The Best Argument for Privacy

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Aside from superior kernel architecture, greater choice in file systems, and the wisdom of not granting root access to anyone who drunkenly stumbles in at 3 AM the greatest advantages of Linux are not purely technical.

I am by nature an artist and not a technican. What artists crave,  what artists need, above all is freedom.

Interestingly enough the societies that serve artists best are usually the best societies in which to live.

This is because such societies defend the whole by respecting the individual. Meaning that the rights of every citizen are sovereign and respected. From such respect of boundaries at the cell level the entire organism remains healthy.

Unfortunatley today we’re faced with various cancers. Cancers like Google, Facebook, and Amazon which openly and repeatedly flaunt the rights of the society that made them prosperous.

Some of these organizations attempt to hide their Orwellian ambitions. Others flaunt them outright. As is evidenced in this article about former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

One of the best arguments against Schmidt’s “if you have nothing to hide” philosophy is thinking space.

It’s something I never hear mentioned in defenses of electronic privacy.

For instnace the video linked to above makes the case that given the sheer number of laws on the books chances are that you’re breaking one of them. Thus everyone has something to hide. (It’s not the only argument made but it is the one that sticks out the most.)

I’d like to suggest the alternative of thinking space. This concept is very WYSIWYG. What you see is what you get. Thinking space is the freedom to think.

In a now ancient video wherein the late author Michael Chrichton laments the behavioral changes that occur when you think someone is watching.  We already see the hampering on thinking space imposed by the never blinking eye of Sauron that is the internet.

Imagine if your friends could see and comment on your every thought as you were trying to form an idea or opinion.

The downside to telepathy you see is the inability to think.

If you think (and these days increasingly know) that someone is always watching – the spectrum of your ideas will narrow to what is socially accepatable.

Meaning that the information age has and will continue to paradoxically make people more easily programmable.

The solution to this troubling trend will be multifaceted. And one of the main drivers of  this solution will be technological. We will need to foster viable alternatives to the data mining antics of big tech via consumer choices.

Switching to Linux in whole or in part, or at the very least adopting the privacy and invidualism inherent to the Linux mindset, is a great first step.

And if you’re still buying into the whole, “I have nothing to hide” mentality then:

Suppose that the Patriot Act, Eric Schmidt cites, is indeed there to protect you. If Google and the government can gain access to your information…for all the right reasons…then so can your boss, your rival, and your bitter lover.

Even if your personal life is miracolously squeaky clean there is the troubling fact of misunderstandings. A spook, or an employer, or what have you can misread any number of things like new job searchs, or the visiting of foreign news sites.

Or they can read you perfectly well and use that information to socially engineer you.

I breifly tried my hand at sales. Believe me the quickest way to get a stranger to buy a shitty cable package is to form a personal connection. What if instead of trying to figure out what sorts of Sports package I could seduce you with I already had your dossier?

That’s why privacy matters. Salesmen should have to earn their keep, the government has no right to your mind, and you downright need room to think!

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