[cryptography] Define Privacy

Jason Iannone jason.iannone at gmail.com
Wed Oct 22 12:20:38 EDT 2014


Thank you, Maarten and others who responded off list.  I have some new
sources to consume and I appreciate your input.

Jason

On Tue, Oct 21, 2014 at 10:40 PM, Maarten Billemont <lhunath at lyndir.com> wrote:
> On Oct 21, 2014, at 22:22, Jason Iannone <jason.iannone at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> On a fundamental level I wonder why privacy is important and why we
> should care about it.  Privacy advocates commonly cite pervasive
> surveillance by businesses and governments as a reason to change an
> individual's behavior.  Discussions are stifled and joking references
> to The List are made.  The most relevant and convincing issues are
> documented cases of chilled expression from authors, artists,
> activists, and average Andrews.  Other concerns deal with abuse, ala
> LOVEINT, etc.  Additional arguments tend to be obfuscated by nuance
> and lack any striking insight.
>
> The usual explanations, while appropriately concerning, don't do it
> for me.  After scanning so many articles, journal papers, and NSA
> surveillance documents, fundamental questions remain: What is privacy?
> How is it useful?  How am I harmed by pervasive surveillance?  Why do
> I want privacy (to the extent that I'm willing to take operational
> measures to secure it)?
>
> I read a paper by Julie Cohen for the Harvard Law Review called What
> Privacy is For[1] that introduced concepts I hadn't previously seen on
> paper.  She describes privacy as a nebulous space for growth.  Cohen
> suggests that in private, we can make mistakes with impunity.  We are
> self-determinate and define our own identities free of external
> subjective forces.  For an example of what happens without the
> impunity and self-determination privacy provides, see what happens
> when popular politicians change their opinions in public.  I think
> Cohen's is a novel approach and her description begins to soothe some
> of my agonizing over the topic.  I'm still searching.
>
> [1]http://www.juliecohen.com/attachments/File/CohenWhatPrivacyIsFor.pdf
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>
> Without any reference, it is my understanding that privacy is very much a
> luxury right, not unlike education, which grants us the freedom to perform
> at our individual best when not alone and contemplate, experience and learn
> all the "wrong" paths away from the unforgiving blind judgement that is
> inevitable in a society of men.
>
> To unpack that slightly, privacy is very much a low-priority benefit, one
> that comes far behind keeping fed and physically healthy.  It is often first
> out the door when sacrifices are being made with only minor short-term
> damage to the society.
>
> Privacy's benefits are very much long-term, and mainly favour individualism
> in the sense that it allows the individual to develop their own self, their
> own views, and their own solutions to societal and other problems.  These
> benefits are highly praised in individualistic societies but hardly a
> necessity for any society to operate.
>
> Privacy is optional in a society geared toward pushing values; such as those
> strictly governed by religious principles (eg. Roman Catholic), economic or
> militaristic goals (eg. Total War), and desirable in societies open to
> exploration, the sciences and new understandings.
>
> In the absence of privacy, people tend to fall in line.
>
> Dreams and their many benefits are in my opinion proof that the human psyche
> needs and thrives on privacy.
>
> I've read others defining privacy as "a withdrawal for the sake of making
> life with others bearable", in the sense that privacy is truly necessary
> only when the only alternative would be a personal conflict[1].
>
> [1]http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/2775779(The Social Psychology of
> Privacy, Barry Schwartz)
>
> — Maarten Billemont (lhunath) —
> me: http://www.lhunath.com – business: http://www.lyndir.com> http://masterpasswordapp.com
>


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