Is There Privacy? My Response to Dan Geer
Thanks, Dan, for your response to my question "Is there
privacy?" Your offer to debate is
appreciated though a bit curious, because that would assume we have contrary
opinions. Frankly, I’m not sure what
your opinion is.
I liked your distinction of privacy from secrecy. I hadn’t thought of that before. It sounds like losing what we commonly call
personally identifiable information – things like social security numbers, mother’s
maiden name, credit card numbers – is a violation of our personal secrecy, not
a violation of personal privacy.
In that case, I understand what you mean by privacy being "the
right to be left alone." And that’s why I think while we may suffer
greater risk to our secrets, we are actually achieve greater privacy. I mean, many people congregate in large, busy
places like cities and Internets precisely for the anonymity of the crowd. The privacy of the transparent society – overwhelming
observers with information.
On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog. Right? So I actually have control over how much privacy I surrender. Even guys like you and I are in control even
though we are very public people. We
choose our trademark hairstyle, we give keynotes at big conferences, we write
our opinions for everyone to see.
But you are right, we keep our "secrets" secret.
Globalization, big business, big religion all serve to
increase homogeneity (non-uniqueness) and therefore protect privacy (uniqueness).
The transparent society seems, therefore, to be a safety net.
If the cameras are just watching me, I’m worried. If they are watching everyone, I’m lost in
Am I right that you and I agree that there is not a privacy
problem, there is a disrespect-of-secrecy problem?