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Who Cares If Privacy Is Slipping Away? 393

Posted by kdawson
from the going-going dept.
IAmTheDave writes, "This morning MSNBC's home page is topped by the opening story in a series, Privacy Under Attack, But Does Anybody Care? Privacy rights have been debated to death here on Slashdot, but this article attempts to understand people's ambivalence towards the decline of privacy. The article discusses how over 60 percent of Americans — while somewhat unable to quantify what exactly privacy is and what's being lost — feel a pessimism about privacy rights and their erosion. However, a meager 6-7% polled have actually taken any steps to help preserve their privacy. The article's call to action: '...everyone has secrets they don't want everyone else to know, and it's never too late to begin a discussion about how Americans' right to privacy can be protected.'"
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Who Cares If Privacy Is Slipping Away?

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  • Moo (Score:4, Funny)

    by Chacham (981) on Monday October 16, 2006 @12:15PM (#16454775) Homepage Journal
    I, for one, love having no privacy. After all, what do i have to hide? I can only say how much i love our new state.

    It's not like i am bold enough to print secret messages.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I saw your secret message. Why do you hate freedom so much? I think you need to be reeducated to know why 'freedom' is good and 'tyranny' is bad.
    • I wish I had a mod point for you.
    • by Cutriss (262920)
      It's not like i am bold enough
      There's just something about this part of the message that seems like it's trying to tell me something. I just don't really know what.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      I am happy to hear that you have nothing to hide. I think that people worry to much about privacy.

      I for one understand very well why we need to give up a little privacy for the greater good.

      Again I'd just like to say that privacy is not as important as saftey and security.

    • I took a quick glance at your post and misread where the bold was...for a moment I was a bit confused as to why you WOULDN'T want to hide the fact that you had h-e-r-p-e-s
  • "Real life" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Turn-X Alphonse (789240) on Monday October 16, 2006 @12:18PM (#16454815) Journal
    No body has time to care any more, we're worked so hard we don't even have time for our children. Why would privacy matter to you when you're already tied to a mobile phone and work 15 hours a day?

    Privacy issues won't arise for the general public untill it's them directly affected. They see no reason to care untill they see what happens when they don't care.
    • Re:"Real life" (Score:5, Insightful)

      by garcia (6573) on Monday October 16, 2006 @12:27PM (#16454987)
      Privacy issues won't arise for the general public untill it's them directly affected. They see no reason to care untill they see what happens when they don't care.

      Oh Americans are directly affected right now. They are under constant video surveillance, their government is "legally" spying on them and their friends, and their bank records are closely watched for "terrorism". We aren't allowed to protest publically if the President is affected, we aren't allowed to voice our opinions silently "in there" without a hassle and threats of police action, and we aren't allowed to protest publically w/o the threat of being added to a FBI watchlist for "Homeland Terrorism".

      So, while Americans are conditioned to believe that they are not having their privacy and freedoms infringed on, it is.
      • Re:"Real life" (Score:5, Insightful)

        by NDPTAL85 (260093) on Monday October 16, 2006 @12:39PM (#16455181)
        You are mistaking "abused" for "directly affected" The examples you just stated in no way shape or form get in the way of a person's daily business or leisure activities. If you aren't protesting something then how do you even KNOW you can't protest it anymore?
      • Re:"Real life" (Score:5, Insightful)

        by twistedsymphony (956982) on Monday October 16, 2006 @12:49PM (#16455339) Homepage
        Yes they are effected but how directly? Has most of the US populous been pegged as a terrorist because of something they did and been interrogated/had their world turned upside-down in a home search? Have any of them had a secret of theirs become public and suffered embarrassment or legal recourse because of it? Have any of them had their rights change so dramatically that it interrupts their daily routines beyond slower entry through security checkpoints.

        Yes the things in motion do effect the citizens of the US (and others as well) but not yet to the point where it pops their little bubble of a happy world. Basically unless these violations of privacy come up and slap these people across the face HARD and knock them out of their daily grind onto their ass they're going to continue to be apathetic about it and ignore it.
        • by mikelieman (35628)
          "Has most of the US populous been pegged as a terrorist "

          Total unwarranted domestic surveillance justified as "Foreign Terrorist Surveillance", so yea, the Feds consider us all Foreign Terrorists...

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by garcia (6573)
          Has most of the US populous been pegged as a terrorist because of something they did and been interrogated/had their world turned upside-down in a home search?

          Thanks for proving that Americans are conditioned to believe that they aren't being directly affected and that as long as the government is creepily looking "from a distance" that it doesn't matter.
        • Re:"Real life" (Score:5, Interesting)

          by QuasiEvil (74356) on Monday October 16, 2006 @01:05PM (#16455689)
          >Has most of the US populous been pegged as a terrorist because of something they did and been interrogated

          Try being a photographer in Fortress America these days - particularly one with an interest in transportation and industrial settings. Trust me, it sucks. Most of us are pretty much resigned to the inevitable visit from a three-letter agency.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            I imagine it sucks, and I'm not saying no one is being directly effected... my point is you wont start hearing a large public outcry until the generic suburban living, SUV driving, soccer-moms and single-dads with their herd of children start getting personal visits from the 3 letter agencies.
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by feepness (543479)
            Most of us are pretty much resigned to the inevitable visit from a three-letter agency.

            OMG! You got a visit! Everybody PANIC!

            Really, the one I'm most afraid of is the IRS and they've been pushing people around for nearly a century now... this didn't start yesterday.
          • What did you expect?

            That as intelligence-gathering techniques became cheaper and easier and more accessible to the general public, that the government would pay less attention to intel-gathering activities?

            Are you one of those people who believes that nobody who photographs a bridge may be planning to blow it up? Or are you one of those people who believes that the occasional blown-up bridge is worth it, so long as your desire to take pictures of bridges is not scrutinized?
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by CylanR77 (532552)
              Your comment might actually make sense if the people who take pictures of a bridge were trying to take pictures of a top-secret span that national security depended on.

              But as it stands, beliving that a bridge might somehow be protected from "terrorism" because a photographer would be prevented from (or terrorized for) taking pictures of something that is completely open to the public and which hundreds, if not thousands or *millions* of people are free to observe on a daily basis is downright absurd.

              Or are
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              What did you expect?

              That as intelligence-gathering techniques became cheaper and easier and more accessible to the general public, that the government would pay less attention to intel-gathering activities?

              That's exactly what I would expect. Intel-gathering, as you call it, is no longer an identifying characteristic of a threatening person. Innocent people are likely to be openly engaged in photographing public places, while the real terrorists are able to gather their photos using completely hidden

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by pla (258480)
              Are you one of those people who believes that nobody who photographs a bridge may be planning to blow it up? Or are you one of those people who believes that the occasional blown-up bridge is worth it, so long as your desire to take pictures of bridges is not scrutinized?

              You left out "one of those people who believes in the presumption of innocence"?

              In isolation, taking pictures of bridges, dams, national monuments, even government buildings (which frequently have some of the neatest architecture) shou
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by susano_otter (123650)
                People are presumed innocent until proven guilty, sure, but that doesn't stop the police from investigating many people who are suspected of crimes but are proven innocent over the course of the investigation.
                • Re:"Real life" (Score:5, Insightful)

                  by Hoi Polloi (522990) on Monday October 16, 2006 @03:10PM (#16457835) Journal
                  Of course that justification can be used as a form of intimidation. Imagine the police storming into your place of work or you family gathering to haul you off for questioning. 12 hours later you are returned exhausted and stunned and are barely given an apology but the damage to you is done (career, socially, security clearances, etc).
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by cayenne8 (626475)
              "Are you one of those people who believes that nobody who photographs a bridge may be planning to blow it up? Or are you one of those people who believes that the occasional blown-up bridge is worth it, so long as your desire to take pictures of bridges is not scrutinized?"

              Honestly...yes...I am one of those people.

              I really do not fear the terrorists as much as I do the govt. invading sacred US citizen privacy and taking away our rights.

              While I am all for them trying to prevent terrorist attacks....I don

        • by lymond01 (314120)
          "Yes the things in motion do effect the citizens of the US (and others as well) but not yet to the point where it pops their little bubble of a happy world. Basically unless these violations of privacy come up and slap these people across the face HARD and knock them out of their daily grind onto their ass they're going to continue to be apathetic about it and ignore it."

          And then it would be too late, wouldn't it. Even if you just make it known to your congressperson that you care about it, that's a start.
        • Re:"Real life" (Score:5, Insightful)

          by arodland (127775) on Monday October 16, 2006 @02:35PM (#16457223)
          Don't forget that anyone who is investigated as a terrorist and finds out about it, can't tell you about it.
      • A good portion of Americans believe the President is acting in the best interests of the United States. As such, they have given him a clean slate to do whatever he wishes. Unless someone can not only provide evidence to the contrary, but can also set in motion measures to censure and/or punish him, what the hell is the point?

        He was elected, twice, to the highest office in the land. As such he is nearly free to do whatever he wants, period. Constitutionally the only legal body that can affect the Pre
      • Re:"Real life" (Score:4, Interesting)

        by LifeWithJustin (969206) on Monday October 16, 2006 @01:43PM (#16456407) Homepage Journal

        I've been two a protest or two, and I've never had an FBI guy knocking on my door. I've been vocal about different issues. I have a website that will poke fun at elected officials during the election cycles. Yet, I still haven't even had a hit from the FBI's office on my website.

        I must be doing something wrong.

        Oh yeah... I'd like everyone to know that "garcia" is now on the FBI watch list after his comments.

        Look Side A uses fear so that they can gain more control then we might normally feel comfortable with. But we seem to forget that Side B uses unrealistic fear about the erosion of personal freedoms. I feel that Bush falls in Side A and people like "garcia" fall into Side B.

    • Re:"Real life" (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ackthpt (218170) * on Monday October 16, 2006 @12:34PM (#16455103) Homepage Journal

      Privacy issues won't arise for the general public untill it's them directly affected. They see no reason to care untill they see what happens when they don't care.

      And as people in Germany found, sometimes when it's a matter of pain, you can't do anything anyway, because the gestapo will haul your ass off somewhere for the SS Totenkopfverband to kick the shit out of you and then hang you up in public as an example of what happens to traitors. Then your country will be bombed or whatever until there's only half the population left. Well, is that all it takes to get rid of a despot? Let me know when the revolution starts, I'll be busy with figuring out how to play mp3's in my car.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by chill (34294)
        Let me know when the revolution starts, I'll be busy with figuring out how to play mp3's in my car.

        Dude, this is America. You don't "figure it out", you go out and buy a new car stereo -- or more preferrably a new car -- that has an iPod dock built in. You then go out and buy a Genuine Apple iPod(tm) to plug in. Oh, and while we're at it, they aren't "mp3s" they are "tunez", also soon to be a TM of Apple. Make sure to spend several hundred $$ on Apple's iTunes (TM) for over-processed, teeny bopper, psue
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by IdleTime (561841)
      Speak for yourself!

      I have been working for close to 25 years and have never accepted a position that requires more than 40hrs/week. Any company requiring you to work more, is badly managed and should be avoided at all cost.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Salvance (1014001)
      Even if privacy rights were severely eroded, most people are just too lazy to do anything about it. Heck, there could be a line on this year's ballot asking 'Do you want to give up all your rights and have the United States become a fascist dictatorship led by a computer simulation of Hitler?', and everyone would be complaining to no end ... but we'd still probably only have a 35% voter turnout.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by zippthorne (748122)
        Why does everyone go on about voter turnout? What's with this belief that somehow the 65% of people you think won't even bother to flip a switch, scribble on a paper, or push out a pre-weakened punch-hole are in any way qualified to make decisions for the rest of us?

        Certainly we should bend over backwards for people that actually want to vote, but if someone believes that their opinions are not valuable enough to contribute secretly to a running tally, I'm inclined to agree with them. In fact, maybe such
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by jacksonj04 (800021)
          As Churchill said, "The best argument against democracy is a 5 minute conversation with the average voter".
    • Re:"Real life" (Score:5, Insightful)

      by From A Far Away Land (930780) on Monday October 16, 2006 @12:46PM (#16455281) Homepage Journal
      The thing about privacy these days, is that enough Americans are afraid of their neighbours, that the government can exploit their fear to take away privacy from everyone. Americans see what happens to people who speak out against the administration: Colin Powell, and V. Plame are prime examples of people who have had their careers destroyed because of the current administration. No one in power is fighting for the average American. Instead the government and its media mouthpieces tell Americans what they should be afraid of: veggies, terrorists, Canadian beef, and analogue TV, so their friends in industry can continue to get away with indirect murder while they rape the earths resources for their own benefit. It's a nice little racket for them.

      People tend not to take on things much bigger than them. When the leading front runner for a president to replace the one we have now, is the wife of the previous president, people should smell something is rotten in Denmark. But even if they did realize that it's fishy only two or four families have a shot at governing the country of 300,000,000 people, what's one person going to do about it if they have to work 9 hours a day just to live and eat where they are?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Catbeller (118204)
        "Americans see what happens to people who speak out against the administration: Colin Powell, and V. Plame are prime examples of people who have had their careers destroyed because of the current administration."

        Don't forget, as a prominent example of why Total Surveillance is WRONG, that ex-Marine and Iraq weapons Inspector Scott Ritter was speaking out about Bush's full out lying prior to the Iraqi invasion... and was raided for kiddy porn due to an FBI investigation of his internet habits.

        Big fuss. Ritte
    • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday October 16, 2006 @01:00PM (#16455587)
      Paraphrased and updated:

      First they came for the communist terrorists, and I did not speak out--
      because I was not a communist terrorist;
      Then they came for the socialist terrorists, and I did not speak out--
      because I was not a socialist terrorist;
      Then they came for the trade unionist terrorists, and I did not speak out--
      because I was not a trade unionist terrorist;
      Then they came for the Jew terrorists, and I did not speak out--
      because I was not a Jew terrorist;
      Then they came for me--
      and there was no one left to speak out for me.

      You lose your Rights piece by piece. And each loss is "justified" because, after all, you don't want to support the "enemy", do you? You don't want to be a "traitor", do you?

      Fascism begins when the efficiency of the government becomes more important than the Rights of the People.
      • The modern version of this "salami-slicing" progression with regards to installation of surveillance technology:

        1) We're installing cameras in selected areas for limited purposes, eg. at street intersections to catch speeders. Don't be paranoid; we'd never link 'em up into an all-purpose surveillance system.

        2) We're expanding the camera network to pedestrian areas to fight crime and, if you're in the UK, "anti-social behavio(u)r" (shudder). Don't be paranoid; it's not like we're trying to track you ever
  • Hardly surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dr_dank (472072) on Monday October 16, 2006 @12:19PM (#16454851) Homepage Journal
    Many people cannot see beyond their own lives and own backyards to see the big picture. Unless privacy violations are going to directly affect their lives and those they know/care about, it won't make any waves with the general population. Surveillance these days is transparent enough to make this feasible. Those that oppose these policies are made out to be shrill wackos that will dogmatically adhere to a quaint old document that is out of touch with the "post 9/11" world.
  • by zappepcs (820751) on Monday October 16, 2006 @12:20PM (#16454863) Journal
    This has been going on for quite a long time now. Have you ever had the cable company ask for your SSN to see if they can give you service at your new home? I asked a guy in a phone boutique in the mall about a new handset; he wanted my phone service account login information to look it up for me! I see people give away this information every day to people that they should not trust, but do trust for some reason. Awareness of loss of privacy is the problem, or rather lack of it. Many people naively expect people to be trustworthy, especially when it comes to things they are not aware of, or informed about. Sadly, I think it will be a hard fight to make people aware of the precarious position that their private data is in.
    • It's interesting to see the look of shock on a sales clerk's face when they ask "Can I have your phone number please?" as they begin to ring up my purchase, and I say "No." It's particularly fun when they clerk is a nice-looking woman and instead of saying "No." I'll ask, leeringly, "Can I have YOURS?". Point: A good first step is to stop giving out seemingly inoccuous information whenever asked. JUST SAY NO.

      • I never refuse an opportunity to provide bad data. Bad data is worse than no data. If you hate cheezy maketing, why pass up a request (opportunity) to poison a marketing database?

        A few hints:
        Your birthday should be February 29th of a non-leap year.
        Your phone number should start with "1" (phone numbers in the US never start with "0" or "1")
        If you're a Blues Brothers fan, like I am, your address should be "1060 West Addison."
        City, State and Zip should never match (e.g Dallas, AZ, 90210)

        You get the idea?

        Ha
    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Monday October 16, 2006 @12:38PM (#16455159)

      Awareness of loss of privacy is the problem, or rather lack of it. Many people naively expect people to be trustworthy, especially when it comes to things they are not aware of, or informed about. Sadly, I think it will be a hard fight to make people aware of the precarious position that their private data is in.

      I think this entire trend is a problem, partly because of a trend towards less and less personal responsibility and partly out of a feeling of defeat in improving our government. People give out info because they assume the government protects them from abuse of this data (as they do in many other countries). Others, feel their information is already "out there" and while they know the government does not protect them, these are the same somewhat pessimistic people who have no faith in our government or in the ability to change it. I've heard comments like, "do they even count our votes anymore?" spoken in all seriousness. And honestly, I'm not sure that they do.

      The lack of concern or privacy does not surprise me because those who trust the government, assume they are protected or don't know about the privacy problems. Those that don't trust the government are the same ones who don't trust companies with their data, and they've given up on the government.

  • by Phoenix666 (184391) on Monday October 16, 2006 @12:22PM (#16454885)
    They want to know everything but everything about me? OK, fine.

    As long as I get to know everything but everything about George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Condy Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Bill Gates, Donald Trump, and Pat Robertson. Specifically, I'd like to know their exact whereabouts at all times, what their bank account and social security #'s are. I'd also really like to know where their kids go to school and what their medical histories are.

    Oh, wait. You're not ready to share that information with the rest of us? Then you can butt the hell out of my information. Anything less will be settled with guns.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Then you can butt the hell out of my information. Anything less will be settled with guns.

      They already know where your guns are.

      No so ironically, many of the same independent-minded correct-thinking Slashbots who claim to be in favor of privacy are all for selling out law-abiding gun owners.

      Because when it was their guy in power, they don't care.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 16, 2006 @12:50PM (#16455355)

      You're not ready to share that information with the rest of us? Then you can butt the hell out of my information.

      You're on the right track, but the tit-for-tat principle won't solve anything. I don't care if the president wears a web-cam-helmet 24/7 -- that still doesn't grant government the slightest moral right to spy on me. (Spying is a form of harrassment as it goes against the victim's will, i.e. an initiation of force. Does your neighbor have the right to spy on your private affairs? Why not? How is government different?)

      Anything less will be settled with guns.

      It already has been: everything government does and could possibly do is backed by the threat of force (yes, Virginia, that means guns). Force is the essence of government. (Government is defined as the organization holding the unique "right" to initiate force or threat thereof -- i.e. employ coercion -- as its means within a given territory; anyone else who does so is a criminal. That is the only objective, unambiguous definition of government that applies to all governments past, present, and future.)

      I'm just as pissed off as you are, my friend, but it was inevitable that government would eventually reach the size (measured in both revenue and power over the people) where spying on peaceful citizens is par for the course. The Bush administration certainly wasn't the first to try to spy on peaceful citizens, but they are the latest, and being the latest means holding the reigns to the most powerful government (and world empire) that has ever existed. How could it possibly have turned out any different, given the sheer size of this government? They've got to keep spending your money in order to get even more, and this is one great way to do it.

  • Help Youself (Score:5, Informative)

    by chill (34294) on Monday October 16, 2006 @12:22PM (#16454891) Journal
    You can't help people who don't want to be helped. As long as their basic wants are sated, most of them are too apathetic to give a shit about anything.

    For those of you that do care, an easy and practical guide can be found at this website [howtobeinvisible.com]. The book is also available thru Amazon, and isn't very expensive. Used ones are usually in the $5 range. VERY useful and has been updated for post-9/11.

      Charles
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOsPam.gmail.com> on Monday October 16, 2006 @12:22PM (#16454897) Journal
    Well, for United States citizens, I'd imagine that millions of soldiers who fought and most who died did so knowing that they were providing a future for their children in which the Bill of Rights would be upheld. The Revolutionary war was, in part, to protect ou privacy from English soldiers entering our homes and taking what they wanted.

    World War II saw the deaths of millions of Americans to protect our rights and privacy from the Third Reich.

    I think there have been millions of people who have died with the intent of their final efforts providing us a future were we are ensured a right to privacy.

    I think the descendants, relatives & comrades of those people do, in fact, care about our ebbing privacy. But perhaps I just haven't been properly upgraded with the most recent version of our brainwashing firmware. "All power to the centralized government!" just ain't my thing.
    • by Tackhead (54550)
      > The Revolutionary war was, in part, to protect ou privacy from English soldiers entering our homes and taking what they wanted.

      On the upside, the Third Amendment has yet to fall. On the downside, we're rapidly running out of amendments. The Third is arguably the only one still intact.

    • World War II saw the deaths of millions of Americans to protect our rights and privacy from the Third Reich.

      Wrong. The WW-2 was because Japs attached Pearl Harbor, and NOT because we liked to go gung-ho against Hitler. Hitler was very conscious NOT to attack USA.

      Privacy and Freedom had nothing to do with WW-2 or the present Iraq War.

  • by WormholeFiend (674934) on Monday October 16, 2006 @12:22PM (#16454899)
    I'm all for lack of privacy, as long as it applies equally to everyone, starting with our political leaders, judges, and police officers and so on.
    • I'm all for lack of privacy, as long as it applies equally to everyone, starting with our political leaders, judges, and police officers and so on.

      I don't think you really are... although I share the idea of your message, which is a taste of their own medicine may be quite vile indeed.

  • They don't care, because they don't understand, sometimes willfully so. All this heavy-handed wringing and minutiae about habeas corpus...oh look! Dirty old republican!

    Additionally (and not trying to be flamebait), we are talking about Americans and the American media here. I'd like to see how privacy concerns stack up in other countries, the UK being a very good dexample.
    • by mikelieman (35628)
      "I'd like to see how privacy concerns stack up in other countries, the UK being a very good example."

      Aren't they all subjects of The Queen, as opposed to Free People?

  • by perlchild (582235) on Monday October 16, 2006 @12:23PM (#16454919)
    1) It's hard to quantify what's lost, and since it's being traded "for" something usually, it's rather hard to evaluate how good a deal it is, so most people don't do the exercise, since what's lost... usually isn't lost at time of purchase, but much later.

    2) What's lost can have almost infinite value, one's loss of privacy could end with becoming a victim of identity theft and until it's established one's a victim, one could be accused of pretty nasty things. But that doesn't happen right away, is hard to prove, and doesn't happen to everyone.

    That means that the protection seems large, unwieldy, like expensive insurance, and at some point, risky, like suing a large corporation over a five dollar item. People don't see the value of what they lose, only the value of what they lose by trying to protect some abstract value.

    Until some court cases start making noise over protection of private data, I don't see that changing.
  • by muonzoo (106581) on Monday October 16, 2006 @12:26PM (#16454969) Homepage
    I'm not convinced that everybody has "secrets" that they would want to hide. Some people do not. However, that said, it is critical to protect the right to privacy. People today likely don't care because they don't understand a very important thing: when things are off-line, manual and require manual investment of time and energy, they become less accessible and therefore, appear to be somewhat private. This is not true when searches and corelation can be automated.
    In a society that codified and archives data and facts online, protection of information can only be assured via unassailable proofs, cryptographic methods and legislation to support this right. I think this is where the media has done all of us a disservice. We should / could all benefit from this issue being presented as a serious concern, otherwise we will soon find ourselves not only without any privacy, but without any means to defend it.
  • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Monday October 16, 2006 @12:27PM (#16455003) Homepage Journal
    If I tell you something about me, it isn't a secret. If I make you promise not to tell anyone, it is still out there. If you put that secret in a database and then you sell your business, what can I do? Sue you?

    There's no point to secrecy/privacy laws -- the only way to protect yourself would be to sue, and how would you afford to sue? Maybe you can get together with a few thousand people who were hurt by the same party, and class-action sue? How again does that help you?

    I don't have secrets -- there's no point. I was talking to a friend about how MySpace is reducing the amount of cheating that goes on in the lives of sexually-active young adults. He didn't believe me, until he realized that its nearly impossible to burn the candles at both ends secretly -- people will find out now that information travels faster than a Sidekick 3 text message.

    What do you want to keep secret? Your SSN? Too late. Your debt to income ratio? Everyone knows you don't own the house and car, friends. Privacy is not the concern -- the thing people fear is others stealing their identities. Privacy laws won't help, all it takes is on $8/hour employee seeing your information and counting the future dollar signs. If you want protection, protect yourself by not RELYING on your secrets. There are numerous ways to do this -- forget about credit, own what you want, and if you can't own it from the start, save until you can. Diversify your income by taking on new talents and trades. Focus on building REAL relationships with people around you -- don't do the rock-to-rock skipping around that is so commonplace in life (think: relationships, jobs, etc).

    I don't need privacy, in fact, the more people know about me, the easier it is to sell myself to future prospective clients AND future friends. What do I have to hide?
    • by mark-t (151149)

      *Everybody* has something to hide.

      Not because what they have to hide is wrong or questionable, but simply because it is private.

      For example, who else but you and your partner should be aware of exactly where and how often you have sex?

      • by dada21 (163177) *
        *Everybody* has something to hide.

        Hiding something means not divulging it.

        Not because what they have to hide is wrong or questionable, but simply because it is private.

        But if you need to share it, it isn't private.

        For example, who else but you and your partner should be aware of exactly where and how often you have sex?

        My doctor, for one (prostate history in my family). I divulge it to him, and I know he probably writes it down. Therefore, I don't make the assumption that it is truly private -- while he k
    • >There's no point to secrecy/privacy laws -- the only way to protect yourself would be to sue

      Or to appeal to your government's privacy commission. At a security conference in Canada I heard a phone company executive say that they are careful to respond to the privacy commissioner and take the office seriously.
    • by camusflage (65105)
      If you put that secret in a database and then you sell your business, what can I do? Sue you?

      That depends. I remember a time [wired.com] when our federal government actually sometimes did the right thing. When a company swore up and down they wouldn't disclose your personal information, they would sue them if they tried to. Now, they just retroactively change the law so that information can be disclosed without penalties.
      • by dada21 (163177) *
        Why is it the federal government's place to enforce contracts? I don't see it as one of their powers as listed in the Constitution.

        That's the problem with government enforcement of contracts rather than having private contract bonds. When I sign a bid and turn it into a job, my customer REQUIRES a bond to cover the chance that I might skip out on the contract. I've never had to use my bond insurance -- hence I pay VERY VERY little for it (and I have a policy 10 times my yearly contract size). This gives
  • by Starker_Kull (896770) on Monday October 16, 2006 @12:29PM (#16455023)
    ...but if you think you have no chance to stop losing your privacy, you resign yourself to it and give up. Everyone has a limited, increasingly limited, amount of spare time in their lives to worry about things other than work. The problem with "protecting your privacy" is that it is an increasingly complex, time-consuming, byzantine, and inconvienent task. You as an individual have to keep track of all the myriad ways that your privacy is being ignored or taking advantage of and spend your spare time tracking down, learning about and trying to change this. There is no "Department of Privacy", no mechanism in the government, other than individuals who have discovered that their privacy was violated bringing up individual cases in court, to stop its erosion in fact. And the most recent suggested constitutional amendments have had nothing to do with enhancing and/or extending or simply MODERNIZING the privacy rights individuals have....
  • We are a consumer society. Ease of commerce requires giving up a large percentage of our personal privacy. The instant you use your debit card at the grocery store you've just supplied a great many people with volumes of information about yourself. Nevermind buying stuff on the net.
  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Monday October 16, 2006 @12:29PM (#16455037)
    If I use my affinity card, then I get 2% cash back on my porn and sex toy purchases *and* 10 cents per gallon off gasoline for that month!

    I mean, that alone is enough to let the world know about my private quirks for me!
    • If I use my affinity card, then I get 2% cash back on my porn and sex toy purchases *and* 10 cents per gallon off gasoline for that month!

      Reminds me of a Dr. Phil episode I saw a months back. The couple were having problems, and the wife felt that the husband was addicted to porn. Dr. Phil is trying to get the guy to consider his wife's feelings, and asks him whether he would spend time looking at his porn if his wife was sitting next to him while he was doing it. The husband thought for a second and mum
  • Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.

    - Benjamin Franklin
    • At least get the quote right. It has a very different meaning when you don't take out some of the words.

      "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

      The words "essential" and "temporary" are critical to what he was trying to say.
  • My Wife (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mpapet (761907) on Monday October 16, 2006 @12:35PM (#16455117) Homepage
    Is a perfect example.

    She's always afraid to ask me about this stuff because I tell her the truth.

    1. You have no privacy. As a result, the average individual is one step away from character assasination whether they know it or not. It's been this way for decades now.

    2. Whatever privileges you had before are being taken away. When I explained to her that a Tivo doesn't allow her to "keep" stuff like a VHS tape among a host of other limitations and intrusions. (It's hers to enjoy in her home right? Today. Probably. But tomorrow?) Not to mention the more frequent, "TIVO's great but I wish I could give you a copy to watch. It was great." we get from TIVO owners.

    These days, "new" things are cheaper not because they are innovative, but because they are taking features and privileges away from you. It's okay though, because it's the "Free Market" in action. It's the Will Of The People.

    My question back is how is that innovative? Is the politicians promise of lower cost and greater service/features being kept? Am I any safer? Is my kid any safer?
  • The point is... (Score:3, Informative)

    by JustNiz (692889) on Monday October 16, 2006 @12:40PM (#16455203)
    Its more than just about privacy.

    Its about the ongoing erosion of personal identity and freedom, of which privacy is just one cornerstone.

    The US Government and (even worse) large US corporations are being allowed to using the 'might is right' approach combined with a large amount of paranoid fear-mongering to arbitrarily remove rights that have until recently had been considered a basic requirement for any civilised country, and as such were included in the constitution.

    America, defend your own constitutional rights.
  • by spungebob (239871) on Monday October 16, 2006 @12:46PM (#16455283)
    everyone has secrets...

    But good citizens don't have secrets! As long as the discussion keeps getting entangled with this whole issue of "keeping secrets", our right to privacy will continue to be eroded.

    Personally, I'm sick of hearing people say "It doesn't bother me because I have nothing to hide"... and believe me I've heard it a lot since you-know-when. That's not the point!

    Privacy isn't about keeping secrets - it's about being safe from intrusion and unwarranted observation. There's nothing secret about the places I go or the things I do, but that doesn't mean I'm OK with having my activities showing up in a database or on a video monitor somewhere.
    • by Kalzus (86795)
      One day in the past in Europe, Germans decided that merely being a Jew meant you were no longer a "good citizen."

      One day in the past in Korea, Japanese decided that merely being a Korean meant you were no longer a "good citizen."

      I'm not worried about privacy because I feel that the current holders of information are bad people, I'm worried about privacy because what happens if the current holders of information get shot by bad people before the information holders can set fire to their records.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      but that doesn't mean I'm OK with having my activities showing up in a database or on a video monitor somewhere.

      10:46 am: Posts message to Slashdot.

  • by postbigbang (761081) on Monday October 16, 2006 @12:48PM (#16455331)
    If one simply traipses over to MediaMatters.Org, or any of a number of media-watching sites, it takes no rocket science to understand that less privacy=more profits. And as profits are above all, including morality, they must reign, or so we are told.

    And as all of the minimum wage serfs sneer at you when they as you for your phone number when you in for a hair trim, it becomes increasingly impossible to remain anonymous, private in one's own affairs, and free from the scrutiny of the self-righteous. Somehow, I must live their concept of the path to Heaven, and deviation is, well, deviant.

    So: kick the cameras when you find them. Put a little hood on them and beat them with a hammer. Cut coax. Re-address IP cams to porn feeds. Put chewing gum in appropriate places. Part of freedom is freedom from scrutiny. Burn the man; hack the system . One this is clear: live free or die isn't just for New Hampshire license plates-- you have to live it or surrender it.
    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      ``kick the cameras when you find them. Put a little hood on them and beat them with a hammer. Cut coax. Re-address IP cams to porn feeds. Put chewing gum in appropriate places.'' ...and then they'll have a _reason_ to come after you, because you've been damaging public property.
  • Real Life Examples (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Massacrifice (249974) on Monday October 16, 2006 @12:49PM (#16455335)
    I think most people still equate protecting your privacy with being somewhat paranoid. This attitude needs to be changed to being simply prudent about what information you are willing to divulge about yourself. There are some very simple real-life examples of times you need to choose not to let other people know what you are doing and saying, not because you are a criminal, but because somebody else could be and you dont want to expose yourself needlessly.

    I once asked my accountant about what he was going to do with the hard-drives contained in the old computers he was about to throw away. It hadn't occured to him that somebody could be digging up valuable info from what he considered scrap. It didn't take him long to realise what the risks were.

    People will in time develop sensitivity and common-sense about privacy, but they first need to be thaught about the value of information. Most ./ers already know about this because information is what we live by and for.
  • Do we even know how much they are spying on us?
  • In todays technology we are trying to find out who is doing what. Most of the time it is for perfectly good reasons. Who is buying what, where to ship it to, who do bill and is the person who you going to bill the corect person to bill. Back in the old days People in the community knew who you were and would offer their services to you and if you were known as a good customer you often got a little better. Now today with technology we try to hide ourselves or at least we tend to be more difficult to ident
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Monday October 16, 2006 @01:28PM (#16456097) Homepage
    Here's what's going on:

    1) Most Americans... including ordinary consumers... feel that invasion of privacy is pretty much OK as long as it is done for the purpose of selling stuff. And the more closely the merchandise matches the consumer's tastes, the more it is tolerated. At one extreme, sure, people object to receiving spam for products that are claimed to enlarge body parts that they do not possess. At the other extreme, well, gosh, I don't really mind when Netflix shows me the titles of several other movies featuring the same director or actors as the movie I just selected.

    2) Most Americans believe very deeply that "it can't happen here." That is, we don't really feel in our guts that there's any chance that "our" government would really use the data collected by merchandisers, health care providers, or government warrantless wiretaps, to go after people who really aren't bad guys, but just happen to be political opponents.

    And, darn it, I fall in category 2 myself. Despite everything. I gripe about invasion of privacy, but despite the fact that my intellect tells me the problem is real, my gut tells me that I'm overdramatizing.

    (And, yes, I can imagine myself... in a different time and place saying, "Let's not overreact, after all it is just broken glass.")

  • Local sales figures for Cones Of Silence are through the roof!
  • by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Monday October 16, 2006 @01:30PM (#16456149) Homepage Journal
    Ok, so could someone explain why it is that privacy is so important? I mean, if everyone, or the bank, or the government knows everything about everyone, they are going to know everybody's little secrets, I see that. But if they know this about everyone, they are probably going to realize that everybody _has_ these little secrets, and it's no big deal. Right?
  • by tekrat (242117) on Monday October 16, 2006 @01:31PM (#16456169) Homepage Journal
    If you're concerned about privacy; then make sure you collect as much information as you can about your senators, congressmen, presidents, prime minsters, and other governmental lackeys. Post it all publically and advertise the fact that you have such information available to anyone that wants it.

    Once the government understands that a glass house is transparent in both directions, perhaps they will enact laws to at least protect themselves. Eventually that will lead to a greater expansion of privacy after the inevitable revolution that will follow.

    And if you're concerned about being arrested/sued for posting information about government officials, then incorporate first. Hey, other businesses can sell information about you, then as a business, you should be able to sell information about THEM.

    Show them what it's like to live in their own mousetrap.

    TTYL
    Brian C.
  • With all the tell-all shows, reality tv, etc., is the clamor for privacy just so many fine-sounding words? Because Americans are relentlessly public, looking for their fame.
  • Best Quote (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Monday October 16, 2006 @01:33PM (#16456197) Homepage Journal
    I don't remember where I got this one from, but I really like it:

    "If you have nothing to hide, please take off your clothes right now."
  • Guns? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Spankophile (78098) on Monday October 16, 2006 @01:34PM (#16456239) Homepage
    We always hear about you Americans and your Second Amendment, and your right to bear arms.

    If your government is run by tyrants, why don't your precious militia's do something about it?
  • by teal_ (53392)
    Nowadays, you can't do anything without the possibility of somebody filming you with a cell phone camera. It won't be long before the technology is so cheap and so comoditized that every phone conversation you have is recorded and that every where you go in public is filmed and stored. Storage is so cheap now, it won't be long.
  • Orwell? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Snodgrass (446409) on Monday October 16, 2006 @01:59PM (#16456677) Homepage
    No, not 1984, but Animal Farm.

    Every morning we wake up and the painting on the barn has changed and nobody can remember what it used to say.

    When I read that book I was so frustrated by how stupid the animals were. How could they fall for such obvious exaggerations?

    Now I'm just frustrated at the people around me. How can they fall for such obvious exaggerations?

"Any excuse will serve a tyrant." -- Aesop

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