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One of the best responses I've heard to this particular line of reasoning is recorded here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30JORRy7F0A&t=53s

Not the same scenario being discussed, but worth noting that the consequences of a loss of anonymity through the internet have the potential to be a lot farther-reaching and more sinister than they are in any analogous loss of anonymity in everyday life. I'd be interested to hear if you find the linked argument persuasive.




The engineer is conflating privacy with security. These are not the same thing and they are constantly confused when people discuss this topic. I can for instance lock my house in such a way that no one can enter (security) but broadcast everything I do inside the house to everyone worldwide (no privacy). Conversely, I can stand in front of a closed curtain and no one can see me (privacy) but if someone shoots a bullet it will easily penetrate the curtain and kill me (no security).

I agree with him that the consequences of loss of anonymity are worse than a loss of anonymity in everyday life. In everyday life if a person sees my credit card number I only have to worry about that person say, whereas conversely on the internet its as if everyone the world over were to see my credit card number.

Assuming we don't have NN i.e. anonymity then the world knows everytime I use my credit card (no privacy). However, they do not know my credit card number because its encrypted (security).

So my thinking hasn't changed much after listening to the google engineers argument, I still think its a much better balance of powers to have everyone have access to everything than only those with the skills or power to acquire it, since I think given an absence of anonymity we would build better software and societal structures to ensure we have security for everyone even though privacy might be gone.




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