Schneier on The Value of Privacy

This is a great essay on privacy – one of the few that’s gotten me to really think deeply about it.


"For if we are observed in all matters, we are constantly under threat of correction, judgment, criticism, even plagiarism of our own uniqueness. We become children, fettered under watchful eyes, constantly fearful that — either now or in the uncertain future — patterns we leave behind will be brought back to implicate us, by whatever authority has now become focused upon our once-private and innocent acts. We lose our individuality, because everything we do is observable and recordable."

Now I’m not sure I agree with him – particularly when he latter compares a world without privacy to Nazi Germany, cold-war Soviet Union, and Saddam’s Iraq. Even the quote above – lose our individuality? I came from a small town where not much was truly a secret. But there were plenty of individuals :). Of course there was a certain respect for privacy – you didn’t tell everyone everything you knew and you just overlooked certain information you may have had about others.

I think in an ideal world where you not only had complete information but complete understanding, privacy maybe unneeded. But the near future doesn’t promise that – just complete information.

Futher, I’m not sure anyone has the power to stop this future with much less privacy than we’ve come to expect, so Scheiners argument in favor of it may be moot.

But it’s a good read, makes you think,

Schneier on Security: The Value of Privacy

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