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[liberationtech] [Freedombox-discuss] Happy Creepy February!

Jonathan Wilkes jancsika at
Sun Feb 10 12:51:16 PST 2013

----- Original Message -----

> From: Nick M. Daly <nick.m.daly at>
> To: freedombox-discuss at; Liberation Technologies <liberationtech at>
> Cc: 
> Sent: Sunday, February 10, 2013 2:47 PM
> Subject: [Freedombox-discuss] Happy Creepy February!
>T hanks to investigative work by the Guardian, we can tell just how many
> steps back online privacy's taken this year.  It's unfortunate:
>     A multinational security firm has secretly developed software
>     capable of tracking people's movements and predicting future
>     behaviour by mining data from social networking websites...  [T]he
>     Massachusetts-based company has acknowledged the technology was
>     shared with US government and industry as part of a joint research
>     and development effort, in 2010, to help build a national security
>     system capable of analysing "trillions of entities" from 
> cyberspace.
> In developing this product, Raytheon seems to make two fundamentally
> flawed assumptions:
> 1. That people never make invalid interpretations of the data.  Read up
>    on Type I errors for the details:
> 2. That collecting and sharing this data (and those invalid assumptions)
>    is ever desirable.  This is what Daniel Solove was warning about in
>    his "I've Got Nothing to Hide..." article.

There are quicker and more effective arguments against the I've-got-nothing-
to-hide red herring.  One is this: however one defines public vs. private, there
are burdensome economic costs to moving data from one sphere to the other,
regardless of the underlying content:

That's the effect of one highly-targeted data breach.  Imagine the same company
have a similar one every month, for a decade.  This isn't a matter of having nothing
to hide-- it's a matter of paying lawyers, admins, and consultants to quantify the
cost of an unplanned data migration.

The other is that, unlike civil rights activists from the 60s, the
I've-got-nothing-to-hide proponents have no history of action in support of
their cause. If they had a Nietzsche-level of reflection on what their words meant,
they would never password protect anything and make their normative
private lives subject to complete public scrutiny.  If they had a fly's speck
of reflection, they would at least refuse to prosecute anyone who hacked
data related to their private affairs, or violated NDAs, etc.

Seriously-- if you've got nothing to hide, then why go to the trouble to
hide anything at all?  The glaring contradiction between deed and action
makes it a textbook example of hypocrisy.


> I wish I knew more about how Raytheon was accessing the data and what
> the lag times were (between tweeting and when the tweet is searchable,
> for example).
> Nick
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