The debates regarding privacy and freedom of speech, along with complex information such as encryption technologies, are now reaching feverish pitch (see references below).
We seem to have suddenly become very private.
The reality, though, is that nature has not made us particularly private. We are ordinary animals that breathe, eat, drink, produce and trade goods, and reproduce. Except for a few trade secrets there is virtually NOTHING that each of us does that is particularly unique. We are more or less the same.
And instead of wanting privacy, most of us want to advertise our wares (e.g. through books/articles/advertisements), or are otherwise not actively hiding from the rest of the world (like the Unabomber).
In other words, most people DON'T CARE about privacy. For good reason.
Privacy "experts" miss the point. They wonder why we are generally so relaxed about having our data float around freely on the internet. That is because we are not criminals, and have little (or nothing) to hide.
What about criminals who make use of this data for criminal purposes? Well, it is getting very hard to conduct a successful identity crime (by successful I mean not getting caught), because it is impossible to build a comprehensive set of false alibi that doesn't have holes in the story. The "data points" needed to genuinely steal an identity are far more than can be collected from the internet.
True, a few criminals will succeed in stealing from our credit cards, but most such theft occurs in IT departments of banks where some rogue programmer skims off millions of dollars, one cent at a time.
Therefore most people don't care whether google uses their information to provide them with customised advertisements. What difference does it make since no one (very few) ever clicks on these ads anyway?
I've come up with a simple formula: If someone wants to make use of information about me as part of a commercial enterprise, then I've got little to fear. After all, they'll only be able to use such information as a "data point" and match with other millions of data points to 'fine-tune' their services – so that I will PAY a little bit more (currently google, facebook, wordpress are all free).
I know that they will use my data for MY benefit, since they want me to HONESTLY pay for the service they provide. They are not out there to break into my house and steal my ironing board.
Therefore google/facebook etc. are all fine, for most purposes.
But when someone uses my data for CONTROL, then I've got to be careful. Only the government falls into this category. Therefore I fear government control over data.
We need to keep a sense of balance about PURPOSE and INTENT in this debate regarding privacy. Else we will quickly lose our heads and go overboard.
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