Sunday, January 21, 2018

A Question Concerning Privacy

Wendy McElroy's new book, The Satoshi Revolution: A Revolution of Rising Expectations, is rolling out as a weekly serial at Very interesting and worthwhile. Chapter 4, part 3 is out this week. I'm going to jump right to the end of it for a teaser because the last two sentences are the most concise passage from which to jump to a question I have:

Privacy is a human right, but it is a right you can surrender in the much the same manner as you can surrender your claim to a pile of cash by throwing it into the wind. In a word: don't.

Although I dispute the notion that privacy is a "right," I agree that it's a good thing, value tools that facilitate it, etc. My question isn't really about that argument. Here it is:

In addition to becoming both more (e.g. encryption) and less (e.g. the surveillance state) available, is privacy becoming, by most people in the current technologically advancing society, less valued?

It seems to me that it is, with social media as cause, symptom, or both.

I see people posting details of their personal lives on Facebook these days that 20 years ago they probably wouldn't have said to their neighbors, or maybe even to their spouses, let alone put in a letter to the editor or otherwise attempt to achieve broad notice of. Heck, I'm probably one of those people.

It's not just that the sphere of privacy which can be claimed is diminishing (that sphere, as mentioned above, seems to be diminishing in some respects and growing in others -- thankfully, the latter includes financial matters if you're willing to learn how).

It's that the sphere of privacy which people choose to claim is diminishing. A lot of stuff that previous generations would have kept to themselves, we don't.


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