacy and the privacy of one's identity, personal thoughts, and liberty. Now, that's not to say that wiretapping someone can't be used to curtail personal liberties. And far be it from me to say that data mining agencies should have unfettered rights to arbitrary transation data. If someone wants to pay money to learn my spending habits or my work and travel schedule, though, they are going to get it. It's just a matter of time. IMO, my time and resources better spent getting them to pay me for info that is perhaps worth more to them than to me, than getting someone to outlaw the acquisition of that info.

Jan. 19th, 2006 02:45 am (UTC)
My info should belong to me. That means you should not be selling my info, like my porn movies, because they are mine, unless I sign them away to someone else.
Jan. 19th, 2006 03:34 am (UTC)
Selling, actually, is another story
You may or may not be interested to learn that while I believe privacy is ultimately infeasible to protect ("and `ultimately' is sooner than you think"), I also think that one's information - even certain aspects of one's life not normally deemed a creative work - is a personal as intellectual property.

"Information wants to be free" is a double-edged sword. Whether you think it's true or not is another matter.

(... *wait* porn movies?)
Jan. 19th, 2006 02:27 am (UTC)
I expect no privacy and generally enter nothing into a computer or electronic data system that I do not plan on having compromised.

then again, I have a lot of paranoia and used to work in network security and the amount of data that can be gathered with simple analysis of who talks to who when...

there are five spheres: military, government, corporate, criminal, academic.
if someone high enough in any of these spheres wants to know about you, they'll find a way to find it out.
Jan. 19th, 2006 07:04 am (UTC)
You may have that luxury...
... But some of us make our livelihood on the 'net, and can't afford not to be connected. Even if there are risks about data being revealed/stolen, a number of us don't have other options.

I'm well aware of the paranoia that can come from working in network security, but I think it's largely unwarranted... That's just a personal opinion, but there are many ways to mask your true intentions and traffic on the net, most of which are in reach of anyone who would need to use them.

Additionally, only 5 spheres? I'd say there's at least one or 2 more. (Though I can't really put the concepts into words at the moment)

My 2 cents :)
Jan. 19th, 2006 05:03 am (UTC)
I think, to some degree, we deserve basic privacies and rights. I don't think anyone has the right to invade my bathroom or bedroom.
I don't think the books I purcase should be a matter of government record. Frankly, I don't think -anything- I do that is within the limits of the law should be on record unless I feel the urge to share it.

Then again... I've been raised in the country.
Jan. 19th, 2006 05:06 am (UTC)
KSU going great guns!
guess who's coming to dinner?
Wow! That's awesome!
Jan. 19th, 2006 05:11 am (UTC)
Re: KSU going great guns!
Mehhh... :-P

I might give it a miss.

I'll catch it on streaming audio. ;-)

Hey, I missed all the other Landon lectures!

The only event I've gone to here is Weird Al Yankovic's concert in 2000!

Jan. 19th, 2006 05:47 am (UTC)
Many good points in the comments so far, I both agree and disagree with several :)

I think it's necessary to seperate physical privacy from information privacy, because the two are in totally different "worlds". Our physical privacy is in fact increasing, by leaps and bounds, whereas information associated with our person is much less private now than ever before.

In a fair system, it only seems sane that as more information becomes available to us, more of our information becomes available to others, but it's very much a paradigm shift and the world isn't ready for the accountability and responsibility that comes with this.

All that said, I'm trying to push the envelope in both directions by tinkering with cryptography, both trying to build better encryption and break existing encryption. At least if there's anything I ever do need to protect, I have the knowledge to do so very well. :)

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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