FFT: Does Privacy Matter, At All?

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Food for Thought

In response to consumer concern, companies are spending millions on security. Apple’s latest security tech separates secure data all the way down to the processing level. When companies don’t do enough, people are signing petitions. Privacy is in the headlines. What I am pondering is if in a few hundred years privacy will be something people even care to fight for.

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Will Privacy Actually Matter to Us?

I think, eventually, privacy won’t matter. It just recently struck me that, especially if the data breaches continue, I think a lack of privacy will become normal and acceptable. We hide our personal lives behind closed doors, but for no reason. Humans are incredibly alike. More data breaches could reduce energy spent hiding and protecting normal things. What if privacy doesn’t matter?

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What is the main breach in the headlines? Leaked nudes. Famous people take nude pictures of themselves and average Joes and Janes take them too. Why’s nudity such a big deal when some cultures never even developed an aversion to nudity. Other cultures, many in Europe, developed a very conservative atmosphere in the 1800 and early 1900s, then stopped giving a shit. The conservative atmosphere is what creates such an intense demand in the first place. If the data breaches continue, maybe America too will learn that nudity is normal and okay and will stop being so prude.

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What if everyone’s real Internet history was leaked? What if everyone could see who looked at porn. It would only be embarrassing if you were one of a few who did it in your social group, but you wouldn’t be. If your friends saw you looked at porn and you saw that they looked at porn, it would be old news pretty quick. Sex is interesting to people. Wow. You searched for “big breasts” and she bought an erotic novel? Jeez, how scandalous. Everyone’s fired!

What if huge, corporate data breaches continue? First of all, it would provide an incentive for companies to stop recording your information. But with the millions of consumers already exposed, where are the headlines about stolen identities, empty bank accounts, and ruined lives?

What if everyone knew how much money you have? If you live at your means, people already do know how much money you have. If you live below your means, people would find out you’re humble. If you live above your means and have tons of debt, that would be public. What a great incentive to not buy luxury cars when you can’t afford them. Would this data breach really cause chaos? Unlikely.

What would happen if your email was hacked and all your dirty secrets aired out? What is it we’re hiding that we don’t want people to know about? Cheating spouses? Maybe if every affair was suddenly known about there would be so many that it would change our expectations of marriage and monogamy. Or maybe there would just be a small number of cheating spouses and it would cause divorces. Tragedy? No.

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Humans are humans. Maybe I’ve been watching too much “True Detective” but we’re not so damn special. I think a lack of privacy could be a huge leap for our species in understanding our nature and eradicating fake personas.

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Preventing Identity Theft is Not a Privacy Issue

In the distant future, privacy won’t mater. The real concern will be protection from identify theft. Identity theft is not a privacy issue.

Identity theft is an identity verification issue. You can’t keep your finger prints to yourself. You just can’t. And with cameras everywhere, you’ve certainly been recorded entering your cell phone passcode. Passwords are useless anyways. Security questions are created by the dumbest people on Earth.

“What make was your first car?”

Well, since security questions let me guess several times, let me start with guessing Ford, then Toyota… oh, I’ve “broken” in. lol.

or

“What’s your favorite sports team?”

Let’s start with the most populous cities’ teams and the most popular sports. Is it the Patriots, Jets, Yankees, Red Sox, Bears, Lakers? Ohhhh, the Lakers. Six guesses. That was tough.

We’re just not special enough for privacy to protect our identity because our favorite things are other people’s favorite things. Our experiences are unique but not that unique. Never mind faking fingerprints, pictures of our face are everywhere, so in twenty years hackers will probably be able to grab 10 pictures from your social network profiles, upload them into a video game to create a personal avatar, then 3D print a rendering of your face. Facial recognition can’t be be private if you go out in public.

Protecting identity will have nothing to do with privacy and everything to do with creating brand new things that cannot be found in any public domain. This might be something like every person memorizing five unique key codes that change every year. Those key codes verify their identity.

The idea being that identity will not be intwined with privacy. And if identity isn’t a privacy issue, then I really think there’s a good a chance that privacy won’t matter in the future. If everyone is exposed together, the result is that no one feels exposed.

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