Why does privacy matter?


Kinda sad there is the need to explain why privacy is important.


i kind of think the 20th century was the era of the dream of privacy, and the 21st century will be when we wake up from that.

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Evidence I’m getting from speaking with college students is that while privacy still matters, they define it differently.

The assumption that you can expect privacy in public was very much a 20th-century aberration… and they’re willing to concede that “public” extends farther than 20C folks assumed it does.

There’s also less that they feel they need to worry about keeping private. Variations in sexual and religious practices are less of an issue than they were, to take the most obvious traditional blackmail topics.

Don’t try to explain why privacy is important in areas that they aren’t worried about; that’s going to work about as well as when your parents tried to explain to you why the societal changes of your youth were bad. Instead, work with them on the areas where they do still expect to be able to maintain reasonable privacy. The past is gone; work to create a future.


Well, good. We can’t change anything laying there asleep.

Privacy matters because one’s identity matters. Who you are is defined and created by you alone, and shouldn’t be defined, distorted or used by other people or entities. Under today’s privacy laws, you cannot assert ownership in your identity. Google, facebook, giant direct marketing and data base companies have taken your consumption habits, likes and dislikes, medical histories, educational backgrounds, IQs – and are continually data mining your identity without your specific knowledge or assent for their and their client’s profit.

So what is the value of your identity? What if they had to pay you to access your identity? Why should you provide them with the raw data to make billions? Why should they know what my job and job title is for free? Why should they know where I live or when I get home at night for free? The argument that you get a lot out of participating is specious. If you don’t participate, they don’t make money. You have no control over, nor can you choose what you give them and on what terms.

The law should change; times have changed. Current legal definitions of privacy are taken from 19th Century ideas. Privacy should include affirmative control – ownership – of one’s identity, and there should be a clear definition of identity in the law that also takes into account technology. So if some entity wants to use information about me as part of a business exercise, they would have to get my permission to do so – and pay me. It’s mine. I own it. What you don’t have my permission to use remains private. As for the government’s control over my identity, agencies should beef up their privacy protection activities based on whatever new law or executive order is passed. As for surveillance, the government is going to do what it wants to do, and no matter how you define it, privacy doesn’t exist.


We lost privacy because due process was ignored. We should first concentrate on restoring constitutionally guaranteed due process.


Very well said. God forbid you copy or rip some material not your own. We, the people, should have copyright laws protecting every aspect of our private lives for as long as we are living…

It’s easy to claim that you value privacy, but putting these words into practice is much more difficult. Beyond simple things like social media, people give up personal information all the time as part of loyalty/discount card memberships, Netflix recommendations, Amazon suggestions, Siri-style personal assistants, location-based search, and so many other things. In these contexts even those who claim to highly value privacy often think the “personalized” services they receive in return to be helpful, useful, and non-invasive. I value privacy, but I like it when my phone tells me I’m near a great Burmese restaurant, and Netflix makes picking a movie so much easier.

As with so many things, bwv, ‘practice, practice, practice’. Assert yourself and stop doing what you’re told to do by your phone.

Give up your loyalty cards (if you want you can think of the ‘huge financial loss’ (not really) as the equivalent of paying a little more for organic or maybe heirloom-variety veggies. Don’t use Siri (it’s terrible, anyways…), learn to be observant. I’ve found that the Netflix recommendations are…bizarre - maybe I my tastes are too unique for their algorithms to suss out.

If you don’t do these or similar actions, well, you don’t really value privacy.

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That’s what I’m saying. People say they value their privacy but their actions are inconsistent with their professed values.

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For the Loyalty cards, at least you are knowingly signing onto it. There was never any incremental change, pulling back on privacy and exactly how much they look at and save what you are buying. Google, Facebook, the government and so on, decided to take your privacy without fully revealing the scope. Or, if not the scope, the amount of time that data is kept and who it is shared with. Communicating with someone on the internet shouldn’t be free reign to share my info with foreign countries, un-redacted, even if I was on board with the US looking at it, which I’m not.

I’m not on Facebook nor Twitter anymore. I pay attention to privacy notices and contact whoever is mailing the information in order to opt out of extended “sharing”. It seems that that is never a default. I have put freezes and fraud alerts on Credit reporting agencies because they are sharing a ton of your financial information with companies without your knowledge and sometimes they share that information with ID thieves*, see Experian.

That’s why I don’t use any of he media or methods you’ve mentioned. Retaining the analog skills I learned in 40+ years in this world I can even find a good restaurant when I need one without the internet.

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