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Privacy is the most important concept of our time (inre.me)
433 points by umilegenio 10 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 212 comments



I had some chickens on my lawn the other day. Someone driving by stopped, started video recording me, my family, my neighbors, and the birds with their phone (I assume that's what he was doing, that's what it looked like) for a minute or two, then he drove off. He didn't say a word. He didn't respond when I waved.

By my standards of social behavior that dude is a fucking creep and (years ago) I would have tried to go over and confront him, and get his license plate, and maybe even call the cops on him. I know it's not illegal to photo/film people in public, but (again, by my personal standards of social decency) this guy's behavior is hella creepy.

Of course, the answer is: he's a millennial and (to him) what he's doing is perfectly normal. Everybody is a tactless voyeur now, and all your photons/base belong to us. Anything worth looking at is already getting mobbed by the panopticon.

(My solution is to buy some land in the woods, cover it with surveillance gear and build large, intimidating robots to patrol the fence. But that won't scale.)

The problem is, our whole civilization is that guy: the advertisers, the NSA, the crooks and creeps, all of them are after your data and have a head start.

We can't put the tech/genie back in the bottle (I don't believe we can.) So that leaves us with creating a kinder, gentler dystopian hell.


Or you can approach them in a friendly manner and talk about your Chickens, why are they so fascinated and make a new friend.

My advice is to try to understand that your judgement is probably not aligned to malice of the intruder, instead verify with friendliness and if they’re still “creepy”, by all means proceed with your action plan.

Love each other and our neighbors. Dude probably just wanted to send it to his girlfriend what he found interesting on the way. Sure the means of communication has changed, but back in the day it would be a photo taken on a Kodak disposable camera and majority of the narrative would have been through story telling.


You're missing the point. I'm not Oscar the Grouch.


agreed - if this was once a year or something, maybe, but this is slowly becoming a new "right", the right to record anything at anytime - which is madness

edit: and it is the new norm - no escaping it


Why would you be friendly towards somebody who has just taken unwanted photos of you without your permission?


It's public space. Permission is not needed.


His lawn is a public space?

Would your reaction be different if they were taking pictures of his pets through his window?


I was on the opposite side of this a few years ago. I spent a lot of my childhood in Germany and had the opportunity to go back and see my childhood home and walk along the street. The street was a lot nicer than I remembered so I took some pictures to show my family. At one of the houses I started taking a picture with my callphone and within ~ 10 seconds the front door opened and a woman appeared and started asking me what I was doing and a few seconds later a man appeared next to her and I got the impression that if I didn't leave right away a call to the police would be made.

I'm a millennial and indeed, it seems perfectly normal to take pictures of things you want to remember later. Photographing a person without asking them is more questionable and I can imagine creepy ways to do it, but photographing a house seems 100% unobjectionable. I don't feel that I have any right to privacy when I'm in a public space, someone else taking a photo of me doesn't harm me in any way.


> someone else taking a photo of me doesn't harm me in any way

With today's facial recognition technologies, if that photo has GPS coordinates and timestamp attached (most likely it has) it means now somewhere (most likely in several places - cloud, social networks, ad networks, etc.) it is registered that you were at that place at that moment. Not everyone is happy that their movements and whereabouts are being registered.

Well, you can argue that we all carry a smartphone so anyhow our mobile operators (and so, the government (yours and maybe others too)) register our movements history, but at least you can choose not to carry a smartphone, but how can one choose not to be photographed/videotaped?


Really insightful comment and I could not agree anymore. Reading your story really puts it into perspective what we've grown to accept as normal.

It's unfortunate that the solution seems to be to just leave—(I don't think stopping and trying to make a friend is realistic the vast majority of the time, or even safe sometimes)—and I'm realizing I'm at that same conclusion.


Cheers!

> It's unfortunate that the solution seems to be to just leave—(I don't think stopping and trying to make a friend is realistic the vast majority of the time, or even safe sometimes)—and I'm realizing I'm at that same conclusion.

It works out in my case: I'm a huge Venture Bro.'s fan and my dream is to create a 1:1 scale model of the Venture Compound complete with H.E.L.P.eR. and G.U.A.R.D.O.. I'm even going to make the tunnels underneath and invite people to live there (but only if they stay in character as VH1-imitating troglodytes.) You better believe the laser turrets will be very realistic.

As for everybody else, yeah, I think the average person is already screwed, and doesn't care because it's comfortable enough. Maybe the Amish will see an uptick in converts but I doubt it.

- - - -

I want to point out, because some of the other sib comments miss it, my gripe isn't so much with one clueless tourist snapping photos, it's that his camera is connected to the world-wide internet and all that entails. For all I know the video has been seen by millions of people by now, eh? Keeping chickens in the city isn't illegal but I don't want to attract attention. (They're not supposed to be on the front lawn, they got out of their run.)


On the other side of the coin: maybe he didn't see you wave because he's on a video call and looking at the caller's face. Maybe he didn't want to step onto your property or disturb your day because that is often seen as aggressive behavior. Maybe he didn't actually stop for the reason you think he did and just happened to notice the chickens and pointed to take a photo.

Calling the cops is a ridiculous reaction to just about anything these days other than someone has been shot.


>> Someone driving by stopped, started video recording me...

> ... maybe he didn't see you wave because he's on a video call and looking at the caller's face ...

So maybe the creeper was on a video call looking at the caller's face, while driving? Nope. There's no excuse for that creepy behavior.


How is taking photos/video of someones chickens creepy.


Hi!

If you were a sociologist, they'd called this a "generational gap in behavior norms." Greybeards would mutter something about "getting off my lawn" and "kids these days."

Old people are used to people complying with laws that require release forms being signed before publishing someone's likeness.

That went out the window, oh, 25 years agoish.


Because it's also his entire family and chickens. It is creepy unless you're a professional photographer. Social boundaries are there for a reason.


Not calling cops because the mass media is trying to convince everyone that all cops are stone cold killers is ridiculous. You are far more likely to die on your way to the grocery than you are to get death by cop


With respect I don't appreciate being second-guessed like that. To me it feels like you're implying I'm some kind of idiot that can't see what's in front of his face. Just letting you know.

> Calling the cops is a ridiculous reaction to just about anything these days other than someone has been shot.

You don't understand, I'd be calling the cops because this guy is about to get shot. Some folks in my "hood" have strong and definite opinions about personal boundaries.


Perhaps it's a generational thing because I don't see a problem with what happened, at all.


I’m a millennial and I don’t understand how this is not a problem. People need boundaries and ownership in order to thrive. Yes some things should be shared but everything is a balance. You cannot just have anyone walking into your house. Similarly, taking photos of you and your family in a private space ) (albeit public-facing) is a socially indecent and disrespectful move. While not legally enforceable, I can understand why this concerns privacy.


Perhaps it's a jurisdictional thing, then? Where I live, if it's in public, it's fair game. The only exception is when it's in public but there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. For example, even though a fenced backyard is outside, someone reaching a camera above the fence to record is an invasion of privacy. Recording someone in their unfenced front yard from the street is not an invasion of privacy, unless the recording was meant to record what's inside the house through the windows.


The author goes too far when they suggest there should be laws (and one imagines punishments for those who break them) that prevent something being shared in one space from being shared elsewhere. For example, if I share something with my family, there should be a law that prevents a family member from making what I said public.

Not only would this be a nightmare to police but it would give rise to some anti-social outcomes. If I was flat out telling my family I didn't like race X and wished that religion Y could be outlawed, and then shared in the public realm that racists are terrible and that freedom of religion for all is paramount...shouldn't someone be able to call me out on it? And if not me, imagine a person of some power or influence: don't we want to know when someone's public political stance is different to how they really feel?


I am the original author. That are good points. I think that punishment would mostly comes through social interactions (i.e., we should chastise people) or technical means (i.e., you are banned from sharing content for X days), but also fines for the most egregious offenders. We fine people all the time.

> If I was flat out telling my family I didn't like race X and wished that religion Y could be outlawed, and then shared in the public realm that racists are terrible and that freedom of religion for all is paramount...shouldn't someone be able to call me out on it? And if not me, imagine a person of some power or influence: don't we want to know when someone's public political stance is different to how they really feel?

You can call out people in private for the bad stuff they share in private. However, you are right it is no so clear cut: we need to find balance. The issue is that making a special exception for powerful and influential people it is dangerous because it is not clear who are. In some way almost anybody has some authority: you might be a parent, the go-to guy for technical things in a community, the administrator of a forum or a open-source project, etc.


at the very least, the speaker should probably have to indicate in some way that what they're saying is private. like if I invite you into my home and we have a discussion about the best brand of kitchen sponge, you shouldn't automatically be prohibited from sharing my recommendation with others.

> If I was flat out telling my family I didn't like race X and wished that religion Y could be outlawed, and then shared in the public realm that racists are terrible and that freedom of religion for all is paramount...shouldn't someone be able to call me out on it? And if not me, imagine a person of some power or influence: don't we want to know when someone's public political stance is different to how they really feel?

perhaps it's because I'm privileged, but I don't really see how this is a problem? does it really matter if someone holds abhorrent beliefs privately if everything they do in public (and at their job) is consistent with their publicly espoused views? if instead of only confiding in close family members, the person abused the privacy protection to spread their views to many private groups, this would start to blur the line.

a more clear cut example would be if someone privately expressed a credible and imminent plan to harm someone else. you would definitely want an exception for that.


> perhaps it's because I'm privileged, but I don't really see how this is a problem? does it really matter if someone holds abhorrent beliefs privately if everything they do in public (and at their job) is consistent with their publicly espoused views?

If somebody has both expressed abhorrent views and made deceptive statements, why on earth would one assume they could be trusted to only act in accordance with their public statements?


that's not quite an answer to the question I asked. people don't always behave in a way that's consistent with the privately or publicly held beliefs, and I think it would be foolish to expect them to.

suppose you have a hiring manager that's secretly a racist, but nevertheless hires a diverse group of talented engineers because that's what's in their job description. doesn't it only become a problem if people find out?


In the real world - and even more so in a super privacy-conscious version of the real world - nobody has perfect information about how the other person acts towards others. Politicians renege on public commitments and racists hire minorities to bully all the time.

Suppose you have a hiring manager that expresses racist views about minority engineers but then tells you not to tell anyone. Why on earth should their plea for secrecy and some nonwhite faces in the office lead you to assume that they're scrupulously fair in their decision making?


it becomes a problem the minute there's divergence because lack of integrity undermines trust. of course, the seriousness of the problem correlates with the size of the divergence. and given that, as you rightly note, there is always going to be some degree of divergence, social responses should be informed by the degree of the divergence, and should forgive relatively trivial ones.


I see a solution with individual auditing.

I want to see my social graph across different proprietary data stores and either charge a dime for use of my data, or reclaim a node.

Auth is one issue, building that graph is another, and hiding data from regulators is the last I can think of right now.

Regardless, the sentiment remains.

When I write this comment, it's work. I made some content for y'all. But if a scraper comes through and builds a social profile of me, it should compensated or controllable in some form.

I wasn't selling this data, but it's not really anyone else's data to sell either. Even if ycomb decides they are going to sell this information, I'd like to know that.

IDK what the solution is. It's probably reclaiming ownership via private servers. It's probably grand trust and code contracts. It's probably even a mandated anonymity filter where PII is opt-in by default and only a certain degree of information can be traded.

I am just under the impression that there has been a massive overreach and that the majority of people online have lost control.


You are correct that most of us have totally lost control. This company gives me hope: https://permission.io


> don't we want to know

No, not your business. You're not supposed to know everything about everyone.


>If I was flat out telling my family I didn't like race X and wished that religion Y could be outlawed, and then shared in the public realm that racists are terrible and that freedom of religion for all is paramount...shouldn't someone be able to call me out on it?

I think this goes to the heart of the problem with the article in the OP. Everyone knowing everyone's business leads to a lot of good things. Like if you knew a subordinate was beating their wife you'd probably fire them. But since they beat her in the privacy of their own home they get away with it.

More broadly, if everyone knew everyone that smoked pot or was homosexual or cheated on their taxes there would be pressure to change some laws and follow others. Social shaming is a powerful tool. Like any tool it can be used for good and for evil.

The assumption that privacy is protection against anything isn't supported by history. The Nazis, the Soviets, the Chinese, the Khmer Rouge, along with many others all conducted their reign of terrors without the use of modern surveillance. Privacy was no shield then and would be no shield now. The only real protection is not letting people like that into power.


Privacy doesn't protect from physical attack, but if you fall victim to informational attack, you will lose physical safety too even if your physical shield is as solid as Troy.


"And if not me, imagine a person of some power or influence: don't we want to know when someone's public political stance is different to how they really feel?"

( aside from other points: )

But it seems political positions are somewhat arbitrarily chosen within the many possible positions and position-combinations and then you also have to change in lockstemp or not? So you have two parties (or a few more in different systems) and they have largely adopted specific positions, so you have to decide on one of the two positions on a issue (e.g. democrats with high taxes dont like corporations etc -> need to be in favour of high corporate taxes instead of vat+no corporate taxes+vat and redistribution-transfers 2) and then share their specific combination (instead of pro-choice rep or pro-gun dem etc)(and there are so many positions that you have to keep track of like tax-structure (income, vat, corporate-tax(corporations are bad -> high tax etc)), abortion, guns, climate change, lgbt, religion/religious-freedom, foreign policy 1) for all these positions and then also change whats your positions somewhat in lockstep with the party (eg support/opposition for foreign inventions, sexual, crime (90s vs today etc), gun rights (like how police unions used to be in favour etc)). (But if you loo at any issue objectively/remotely (i dont mean like objectively right, but somewhat separated from partisan-/party-influence) it seems like people would get to a wide variety of positions on just one issue (just like there are hundreds of possible positions) and then an even greater variety of combinations of this variety of positions (and then againan even greater variety in changes of positions and position-combinations etc).)

Not saying it doesnt make sense to have political duopoly (of alliances) so that complicated and unclear will can be somehow translated into power/actions. But asking a politician to honestly believe what he says seems somewhat like asking them to never remotely look at things and just try to directly assimilate into him whatever polls good for some time (without really any inner thinking or critical judgement etc a bit like a robot etc)(because all that wouldnt do that would then need to resign latest at the next position-change and only would remain etc).


Interesting choice of example. How about this one - do you like eating meat? What if you were flat out telling your family a story of how you fondly remember a time you had a lovely steak and that you're not 100% onboard with your new vegan party overloards who have declared all talk of meat eating as speciest and abhorent?

Shouldn't it be OK to call you out for your regressive hate speach? He said the N word in private! Nuggets! How very dare. Don't we all have a right to know that secretly he wishes he was still allowed to eat nuggets?


I think this essay conflates the notion of privacy and property and goes off the rails from there. I get what he's trying to say, but I don't think it has much to do with the the ordinary sense of the word privacy. If he's saying that the boundary between the individual and the collective is a core social construct, then, sure. But there are other, much better discussions of that topic, going back thousands of years.


Privacy is just another way the author states personal boundaries. and I think what the author is trying to state is there is a dossier of GPS locations, messages, and contacts you have made available to the Tech Giants and in the future they may not be as benevolent as they are now. They may be able to create an environment of chaos like throwing the damned into a colosseum to tear each other apart for their own amusement. Who knows? The people who run this industry are aloof billionaires. I don't know what future they have in store for all of us anymore than you or the author does.


Privacy and the concept of property blur in the digital. This is interesting when taking the philosophy of natural laws and what a nation like USA is built upon (ideas of natural laws including property, defending life, and so on)

Encryption is the only way to have property in the digital universe, however the mechanics of property and cost are also entirely different. Once it exists it’s costless to reproduce in said form. However relying on encryption feels a little repugnant as it relies on transferring trust to a mathematical minority that truly understand it. And no encryption has ever gone unbroken with time. Should there even be a contrived concept of property in the digital universe?

Is there anywhere to learn more of these ideas or consequences in more detail? I’ve had various conversations of this but it would be nice to see a top down review of these ideas and actions in a modern light.


> However relying on encryption feels a little repugnant as it relies on transferring trust to a mathematical minority that truly understand it.

Physical locks also rely on a minority that truly understand them. A bit less true now that you can find lockpicking tutorials all over the place, but most people just trust their locksmith, who, in turn, trust lock manufacturers.

> And no encryption has ever gone unbroken with time.

Depends on what you are meaning by "broken" and by "time". For example MD5 is broken for collision, but not for preimage, and some algorithms are broken only in theory. As for time, what do you mean? 5 year, 50 years, the age of the universe? And anyways, it is the same for almost every security measure, including physical locks.

> Should there even be a contrived concept of property in the digital universe?

It is an interesting subject because you are probably going to get very different answers if you are talking about DRM or if you are talking about personal data, even though they are both tied to the concept of property. And in every case, it is backed by law. A burglar is not allowed to steal your stuff because your lock is weak, and picking a lock without permission from the owner is illegal. In the same way distributing copies of copyrighted material is illegal without a license, especially if you crack the DRM, and personal data is protected by law (unless you give a license).


> Physical locks also rely on a minority that truly understand them. A bit less true now that you can find lockpicking tutorials all over the place, but most people just trust their locksmith, who, in turn, trust lock manufacturers.

physical locks are not nearly as essential to physical security as encryption is to digital security, although they are definitely important. physical locks are only useful because most people don't want to get spotted on your doorstep fiddling with your lock. a determined adversary will just kick the door down or break a window. encryption needs to resist opportunistic attacks that can come from anywhere, 24/7.


Yeah - essentially without encryption you don’t have the conceptual model of identity. You couldn’t be a unique soul in an avatar without encryption as a fundamental implementation.

Maybe that’s what 2nd law of thermodynamics is related to in Wolfram’s view.


> Should there even be a contrived concept of property in the digital universe?

Absolutely. Property in law designates rights. Frequently multiple different types of rights are bundled and coexist. This enables the same physical property to be the subject of several and often competing interests e.g. ownership, possession, custody, freehold, leasehold, legal and equitable interests. Having a property right means being able to exclude others from that property to a greater or lesser extent. This may then be modified in different legal contexts but not radically. The statement holds true grosso modo. Online property rights are modelled on traditional property rights without need for more. The discussion of online property is normally about rights of transferring, managing etc. or rights in the manner of acquisition, dealing, disposal etc. Of course this refers to physical assets, but since property is rights and these are created and managed digitally it is online property ipso facto.


I agree with your sentiment and I would also be interested to know more.

Economics hasn't really caught up with the situation of zero marginal cost enabled by computers and the internet. Surely there must be a better way than artificially limiting supply?


Check out the Zcash team building private internet money based on zk-SKNARKs https://z.cash/the-basics/


>And no encryption has ever gone unbroken with time.

AES somehow evaded it since 1998. Coincidentally it was selected in the first open competition.


Not destroying our planet with GHG and rendering it inhospitable for millions of species, including humanity, is more important than a couple generations' data being spied on.


It's not an either-or situation. Both are important for humanity to survive and thrive.

I know that Benjamin Franklin said this in a completely different context and for another purpose, [1] but it makes sense to me to repeat his saying:

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

[1]: https://www.npr.org/2015/03/02/390245038/ben-franklins-famou...


However, the article's topic verbatim states privavy is "the most important", which makes it an either-or statement by the very nature of a superlative.

The person you replied to did in no way say privacy is not also important, but rightfully pointed out that the survival of life on the planet is more important than privacy.

If anything this says two things:

- superlatives are overused

- just because superlatives are overused doesn't mean we should ignore their semantics


Climate change and the environment at large are orders of magnitude more important than 'privacy', on this planet, at this time.

This quote is not apt here because that's not what's at stake, and it misses the point completely, which is that claiming that privacy is the "most important concept of our time", apart from being a strange wording, is quite out of touch with the reality of the world's current problems.


Fwiw - these two things are not as disentangled as one might think. Consider disinformation leading to the widespread climate change deniers.

Both are existential threats with high degrees of uncertainty.


How is disinformation entangled with privacy?


“The Great Hack” documentary captures how Cambridge Analytica takes the 10s of thousands of data points per person to identify opportunities to divide people and the design a misinformation campaign that will resonate with each faction.


Targeted disinformation.

Imagine being able to compile the cheapest pressure point for everyone in the world using surveillance and then exploiting it on a industrial scale. Most modern surveillance is in a legally ambiguous area of the law.

In theory you can target anyone with habitual use of a computer or with friends who use computers a lot for very cheap.


Targeted disinformation from ads was much less effective than widespread disinformation from paid shills.


Yes but most influencers gain an audience through social networking.


Which also isn't targeted disinformation.


Off the top of my head:

- It could be in the interest of a government to make sure people aren't spreading what they would consider disinformation

- It is then in the government's interest to prevent the spread of disinformation, perhaps to identify those spreading it or those who may be inclined to spread it

- It's not a stretch then to consider that it could be in the interest of government, particularly one with malicious or authoritarian intent, to tap into private conversations of people suspected of spreading disinformation.

I find it particularly concerning, because I assume that what people within a society would consider disinformation is 1) inconsistent, 2) ephemeral.


That's interesting, your peer commenters have observed almost the opposite thing.

You note that government may want to target individuals to prevent the spread of misinformation more effectively.

The others note that misinformation spreaders may want to target inviduals to spread misinformation more effectively.

Sounds like individual-targeting is a weapon for both sides.


To add to the siblings' comments, it is also likely that a lack of privacy leads to groupthink. Groupthink may propagate misinformation, as people become afraid to speak up against it.


Targeted disinformation.


I would even adventure to say that privacy is a human construct that doesn't really matter... why is privacy that important? when did "privacy" start to be of importance to the human been.

As a devil's advocate, if EVERYTHING, absolutely everything was public, and "common knowledge" and accepted (you sleep without clothes, oh god! scandal!) a lot of things would be easier.

Of course the fact that people are judged for their choices is what makes us value privacy... but the right thing would be for them NOT to be judged by those choices.

I understand at the basic level it is an unpopular opinion, but I submit this as a thought process on the same level that Asimov, Heinlein and other SciFi authors proposed to test our basic social assumptions.


Your comment is whataboutism and a false dichotomy. Both issues can be addressed simultaneously and independently. I mean it's laudable that you feel stronger about conservatism than privacy, but right now you seem under the impression that we can only pick one.


There is limited bandwidth of humanity here, there can only be one most important concept. The title argues it is privacy, which is questionable given the much longer term impacts of GHG and destruction of our biosphere.

Other comments have noted that companies spying upon us will lead to less climate action, which I do agree with given a dirth of privacy on a site like FB enables GOP misinformation paid for by fossil fuel interests.


The context is the title.


My point is that the reply was a direct comment on the title, which explicitly says "the most important". The poster is not saying that they are mutually exclusive so calling "whataboutism" on that is a strawman.


The model of global warming you believe in is hyperbolic and ascientific. No legitimate climate scientist is worried about "rendering the earth inhospitable".


They may not be mutually exclusive. It's hard to press the off switch when you're strapped in and you're rapidly accelerating.

When they control your every move through an invasion of privacy how can they stop burning the oil that fuels you lest they lose their position of power?


Climate change is a slow process. Technology is fast enough to catch up with it and solve it, since it's mostly a technological problem.

Privacy is a social problem. Automation is too(And my guess in the near future, it would be a much bigger problem).

Social problems get resolved very slowly, if at all. So those 2 seem more worrysome.


Anyone who believes the above simply hasn't looked at the numbers. The speed at which we need to reduce emissions simply dwarfs anything technology has ever achieved - not to mention the fact that so far, technological progress has always had the net effect of adding to GHG emissions.

Let's take the example of the digital industry. Arguably, it's shown the most impressive trajectory of energy efficiency, with an exponential growth sustained over many decades, roughly gaining 3 orders of magnitude every 16 years (See Koomey's law: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koomey%27s_law#:~:text=Koomey'....).

But overall, what's the currently worst-offending industry in terms of GHG emissions / energy consumption growth? The digital industry! Our unmoderated consumption grows even faster than energy efficiency gains, to the point that it's the only major industry in which the energy intensity of added value is increasing.

(Many sources here: https://theshiftproject.org/en/lean-ict-2/)

We do need a lot of technological investments, but the narrative that says this will be sufficient is a very dangerous mirage. Please, be responsible, do your research, and don't spread ignorance - our children will have to bear the burden.


Climate change is as much a social problem as any. While I do think the constant focus on individual responsibility and small changes within domestic households is largely a misdirect to divert attention from real systemic & political/corporate causes of climate change, those large political/corporate entities are still ultimately sustained by societal behaviour; we would literally need to change everything (at the very least in the western world) to avert climate change, which is very much a social challenge.

> Climate change is a slow process

This may have been true in the 50s or 60s. It sounds like that's the last time you took an interest in this topic.

> Technology is fast enough to catch up with it and solve it

Is this satire?

> Automation is too(And my guess in the near future, it would be a much bigger problem)

People have been saying this since ancient Rome or before (see Vespasian), but it hasn't happened nor will it ever. This (unlike privacy) is a phantom problem.


I wanted to like this essay, because I also worry about the loss of privacy today, but the goofy paragraph about borders turned me off. To believe that borders are conducive to peace sounds like a bad case of internet-brain.


I've always wondered how people who advocate for more open borders justify their position. Could you expand? Naively I would think regulating borders is an essential function in maintaining rule of law - undocumented workers are fodder for exploitation. But I'm honestly open to being wrong.


The US had completely open borders for its first hundred years or so. It wasn't until 1875 with the Page Act, which restricted Chinese women, that we stopped having wide open borders. That was followed by the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 which covered Chinese men.

For white people the borders remained wide open. In the late 19th century some restrictions where added on white people, too, but the borders were still easy to get through. The restrictions were things like a small immigration tax, a requirement that you would be able to take care of yourself, exclusions of people with diseases, and things like that. If you were white and in good health, there was essentially no problem getting in.

In 1917 they added a literacy test, but you could take it in your native language, so it wasn't much of a barrier.

It wasn't until 1924, with the Immigration Act of 1924, that we started seriously limiting immigration beyond the restriction on immigrants from Asia. It limited immigration from a given country based on how many people from that country were in the US in 1890, to "preserve the ideal of US homogeneity". (You would probably not be wrong if you read that as "to keep too many Jews from coming to the US". As things got worse for Jews in many countries in Europe more Jews wanted to leave those countries than did before 1890. Countries that weren't persecuting their Jews did not have such an uptick in emigrants compared to before 1890. Thus, the proportion of Jews in the total set of people wanting to immigrate to the US was going up).


Thank you for the response! Could I have some references for these claims? Not that I doubt you but this historical context seems very important to the debate.


Here is an article about the history of US immigration [1]. I got the big picture from there, and looked up the mentioned specific laws on Wikipedia.

[1] https://newrepublic.com/article/154717/open-borders-made-ame...


> ... undocumented workers are fodder for exploitation

There are a number of good arguments for stopping undocumented workers but I don't think "keeping them from being exploited" is a very good one. Most undocumented workers in the US come from countries where their next best alternative is being exploited by cartels.

A much better solution is to overhaul our immigration system to make it effortless to get immigrants on the books and paying into our system while we deal with the much harder problem of finding them a forever home


> A much better solution is to overhaul our immigration system

Why not instead fix this problem?

> Most undocumented workers in the US come from countries where their next best alternative is being exploited by cartels.


Your suggestion is rather than modifying our immigration system, why not simply eliminate crime globally?


I mean I have no issues with fixing the immigration system.

My issue is with the problem being the cartels which the US has had a lot of historical connections with their rise to power, so I feel like 1) we have a lot of responsibility because of that 2) those countries don't fully have the means to solve the issues by themselves (obviously we shouldn't just go in uninvited), 3) we'd be attacking the root of the problem which is beneficial to both people here (from drug war effects) to people there (also drug war effects).

Trying to claim I said we should simply eliminate global crime is not a good faith read. It is a far exaggeration from what I said. Clearly a laudable goal, but we can significantly slash NA and SA cartel power without coming anywhere near solving global crime. If we consider Pareto effects this would probably be a better way to spend resources too. But the answer of how to do this is complex (not that fixing the immigration system is by any means simple). Saying that reducing cartel power is impossible perpetuates the problem and in of itself is a problem because it does not allow us to have the conversation in the first place.


  I've always wondered how people who advocate for 
  more open borders justify their position.
To me, it seems like the default position, as long as one believes in liberty and, obviously, doesn't hold essentialist views about culture.

Mind you, my position isn't "open all borders now, and damn the consequences!" It's a goal for the world to work towards, not something that we can do without accounting for economics, law, and xenophobia.


Of course you could always document them.


Agreed : )


Not OP, also not advocating for totally open borders and am specifically focusing on the claim related to borders and their effect on peace.

From my own experience it is far easier to dehumanize and even demonize someone or some group of people that you don't personally know. I was lucky enough to have the experience of living in another country outside of the US for a large period of childhood and personally knowing and loving people in that country has shaped how I view every "dispute" between the US them. It reminded me that these countries are not faceless titans battling each other like some kind of Olympic competition, but rather are made up of individuals whom I care deeply about and any blow to the country is a blow to them. They are not just a soulless "them" but are instead individual people and it hurts me when they are hurt. I can talk all day about utilitarian ethics and maximizing happiness on all the globe but at the end of the day I care so very much more about those who I know. While war is not even really close to being on the table for this country, I know that I would vehemently oppose it. If borders were more closed it is very likely I never would have gone to that country, in fact restrictions in place already made it difficult though achievable. Even if someone has not traveled to a foreign country, every immigrant that he or she will meet is an ambassador for their home country.

Of course, many of the more despicable acts in history come not from physical borders between countries but borders put in place by more invisible factors like societal norms. Barriers between men and women, the old and young, and naturally between those of different caste and ethnicity. To continue the parallels in the article, with privacy we have seen the borders shift from some vaguely defined border on individual social media platforms to closer and closer to each individuals mouth, where we increasingly act with restraint on what we say for fear of retribution from friends, family, or even the government. As you touch on with things like immigrants being fodder for exploitation, when the borders of a country open we often simply move the true borders between humans from those of a country to those of society.


> undocumented workers are fodder for exploitation

So do the right thing and make their migration legal. That is what people mean when they say they want more open borders.


They don't, that's the trick - they just insult those who vocally oppose their ideas.

But it's immediately obvious to any mildly intelligent, intellectually honest person that open borders are only possible for ultra-capitalist countries; imagine putting a billion people into the EU, and the countries are going to go bankrupt and collapse faster than you can say "public healthcare and free schooling".


  they just insult those who vocally oppose their ideas.
It's fair to call me out for insulting the author. The remainder of the comment is misguided because, as I replied elsewhere in this thread, I see open borders as a long-term goal.


> To believe that borders are conducive to peace sounds like a bad case of internet-brain.

There's an old saying about this: "Good Fences make Good Neighbors". A fence (border) make it easy to say "you can't plant that tree there."

Borders (largely) define where one government can affect resources claimed by another government. For example, it would suck if it was easy for the US to send loggers into Canada's forests because the US claims that those forests belong to them. A border makes it clear that "forest X is within Canada's borders, and thus belongs to Canada".

The location of the border may still be disputed, but it simplifies a lot of other interactions.

On the flip side, borders also make it easier to create accountability for a resource (like who maintains roads near/between countries).


I'm going to ask you to defend this claim. I consider myself a reasonably astute leftist student of history, but I don't think history is on your side. To be sure, borders are not a guarantor of peace, but you can't really argue with the results of Westphalia.


  you can't really argue with the results of Westphalia.
In which modern nation does one find Westphalia?


The historical results of the Treaty of Westphalia.


Germany is not a poster-child when it comes to avoiding border disputes.


Sure, but the Thirty Years War was no joke either. I'm not sure that you're making arguments any more. You may be right that borders cause more harm than good, but the bulk of historical evidence is against you. If you're going to challenge the principle of Westphalian Sovereignty[1] then I think you owe more to a good faith discussion of the topic than a glib remark about German history. Assuming for a moment that you're talking about WWII, then I would cite that as a case in favour of my argument not against it.

[1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westphalian_sovereignty


Westphalia is a blip in history. The world has gone through cycles of war and peace, borders or no.

Meanwhile, there are more separatist groups than there are countries, and some of them enjoy blowing things up. How did borders work out for the Middle East? How did they work out when the USSR disbanded? Etc etc.


To the author's opening sentence - I also feel the definition of privacy can be difficult to pin down. I tend to think about privacy as a necessary prerequisite in most contexts to being authentic and truthful - consider what you would say about your employer in a public form versus what you would say to your partner or friend. It gets more complicated in online spaces, particularly when encryption enters. As social creatures, we have been evolving the nature of our non-digital interactions for a much longer time and we shouldn't expect that we can simply design ways of interacting that preserve the complicated nuances of real-life social interaction. However, as more of our activities move online, we can and must do better.


> the definition of privacy can be difficult to pin down

Indeed, here are two papers on this topic that might be of interest: A Taxonomy of Privacy (Solove, 2005) [0], Conceptualizing Privacy (Solove, 2005) [1].

[0] https://ssrn.com/abstract=667622 , mirrored https://scholarship.law.gwu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=...

[1] https://ssrn.com/abstract=313103 , mirrored https://scholarship.law.gwu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=...


And I will reciprocate with this interesting paper on privacy in the context of war - https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/ethics-and-internati...


Thanks for posting those links. I admit I haven't got around to reading Solove's work yet, but a friend gave a brief explanation of his taxonomy to me a while back. From memory, there's a key diagram covering activities that are affected by privacy like data collection, processing and dissemination. I'll follow those links and have a read.


Thanks for sharing them.


Funny, just by reading the article's title I'd say that the incapacity of sizing concept importance is a more important issue than privacy.


Agreed. EVERYTHING is a dire and critical issue in the modern clickbait news cycle.


The problem with privacy as a concept is that it's ultimately just a metaphor. Privacy can exist in the real world, where our perception is limited by physical distance and obstacles.

In the digital world, however, information has different barriers. We like to recreate the mechanics of physical information rules, like separating chats into "rooms", where you be in a room and see the information being exposed there, or not.

But ultimately, these abstractions only serve us in in terms of usability; they don't share the same implications for information control that they have in the real world. Data in a chat room does not exist only within that room: the "room" itself is ultimately just a view into a much more messy underlying digital data structures. Something you say in a digital closed space can be heard, seen and read by somebody who never once stepped foot into the space.

I don't think "privacy" is still a meaningful concept in the online world. The rules of "online privacy" are fundamentally different to those of the physical world and I would prefer using a different word altogether to make this clear.

A few fundamental questions we need to answer before we can have any meaningful discussion on online privact:

- What is information?

- Is there an "atomic" unit of information?

- When is a non-atomic unit of information "true" or "false"?

- When are two units of information equivalent?

- When are two units of information the same?

- In what ways can we act on information?

- In what ways can information flow through a network?

- What legal connections can exist between a unit of information and a legal entity?

Many of these questions also lead into topics such as copyright and intellectual property, which makes sense given that these are ultimately also frameworks to control the spread of information, just with a different motivation.

Those are my thoughts anyway, and I haven't exactly looked any of that up so there might already be a consensus in philosophy on how to answer some, maybe even all, of those questions.


I agree these are the correct questions to ask. This company has very promising white papers that answer many of them: https://permission.io


I recommend looking into Privacy as Contextual Integrity. Privacy is not about control. It's about appropriateness of information flows, not about private and public spaces.

If you're interested please read Nissenbaum's book on Privacy in Context.

https://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=8862

There is also an active community you can follow: https://twitter.com/privaci_way


Nissenbaum does a really good job at pinning a potential solution to the privacy problem. This is a good summary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVRbvxVGDoc


I don't get the conception that the top problem our world have is people being judged about what they said. And that lynch justice is the greatest bane we face.

Don't get me wrong, it's a thing I highly dislike. But it's a thing I worry the least about.

Right now, we have leaders across the globe that put themselves as representing the victims of mob justice and politically correctness.

But these are the people with power, these leaders. A lot of them, bulsano, and trump, make it a point to say whatever the want. Most of the time knowingly lie and cause harrasment to regular people who oppose them. These are the one that have real effective power in the world.

All this cancel culture "violence" is a mere slingshot to the literal nuclear weapons The representatives of their so called victims are holding.

The greatest bane to the world right now is attention theft. It's the news cycle, the constant barrage of irrelevant information. The murder of effective discussion and thought.


> The murder of effective discussion and thought.

If we limit ourselves to this sentence then I agree wholeheartedly, and it’s a bigger problem than just politics. For example, many scientists in Sweden simply don’t agree that Richard Feynman’s description of the scientific method is a fairly good one. Fewer and fewer people seem interested in learning anything, but that doesn’t stop them from claiming to know everything better than the giants on who’s shoulders we used to stand. Fundamental concepts (like the scientific method) seem to be losing their meaning, being replaced with just ritual.


> I don't get the conception that the top problem our world have is people being judged about what they said.

It is not just what we say, they also judge who we are in their own terms.

> It's the news cycle, the constant barrage of irrelevant information. The murder of effective discussion and thought.

I agree that it is a big problem. In some ways we are the most educated civilizations in the history of mankind and yet public discourse is the stupidest it has ever been. I think this happens also [1] because everything we said is taken out of context, therefore only the simplest ideas can travel among the public. Imagine that you are a politician that want to disagree with their own party, what do you think people will hear more probably: 1) they are a traitor 2) they fully support our cause, however they disagree with this particular course of action because X

Without spaces and community in which we can discuss freely and with trust, complex opinions are difficult to form and defend. Since most discussions are either moved online or are easily shareable online by even one party we need strong privacy norms to allow such discussions to happen.

[1] it is not the only reason, of course


This is a very misguided take, seeming to support that people saying terrible things should be left to their own devices because _some_ people "get it."

I knew this author's approach was doomed when I read:

> So, to defend privacy we need to accept shared norms of behavior.

At least in the US, this simply doesn't appear to be possible. Look at how our lives have changed (or not) during the COVID pandemic. Look at the recent debate between 2020 POTUS candidates. We don't DO shared norms in the way that would be required to make true/complete/meaningful privacy a reality.

My expectation is that if it's on the Internet, if it's outside, if it's in a crowd... it's public (or can be made public). Everything you express can be observed and used, and that sucks. Does that have a chilling effect? Of course!


This seems unpersuasive to me. I mean, privacy is good, sure, I agree with that much. But it's trying to pin too much on one concept. For example, this is a big part of the thesis:

> A clear example of the loss of privacy is the rise of violent rethoric.

And I think that's pretty clearly disproved by the fact that violent rhetoric is almost always deployed in closed, "private" communities. The more closed, the more violent (c.f. stormfront, 8chan, the occasional private facebook group) and the more public, the more moderated and reasonable[1] (c.f. here, or reddit, or twitter).

I can see an argument that the lack of privacy exacerbates differences. But it also cloisters extremism. And the essay needs to at least acknowledge that.

[1] Or at least "nonviolently unreasonable".



It is not really a big part of the thesis, rather an observation.

What you say about private communities is also true. However, I was referring more to the fact that everybody seem to nonchalantly use violent words and dangerous statements to express their disagreement, i.e., people are not just wrong, they are evil bastards that must be removed from public life and the nation itself.


The thesis is pretty weak. Image boards can be visited by everyone and there are no membership cards. There isn't anything more public than that.

If you think of stormfront when talking about privacy, you seem to have learned that from pretty strange sources.

"Privacy cloisters extremism" is a pretty insane statement to be honest.


Image boards are inherently anonymous, though, which is the point. You're right that I used the term "private" ambiguously I guess, but your interpretation seems to be deliberately uncharitable. 4chan et. al. clearly "care about privacy"! And they're homes to objectively more extreme rhetoric than places like here where many folks use their real name.


98% of that rhetoric of indigenous population is lulz though.


Privacy (particularly medical privacy) is probably the most overrated issue of our time.

60M people die per year of preventable reasons, for example. Or the fact that we are very sensitive to extinction (single planet we are running some experiments on), another one.


Yeah poverty, population growth, hunger, disease, climate, politics really don't even come close. Is it implied it is impossible to approach these without privacy? Possibly, it is harder without privacy, but certainly not probably impossible.


Skipping the semi-clickbait title. I like how the author goes into a deeper analysis of the concept, but I, too, don't agree with stressing the privacy-freedom of speech link. Privacy is about denying other people the information that they may use to obtain power over you in some way. This may include politics, but mainly the personal things that shouldn't concern other people at all.

Being able to say anything controversial in private is a somewhat worthless freedom in the context of politics. You might get that, in practice (in the past?), in some dictatorships, and still be subject to their arbitrary power. The important thing is the freedom of speech in public. People may not like you and dissociate from you, but your livelihood should not be in danger. No one, such as like your employer, should be able to force you into anything.

The thing missed in many idealistic analyses like that is that the society has to grant you some standard of living and social environment in order for this to work. You have to be economically safe enough to speak relatively freely. People have to look at you and assume good intentions and stress the value of your liberty, even if they don't like what you're saying or doing. It's easy to see that even in the West you can still be deprived of this because of ethnicity or economic situation. This doesn't justify taking away the freedoms that people have, but shows that this isn't and never was a fully solved problem.

I would agree with the author that laser-focusing on government power is deeply mistaken: everyone in society has some degree of power over all the people that they interact with. We have to confront this fact consciously.

Observing Eastern Europe, I've become especially wary of using the concept of freedom of speech for demagoguery (which this piece, to be clear, doesn't do). In countries like Russia and increasingly Poland you can practice various kinds of Western-"problematic" speech with loud applause from the government and its constituency. This is eagerly sold by the ruling group as "freedom", even though offending the ruling religion can land you in arrest. Yeah, I'm now doubly careful if people really mean full freedom for everyone, or just take only the empty word for the purposes of their favorite unfreedom.


I am the original author. I don't disagree with anything you said here, but it does not seem it contradicts what I am trying to say. Probably my article was a bit unclear on this point.

The connection between freedom of speech and privacy was just an example of how privacy affect other rights, too. I used it because I did not want to be too abstract. I used just one example, because I did not want to write too much on this. I wanted to write something that could be shared and read by a few people, rather than just hardcore privacy enthusiast.

Actually I really like your observations. Frankly this is another way (maybe a better one) to say what I was thinking:

>Privacy is about denying other people the information that they may use to obtain power over you in some way.


> I don't disagree with anything you said here, but it does not seem it contradicts what I am trying to say. Probably my article was a bit unclear on this point.

Maybe, maybe not: it always also depends on your reader how your message is read :) I only wanted to point out that the broad freedom of speech debate is by itself very complex nowadays. People have different stances, even if they think themselves broadly liberal (in the political science sense). I think there's some value in keeping the cause of privacy mostly unbundled from all this mess in the public conversation. This is a strategic opinion, not some profound philosophical disagreement, I think.

(I certainly see the problem that it's hard to show to many people convincingly, in their face, the importance of privacy. It's an abstract thing, like freedom or equality.)


Just out this month is an excellent book:

Privacy is Power: Why and How You Should Take Back Control of Your Data by Carissa Véliz

Written by a philosophy professor of Ethics and AI at Oxford.

https://www.amazon.com/Privacy-Power-Should-Take-Control/dp/...


+1 for mentioning Carissa Véliz. Her podcasts are really good as well - https://www.carissaveliz.com/podcasts.


If you think privacy is the major concern of most people then no offence, but you've had a pretty privileged life.

I doubt it's even the major concern of most people in Western countries due to unemployment, poverty, debt etc. let alone developing nations which have the real risk of actual famine and so on.


Same you can say about global warming. Is this immediate threat? This year? Next year? In 10 years?

Violation of privacy might lead to the situation that someone will be unemployed forever because of something that he or she wrote 20 years ago on Facebook or employees managed to fetch data that a person was depressed, has many kids, etc.

Massive abuse of privacy will lead sooner or later to some kind corporate version of Chinese social score system. For now it looks innocent, someone gave you a bad ranking on AirBnB, who cares? But in 10 years some bad ranking on some future social platform might keep person homeless because nobody will want to rent a flat because someone's kids stained the walls in the rented apartment.

Those in poverty, unemployed, in debts will be first victims of such system.


It's not about immediacy of it, privacy will never be high priority to someone whose very day to day existence is uncertain and/or who already lives in a system with much worse human rights abuses, corruption and injustices (and that describes a big part of the developing world). Not saying that it's not the real threat, but it's the 1st world type of priority for many...


> Not saying that it's not the real threat, but it's the 1st world type of priority for many...

Yeah but should it be? I am from India and we really had the opportunity to nip this in the bud. This will become a problem within the next decade, and that is the day when people will have the right but not the will to say I told you so. This thinking that you should only solve problems in their immediate time is faulty. If something can be solved now with smaller effort than later, it should be solved now.

Edit: think of how we prioritize stuff in software.


It's an immediate threat because it is (via their credit score, health records, criminal record) being used to repress them.


I think the problem is you're thinking in terms of cohorts, when that is obviously not how humans actually experience the world.

A person that is starving right now does not care that the poor will be the first on the proverbial chopping block when global warming comes home to roost... because they are starving right now.


I don't mean to make light of struggling to find somewhere to live, and I know it can be difficult for many due to reasons beyond their control, and this really sucks. Everyone should have a place to live. I'm interested in exploring the hypothetical, when you say:

> keep person homeless because nobody will want to rent a flat because someone's kids stained the walls in the rented apartment.

If Evan's kids stain the wall, then Evan's kids are more likely to stain the wall. Currently, the expectation of someone being more likely to stain the walls is "priced in" to the rental prices everywhere. People who don't stain walls pay a little more, and people whose kids stain the wall cost their owners a little more, but on average it comes out (hope you can own a lot of domiciles).

If we start to be able to measure this, doesn't this mean we can more accurately price it? People less likely will pay less, and people more likely will pay more. I think you're suggesting that "Owners will just use the likelihood of damages as a threshold, and if you're 0.01 above the Unsafe/Volatile threshold you'll not be rented to at all", but that leaves a pretty big hole in the market. If there's not enough supply, then people are being kicked out instead of Evan _now_, and if there is enough supply, then you'd rather rent to Evan at higher rates to cover your risks than to not rent at all, right?

The current situation kinda feels like an "insurance" thing, with pooled risk.


Do you have kids yourself? How much control do you ultimately have over them? How long should this metric haunt you?

When hearing how US credit scoring works I do not think it is a system worth striving for.

This quickly becomes analogue to another HN discussion today about job opportunities for felons. That is hard threshold - it is easier just to skip them.

Should we let the market forces rule freely?

If not totally free then how big a pooled risk is acceptable to you? A pool for those with kids and another for those without?

I have no kids and personally I prefer one pool. Even with those unruly kids upstairs!

When I see a society with gated communities I feel sorry for them. I live a place where we do not have them and I am grateful for that. They might be happier than me - but I do still not envy them.

I often find people who argue fair pricing are the ones who think they are in the sweet spot.

The example seems a little contrived as well. If Evans kid stains the wall he would fix it. If not - then it is when you have the deposit to mitigate that risk.

I do however get the gist of it. And personally I like the pooled risk. I think that we do much better together than as individuals. The pricing might seem unfair but sometimes it in your direct favour. And the "insurance" feels nice too.

Naturally it comes down to your own philosophy.

So while I agree that it could give a variant of more accurately pricing I do not think that kind of "precision" is healthy.

I am afraid that the privacy ship has sailed but I still think it is worth fighting as the current course have a high risk of a truly dystopian future.


I honestly think these fears are way overblown. Is a family with kids more likely to damage an apartment or simply go to bed early? I don't think anyone has these stats, and even if they did, they probably aren't material enough to overcome the added cost of complexity and social awkwardness.


> Violation of privacy might lead to the situation that someone will be unemployed forever because of something that he or she wrote 20 years ago on Facebook or employees managed to fetch data that a person was depressed, has many kids, etc.

Ok but being real for a second, this is extremely difficult to imagine happening. What on earth could you write on facebook 20 years ago, short of a confession to a heinous crime, that would make you unemployable?


I would argue that it's hurting those demographics right now. It's never been easier to do a background check, which if you've had a rocky past that you're trying to change, means it's never been harder to escape you're past self. This isn't limited to criminal records, but even just having pictures of yourself underage drinking from 10 years ago, or (publicly) saying stupid things that all of have said at some point in our lives, is enough to lock you out of jobs.

We're left in a situation where -- once again -- the educated and wealthy have an advantage over the poor and unfortunate by just knowing how to hide their mistakes.

Anyone who says privacy is a privileged person's issue is shortsighted


Both are very privileged issues. Pretty sure neither is the big concern for the majority of people.


Yes, you may have a pretty privileged live. In my opinion your obligated to think and care about such things, when you have a privileged live. I don't expect a poor 3rd world family to save privacy or the climate--but I expect it from people who have the luxury to spend time on these issues. Everyone will get reckt by lacking privacy or the collapsing climate if we don't do something about it.


I've had a privileged life.

The biggest issue I've faced is stubbing my toe. Being obligated to think and care about such things I've determined that stubbed toes are the most important concept of our time.

Those of us with privileged lives should feel obligated to think beyond our bubbles and look at the real issues affecting people who are less privileged.


Yes, and in my casual discussions across the US over the last few years:

Health care -- it's too expensive

Wages -- Working a 40 and being able to make it in a reasonable, modest way.

Environment -- Things are changing rapidly, risk goes up, cost goes up

People are concerned about privacy, and it's important, but basic life is well above it on the radar.

Your comment seconded, the point being "most important" is very highly debatable, depending on what one may be experiencing.

And I would add, improvements on all those fronts would free people to get more involved, and that may well impact how well we can address privacy.


I think the parent's point was not that privacy is unimportant, but rather that, if we want to seriously discuss what is most important, there are a number of viable candidates in addition to privacy.

The whole most important is a straw man kinda argument anyway, because it's possibly to have more than one "very important thing", and for the difficult stuff in life you often can't optimize for just one thing.


Privacy is a necessary property of Democracy.

Exploiting private information has also made some companies very rich. There is an element of fairness of distribution here... If you take from me what I have not willingly given and you make huge profits, you should share your wealth and/or invest in my community.

I agree that people who live in a democracy are privileged. Whether they will be wise enough to contribute depends on their education.

But education is a hard problem. Instead of citizens, we often find foolish purchase-zombies. "Why vote? It's all so corrupt, what can we do? Let's go to the sale instead!"


Weapons of Math destruction points out how a lack of privacy can hurt your job prospects. You post something stupid on Facebook , a future employer declines to hire you . An insurance company sees many of your friends are poor , your insurance rates may rise.

At this point I do my best to avoid social media , theirs a ton of potential downside for very little benefit.


When cars were invented, producing them in large numbers, operating them efficiently and comfortably would have been a major concern while anyone talking about safety would be ridiculed. As it turned out engineering challenges were sorted out by economic incentives but car safety/pollution control had to be legislated.

In case of cars though wrong design choices in older cars could be phased out eventually but in case of online platforms the choices will remain there for more number of people in terms of market penetration given the explosion social networks are having in the last decade. Even if vast majority of people prioritize other things over privacy, vocal and knowledgeable minority need to raise the concerns of the choices unknowingly being made by less knowledgeable people.


It is a privilege! We should use our privilege to protect the privacy of those who can't be bothered!


Are you saying that privacy should be trade for less poverty, less unemployment, less debt, etc?

Lot of people do not have the luxury to focus on privacy concerns, the same way lot of people do not have the luxury to care or focus on climate issues. Does that make privacy and climate concerns something reserved for "people with privileged life"? It seems quite clear to me that's not the case. They are both a concern for everyone but some have more freedom to spend time caring about them. Lot of people are struggling with other more immediate issues, but that doesn't reduce in any case the importance of privacy.


No, it doesn't mean privacy is a luxury. It means privacy is less important than those things.


Caring about privacy is the luxury. Not privacy itself, neither does it imply that privacy is less important. Just that people who have to care about more urgent dangers won't always have to capacity to take in account something like privacy issues. But these people still deserve of privacy, and we should try to build solution that embrace both privacy AND helping them with their unemployment, poverty, or other more urgent issue.


Yes, people deserve privacy and education and many other things. The point is that food security and shelter are even more important by a very large margin.


Well how about we don't try to compare pears with apples. Privacy and poverty are both pretty important in their own way, let's not make clickbaity claims just for the sake of it.


Interesting comment. What is the argument you're trying to make? I am from a western country, and I do see privacy as one of the most important concepts of our time. And I do feel privileged that I am in such a position that I can think of it. Especially since privacy is so easily traded in poorer countries for needs like internet and communication. Yes these problems as famine and unemployment need attention they do. But in the meantime, privacy needs a lot of attention too. And like Europe started with GDPR it paves a way for other countries to follow or draw inspiration. It's not one or the other. And to be honest I am happy that I can ask these questions before it takes a larger hold on society. And again, yes we need to help other countries with those issues.

When those nations are solved from their immediate problems, they will also need to deal with privacy and these ethical questions. We just have a head start and we can already ask the the questions and find solutions for it.


Equating privacy and privilege is not helpful. It is true that the privileged in our society wield more capability to enact protect and enact change for themselves and others in society, and privacy may not be top of mind when ranked against more immediate concerns such as those you have listed, but that doesn't change the fact that privacy is a universal human right and essential to our dignity and the functioning of society. It is something to be valued and upheld for everyone, not dismissed as a concern for the privileged alone.


People with privileged lives can still set the political agenda. That hasn’t happened with privacy. I don’t think the argument is screwed. But the present mode of messaging, which can border on patronising towards the technically unsophisticated and uncompromising to an extreme degree, isn’t working.


"If you care about <X>, check your privilege" is one of the most obnoxious and counterproductive put-downs. You're allowed to care about things that affect you even if they aren't as relevant to the poorest people in the world.


What matters is not how much people care about it but rather how much it shapes our lives every day, how much it shapes the geopolitical landscape, and how much of a negative influence it threatens to have over us all.


Privacy was a major concern in former socialist countries like East Germany were the Stasi and hundreds-of-thousands of "Unofficial Collaborators" spied on millions of citizens. People were very alert in their everyday lives about who they could talk to about what topics (because talking about the wrong things to the wrong people could easily cost you your carreer or land you in jail).

I would hardly call life in the GDR 'privileged'.

It's easy to forget today and from a Western point of view that privacy is a basic human right, not a feature of your smartphone to protect from tracking ads.


Sure, but it was the dictatorship locking people up for wrongthink that was the problem, not the lack of privacy.

I don't think many East Germans would take the GDR back in return for guarantees that views would stay private so long as they were expressed in private...


The dictatorship was enabled by violation of people's privacy, that's why it managed to survived so long.

Privacy isn't an optional feature you can "chose" to have or even have much control over, it is a basic right that is either violated or honored by those in power.


What enabled the dictatorship was punishing people for perceived disloyalty and shooting people who tried to leave. Privacy was, at best, a weak defence against that, and arguably much of the Stasi's raison d'etre was to convince citizens their concerns about the government ought to stay private.

Better a Germany where people feel safe to share far more on social media than the Stasi could ever have collected, because they don't expect to suffer consequences from doing so.


"Of our time"...

Famine, debt, etc are well known issues but we know about them from bygone eras.

Privacy is changing in ways that are only apparent recently. Who'd have thought 20 years ago about your personal data being mined for profit? Apart from a few forward thinkers, probably not too many.


I'd say breathing is the most important concept of our time.


Lack of privacy is the capitalists' distributed social credit system. We have thousands of companies that mine massive data to spy on people in all ways. And that data can and will be used in hiring, firing, monetary credit, clearances, customer acceptance, and more.

The hardness to maintain privacy will be used as a means of significant control over access to money in all ways.


As the article states: those without means and power are the most vulnerable to their privacy being taken away and the information being used against them.

Also: I hate your use of "priviledge" to argue anything anytime in any context without a proper thought. You haven't even made a point.


The title uses the word "concept", you're replacing it with "concern" - the two words mean different things


Did you click on the article? Quoting from the top of the landing page, "It [privacy] concerns the very fabric of society." Writing about privacy as a concept isn't nearly the same thing as trying to draw legitimate concern to an important issue. An important issue, but inarguably neither the most pertinent concept or concern of our time - currently.


I did. That part doesn't prop it up as the most important concern.


Some interesting thoughts in the article.

I definitely agree with the necessity of having clearly defined and apparent spaces of privacy on social media platforms and this is actually something I am working on developing.

It’s funny they mention that content posted to a public space should possibly be color-coded in red, because this is exactly what we do on our platform. We have three shareability control options: On/Off the platform (public) – labeled in red, On the platform (can be shared with others, but only others that are on the platform) – labeled in white, Unshareable (truly private, only the people you sent the message/post to can view that content) – labeled in green.

The app is called Omnii and is focused on allowing people to own and control their data. The app is currently in Beta on the Google Play Store if anyone is interested :)

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.twistedapp...


I'm sorry, but this guy is a goofball. He proposes all kinds of rules but hasn't thought deeply, on a systems level, about what it means to have and enforce rules.

Rules about information are hard to define precisely and are often gamed. Information rules require the government getting involved in information transfers at a very deep level. It opens up society to all kinds of more serious threats in regards to civil liberties and totalitarianism.

Its very easy to say "we should have rules to do XYZ". Its much harder to say what those rules should be and figure out how to prevent those rules from creating ambiguity that enriches lawyers and impoverishes everyone else.

Everyone wants to make rules with good intensions but they are too arrogant to understand the systems implications of such endeavors. Everything has unpredictable second order effects, and OP is totally clueless. He should first work on some cross border applications that implicate user data and then he should make posts on the Internet about privacy.


This is a well written piece. It describes an issue that, while you could say there are more important issues, is certainly the most important issue in tech.

However, there is an issue with it that prevents me from sharing it, and that is the comparison of current social punishments for speech to lynching. I think there are many people who could be won over by the line of argumentation made, but will immediately tune it out because of that comparison.

In the American context, lynching usually refers specifically to a campaign of violence and murder against black people. In the debate about consequences for public speech, a common argument is that public racialized abuse should face consequences. I think that this will immediately turn off skeptical readers who may be receptive to the message.


I don't get the link between privacy and freedom of speech. I can have private thoughts and private behaviors that don't necessarily have to do with speaking. In fact, many aspects of privacy have to do with what one does and thinks and not with what one says.

Or freedom of speech is related to privacy (by the author) in a way that I can surely upload a video to Youtube telling that my neighbor cheats his wife because of my freedom of speech?

Because in that case "my rights (freedom of speech) end where my neighbor's rights (privacy) begin" rule applies and that is, I believe, granted.


Privacy can increase freedom of speech from the perspective that the statements you would say in public are always a subset of that what you would state privately. I think most people have one or two examples on mind. That is not because these opinions are unthinkable or misanthropic, but because the tolerance of the public is the lowest common denominator.

Freedom and equality are also competing concepts. If you make everyone equal, you have to limit the freedom of some people. Then again without equality your freedom is very likely limited.


Various acquaintances have told me they are keeping quiet about things they believe because they don’t want their opinions to be held against them in future by anyone with a search engine.

Sometimes they’re quiet online about their sexuality, or that they are trans; sometimes it is about politics; sometimes it is about religion; sometimes drug use or attitudes about legalisation.

They all talked to me about those things IRL, but the lack of privacy online means they can’t comfortably reach out online to others in the same position as themselves.


I might have been unclear on this aspect. My point was that privacy can affect other rights in complex ways, including, as a way of example, freedom of speech.

In the example I was talking about in the article, I was trying to say that nowadays people have different norms and opinions on what is fair. That is great, however this means that without privacy I can hurt you simply by sharing something about you with a a certain community. For instance, I can take something you said in private, or one fact about you (i.e., you are a member of party X, or have a certain sexuality, or belong to a certain religion) and share with a community that will misinterpret or attack you for that.

In the past we allowed the press to violate privacy of important people for something nefarious (i.e., they hunt people for sport). Now everybody has the power to violate privacy of anybody for any reason they see fit.

So, now maybe we should forbid everyone to violate the privacy of anyone, otherwise we will lose freedom of speech, because will be afraid to say anything for fear of being taken out of context. Maybe we should all agree that if you disagree with somebody you cannot call a mob to defend your opinion, but you should call them with your speech. That is not an obvious choice to make. As others have commented, what about actually powerful people? Just disagreeing with them will not change their opinion, because they are more powerful than you. So, I am not saying that is easy to understand what to do, but that privacy can actually change how we use other rights.


Ok. Thanks. Still I believe they barely overlap (privacy and freedom of speech). It's a grey area. For instance, I can violate your privacy and not telling it to anyone (peeking through your window), and I can also tell something about you in a community without violating your privacy (give an opinion, or take you out of context, or plainly lie, or defame you).

Or you can input all your info in my website, then I get hacked and all your personal info is now in a torrent somewhere (to mention something that has nothing to do with freedom of speech).

They overlap perhaps but I might just call it gossip.

So I don't believe it's a either freedom of speech-or-privacy battle, where one is the solution to the other, or the problem to the other.

Invading privacy is punished in most countries, and gets more serious if the info is published. The real problem is that doxxing and posting personal information in a community goes unpunished right now. The solution may be something I would never want, that is, non-anonymous internet access. At least paparazzis were known, they have a face and a name. You can sue them, and in case, punch them in the face if that's your thing.

It's true there is also a problem with the mob, but there is little that can be done about it. I recall the two guys making "dongle" jokes in a conference and getting fired when it reached Twitter.


I think that we should also demand laws requiring hardware manufacturers to implement physical switches for controlling the cameras and microphones of devices they produce. There are so many software exploits that nowadays no one could be sure whether her/his smartphone or laptop is not filming/listening to her/him when in private. It seems like an easy thing which can be done to improve privacy, but it seems like the governments all over the world are moving in the opposite direction as it was disclosed by Snowden.


That is what 5G is about. The end to all privacy. All devices, always on, always watching, with no off-switch. And the companies and governments spending billions of dollars to implement the system ("to improve user experience") hope that the general public does not connect the dots.


“You can’t make another Facebook... Competition is impossible”

Facebook solves multiple problems for users, but if we just focus on community...

I’m seeing people adopt solutions like Discord and Slack as Facebook alternatives .


"Over the last 16 months, as I've debated this issue around the world, every single time somebody has said to me, "I don't really worry about invasions of privacy because I don't have anything to hide." I always say the same thing to them. I get out a pen, I write down my email address. I say, "Here's my email address. What I want you to do when you get home is email me the passwords to all of your email accounts, not just the nice, respectable work one in your name, but all of them, because I want to be able to just troll through what it is you're doing online, read what I want to read and publish whatever I find interesting. After all, if you're not a bad person, if you're doing nothing wrong, you should have nothing to hide." Not a single person has taken me up on that offer." Glenn Greenwald in Why privacy matters - TED Talk

"[...] But saying that you don't need or want privacy because you have nothing to hide is to assume that no one should have, or could have, to hide anything -- including their immigration status, unemployment history, financial history, and health records. You're assuming that no one, including yourself, might object to revealing to anyone information about their religious beliefs, political affiliations, and sexual activities, as casually as some choose to reveal their movie and music tastes and reading preferences." Edward Snowden in Permanent Record


1. Clean air most of the time. 2. Clean water available. 3. Enough food to thrive. 4. A safe place to properly rest and live. 5. A fair job that gives enough to save/invest money. 6. Having friends you can depend on. 7. Respect from authorities (health, equity, privacy, etc would come into this?)

Now imagine the many important concepts these points require to reach.


In my opinion, privacy and freedom are tightly coupled.

There is always a tradeoff, simply because what is beneficial at the individual level might not be at the population level and vice-versa.

The precedence of the state or any social groups over individuals is a complex subject.


I upvoted based on the title. Usually I would frown on that, but the title itself is correct in my opinion. Correct enough that regardless of the content of the article, the title should be discussed.


I would say the fact that we are fucking up the environment and rendering it inhospitable for human and other forms of life is the most important concept of our time -- but yeah, privacy is up there.


Ofcourse it is. Privacy is taken serious by people around the world. But you know it, companies like Google, Facebook will eventually get your whole data in some way.


This is a much more compelling piece and it is what brought me here this AM because it was an email in my inbox and if you haven't seen it, I think it gives good context for this piece (which is why I am sharing it, not to dis this piece):

Social Cooling

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24627363

From this article:

Privacy is about boundaries. It is not about hiding something from someone but allowing to create a space with rules decided by its members. I like to compare it to borders. Some people say that borders are a restriction, something that limit freedom of movement and we do not need in the contemporary world.

I have a serious medical condition. I was treated like a hypochondriac for much of my life, then got a life-changing diagnoses in my mid thirties.

I like to joke "My problem got a better name than lazy or crazy" but people continued to call me crazy. They just call me crazy for talking about getting healthier when that isn't supposed to be possible.

I've been banned from a number of forums and part of that is because people find it so incredibly offensive for me talk to about getting myself healthier. I am routinely treated like I am doing something nefarious if I talk about "Hey, this home remedy was helpful to me" even if it has nothing to do with my deadly condition and even if other people are saying similar stuff and being well received.

So I generally backed way off of trying to be helpful and tried to limit my discussion of health stuff more to just asking questions for my own edification or more general discussion of the topic. It doesn't matter. People who just absolutely hate me for being a former homemaker who is getting well when that isn't supposed to be possible will not let that go and have hounded me and informed me I deserve to be harassed for my "crazy talk."

So, like, let's assume I really am crazy and making crap up because I have some bizarre need for truck loads of extremely negative attention online. Why the hell do you care?

Pat the crazy lady on the head and say "Wow, sucks to be her" and move the fuck on.

Of course, the real problem is that I am not crazy. Actual crazy people don't get typically get anywhere near this much hostility.

I get hostility because I'm a threat to something. I'm a threat to social norms. I'm a threat to current medical mental models. etc.

So I spent a lot of years trying to avoid ending up dead for thinking I know something medically useful, the way Semmelweis was more or less murdered for suggesting doctors should clean their hands before birthing babies.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignaz_Semmelweis

This is possibly one of those comments I will regret and maybe delete. I have had too little sleep and yadda and I am spending less time on HN here lately. On the one hand, I am medically handicapped, so I have a long history of going through periods where I don't post much.

But the difference is I am healthier. I'm not failing to be here due to being too sick to deal with HN. I'm busy working more and trying to establish a business and blah blah blah and I'm also burnt out on the drama of being a prominent woman here and also also I had to put up with that shit to save my life and I don't have to put up with that shit anymore. My life is saved. I can go do other things now, like try to develop a fucking middle class income.

I do have a point. And that point is this:

Privacy is the right to make health choices for yourself that maybe don't make sense to other people, without having to justify it to a mob that wants you fucking dead for the crime of not going along with the party line.

Privacy is the right to make discoveries that are potentially scientifically significant and world changing -- if the mobs don't kill you for daring to have an original thought and mention it in public.

Privacy is the right to have some control over your own life, even if you are gay and some uptight heterosexual person doesn't like that or you have an undiagnosed genetic disorder while the world acts like you are just neurotic instead of actually sick.

I can't say I agree with the proposals at the end of this article. I think articles like this should probably be treated like a jumping off point for discussion of the issue, not a manual for how to settle it.

Leaping to conclusions for how to settle it are sort of antithetical to protecting privacy and the free speech this article and others like it posit are one of the things they value. We need to be able to freely debate things.

We didn't need "privacy" laws or social norms protecting privacy back when having a private life was the default norm that you didn't need to work making happen.

I think it was J. Paul Getty who got outed in some newspaper article as the richest man on the planet and he wasn't happy about that. Before someone blared that news everywhere, no one had any idea what he was worth and it was easier to drive a hard bargain.

We are seeing public debate of a great many things that, historically, a lot of people didn't really need to take a stand on. If you were gay and socially savvy enough, you lived with a same-sex "roommate" and people close to you knew it was really your lover, but a lot of other people didn't know and didn't need to know and whatever.

And this circumstance is pushing the development of rights for some groups, so it's not all bad. So I am not saying we shouldn't be working towards things like rights for LGBTQ people.

It's sort of like how rock stars used to be able to be anonymous in their home town. And then MTV came along, among other things, and rock starts stopped being anonymous faces in a crowd. Everyone knew their face and there were consequences for that in terms of their private lives. They lost a lot of their privacy and their ability to live a more or less normal life when they weren't on tour.

Everyone is now losing that right to live a "normal" life. And if we don't give push back against it, you are going to find the world getting drastically less healthy, both socially/emotionally/psychologically and also physically and in other ways.

The current pandemic grows out the fabric of the social order we have currently. It's partly about the ability for many people to travel internationally at high speed in a way that wasn't possible a few hundred years ago.

But it's also about other things that I can't as readily connect back and I get tired of trying to make that argument. I have had assholes on the internet who imagine they are "sciency" tell me "Thirteen years of steady forward progress on your medical condition is a wild coincidence. Stranger things have happened."

Anyway, this is rambling and likely to be deleted soon. I guess I will shut up now and go do other things for a bit while I wonder why the hell I do this crap to myself.


I saw an interview with Jerry Seinfeld once and the interviewer asked him something like, "What's your most memorable interaction with a fan?"

He described a moment when he was in a tiny midwest town, walking down the sidewalk, and a fella passed him and said, "Hi Jerry." very casually and kept walking. He said that was the greatest thing ever.

- - - -

You're right that "something" is threatened. I once tried to offer to help people quit smoking on a "quit smoking" support forum and my God did they ever give me hell for it. I'm sure that if it had been IRL I might have been in physical danger.

I had found a technique that helped me quit smoking and I wanted to try it out with other people. The folks on the forum were outraged. Howling mad. They called me a scammer and worse, and clucked to each other about "how dare he?", and basically did their best to make me feel like shit.

It was shocking, I was shocked.

I can't imagine (despite being something of a "fringe" character) what it would be like for a major portion of your life to fall into the burn-the-heretic category. You have my sympathy! Hang in there! "Don't let the turkeys get you down!"


"Burn the heretic" is a good nutshell summary of it.


Privacy is dead. Why do we think we have anything close to agency over our self when advertising and — in general — profiteering by trafficking in the private lives of individuals is the force that it is today?


This is the worst possible take.

The majority of ways people are giving up privacy right now are optional - it's a consequence of using certain devices and software products. By declaring privacy dead you're only opening the door for things to get worse and for privacy violations to become non-optional - constant tracking devices that you can't take off, your home being monitored by default instead of your having to bring in a device that listens to you, no option to use encryption and so on.


Unless the government kills privacy (with law), I couldn't disagree more. I'm building https://owlmail.io to help improve your privacy online by reducing the "personal email everywhere" problem. Owl Mail is just one tiny project among countless others working toward a world with better privacy.


It saddens me to read this sentiment. I agree there is a huge uphill battle to fight here to change the current situation, but there are a) plenty of people who value their privacy and are willing to make changes to the products and technologies they use in order to preserve their rights, and b) developers creating technology, tools and products that will protect your online privacy.


I’m sad to hold it. But the reality is that today you can opt-out and not participate and that won’t impede companies from violating your privacy. It’s enough that your friends shared their contact books or tagged you in their photos.

Beyond that just thing what will stop this? It will either take leadership from Washington DC or a global uprising. Do you think our politicians will fight for our privacy? The second the first shots are fired by the politicians their political opponents will have millions added to their war-chests. The second they open their mouth super-PACs will be organized to assassinate their character. Not to mention they won’t get that cushy job as board members and what-not unless they play ball.

Sorry, we are in a modern feudal age.


I hear you. Here in the UK we have an unelected consultant to the Prime Minister who is pushing for a loosening of data privacy laws. The right to privacy is politicised to suit the agendas of politicians and big tech alike.

Long term, I do hope laws and regulation will catch up. I know some incredible people in the space and their work and commitment is inspiring. It's unsatisfying though to think that the effects will only be reactive and recourse provided after years of ongoing privacy invasion at mass scale. To me, that's where technology comes in and we should advocate and use products and solutions that respect our privacy (e.g. Qwant).

For what it's worth, I'm one of the developers of Peergos - https://peergos.org - a secure storage solution that puts user privacy and control of data first. We're currently in alpha and looking for users to test it out and give feedback. If it interests you at all, I would really appreciate your views on the product and what we're trying to create.


I agree. Most people don't realize what's going on, and of those that do, most of them are profiting by it. The few that see what's happening clearly and don't like it are a tiny minority with (relatively) no money.

To answer your question, I think people have much less agency than we think we do. Our brains run the show, not our minds. It would take so much energy to do something about e.g. surveillance capitalism that the brain settles on a useful illusion (agency) and ignores the data that would require energy expenditure for dubious returns (most people in the panopticon are doing relatively well, eh?)

It's not a very good answer, I know, but I have been convinced that there's no deeper reason. It's caloric cheaper to be a good "coppertop" than to wake up and become "Neo". (Yes, a Matrix reference. I am not ashamed.)


The urgent need for privacy fades as stigmas extinguish.


I wish screens could only display text.


No. I'd say there are a few things before.

- notion of time

- distance and space

- experience

- depth of social bonding and cultures

- even magic and mysticism.. (in the days of full and unalterable data with logic processing)


The properties that which you describe are intrinsic to privacy as a feature in existence. To have privacy in a conversation in the physical world requires time, space, and experience.

These are very intrinsically-linked concepts.


true, so let's go back to physical world first ;)


" - depth of social bonding and cultures - even magic and mysticism.. (in the days of full and unalterable data with logic processing) "

I think here privacy is very important as it allows identity-trying. If there is no privacy then somebody can't try different incompatible identities that they find interesting and they also need to be very careful in their current identity not to anything that is permissible in their currenty identity, but might be a problem in future identities (theyre behavior is limited activities that are current-identity approved and all possible future-identities approved.) E.g. non-major drug-crimes like posession might not be seen as very bad in your current country/setting but when immigrating to the US they seem to play a big role1 (kidnapping/robbery can get waived, almost all drugs not iiuc). (somewhat related to some parts of mysticism) E.g. someone who lives openly gay(/or in faith/opinion/group) in a region but might want to return to his more negative former country where it would be better to hide this tendencies from family umfeld/authorities (eg during an college exchange term or whatever). This basically goes for everything whether it be a complete lifestyle (eg hippies vs traditional business executive (in 60s archetypes) or whatever people do or just their personal or political/world-view opinions (eg personx thinks persony is z or political opinion or whatever or worldview from like causality to like what determines behavior or basis of justice/legitimacy of behavior etc)) And in general depth of social bonding is strongly related to trust and intimacy and that is greatly facilitated by privacy (eg when you google psychologist one suggestion is even indicating that people love their psychologists and maybe also this experiement2))(edit: could be further facilitated with privacy-regulation (like with formerly mentioned psychologists or sexting that we already have)

2: some study where two people together do a quiz on personal questions and then they love each other afterwards iirc (there was some nyt-article about it)(possibly very stupid study dont know just an suggestion) EDIT: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/09/style/no-37-big-wedding-o... (google-result) https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8866933 was discussed here (possibly different to nyt-link) i think i read the article and dont think i read the study or not more than the abstract if (but im not sure about complete former sentence) https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/014616729723400...

1: https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/for-what-types-crime... You may be able to get a waiver if you are inadmissible for one of the following: a crime involving moral turpitude (except for murder or torture) two or crimes with a combined sentence of five years or more (except for murder or torture) one offense relating to simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana prostitution or commercialized vice, or having committed a serious criminal offense, claimed immunity for that offense (for example, diplomatic immunity), and left the United States, without thereafter being prosecuted in a U.S. court for that offense. You will not be eligible for a waiver if you are inadmissible for one of the following: any drug crime (other than an offense related to simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana) drug trafficking murder or torture significant trafficking in persons money laundering, or having committed a particularly severe violation of religious freedom while serving as a foreign government official. [eg getting a waiver doesnt seem simple at all, but they couldnt even get one]


Sry for replying to my own post, but i cant seem to edit my post/save the edit of my post?

(I can click edit and change the comments text (mainly wanted to improve formatting), but then when clicking "update" the (edit-)site just seems to reload Also i apparently only have two hours to edit, so it would probably be good to do it now.)

edit: I seem to be able to edit this post, but not my other, longer posts. (This posts edit-site also reloads the itself when clicking "update", but updates the post itself too.)

edit2: Sry for possible confusion. I realize it says edit somewhere in the parent comment, but that is just because i had mostly finished writing the comment when looking up the article and adding the link (but before posting the post). I can't really edit it.


“privacy is about boundaries”


In the "First World", true. Not so sure folks in places like Syria, west Africa, ...


Climate Change is.


I think this a fantastically important topic and good post, but also misses some important things (which i dont know but there are defienitely missing ones) and focuses very much on recent tech-sphere promiment issues .

some points

-privacy is probably most important for most people in their private relationships and social life (instead of the emphasis on these recent issues)

-could be made more comprehensve/extended we have some regulations for privacy in personal relations, e.g. sexting/sex-pics publication

(that could be extended to more activities) (this is not related to the private relationships mentioned one point above)

-there is a difference between privacy for separating life/having different identities and forgiving/importantness-view-reduction of past behaviors (some european countries heavily limit prepetrator-/convicted-personal-info-transmission, mainly on the belief that this aids rehabilitation(reduces reperpetration-rates) but possibly also on the belief that then the crime is paid for/there shouldn't be further punishing for it (incl social one) but they dont approve of crime/dont see crime as a separate legitimate identity)

--it is very interesting that there seem to be no(?)/very limited norms around past-information-transmission/its legitimacy ((eg after 10 years things shouldnt be mentioned) (there are systems that deal with wrong-thought(seen as wrong) behavior like of course personal forgiving, church forgiving of sins etc that are about legitimacy of taking into account(shouldn't be (negatively) taken into account) (maybe this indirectly speaks a bit to the main subpoint indirectly because then it would also get somewhat delitimized to talk about it/continue to frequently talk about it (which could well be seen/meant to affect the talked-about person negatively) but this is then more an indirect effect)

-violence/(counter-)aggression seems to most pronounced in personal relations, e.g. people aggress/retaliate (like for other unwanted behavior) and try to reduce status of orig aggressor, eg just saying theyre bad or associating them with low-status categories (eg theyre ugly or dumb or do something (if it happens often enough probably gets turned into insult thats somewhat divorced from originally maybe somewhat seriously meant relationship-supposation, e.g. son of a whore etc)) (again by just saying that or telling negative gossip etc)

* -privacy is very important for/very important component of self-expression (and identity trying(so latter part of former ofc (so e.g. really)) * (maybe most important part why privacy matters)

-for these more politcal/abstract/not directly personal discussions something you could have specific settings like Chatham-house-rules while still maintaining productivity-oriented rules in other parts (so Chatham-house-rules for a restaurant-meetup or discord, but disturbing discussions in workplace could be brought up to HR etc) (chatham-house-rules instead of more restrictive rules like around medical privacy etc) (this is a bit work in progress)


It's important but 'most important of our time'?


My argument is that without privacy we cannot build and defend other rights. Privacy allows to define private, social and public spaces with different rules. Without privacy your private stuff can be shared with the public. You could lose your jobs because you said something that your community does not approve. Privay in the modern world is like borders. Without borders we cannot really decide which laws to apply, because anybody could come in and go, so it would become impossible to enforce any kind of law.


Independently of the rest of your argument, the claim that open borders make it impossible to enforce any kind of law is falsified by, for example, U.S. states and municipalities, which enforce their own laws and have open borders with each other.


Is that more important than global warming? When you're standing in the center of a fire or you're a refugee because your city is underwater, it's also difficult to defend other rights.

My argument is that the headline is click bait to get eyeballs. Whatever, more power to you. Hope they sign up for your newsletter.


There's a long essay making the argument if you click the link at the top of the page.


This is what happens when you read only technical blogs and books and you spent so much time in front of a computer that the whole of reality seems amenable to some form of online/virtual experience.


1984 was due to lack of privacy, without privacy you can be deprived of the first level of Maslow pyramid. What's more important?


It's a sign that we live in the best times ever.


> It was not a time of freedom, but anarchy, where bands of barbarians could roam into your lands and pillage everything.

Please, do not use anarchy as a synonym of disorder, violence or war.

Pity a blog post about defining a word and an idea starts with a wrong definition of a word and an idea.

i.e: Anarchy is about self governance, which theoricaly leads to more freedom than whatever we have now in most country.


> theoricaly

Please, do not use theory as a synonym for hypothesis. Evidence has failed to validate the anarchy hypothesis at scale.


Well, as I said the article is my opinion. So, let's agree to disagree.

In my experience real anarchy, in the way you describe, has never been achieved. So, when I hear that it reminds me when people say that real comunism is great, it is just that the URSS was bad, fake communism (it happens here in Italy, not sure if that happens where you are). The only historical anarchy that I know is the one where there is no control. Maybe we can do a better version in the future, but for now that it is what happened.

To be fair, I am Italian, so maybe I am overreacting on the whole barbarians thing.


USSR had democracy too: decisions were made per votes. Should we take that as a canonical example of democracy?

>The only historical anarchy that I know is the one where there is no control.

Do you want to say you can't live without Big Brother controlling you?




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