The Nazis and your privacy

Originally published at:


If you have nothing to hide, why not install your toilet on the front porch? It’s breezy in the spring.


Adding the dimension of geographic space sounds like it makes for a a compelling project. I look forward to taking a look.

The Nazi German government conducted a census on 17 May 1939 in which a special “supplementary card” was included, where every person had to list if each of their four grandparents was Jewish or not.

Plus ca change, although for the moment the regime is still barred from putting the citizenship question on the 2020 census.


The government is appealing that decision, and with the current makeup of the Supreme Court I am not terribly hopeful about the outcome. Maybe if it delays beyond where the printing has to begin. But, hey, then they could include a little “supplementary card” where you could list your relatives and their citizenship status!


Legally protected privacy as a default practice…damn, that sounds nice.

Gossip will prevail, though: the man who asked me “Isn’t Doyle (my granddad) a Tennessee Jew?” when I was a child opened up a previously unknown side of family history to me. His grandmother was indeed Jewish but the rest of my white trash soap opera family was keeping that quiet.


How to wrangle census data and other things:


In the U.S. individual census records are made public after 72 years.

So, after most people are dead? So…your point?


The same is true for a census from 1939. Most of the people are dead. In fact, the whole reason for putting the information online is that the people died a horrible pre-mature death.


The difference is that the data from that census was released when a lot of those people weren’t yet dead (just on their way, courtesy of the Nazi state):

Later research, however, proved that although the Nazis did, in the end, misuse the 1939 census data, in that they sent the “supplementary cards” of people with Jewish grandparents to the local police (ie Gestapo) registration offices throughout Germany

You may trust Wilbur Ross, Il Douche, Stephen Miller, and the rest of these scumbags to abide by the law and not release individual records to ICE before 72 years. I harbour no such illusions.


It doesn’t even require government action, except for willful blindness.

Imagine a Pokemon Go-style augmented reality “game” for the alt-right with all their targets on the map. Points and achievements to unlock, naturally.


The problem was how that data was used at the time… A census isn’t necessarily itself a problem, and the data can certainly be used in a positive manner.


Absent laws the average user can’t reasonably know what information they are giving up. Sure, stuff like Facebook posts should be obvious (though recent research says it isn’t actually known by most people), but a lot of the information stored on you is a black box. I can’t know what some data broker with a tiny tracking pixel on a million websites has been able to collect about me if I never find out they exist. You don’t need the laws to cover every eventuality. You need them to cover a broad swath of risk.

You would be well justified not to trust them. We’ve had recent breaches of census privacy.


And for all those worried enough about this sort of possible use of personal data, which is way beyond targetted adverts and so on, read the article below. It posits that it is not the data about us that they have which is the biggest threat, but the data they derive from it - which nobody can actually claim to own, in the sense that they could claim it back / refuse to allow its use.
It is a long(ish) sort of read, but well worth it (and a bit more deep and detailed than the usual accusations about surveillance capitalism and users being the product).


That hair, tho! :heart_eyes:


Just in time!


But the article isn’t about that. It’s decrying that the information was put on the Internet.

The article is complaining about the posting of the data on the Internet. I don’t think the Nazis did that.

Spooky! :wink:

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The article is by the man who put the information on the internet.