Plenty to Hide

Eric Schmidt, the Chairman and ex-CEO of Google, with a reputation for audacious statements, once said in an interview: “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.” – A severe case of do as I say, not as I do.Running an internet search company which collates huge amounts of information, or for government controlling citizens, I can see how this can be beneficial, but on the flip side, that argument (and it’s greater implications) are flawed. Individual privacy should be the default state, not the reverse. Drawing from Schmidt’s example, why not just leave all your curtains open and set up open internet webcams in every room, and film yourself 24/7? You have nothing to hide, surely.

The sorry truth is, this is the eternal internet – once things go in, they WILL eventually become public knowledge, one way or another, sometimes at the flip of a switch. There are far worse things to happen than just targeted advertising (think password leaks, career handicap, identity theft, financial transactions, mistaken identities, etc with little to no recourse). The only foolproof way is to ONLY feed in what you feel comfortable making completely public, which is the way I conduct my online content broadcasts. Public or nothing.

Jay Stanley of the ACLU weighs in on the privacy issue in the link below:

“… the fullest retort to the “nothing to hide” impulse is a richer philosophical defense of privacy that articulates its importance to human life—the human need for a refuge from the eye of the community, and from the self-monitoring that living with others entails; the need for space in which to play and to try out new ideas, identities, and behaviors, without lasting consequences; and the importance of maintaining the balance of power between individuals and the state.”

Cory Doctorow, prolific author, also chimes in on how we’re conditioned to reveal things we wouldn’t otherwise (http://www.technologyreview.com/news/428045/the-curious-case-of-internet-privacy/):

“When you start out your life in a new social network, you are rewarded with social reinforcement as your old friends pop up and congratulate you on arriving at the party. Subsequent disclosures generate further rewards, but not always. Some disclosures seem like bombshells to you (“I’m getting a divorce”) but produce only virtual cricket chirps from your social network. And yet seemingly insignificant communications (“Does my butt look big in these jeans?”) can produce a torrent of responses. Behavioral scientists have a name for this dynamic: “intermittent reinforcement.” It’s one of the most powerful behavioral training techniques we know about. Give a lab rat a lever that produces a food pellet on demand and he’ll only press it when he’s hungry. Give him a lever that produces food pellets at random intervals, and he’ll keep pressing it forever.”

Plenty to Hide

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