Tag Archives: technology

The Sad Reality about “Privacy”

East Germany. Steve Jobs. Edward Snowden. All of these remind us to a world today where “privacy” is more like a kind of “data trick” than anything “that works”.

In the former East Germany, the Stasi was so powerful that it eventually made a large part of the population spy — sometimes on one another. I was also quite aghast to hear that Steve Jobs spied on you — it is quite one thing thing to “think different”, but quite different to be spied upon — “spy different”? I shudder with fear…

Edward Snowden. This figure needs a mere passing mention and we’d know precisely what the story would lead us into. If you have to tap into the German chancellor to be double-sure she’s not plotting something against you… for God’s sake, I trust my wife to get the potatoes trimmed the right size so I don’t choke on them.

The sad reality about “privacy” is more like a “data trick”. Everyone knows that Luxembourg was the 22nd country I visited — before I posted it here — because my database storing which countries I’ve been to is on Dropbox, and they claim themselves “private” and “protecting your files”. We’ve been through this before — it’s (potentially) a mere ploy to get your money. I’ve nothing against Dropbox (many other websites are in the business of collecting your data and potentially “getting dirty” with it); and if I had beef against the NSA, I wouldn’t precisely be alone, certainly not after the recent scandals. Angela Merkel might have mightier beef against that great big CIA than any mere individual who was not a public officer.

If I remember right, China during Mao’s maniacal Culture Revolution was so out-of-control that secrets had to be shared in the toilet with the water / shower running (or one of those super-loud squat toilets flushing), so nobody overheard you. I’d say we’re back to that era right now. I would not be surprised if somebody spoofed a copy of my autobiography based solely on the contents I posted on Facebook, Twitter, and Weibo. I got my iPhone 5 replaced last day — thankfully not with a 5S. Get one of these devices and it’d be like you giving away your fingerprint — there are determined hackers and they will get you. It’s all for the money, really, is it not?

As academics we do have to maintain a healthy dose of critical thinking, but from what I have seen so far, “critical thinking” is like painting the sky rose. I remain extremely sceptical, even cynical, about “privacy” in this day and age. I’d probably buy your service more if you said “Give us the money so we can have legal access to your PIN code” than this rubbish about “privacy”. Give it up, everyone: We have no more privacy to speak of.