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> I sort of wonder what you envision this actually meaning.

I mean it to respond to the common response people sometimes give in conversations like these, which is "that's why I don't use Facebook" or "that's why I stopped using Google services". For this conversation, whether you use Facebook or not is irrelevant, they still gather your information, and in the same way myriad other advertisers (or however they bill themselves) do through online tracking. Google and Facebook are large, and have a portion that's easily visible, but they are not the whole problem by a long shot.

> If when a user tries to log in I check the referrer to see if it contains a proper URL, have I violated your privacy?

No. Noting which door a customer came into your store seems fine to me. That by default customers come in wearing the logo of the last store they visited is weird, but entirely something they can control. Having people shadowing all your customers while in the store looking and listening for tidbits they can report back on to get more info about those people is pretty creepy. As you suggest, the way to get around most of that is to dress blandly and say nothing.

Here's the thing, we're a market economy. There's a transaction going on, where we're trading away something (our information and privacy) to a company for some product, or possibly the right to view a product we might consider buying. How many people are actually aware of this transaction? If they aren't aware of the transaction, there's a name for that when it's a regular good, and it's theft (or fraud). The difference here is that most of our government systems don't apply any rights of ownership to this information, so our regular rules don't apply. I admit, they may not make sense to apply entirely, but at the same time, it's obvious that something is lost in the transaction, whether the person losing it realizes it at the time, or views it as important enough to make a big deal about when they notice.




> Google and Facebook are large, and have a portion that's easily visible, but they are not the whole problem by a long shot.

I meant more like in a literal sense, but okay. Point taken.

> No. Noting which door a customer came into your store seems fine to me. That by default customers come in wearing the logo of the last store they visited is weird, but entirely something they can control. Having people shadowing all your customers while in the store looking and listening for tidbits they can report back on to get more info about those people is pretty creepy. As you suggest, the way to get around most of that is to dress blandly and say nothing

These human metaphors are powerful, but don't map at all to basic analytics concepts. There is no person watching you. There is no intelligence judging you. There are a series of conditions in a deterministic system provoked by your actions. If we could have done this before now, we would have because it's a whole hell of a lot more ethical.

> Here's the thing, we're a market economy.

I dunno where you are but I'm in the US which is most definitely not "a market economy" without a whole hell of a lot of qualifiers.

> There's a transaction going on, where we're trading away something (our information and privacy) to a company for some product, or possibly the right to view a product we might consider buying. How many people are actually aware of this transaction?

Roughly as many, I imagine, as folks who realized the shopkeeper could see them enter and leave. Most folks know local proprietors can and will kick you out and put up a photo if you act up.

> The difference here is that most of our government systems don't apply any rights of ownership to this information, so our regular rules don't apply.

This is just flatly false. I don't know what you're thinking writing this, but it's clearly neglecting copyright and patents. For what it's worth, I think the later is a bad system an the former is in desperate need of reform to sharply limit it.

> it's obvious that something is lost in the transaction, whether the person losing it realizes it at the time, or views it as important enough to make a big deal about when they notice.

I am trying to read your comment in the spirit it was intended rather than the literal delivery, so please forgive me if there is a subtle impedance mismatch here but...

Welcome to the future, I guess? The top 50% earners of the world has access to computers that would have once bankrupted a nation to produce, and the options are still surprisingly good for the next quartile. With that power, it means that the people around you are going to start noticing things and making decisions about them with the information they can now process.

Ideally, this will be a distributed thing, but right now due to the nature of our society, authority of this sort is highly concentrated. But the dam has broken. A total surveillance system for up to a modestly sized city, with realtime tracking and long term data storage, is well within the reach of anyone with $10000USD to spend on hardware. They can self-host it. The banality of this cannot be overstated. It's boring to do this now. It's not new ground. So much so that average people can monitor their homes with it, or know if their friends have gone missing with it.

To some extent, there is just no undoing this. Society will have fewer secrets and those secrets will be much more deliberate, and the only response that can work is to change your attitude.


> There is no person watching you. There is no intelligence judging you. There are a series of conditions in a deterministic system provoked by your actions.

I don't think it's creepy because there's a (theoretical) person watching me, I think it's creepy because they're cataloguing all my actions in a systemic was which pierces the veil of perceived privacy (mostly through anonymity).

> I dunno where you are but I'm in the US which is most definitely not "a market economy" without a whole hell of a lot of qualifiers.

I'm not sure how to respond to this without a specific criticism of how you think it's incorrect. That said, it's somewhat tangential to the point, even if it would be an interesting conversation.

> Roughly as many, I imagine, as folks who realized the shopkeeper could see them enter and leave.

I don't know. If every time I entered my local 7-eleven someone picked up a clipboard, flipped to a specific page, looked back at me, nodded to their self and then marked something on the page, I might decide to go somewhere else, at least most the time. If I knew the info was shared with all the other 7-elevens, and the local grocery chain, and some hardware stores, that makes me want to use all the places less.

> This is just flatly false. I don't know what you're thinking writing this, but it's clearly neglecting copyright and patents. For what it's worth, I think the later is a bad system an the former is in desperate need of reform to sharply limit it.

I said "this" to qualify what I was referring to (personal information) and distinguish it from other types of protected information, of the type you reference.

> To some extent, there is just no undoing this. Society will have fewer secrets and those secrets will be much more deliberate, and the only response that can work is to change your attitude.

I don't think that's the only response that can work. It's the only one that works completely, as deciding to not care is always a solution to caring, if you can pull it off.

The alternative is new laws. Are they perfect? No. Will they solve the problem adequately? Likely not. Do they have a chance of making a positive difference across the board for massive amounts of people by empowering them with regard to their own information? I dunno. Maybe? I think it's worth pushing for though. Otherwise, why do we have minimum wage and labor laws? At some point we could have thrown our hands up and said "screw it" about that stuff, but people pushed for it, and while they aren't perfect, I think we're all better off for them.

I don't believe there will be any perfect solution to this ever, or even a good or acceptable solution all that soon. I do think it's still worth raising my voice over, because I think there are some possible futures that are better than others with regard to privacy and personal information, and I think that's worth pushing towards.




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