Why do I care about privacy?

privacy

#1

I am often asked why I care about data privacy. I am not an international master spy (honest!) nor a celebrity or a politician. I am just an ordinary bloke. Why does it matter?

However, I think most people are actually concerned about privacy in their day-to-day lives in at least one of three main ways:

  1. Personal privacy. Most of us have experienced a nosy neighbour, or a bully at school or work, or even an over-concerned family member. We don’t want to have to explain our browsing history, or where we went during our lunch hour, or why we texted someone. It might be because the subject is personal to us or someone else or just because it is none of their business.

  2. Commercial privacy. If I am about to enter a negotiation to buy a car I don’t tell the other person what my budget is. If I am looking to buy insurance I don’t tell them what my other quotes are until I have heard their offer. I don’t walk in to Starbucks and tell the barrista how much I could afford to spend on coffee today before he shows me the price. Fair price negotiation is almost impossible if one side knows much more about the other. If I am looking for a car I don’t want the car dealer to find out from an agency how much money I am likely to have in my bank account. I don’t want to be bombarded with ads for beachwear because I went to the beach last weekend. In practice, commercial privacy is probably the most significant issue for me, and is exactly the point that Google, Facebook, credit card companies and others are hoping to exploit.

  3. Freedom. In a free society, as long as I am not doing something illegal, I must be left alone to do it. And it is a core human right that it is not up to me to prove I am not doing anything illegal, it is up to an accuser to prove I am. Almost all the population are law abiding and it is clearly disproportionate to spy on them all just to try to catch the very few who are criminals. Sometimes people say “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear” but that is not true. I may have nothing to hide, but there are many people I rely on or support who do have something to hide, but are still acting perfectly legally. Investigative journalists teasing out corruption, politicians fixing wrongs that have been done to their constituents, activists campaigning for a change in the law, demonstrators expressing their disgust at the actions of the powerful, trades unionists campaigning for better working conditions. All these are frequently targetted (often illegally) by people abusing their positions and rely on strong privacy in order to make any progress on behalf of the rest of us.

So, although I am an ordinary bloke, I care about strong data privacy both for myself and in order to make sure it is available to those who’s lives depend on it. And so that using and caring about privacy is not, of itself, seen as an indication that someone has something to hide.

Are your reasons the same as mine?


#2

Another important one is prevention of identity theft and fraud. Privacy keeps or personally identifiable information secure so that others cannot impersonate us. A growing threat now is SIM hijacking, someone will call your cell phone carrier pretending to be you and switch your phone number to a SIM and phone they control. Once that is done they can get into your accounts through SMS 2 factor authentication requests and other social engineering tactics.


#3

I agree. Unfortunately the belief among the most population I’d that they got nothing to hide. To me it is like saying I’m not going to have sex today so please feel free peep in today. Sorry if the analogy is offensive for anyone reading this. The other challenge that is difficult to handle is Google, their products and ecosystem. They are of high quality. One should eitther be ready to compromise on quality of one’s phone experience, or pay a high price for it by adopting Apple ecosystem.
I will be happy if /e/ provides an opportunity for app developers to develop high quality apps and also create some room to monetize them. I would be happy to see the community to support the developers with whatever amount they could.


#4

Besides from the already mentioned practical aspects, I can also think of a theoretical one: In literature there are examples of how writers predict futures without privacy. And none of them make the impression that I want to live in them. Caring about privacy also means trying to prevent these imagined futures from becoming reality.


#5

One more thing.
Who is collecting your data? Anonymous strangers? Do we know them?
How will your data be stored and for how long?
How about 20-30 years from now? Who is in charge of all this enormous amount of personal data then?
Even if its current leaders are responsible and trustworthy, what about those in charge in 20 years?
Will my data be used to track down on my kids one day?

“What is most striking is the sense of resignation, the impotence of regulation, the lack of
options, the public apathy,” says Dr Powles. “What an extraordinary situation for an entity that
has power over information - there is no greater power really.”

Ethics and moral is always loosing against money and power.


#6

Even smaller players are collecting data now. Won’t post the links because the articles are in Dutch, but the smaller corporate businesses seem to think Google is an example. Because they don’t make profit with advertising anymore traditional media like newspapers and television start selling the data collected from the visitors of their websites.