Linked by David Adams on Fri 11th Dec 2009 01:25 UTC
Privacy, Security, Encryption I was reminded of Sun Microsystems' Scott McNealy's infamous sound byte (used as the title of this article) when I read about Google CEO Eric Schmidt's foot-in-mouth moment during a recent CNBC interview (YouTube Link). Here's what Schmidt said: "I think judgment matters. If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place. If you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines -- including Google -- do retain this information for some time and it's important, for example, that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act and it is possible that all that information could be made available to the authorities."
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Privacy is Obsolete
by tuttle on Fri 11th Dec 2009 09:22 UTC
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People always gloat that the recording industry and dead tree publishing has been made obsolete by the internet and will go the way of the buggy whip manufacturers.

I think that privacy is another concept that will be made obsolete by technical developments. And that is not necessarily a bad thing. People in the middle ages, growing up in a large family and rarely leaving the small village they were born in, did not have much privacy either. So privacy is a relatively new concept. And given how much privacy people are willing to give up to participate in social networking sites like facebook, it seems that humans do not have an intrinsic desire for privacy.

The question IMHO is not how to preserve privacy (which is impossible), but how to organize a society with little or no privacy so that it does not end up an orwellian dictatorship.

Everybody who is interested in this topic should read "The Transparent Society" by David Brin. It makes a pretty compelling case.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Privacy is Obsolete
by AdamW on Fri 11th Dec 2009 16:37 in reply to "Privacy is Obsolete"
AdamW Member since:

"People in the middle ages, growing up in a large family and rarely leaving the small village they were born in, did not have much privacy either. So privacy is a relatively new concept."

The first part of this is partly true, the second is definitely not. It was a specialist topic of one of my college tutors, actually. The desire for privacy is a significant motivating factor throughout social history. Even when it was innately difficult to have privacy, the concept was understood and strongly desired; those who shared living space would try to subdivide it to provide privacy, and those who had personal possessions tended to try very hard to keep them private. Throughout medieval Western history (I can't speak to other areas), those who went from being poor to being rich almost inevitably moved to bigger and more isolated dwellings, which provided...privacy.

It's exactly the same social motivator you can see in the development of the American suburbs: as soon as a large number of people became rich enough to afford their own houses and cars, they got the hell out of Dodge and built large, detached houses with hedges all around the gardens. Why? Privacy.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Privacy is Obsolete
by boldingd on Fri 11th Dec 2009 16:56 in reply to "RE: Privacy is Obsolete"
boldingd Member since:

While I don't disagree, I can think of lots of reasons why people would wander off and build removed, isolated dwellings as soon as they become wealthy enough to do it. A desire for privacy is just one: many others are probably less noble.

Reply Parent Score: 2