[cryptography] Define Privacy

Eric Mill eric at konklone.com
Wed Oct 22 17:22:04 EDT 2014


The US Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board will be having a public
all-day meeting on November 12th on exactly this: "Defining Privacy".

http://www.pclob.gov/newsroom/20141020/

I've been to their meetings before, in person here in DC, and I find some
(not all) of the board members to be in sync with many (not all) of the
norms of the privacy and security community.

They've also hosted a number of guests from civil society, on panels and to
submit oral/written questions, that I've been glad to see have a prominent
voice in the process.

-- Eric

On Wed, Oct 22, 2014 at 12:20 PM, Jason Iannone <jason.iannone at gmail.com>
wrote:

> 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
> > _______________________________________________
> > cryptography mailing list
> > cryptography at randombit.net
> > http://lists.randombit.net/mailman/listinfo/cryptography
> >
> >
> > 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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>



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