RE: privacy/openness

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Thu Jul 12 2001 - 16:38:55 MDT

Chris Hibbert writes

> As I've said repeatedly in discussions on this topic, it's
> the short term that concerns me in this discussion

> Right now, many people are getting burned because society's institutions
> assume some things are secret, and that whoever knows the secret is the
> person who should have access to an account. Since privacy is being
> eroded, the wrong people have access to too many things, and as a result,
> assets are being stolen, credit ratings are being sullied...

I agree that this is an important point, and for some reason I
don't remember Brin ("The Transparent Society") discussing it.
As long as any kind of identity theft is an issue, apparently
we need to take a very strong stand against compromises of
"privacy" that would enable theft. This would include praising
cryptography (instead of discrediting it), and every other means
to guard private property.
> When we get to a society in which people understand how much care has to be
> taken to identify the rightful owner of something, or to correctly identify
> someone in order to store information about a transaction, and they
> understand how much reliance it is reasonable to place in those records,
> we'll do fine.

And do fine, I'll suggest, with as much openness as possible about
everything else. Most of the angst people have about loss of
privacy doesn't touch on the real issue that you raise. Instead
they're afraid that others will snoop on them while they're having
sex or looking at naughty sites on the internet. I repeat to them:
getting used to the possibility that someone is watching you will
be much easier than is thought, so long as one's personal security
is enhanced rather than compromised.
> Too much celebration of transparency, especially in terms of inevitibility
> and "you'd better get used to it, 'cause you won't be able to stop it" will
> fan the flames and make the backlash worse.

Maybe so. I'd much prefer to celebrate its benefits rather than
its inevitability.

> ...I have had inconsistent successes. Other than people who
> already "get it" on most subjects, throwing transparency in
> people's faces hasn't worked for me.

As you point out, saying its inevitable would be the wrong
thing, if that's what you were doing. But if you are running
into a stone wall just because people feel desperately afraid
of it, then that's bad news.


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