Privacy is dead - get over it.
People demand online privacy as if it were some god-given right. Privacy is an abberation of recent history, a transitory phenomenon that is evaporating quickly in the hot light of technology. Privacy is dead - get over it.
Today's musing is prompted by this quote seen in The Pointless Privacy Debate
In response to criticism from a british [sic] privacy group and European Union data overseers, Google recently announced it would anonymize data it retains on user searches after 18 months... The EU applauded the move as it had lauded Google's agreement to comply with its 2005 directive requiring service providers to retain all identifiable records up to two years. Huh?
When it comes to consumer privacy, lawmakers can't seem to contain their frustration and even outrage with businesses that retain detailed, personally identifiable data. Yet when it comes to investigating crime—terrorism and child pornography being the favorites—they just as passionately take the opposite position. Consumers are equally ambivalent: We're creeped out to find photos of ourselves showing up in Google maps, but infuriated when the movements of alleged terrorists and other criminals through public spaces aren't captured or stored.
…You give away far more "private" information in exchange for small discounts at the grocery store or pet store every time you use your loyalty card. And that's not necessarily bad. The data is valuable to retailers and manufacturers, and you're willing to sell it.
…Maybe it isn't a debate at all, but a negotiation.
What is “normal” privacy anyway? Scott McNealy of Sun Microsystems said that consumer privacy issues are a "red herring… You have zero privacy anyway… Get over it" . Expectations of total privacy are a Twentieth Century phenomenon, that emerged as we moved away from communal housing and village living. There is no reason why they can not be rolled back again. Privacy is a transitory modern phenomenon amongst the wealthy developed nations – it is the exception not the norm across cultures and history. The issue is that it takes time to change something so conservative and personal.
Privacy is gone. If your alter ego in some online community is a diaper-wearing goat-fondler, people are gonna know, just as in the village of old your predilections would soon be revealed.
The difference now is that you exist and interact in the online world as streams of information. Nobody has to record it, nobody has to disseminate it. You do all that by the very act of existing online. To think that this flow of data can somehow remain confidential is patently absurd.
Equally absurd is the idea that people have a right to online privacy. The only people who have anything to fear from such loss of privacy are those who have something to hide. If your political beliefs are not to your employer’s tastes; or you are tupping the wrong person; or you have a penchant for bukkake; or you are running a tax-free business on the sly; then don’t do it online. Do it in the privacy of your own home’s four solid walls, like we did before the internet. Don’t do it by broadcasting a stream of personal data across an open network to the other side of the planet on servers managed by people you don’t know, then act surprised when word gets out.
Technology in general and the internet in particular have destroyed privacy – get over it. If you want to hang on to some shreds of your privacy, retreat into your home – don’t go online. And expect to kiss goodbye to all last vestiges of privacy as the 21st century unfurls.