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Privacy: Good Riddance? 155

Steve Furlong writes "David Brin, science fiction and science author, has a different take on invasions of privacy. Read article for more info. " Brin's got an interesting take alright-nutshell is rather then try and fight the cameras that are going to go no matter what, make them so ubiqutous that everyone can know-but also reinstate the courtesy inherent in living in a collective sense, like the village of yore. The article is definietly worth a read.
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Privacy: Good Riddance?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    I saw a show on this once. It was mainly about survelance cameras in every corner of a city. I beleive it was a poor area in Europe somewhere. There were cameras present everywhere overlooking every nook and cranny. The show talked about how in the future, it will be like Medeval times where the poorer live outside and the more well off live inside the confinements of the castle walls. Of course these catles would be a tad larger, but the concept is the same. That's basically how this one area is right now.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    We *are* heading for a transparent society, but I'm not sure I agree with Brin's "let's eliminate personal privacy" stance (there're still a lot of intolerant people out there, and sometimes the only way to protect oneself against them is to be secretive).

    But I do like some of his ideas: governments *need* to be completely open (much more so than they are now), as well as big business (the more power you wield, the more open you should be forced to be, IMHO).
  • by Anonymous Coward
    In his book, Brin doesn't argue for less privacy, but rather for reciprocol privacy. In other words, for every camera the government has on me, I should be allowed one on them. Or to put it a different way, if people are keeping files on me, don't I have a right to know what is in those files, and to correct errors in them? In many circumstances, this appears attractive. However, for somethings absolute privacy is still necessary -- e.g. if I had $1 billion dollars under my matress, I wouldn't want every criminal in the world to have access to that information, or to know the whereabouts of me or my family members at all times...

    At any rate, I highly recommend that everyone read the book before discussing technology and privacy (it's in the Sociology section of you local bookstore.)
  • ... but it's an important one. The key (IMHO) is that any view the cops have, ordinary citizens have too. A clickable city map showing where cameras are. Someone recently showed where all the camers were on a stretch of avenue in NYC; it was something like 17 cameras in three blocks ? These were mostly/entirely private cameras, but .. this idea of public accessibility to surveillance "data" could be extended to private cameras that have a view of public spaces, too ... maybe ...
  • by Anonymous Shepherd ( 17338 ) on Thursday February 11, 1999 @10:54AM (#2017899) Homepage
    Coming from the US, what Brin says makes a lot of sense-we live in a society in which any waiter can get to our credit cards, every business can find out about our credit histories, purchases, and transactions, and most activities can be logged on the internet, as well as other 'invasions' of privacy. Yet we accept this, because its convenient, for the most part, and we trust, because it is reciprocal, though more openness from the big business/government side wouldn't hurt.

    How about those in other countries? What is the issue of transparency and privacy? There is a sense of freedom in believing the waiter won't steal your credit card, or that the car to your left at a 4-way stop will stop, and let you pass, because you're there first. Of course it isn't perfect, but I take it for granted sometimes how much trust is built into the system.

    Am I just babbling about inconsequential things?

  • David Brin explored this concept somewhat in the novel "Earth". One aspect of the society he presented there was a group of senior citizens who wore "True-Vue" goggles - sunglasses with integrated fiber-optic cameras - who simply watched everything and everyone that passed their field of vision, and constantly uploaded the data streams to the 'net.

    Spooky thought, but I have to agree with his central statement - if everybody sees everything, then it all evens out. The problem would indeed be to make sure that privacy (or the lack thereof) was extended to all strata of society.
  • Brin points out that cryptography will be useless when the authorities have a microscopic camera hidden in every suspect's house or office, watching the keyboard as they type in their PGP passphrase or obtaining the cleartext by capturing the message before it is sent.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Humans have a natural tendancy TOWARDS an open society. Most individuals have an urge to be seen/noticed. Sure there are some things that we do NOT want to be seen, but that is only because there is so much intolerance.

    Unfortunately, we will have to go through some major cultural shifts. We (as a society) need to learn to tolerate other behaviours much more before anyone can see what anyone else is doing...

    I liked the article... I think there are some valid arguments, but I question how fast we can handle the transformation to a "transparent" society.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    His point might be true if his assumptions are correct. He says that surveillance is going to be everywhere anyway, and there's not stopping it. I don't agree. A large city (damn, can't remember the details, I believe it was in California) was going to implement the "camera on every street corner" idea. A huge number of people came down to the public debate about it and basically said "Hell, no!"

    Rather than just throwing up our arms and giving up on privacy, we need to stand up for it. I figure you have two choices: a) open up society with these cameras and such so everyone can snoop on everyone else and teach people to be corteous and openminded and make them not persecute others for being "abnormal or b) Take a stand on privacy and block measures that limit it. It would seem to me that not only is choice b more desirable, it's a lot easier to obtain.

    Jason Eric Pierce
  • The idea that since invasion of privacy is an inevitable result of technology, we must embrace it or else be subjected to the rich and powerful, is a crock. Who cares if we embrace it or not? We ll never have access Bill Gate s financial data, nor be able to peer into his home through a web cam. (Not like anybody would want to.) And even if we could, where would that get us? Submission will not produce equality.
  • Cameras on every streetcorner, in your homes, in parks... This is intolerable. Worse yet, face recognition systems that will allow some mystical computer *somewhere* to record where you go... Could you imagine getting back from lunch and having a meeting with your supervisor, who asks "Why did you go to (place "undesirable" location here)? We do not allow our employees to go to ("undesirable" location) during work hours. Please clean out your desk." It *will* happen. Locating criminals is the first step, corporations tracking employees is next. Then, before you know it, the government feels that they need to know where everyone is all the time. Even though I am not gay, I sometimes go to gay bars with friends who are. Do I want to be classified as gay because I sometimes visit gay establishments? No. The problem is that cameras cannot get inside of your head... Which is the next step. Governments will feel the need to control thought because they cannot make sense of certain "eccentric" individuals otherwise. Corporations already try to do this through marketing. If you drink a certain brand of beer you're going to be popular and have lots of friends. XYZ blue jeans will make you look attractive to the opposite sex. You'll be a great kisser if you chew our new brand of gum. Smoking cigarettes makes you look mature, which every teen wants. We get pummelled with this sort of crap all the time, and it is very pervasive. The government is next (*especially* organizations like the E.U.)!

    The bottom line is that privacy is costly for corporations and government. It's up to us to decide what level is tolerable, which may be no government cameras in homes. It'll probably be our last island of privacy, at least until we turn our television on or use the Internet...

  • Someone down the page a bit says some city decided to not put up the cameras. He's missing the point too.

    Maybe there won't be police cameras everywhere, but there will be citizen cameras. Look at all the cameras in stores. Now imagine them cheaper and smaller. Imagine every citizen with a $5 lapel button camera. Think you can stop it?

    Now imagine everyone's camera relays home to their home computer. They get mugged, it's all recorded. If not by their camera, how many other people would show some trace? How about cameras on front doors and at all windows? When they cost $5 with Jini interface, you can bet it will happen.

    That's his point. It WILL happen. If you try to pretend otherwise, and make it "illegal", then only the rich will be able to afford to hire thugs to act on it. Anyone else would go to jail for showing the evidence of their mugging.

    And I have no doubt that with a Jini interface, these cameras will be under your control. Shut them off when inside the house. Take off the camera when you come in the door. You will have all the privacy you want in your own home.

  • Look at how many people *want* their lives to be known. I have a webcam in my living room, up essentially 24 hours a day. I have an online journal on my web page that pretty much outlines everything else a viewer might have missed.

    Do I feel having dozens if not hundreds of strangers at any given time peering into my home is an invasion of my privacy? Not really. For the most part, I don't do anything differently. I've given up a bad habit or two as a result.

    Naturally, I don't have one of these things in my bedroom or bathroom, but I doubt leaving your door unlocked and letting your neighbors stop by whenever they want implies that they can slip into your bedroom or bathroom either.

    I do agree a bit with this guy's position. The government can track you down, watch your every move. People rich enough (or sly enough) can do the same thing. Why can't we return the favor?

    Information about you is going to be gathered by people no matter what you do about it. If you legislate privacy protections, that's only going to push it into the hands of the unscrupulous. Instead, of you embrace it, and allow it to work both ways, hopefully both sides will grow up a little and the information won't really be as valuable as people once thought.

    Though I'm not sure if I like or agree with this just yet, I think this article is very thought-provoking.
  • I pity him. So naive he can't see what will happen with the "camera on every street corner" idea. Simply put, it will be abused. It's not a matter of "could" or "might"; the potential power of those things is simply too great; even with this "reciprocal" bit someone will figure out how to abuse the system and will do so. And then we're stuck in 1984 for the rest of our lives.
  • That's a really great article. He says what I have been thinking for some time. The crucial thing is guaranteeing that everyone can access information, which means that it has to be legal and free and accessible.

    I'd like to see a society with telepathy: where you can know when someone is lying. In Babylon 5, the strong teeps can block the weaker ones, which is not good. But restricting information never does anyone but the restrictor any good.

    Education can fight bigotry.
  • I find this article very disturbing. While he deals with the most obvious invasions to privacy, he forgets to address more subtle privacy rights such as financial privacy.

    There are many stoopid laws in the United States that make financial privacy non-existent. Banks have to disclose all kinds of information about their customers. TRW and other credit agencies compound the problem. Any jerk who wants to sue, snoop, or whatever has almost immediate access to a person's financial information. Changes in the law metamorphosed the US banking industry from one that encouraged investing and safe keeping to one where banks must sell loans to make money. The Banking Secrecy Act of 1970 gives access to your financial records to almost anyone. US banks can't offer privacy to their customers by law, so they make their money selling loans--and we know what that means to the average Joe with several maxed-out credit cards. Do you enjoy getting all that junk mail? How do you feel when your assets are exposed because of a messy divorce?

    I applauded the European's decision to curtail e-commerce unless privacy was protected at the same level as in Europe. I've had the fortune to work in Switzerland and Leichtenstein periodically, and I just love the high respect their societies have for privacy rights.

    From cameras to computers, I'd sleep better if I knew my privacy is guarded, not invaded, by my government and financial institutions.


  • Well, commercially available bug sweepers are about $350. I can also see a market in TEMPEST computers once people realize how vulnerable they are.
  • Posted by The Mongolian Barbecue:

    So every one will be immediatly identifiable and traceable through an automated camera survelience system, but this will prevent the "elites" from operating outside public scrutiny? This guy is a moron.

    Technically, what he propoeses, is infeasible and will be for years to come. How many people would it take to monitor all these cameras? And if the face recognition software really begins to function at a reasonable level, what is to stop a criminal from just wearing a mask or getting surgery? I can see how petty street theft might be stopped by this system, but to extrapolate and say that crime everywhere, especially corruption by business leaders and government, is absurd.

    And his blithe assumption that people will grow up, which will prevent this lack of privacy from being problematic, is also absurd. If the past year has taught us anything it is that people are bitter, mean, and immature. (re. the Clinton scandal)

  • Transparency minimizes the threat of criminal data misuse (they would get caught).

    Transparency reduces the risk of big-brother government (we would see them plotting), although it increases the threat from extant big-brother government.

    Transparency increases the threat from stupid laws, because sane policement who turned a blind eye would be seen doing it, and sacked.

    Transparency maximizes the threat of "tyranny of the majority" and discrimination on the basis of lifestyle, at least in the short run. In the long run this may be mitigated by transparency to unbiased outsiders. But, if the vast majority of people in a wide area are biased, they may be able to collaborate with impunity in their discrimination.
  • Brin use of this village metaphor is really annoying. He makes it sound like modern industrial societies are just a bunch of neigbors of relatively equal power.

    The reality is that the hyper-rich and their corporations set the social agenda. One of the only protections working class folks have against a legal system designed to keep them in the service of the hyper-rich is privacy and anonymity. I can smoke pot in the back of a building if no one sees me, I can have sex on my lunch break, I can talk to my coworkers about how to stop the boss from instituting a new fucked up policy--as long as he can't see us.

    The assumption that recipricol surveilance will translate to a "good village" model, fails to acknowlege that ours is a society of elites and plebes.

    I hate all these neo-libertarian fucks like Wired magazine who act like technology disolves class relations. Wired regularly publishes these glowing articles about how you and your boss will soon live in a happy world because the Internet will create global harmony. Just because the ruling class is so strong that they are hard to fight doesn't mean that they are our friend. Socialists are right even if they've lost alot of battles.

    I should mention as well, that working class organizing, such as social change movements and non-beaurocratic unionism, still are our most effective tools to promote quality of life and personal freedoms. Even if you can't beat the ruling class, you can certainly kick the fuck out of them over a specific issue. Like cameras on every corner for example.

    And fuck reactionary assholes like Brin who says we should just let it happen. Although I do like his idea of publishing the abortion-doc-killers names.

    Corin Drummond
  • Wherein the details of peoples private lives are difficult to hide. This makes people simultaneously careful of what they do and careful of what they accuse others of doing.

    Courtesy and subtlety are beautiful, powerful things.
  • What are the odds that the government would let me walk into Fort Meade (for the non-paranoid/non american slashdotters, that's the headquarters of our NSA) and put up a webcam? Not very good.
    My basic attitude here is, as long as they have secrets, so can I.
    Cameras on every streetcorner? The system would be abused, both by the government and by the large corporations. Not a bright picture of the future. It would be something like "babylon 5" meets "the x-files".
  • He frets about the elite groups being the only ones with access if the technology is forced underground, so he counters this by giving everyone access to a zillion times more info than they would have had otherwise, INCLUDING the elite groups, which will be the only ones the with resources to do any useful analysis on it (data-mining).

    This is kinda like, "Nuclear weapons in the hands of elite groups will destroy the world, so let's counter this by issuing everybody their own personal H-bomb."
  • I do want to point something out. First, a few disclaimers:
    1. I'm extraordinarily undecided on the abortion issue.
    2. Hence, I'm not advocating any stance - we just aren't going to go there
    3. As a Christian, I have serious issues with some of the tactics used by many of the more visible anti-abortion demonstrators. Not only are several of their more peaceful tactics insufficiently redemptive, but their more violent tactics are absolutely unacceptable.

    With that said, it seems that you have a few misconceptions about the mindset of many people who adhere to the pro-life (or as you put it, anti-choice) view. Pro-lifers don't necessarily want to force their view on other people. They don't think, "Hey, I want to make these other people believe exactly what I do."....or at least, you don't have to think that to adhere to the pro-life view.

    At the crux of this debate is this question: When does a mass of undifferentiated cells become a human being? People who uphold the pro-life view believe, for whatever reason, that it happens at conception. Therefore, as soon as that sperm and egg unite, you have a person. The logical conclusion of this belief is that abortion essentially amounts to murder. Thus, pro-lifers believe that since abortion is murder, and murder is wrong, they have a moral obligation to do what they can to stop it.

    So, it's not necessarily about going on a power trip and imposing your views on other. It can also be about simply being true to one's own morality... believing that a fetus is a human being, and thus acting on that belief to try to preserve human life. It is essentially no different than trying to stop someone who believes that black people really aren't human beings.

    Now, you can disagree with the first belief (that a human being is made at conception), and that's your right (really, no single belief on that subject is really more or less arbitrary than another). But understand that whatever a person's views are on that, the consequences with regard to abortion are unavoidable. Thus, we ought to understand that any one person's actions with regard to this subject is most likely a result of the moral obligation they feel as a result of that first belief, and not necessarily a desire to impose one's will on others.

    Now, this DOES NOT excuse the actions of those who perpetuate violence, hostility, anger and general nastiness towards people in the pro-choice camp... nor does it excuse similar actions, the other way. However, it does help us to understand people better, and see them more as human beings, and not inhumane monsters. And once we do that, we can stop name calling and labelling, and start dealing with the difficult, heart wrenching questions that riddle every side of this topic, and find CONSTRUCTIVE ways of act out our moral impulses.

    We humans are far too ready to name call and far too hesistant to dialogue, share and search together.

    Once again, I just want to point out that I AM NOT ADVOCATING THE PRO-LIFE VIEW...I have just as many problems with pro-life as pro-choice...I'm simply pointing out the thought processes that many pro-lifers go through, in an effort that a pro-choicers will read it, think, "Well, I could see how someone could think that" and arrive at the better understanding of another human being.
  • Interesting read. If his point is valid, that transparancy is coming whether we like it or not, then the little people are basically fucked. All things being equal, no government is going to open up its workings to the, ahem, electorate. That would mean accountability. Rich folks - and I mean the dudes that can buy a GV to fly to meetings and not worry about the cost - will never, ever, never allow transparancy. What about large corporations, ms comes to mind, that don't want the information about the dirty tricks they use to get out? Sure, sometimes info gets out now, but most stays inside.

    Nope, I'm sorry. Even if it is coming, the way society is structured right now, there are already too many "elites" with too much to loose, to have anything like fair and equitable non-privacy happen. People in the US, while most of the time totally out of it due to exessive tv watching, beer gluzzling, spousal infidelity, overall greed and selfishness, do sometimes draw the line when shit like this really makes no sense. Sure, the IRS has my number; the bank knows my spending/ saving (what's THAT?) habits. On-line shills know my cc number, email address, buying habits; sure some company that I pay protection to knows my credit rating (mortgage company). But, do these assholes know what I do when I get home at night? Nope, never will.

    Personal privacy - PERSONAL privacy - does have meaning here in the US. God knows not much else does these days.
  • Every infant brought to the attention of a pro-choice doctor will most certainly die.

    You mean they're going to try to snatch my five-month-old niece out of my sister's arms and kill her?

    Or do you want to re-visit that statement?
  • In New Zealand, my homeland, I felt as though I had a high level of privacy. On reflection, I now believe this was because life was never disrupted in any obvious way by people or organisations using information about me not directly given by me. Individual organisations were collecting it of course, the supermarket, the bank, the tax department, but they was OK.

    Now I am in Denmark, where the absolute opposite is true.

    Denmark uses what is called a CPR-number, roughly translated to Citizen Personal Number, and everywhere you go, this number is asked for. The number is written on a little card called the Health Insurance card, and everyone carries one to prove what their CPR-number is.

    The number has been asked off me so many times it is amazing: hospitals, doctors, dentists, banks, insurance, phone companies, renting our apartment, libraries, buying on hire purchase, video rental, schools and universities, driving school, police, immigration, unemployment bureau, and absolutely EVERYTHING that is directly government run.

    Throughout my daily life I am constantly reminded that there is NO privacy. It may have been the same in New Zealand, but if so, it was done in the background, leading to a much more pleasant life.

    (It is highly likely that my expereinces are not that of the average Dane, as I am a foreigner in their country and an enitre suite of different laws apply to foreigners.)

    Denmark's latest iniative, which is not in place yet, is making a DNA register of all people that come in contact with the police. As a foreigner living in a small Danish town I am required yearly to seek residence permission for the next year, through the local police station. I am not sure if this would mean that I would give a DNA sample for their register, but from the wording of the proposal, I am expecting to.

    I can not compare either country with the US, I have never been there. But I can compare them with each other.

    In New Zealander organisations collected information and made no big deal about it. It was OK, it was cool, it was in the background, I felt free.

    In Denmark, it is upfront, organisations want your details before they want your cash. This aggressive approach gives a feeling of being locked in and having no freedom.

    Ironically, apart from the CPR-number, the actual details the two countries collected are about the same. But it feels SOO different.
  • You're naive to think cameras won't be everywhere. Given that they will, how shall we deal with it?

    Regulations that restrict the usage of cameras are futile because they are impractical to enforce. The problem is one of verifying compliance.

    If, on the other hand, the output of all public cameras was required to be public, anyone could easily verify compliance.

    Complex regulations favor the powerful because only the powerful have the resources to find or create loopholes.

  • until quantum computers come around and blow up everything except for OTPs.
  • "Brin's got an interesting take alright-nutshell is rather then try and fight the cameras that are going to go no matter what, make them so ubiqutous that everyone can know-but also reinstate the courtesy inherent in living in a collective sense, like the village of yore. The article is definietly worth a read."

    I read this sentence (if you want to call it that) about 6 times and I still can't grasp what it's trying to say.
  • Hmm... Time for a little thought-experiment here.

    Let's take the very pessimistic view that .02% of all people have committed murder.

    Now, let's say that some study shows that .02% of Christians have committed murder (no offense, anyone), and in doing so targeted 50% abortionists, and that 75% of all murders of abortionists generate publicity.

    Does this authorize anyone to go on about about the threat of all those Christian murderers out there? (This is a very valid question; I'm not trying to imply an answer).

    Btw, I could easily claim that I'm committing murder in the name of any-deity-you-happen-to-believe-in-here; Does this somehow connect them to you?
  • by cduffy ( 652 )
    The idea that the gov't would allow publicly-accessible cameras into what are presently secure installations is folly; Stuff-we-aren't-wanted-to-know would just move there. Information-hiding will become something only done by the rich, because they WILL still be able to do it...
  • Brin underestimates folks there. It may be through some device such as a Secure jRing, but folks WILL find a way to keep their data private.
  • Brin's statements remind me of a book by David Drake, Lacey and his Friends. Cameras recorded literally every second of your life, everywhere. Not even the police were exempt. The only protection was that there was so much being recorded that random or casual searches had become impossible. Even with those limitations, Lacey was an unsettling example of what an unscrupulous person could do in that system. Adding modern computers and their ability to search vast quantities of data quickly to that gives me a very bad feeling.

    No, I'm afraid I don't agree with Mr. Brin on this subject.

  • by cduffy ( 652 )
    Your CC# can be hidden from the waiter; I may be working on such a system this summer.

    The car to your left stops not only because you're first but also because they fear an accident or a ticket.

    Trust, in large societies, is something which (unfortunetely) has to be minimized.
  • A camera was installed along a highway to "improve public safety". A couple of weeks later, the camera stopped sending a signal back. County workers were dispatched to investigate. The camera had been shot to pieces with a scatter gun. The camera was replaced. Two days later it had been shot up again. And again it was replaced. After the third time it was blown to bits, the county decided that it was more expense than it was worth and it never appeared again.
  • I think your view of the "Star Trek surveillance society" is biased by the fact that ST:TOS, ST:TNG, ST:DS9, and ST:V all are intimately connected with Star Fleet, the military arm of the Federation. I don't recall pervasive surveillance in any of snapshots of "normal" civilian life.

    Moreover, all the cameras in the galaxy didn't prevent numerous and massive screwups by Star Fleet which required the exertions of its most famous captains to uncover. See, for example, the most recent Star Trek movie.

    The trouble is, there are never enough Jean-Luc Picards to go around.

  • That is a very important point. It is one that he raised quite a bit in other interviews - that we need to have an eye on the people in power. That means we have cameras (and microphones) in *ALL* public places, and *ALL* government buildings. Those people work for us, we should be able to see what they are doing with our money.
  • Now seems a good time to mention that David Brin isn't the only SF author who has considered the implications of a total surveillance society. Check out David Drake's short story collection Lacey and his Friends for an alternative viewpoint. I read it years ago, but a quick check reveals that it's still for sale cheap on

  • Exactly. Anyone who REALLY thinks that everyone will be recripicol in this case needs to get their head examined. This most certainly is NOT a perfect world, but utopia is pretty much the unmentioned ingredient in this "no-privace-curteous-village" scenario. Utopia we ain't got, so this village thing really ain't gonna work...

    Egads, but I really think the creators of Shadowrun had/have something here...
  • Where do you live that waiters get $7/hr?
    They get $2.13 here in Texas.
  • And how exactly do you think you will key your encryption? How will you do I/O to this perfect little black box? Why is is that keyboard sniffers still work? Do you use a tempest shielded system? Are you doing all of your work in a room which you have checked for video cameras? The reality of how crypto is used is pretty much a joke at the user level.

    Strong crypto on modern operating systems is like putting a 10cm iron door onto a paper mache house (and for Linux/FreeBSD/etc the house is one of tinfoil; a little better but still not good enough.) BTW, you are the one who should go back and read AC...there is only one unbreakable system which is called a one-time pad and you have to use as many bits as you have message bits, so it is kind of impractical.

  • A society with this level of survalence will need reciprocity in order to survive. I don't see how it could without it. If you collect information on X, you must also make that information you collect available. This means if you place a camera on your street corner, you must also allow others to tap into it's images. If you collect credit information on people, you must allow others to see the information you collect. If you gather and collect store purchace information on customers, you must also allow others to see that information. This would need to be applied accross the board to all sectors of society, from the private citizen through the commercial corporation to all levels of the government.

    If you structured the laws so that access to the information you collect must me made freely available, and accessible. Then reciprocity creates a kind of tax on those willing to collect the info. It means thay have to spend lots of money to also make it available to others as well as them selves. I like that. It will make companies think twice about collecting personal information on people.

    I'm at a loss as wether the information should be available in it's raw form only, or if conclusions based on the collected information should also be published. I tend twards also forcing the publication of the conclusions. It will help people to know why the data was gathered in the first place.

    It does have it's down sides too, only the technological empowered will have the means to do anything with the information, there will be so much of it available. Is this so bad? Also for on going investigations by police, etc, could be hampered, but that may be able to handled some way with possibly a short delay before publication of conclusions.

  • Hey,
    Mebbe he's posting as an AC.. I'm not, and I agree with him...
    I'm no angel, but I've got no problem with anyone scrutinising my life... As long as they agree to be just as up front an honest about themselves.
    I've lived in places like the 'good town'.. Small villages, where life _is_ good... And awful friendly.. People use what they know about you to help you better yourself...
    I've lived in places like the 'bad village'.. Where people are out to see what they can get out of you..
    And to date, they have been 'village' sized..
    But I agree.. It won't be like that for long..
  • hello? is there anyone out there that actually out there????? this is another one of those lovely "perfect world" type of things. once again the only people who will actually end up being watched are the normal middle class people. just like everything else, this is aimed at everyone, but can not possibly be implemented. another almost good idea, that will, if implemented be destroyed by money and power. "watch everyone, but me" cause i have money and know the people to know...
    come on people. wake up. haven't you read 1984? the cameras, the lack of life? fools!
  • Look, he isn't tasking about just the government. He's talking about EVERYTHING-- the information collected about you on the 'net, the way banks "datamine" your credit card information to sell you "targeted" material, the way information brokerages know your entire history of buying and selling. With a powerful enough engine, someone could put together an intersection of data about you that would lay out your whole damn life.

    Now, do you:

    (a) demand the status quo, in which only those with money have access to the databases. This gives you the illusion of privacy (your next door neighbor can't find out what's in those databases). Unfortunately, it also means that corporations and governments now control, if not your ass individually, then the collective ass of those around you. They can, through old-fashioned "target" advertising, affect enough people to vote one way or the other, to buy MS over anything else, and to make you think that freedom of speech is a dangerous thing.

    (b) Demand that the databases be opened up? This grants you the freedom to decide for yourself how the information about you is used, and gives you the power to organize grass roots opposition, now that you know who the enemy may be. (It also presupposes an Internet anyone can participate in, as opposed to (a), in which the powers that be come to control the Internet, selling this control to the majority by arguing that it 'safer', 'better', 'faster' that way.) This does destroy any illusions of privacy you might have had.

    Your choice.
  • Troy wrote:

    With that said, it seems that you have a few misconceptions about the mindset of many people who adhere to the pro-life (or as you put it, anti-choice) view. Pro-lifers don't necessarily want to force their view on other people. They don't think, "Hey, I want to make these other people believe exactly what I do."....or at least, you don't have to think that to adhere to the pro-life view.

    While I would certainly agree with the statement (that pro-lifers don't necessarily want to force their views) on a literal level, the vast majority of the vocal and organized movements that call themselves pro-life actively try to encourage lawmakers and judges to make the medical procedure of induced abortion either illegal or almost inaccessible. I would call this wanting to force their views. No, they aren't looking to force people to share their beliefs, but they are looking to force everyone to act in accordance with their belief system. I consider this worse from an ethical standpoint, since it will prevent others from acting according to their own belief system.

    People who uphold the pro-life view believe ... that abortion essentially amounts to murder. Thus, pro-lifers believe that since abortion is murder, and murder is wrong, they have a moral obligation to do what they can to stop it.

    That is fine, but they need to accept that many people do not consider it murder, and that it is not legally murder, and that if they succeed in preventing abortion by force of law, they would perpetuate many wrongs. They would prevent others from legally acting according to their own concience. They would bring back the back alley black market abortionists that caused so much pain and suffering in the US before Roe v Wade.

    On the other hand, there are many things a pro-life person can do to "do what they can to stop it.":
    * They can help teach sexual responsibility to our youth. For those that they feel are too young to discuss sexual matters with, they can just teach general emotional and personal responsibility.
    * They can help support effective contraceptive products, or even stop picketing the places that, in many communities, are the only places that supply such products.
    * They can actively support adoption centers, and make it clear that there is an alternative to abortion.
    Most organizations calling themselves "pro-life" seem to actually fight against education and contraception. This makes me think that they really are in it for the power trip. I do realize that the organizations do not speak for all the people who call themselves "pro-life", however.

    I would have a lot more respect for the pro-life movement if it were to:
    * Actively denounce the people performing violence in their name; and
    * Distance themselves from the political organizations, such as the Moral Majority and the Christian Coalition. Politics and ethics don't often mix, and if they want their ethical stand to be heard, they shouldn't hang around so many politicians.
  • Well, as we see once again..
    Someone who hasn't bothered to put the slightest thought before bursting out into a tirade..
    I sure hope it was a joke.. Sure looked like one..
    And.. May I be the first to say 'Happy seventh Birthday'??
    It's part of the fun of life.. Looking at something like this idea, and seeing how you could make it actually work out well..
    Try it sometime... Who knows, you may even like it..
  • The problem is that the anti-abortion "activists" are, by any ordinary definition, criminally insane.

    I know no definition of criminally insane which includes anti-abortionism; perhaps you'd like to clarify.

    They murder people who disagree with them.

    Since the U.S. is well divided between anti- and pro-abortionists, it stands to reason that there would be no one left in the U.S. if your statement was correct.

    ...This is not true of pro-choice people.

    I bet one could scour some prisons and find quite a few pro-choice people who have murdered others.

    Anti-choice people have an essentially totalitarian mindset. For them, practicing their beliefs means forcing other people to practice their beliefs, by violent means if necessary.

    Wrong. The good citizen easily recognizes that every personal liberty is tempered by the liberty of others, and therefore personal choice is always limited. I can physically choose to go out in the street and kill people at random, yet would you call those who would prevent me from doing so totalitarians? The anti-abortionists, even the violent extremists, see themselves not as limiting the choices of the potential mothers, but rather as defending the right of the unborn children. They view the unborn child as a human life, and as a human life, the right to live supercedes the right of the potential mother to terminate pregnancy. Whether you agree with that position or not is irrelevant; the important thing is that you become capable of understanding the position, so that your arguments against it can be more rational and thus convincing.

    The Christians do track people down and kill them from time to time (for the greater glory of the one of the most committed pacifists in human history :)

    Just as the Bolsheviks slaughtered the Russian royal family, children and all. And they were Atheists (at least Lenin was). Does that indicate that Atheists slaughter children? Of course not! More interesting in your argument is that all Christians (that I know of!) are humans, therefore every transgression you ascribe to Christians you must also ascribe to humans. If it is Christiantity you want to attack, then talk about the religion and not the false prophets who blasphemize it.

    The real problem here is that law-enforcement and government in general tend to be relatively benign with reference to anti-choice terrorism. Islamic terrorism requires stringent measures to combat it;

    This is a paradox. Islamic fundamentalism is much more restrictive in terms of individualism than the anti-abortion movement. The difference in how we treat different forms of terrorism has nothing to do with how restrictive the philosophies behind them are and more to do with how much we relate to them. Islamic terrorism is perceived to be worse than Christian terrorism because as a society we cannot as easily relate to the Islamic terrorists. I imagine the situation is quite different in Arab countries.

    A weak government is not a guarantee of freedom. It is a guarantee of chaos that will be followed by tyranny.

    Yes, yes! Right on. (Yes, he says he may be wrong, and I say he and I both may be wrong -- but his examples are valid and IMHO very relevant.)

    His examples are not valid, IMO, because he is talking about a different kind of weak government than libertarians talk about. What he is talking about is a government which cannot enforce law and order; libertarians talk about a government which does not extend beyond that point. Just as Brin's idea of the "good village" will be made up of people who can do things but don't, the libertarian idea of "good government" is one that can do things, but does not.

    Aaron Gaudio
    "The fool finds ignorance all around him.
  • Sounds like Brin has been reading The Truth Machine, a recent SF book on the effects of a machine lie detector on society. While Brin does make some interesting points, perhaps I'm just reactionary in believing that principles of privacy exist not to serve society per se but to serve the individual, and through the chaotic interactions of individuals with those rights society is indirectly served.
  • Reminds me more of Brave New World society. Not only does everyone know what you are doing, but you are programmed to do it (ahem....commercial television). Perhaps thinking of our "transparent" future as being like Brave New World will help some of you understand the costs.

    (And yes, a Star Trek future *is* unplausible; the Russians tried, the Cubans tried it, the Chinese tried it....they all failed [some just haven't admitted it yet].)
    Aaron Gaudio
    "The fool finds ignorance all around him.
  • Why does everyone fear big government and yet not fear the oppression of the mob of society. Face it, government, even when large and tyrannical, does not influence your day-to-day life as much as your peers do. I fear a society which knows everything about me not so much because government will misuse the information (although I fear that too), but because my neighbors will misuse the information. One need only see the popularity of tabloid newspapers and television to see my point.
    Aaron Gaudio
    "The fool finds ignorance all around him.
  • I'm a bit biased, because I like Brin, and I've read some of his other essays on the subject, so perhaps I have a bit more experience with the topic. However, I get the impression that you just skimmed the article and then posted a quick reaction before thinking about what he said.

    If the majority of the public doesn't want cameras, then the majority of the public won't have access to the cameras that the minority put in place. Nevermind silly Orwellian ideas of Big Brother... I'm not suggesting that there is/would be some shadow organization with cameras. There are and will be cameras and other monitoring devices used, with growing frequency, in the future. Stores and banks have had CCTV for years. Do you refuse to shop or bank because you might be caught on tape?

    I agree with Brin that we should accept the technology and demand access to the data on ourselves and our neighbors. If everybody has access to the same information, then we all start from ground zero together.

    The technology is here. It is being used. Deal with it. Sticking your head in the sand won't stop the steamroller that is technology.
  • However, I believe that his point is that if you don't pick choice A) that the powers that be (big government and big business) will implement it anyway, without your knowledge - whether you like it or not. I wouldn't be shocked to see this happen, but predicting the future is tough. I don't necessarily agree with A) and as it is now, actually dislike A. The job will be to keep it from happening ever.

    At the same time, I'm very pro 2nd Amendment. If the people are armed, the government is less likely to do something foolish or unpopular. Have doubts about this: then read some memoirs of the Founding Fathers and you'll find this to be exactly why the 2nd Amendment is in The Constitution (also known as toilet paper to some politicians in the USA). The problem that I have is that most guns are used for something other than checks and balances (crime) and it has put a severely bad face on firearms. I have little faith that having cameras everywhere would be any different.

    I will say that the one thing I'm very afraid of is the government and big business having all of the power and the individual left to be exploited. It's good reason to revolt.

    Any overseas takers on this issue?

  • This is complete and utter crap. Some leftover hippie has let the crack go to his head. He is completely fucking naive.

    While the "good village" future is indeed very nice, it is in NO WAY going to happen in the situation we are currently in. We live in a world that is essentially run by companies, and the one thing that companies really care for is $$$$$$$. They dont give a SHIT about courtesy, they dont give a SHIT about respect, the only thing that appears on their radar is profit.

    Oh wouldnt it be wonderful if we could just all get along, respect each other! and live in peace and harmony. We can live in the fucking land of oz. And all of us would be safe because all of us would know everything about each other. THen we can be truly free. Go to a fucking nudist camp.

    This article pisses me off. When I see crackheads like him get money for publishing regurgitated feces...

  • If there's one thing history has taught us is that no matter how much people may want to, we simply can't "forget" technology. If face recognition software really gets implemented in a usable fashion, people (particularly governments) will use it. You may think that's awful or unfair, but that simply isn't relevant. It's the same problem with nuclear weapons -- they aren't going to disappear no matter how much people complain.
  • A few points of interest..

    1> This isn't about guns. It has nothing to do with the ethic of guns. It's about people. If you really think guns and cameras are that closely related, please, choose very very carefully when picking a wedding photographer. Argument spurious. Next.

    2> Only evil people are interested in information... Hmmm.. You obviously read Slashdot, which posts many many misdeeds of organisations and people (Gates et. al.).
    This, of course, means you're truly evil, and damned to roast in whatever hell you believe in.
    Do not drink holy water, as you may spontaneously combust.
    Now, the classic (and not so classic) evil prospers because people do not know it's nature. The nature of evil in a society is like a cancer. It destroys the goodwill around it, and lurks, and really knows the laws of privacy much better than I ever will, because, to tell the truth, I can't be arsed to learn them, 'cos I don't really do anything that would warrant hiding.
    Not to say I don't do things that are embarassing, because I do.. And I'm embarassed when I do it in public.. Welcome to being human...
    Now, I do also like to know pretty much what people I care about (read people I know, talk to, etc.) are up to.. Partly out of genuine interest in their lives, and partly so that I understand them more. Understanding them more, I can effectively lend a hand much more efficiently if they find themselves in times of need.
    Now, do you wish to call a priest and have an exorcism performed on me for that??

    3> How, praytell, would you care to set up a gargantuan task such as legislating the privacy of information on that level?? I can guarantee you that it'll be open to abuse just like all the older legislations, ensuring that, again, the people who are bothered to learn about it are either people who it's of great academic interest, or people who have something to hide.. Again, I don't really care who has what information on me.. I know lots of people do.. And I know certain agencies do... They probably know I know, and they're almost certainly aware that I don't really care about that..
    If I were bleeding to death after a freak accident, I'll tell you.. I'd be happy if everyone around knew everything about me.. Blood group, family numbers to call, the works... And if I went, then people who knew me well enough to remember me and who I was...
    I think my security is in my lack of privacy. People know who I am.. I'm not a target...
    I'm just a regular kinda guy who's trying to work out the best way to spend the time between the greatly extended periods of not breathing and not breathing again for the second time.
    Truth, I'm actually quite flattered if someone thinks that I'm worthy their time to study..

    4> Rights: Blah blah blah.. That tired old workhorse.. If you run out of things to complain about, quote rights..
    Bah.. When, oh when will people start thinking about responsibilities???
    The 'Transparent' society, if people are willing to play with it, rather than cripple it, allows a lot of personal responsibility... People are more likley to meet their obligations to other people rather than sit hidden away mewling piteously about why the world has to pander to them because "They have Rights!", usually irrespective of what rights other people have.
    The best way to ensure that everybody's 'rights' are maintained is for everyone to meet their responsibilities to everyone else. And when the majority of people agree with that mindset, then, I think humanity will be one good step on the road to growing up at last.. Or at least making the next, very necessary step.

    5> Property is NOT a fundamental right. It's an object. In most cases of property (land etc.), it was here way way way before you were, and it'll be there when you've long gone...
    We are merely custodians for what is there. and we're responsible for what we do with it, for good or ill.. It's our choice.
    Same with intellectual property. In most cases (computers, physics, etc.) the laws were already there.. Someone comprehended those, and now they choose what to do with it... In those cases that people attempt to 'block' those advances, as sometimes happens when companies feel they 'own' the ideas of their employees, even in non-paid time, this is an ethically 'evil' thing. And the more people that put these entities under scrutiny, the better, until all the greedy secrets are out, and they're shown for the grabbing charlatans they are.. Just think.. In a transparent society, they couldn't lock up all those juicy transcripts of the real story on grounds of privacy.

    6> I know society doesn't owe me a fig. And I owe it the same.. Still.. I like to put things into it.. And you know what?? I get pretty much what I put into it, except it comes back from lots and lots of sources..
    I guess you can call me a pretty contented and happy kinda guy most of the time, apart from the usual little ups and down that come with being human.
    Maybe you do feel vindicated in what you write.. It's a very personal thing...
    But, just try and look beyond it at the bigger picture..
    Why look at a stone when you've got a wonderful panorama of mountainsides before you..

  • First of all, I don't think privacy is an issue anymore. With all of the databases, echelon [], etc. privacy is nearly dead.

    The real issue is POWER. Who owns the cameras that watch us?

    The idea of reciprocol privacy is bogus for that reason. Case in point: Video cameras mounted on police cars. They have been used to good effect to prosecute criminals for assaulting/killing police, and for throwing out bogus brutality claims. But, when a valid police brutality case comes up, the tape (or sometimes just parts of it) has a tendancy to mysteriously disappear. Thus, the cameras operated by the police increase the power of police, and do not increase the power of anyone else.

    If everyone owned a few cameras, and nobody owned lots of them, then the power would be evenly distributed and we would have a "transparent society". But, history has shown that power is never evenly distributed. Instead of everyone owning a few cameras, we will end up with 5% of the population owning 95% of the cameras. We will not have a more transparent society, but rather a more Owellian society.

    The same elite who own big databases of purchace information will own big databases of movement and personal association information.

  • Brin is right- you can't control this. What you need to do is be able to get at that supervisor. Where does _he_ go... and what makes you different from the zillions of other people who sometimes go places some people would have a problem with?
    What will have to happen is this: the place you work _cannot_ simply say 'you went here, clean out your desk'. Ideally everybody would/will be in the same boat- hell, man, you think you're the only person with vulnerabilities? You'd be way down on the list.
    Brin is right- you can't stop these people from steadily getting more and more information. The only recourse is to get information on them- and start getting used to the idea that 'everybody is guilty'. You're not unique, you're not a victim- you have choices you make. If some of them are too deeply shameful that you cannot live with them being exposed, maybe you need to make different choices?
  • Let's just take a little trip back to the text we're supposed to be posting about shall we??
    If you're pro-life.. Cool.. I appreciate life to the full, and think everyone should try it sometime.. ;)
    I still think that people should have a choice.
    Hey, let's agree to disagree, and get back on with the job of having reasonably good lives without treading on each other's toes shall we?? It's only going to be painful pounding out that argument, and we're only likely to say things already said...
    You're Jewish.. Good for you...
    I'm.. I don't rightly know.. Partially Christian (by upbringing), partially buddhist, partially Taoist, and a whole host of other things in there that seem to have sides of a sense of being that feels right. I probably believe a lot of the ethics that your Jewish faith has led you to believe in..
    Whatever you believe in, you are still you.. And I think we'd find more to agree on on the subjects of religion and philosophy than to disagree on..
    I think the point that was being made was that it's fine to be pro-life.. But, if you are an advocate of "let's post these people's names up in public view as targets", then you should at least be courteous enough to add your own details, such as address, number, spouses name and details etc..
    It's an example of that oft forgotten concept "fair play"..
    I'm not judging you by anything other than what you put down in your words.. And you seem like a pretty decent chap to me..
    Where's the problem?? And rather than sending the previoius poster off to 'bad village', he's obviously made a bit of an effort, so why not invite him in for a cup of tea, and show the benefits of the nice place...
    You never know, you may just have accedentally picked up a friend that you never knew about until then!!

  • So, it's a resort to name calling.
    The classic last resort of the underinformed mind.
    This is the kind of thing I've come to expect of a serious sociopath with little learning, no social skills and a bad lack of any real interest in the goings on of the world who, from time to time feels the urge (A la Lorenz' psycho-hydraulic method) to spout some inane crap that's supposed to enlighten someone.
    Oh, and technology's dangerous.. Hmm.. Didn't I hear that was what the luddites said so long ago?? And if they'd won the day, odds on you'd be slaving away in a field with no education to speak of, probably no medical equipment available with no voice to speak of, and probably chanting your virtues when out of your mind on the local brew.
    Grow up. Get a life..
    There's a world outside your head you know..
    Maybe you should actually take a look at it sometime..
  • It's reminiscent of quite a few Utopian societies.
    Despite a lot of people talking to the contrary, yes, I do believe it's possible.
    A mere few hundred years ago, the thought of a democracy where all the people put a vote in to see who was going to rule them was unthinkable.
    The people were there to be told what to do, and work the farm.
    It's come a long way since then.
    for anyone to say 'This can never happen' is merely them showing that they lack the vision to say 'This is a possibility.. Something that maybe oneday will come around.. Something that's worthwhile working towards'...
    What you see now is a very very small part of all that was, and all that will be.
    Us humans think far too much of ourselves.. We're far too selfish, as that's how we're taught to be.
    One day, we may open our eyes, and realise jsut how obnoxiously stupid we're being, like little children squabbling in a playground.
    When that happens, a transparent society will seem quite normal, and the inhabitants of that time will look back on our current model of society in much the same way we do to the societies of the tenth century...
    Maybe with the beginnings of a decent structure, but completely barbaric and cruel.
  • two fundamental human rights: i can think what i want, my memories are my own. i do have the right to collect information on people i see and meet and to remember them so i can decide if i want to trust them next time i meet them. "privacy law" would appear to prevent me from exchanging this information with my family and friends for mutual benefit. this is bad.

    anonymity is something that you can achieve by your own actions (ie, encryption), not something you legislate into other people's actions.

    i haven't read brin's book, but i read some essays he wrote several years ago on the same idea. i agreed with him then, and i still do. kspace brin page []

  • Well, yeah.. :)
    Most of my views are in other postings scattered around this area.. :) And there's an unusual proliferation of them too...
    I'm a Brit..
    I've trawled (maybe for the first time) a whole thread of stuff, which, no doubt will have grown lots by the time I finish replying here..
    I've seen a lot of people clinging tenaciously to their privacy, and saying "You don't understand.. It can't be any other way... They'll get us if we try..".
    I've also seen a lot of people who've sat, and thought a little, and concluded it would be awful nice if the world were that way... I think the one thing those people differ on is the timescale involved in the readjustment of the mindset of the populace to accept this as 'usual'..
    My own opinion is that this is the way we should be going...
    I'm afraid the "I just know they won't play ball even if I do" attitude doesn't cut it with me..
    I lead a pretty open life.. People often ask me pretty 'private' and personal questions.
    I'm awfully blunt and honest with them. Sometimes mildly embarassed, but honest.
    I've got pretty tired of the people ranting about cameras in their homes, which wasn't tabled, as far as I can remember (memory being mildly fuzzy at gone 2am).
    With a lot of changes that are inevitable in the near (100 years) future, such as nanotech changing the entire way of industrialisation, increasing population densities, so on, so forth, there are going to be a lot of changes that have to be accepted by humanity at large..
    The coming century, I think, could be the psychological equivalent of the industrial revolution, where, maybe for the first time in our history, we no longer have to worry about mere survival.
    We start to learn who we are...
    I've grown up in an area where crime was high. I went to the schools that were the breeding ground for that mindset..
    They really don't want to lose their anonymity to cameras or surveillance. They really do fear being seen. It means that they have to pay for the actions they commit. In other words they become responsible.
    The refuge of anonymity, to a large degree, absolves you of responsibility... There is no longer a cost attached to your actions.
    You can be irresponsible and destructive, and then deny all knowledge..
    Taking up the gauntlet of that responsibility, both to yourself, and the world at large, is a task I think worthy of the species that mankind has become.
    Irrespective of how many people tell me it'll never work, and it can't be that way, I'll still live my life by those principles...
    So far, I lead a happy life..
    It's not all easy, but then life's a challenge.. you make of it what you will..
    And it's alway nice to be amongst friends who know you.. The more the merrier I say..
    Why let selfishness and hiding get in the way of having a pleasant life??
    Ya know.. My folks live by pretty much the values of openness tabled... And they're getting on a bit..
    And ya know what?? It worked for them.. It works for me...
    It works for other people I know..
    It's no overnight change.. No bloody revolution.. No overthrowing of the established way..
    It'll just quietly happen in the background..
    With the nature of humanity, and the scale of society today, I really don't see the 'Bad Village' as an evolutionary stable endpoint. People _will_ rebel against it's misuse..
    The 'Good Village' is the evolutionary optimum, where all benefits of trust are at a maximum.
    I don't think it's just a possibility, I think a variation on this theme is an inevitability..


  • I think you've missed the point.

    There's a camera watching you. But there's a camera watching the man watching the camera, there's a camera in the police station's interrogation room, there's a camera watching your neighbour.

    You get to look at the access logs to your camera ... so, whilst you may be being watched, you're not being watched anonymously, and if you get fed up you can watch right back.

  • Obviously you're not a citizen of a consitutional monarchy (American, right?). We in the remaining "colonies" ELECT a more representative government than in the US(e.g. we don't have to put up with >14 months of Monica Lewinsky!)

    By the way, don't you think Rodney King appreciates the value of "cameras everywhere"?

    The beauty of technology is that it's an equalizer. In case you forget your own history, it was the long-rifle that helped a colonial militia take on the most powerful army in the world.

  • Posted by Assmodeus:

    ok wait a second. there are how many abortion doctors?? thousands... and how many have been killed recently by pro-life demonstrators? like four i think... so whats with this grouping of all pro-lifers into the murderer catagory or am i reading to much into this?? thats like say, all black people are murdering coke addicts... thats really unfair to the rest of them.

    i myself believe in the pro-life stance, and its not so much a "its a human" (but that does play a big part), its my overall disgust by stupid ass people who think that they can just abort something that they dont want. well tough shit! you should have thought of that in the first place. now the only place i would be willing to bend there is in the case of rape, and the abortion should be done as soon as possible... enough ranting. later all.
  • Ok, so if we decide that we will just turn the databases and cameras right back at the powers that be, what is to stop them from using the same privacy techniques (encryption, etc.) that we use now. The Power Pyramid won't be toppled that easily.

    I'm not worried about privacy. There is alot of evil things that people could do, but they usually don't. Corporations may have me in their databases, but my credit history isn't all over the newspaper. The military could overthrow the government if they wanted to, but they don't. We agonize over every sentence in the Constitution when we could just as easily throw out part or all of it. My point is, the "powers that be" are people too; they go home to their lives and families just like everyone else. We're civilized. Corporations just want to understand their demographics so they can make more profit. The military just wants to protect the nation. We want the Constitution to guide us. This is what makes a free and democratic society work: people like their lifestyle and their community enough that they voluntarily live within the rules. Obviously, their are exceptions, but not enough to topple society. 300 years ago no one thought this kind of freedom would work.



  • After having read your posting I feel obligated to respond to your incorrect representations of those who are opposed to abortion. I am pro-life, and I can tell you that all responsible members of the pro-life movement oppose the killing of abortionists and also oppose the use of violence while protesting abortion. Your own posting demonstrates clearly how wrong-headed and counter-productive these practices are. Killing abortionists is a violation of everything that all true followers of pro-life stand for. It also does nothing but give the pro-choice side sympathetic press coverage, and gives the pro-choice side more opportunities to push their agenda in public.

    I regard the killers of abortionists as being traitors and turncoats to the pro-life cause. When anyone drops the hammer on an abortionist, or kills someone in an abortion clinic bombing, that person is no longer pro-life. People who do these things have found the abortion providers to be unwanted, and inconvenient, so they give themselves the right of choice to terminate these individuals. They have defected to the pro-choice side of the argument.

    If you want to know where we in pro-life come from you only have to look at the "Declaration of Independence." In this document it is stated that all men are CREATED equal and that they have inalienable human rights, and that the right to life is the first right that is stated. We in pro-life are accused of being intolerant moral absolutists. We are no more intolerant than our predecessors, the abolitionists.

    Human rights can never be universal unless they are absolute and not subject to choice. The experience of blacks under slavery has shown how easily individual human rights can be trampled on by the choice of others. Abolitionists were just as hated and reviled in their day as we pro-lifers are today. Plenty of people thought that slavery should have been pro-choice, and that what a man did on his own plantation was his own personal, private business. The main accusation leveled against the abolitionists was that they were trying to impose their morality on the Old South.

    I happen to live in the South and I lived through desegregation during the 1960's. The enforcement of black civil rights often required the use of civil and military force. Black civil rights were forced down the unwilling throat of the Old South through the barrel of a gun. Whenever I see letters to the editor defending the Confederacy, these letters are always couched in the language of pro-choice. In fact, I challenge you and any other pro-choice person to go back and read the writings of the abolitionists and those that were pro-choice on slavery and perform the following variable assignments:

    Woman = Slaveholder
    Unborn = Slave
    Women's own body = Plantation
    Fetus = N-word
    Fetus lover = N****r lover
    Roe v. Wade = Dred Scott

    When you perform these assignments, you will see that we in pro-life are the modern abolitionists, and that we are trying to see if this nation is capable of keeping the promises that it freely made in its own founding document.

  • Posted by The Mongolian Barbecue:

    or an idiot. The Clinton impeachment trial was about privacy- or how government agencies, specifically Starr, can violate it. If you think the republicans are on the side of privacy, you are sadly mistaken. They may call themselves against big government, but the irony of the past year is that everything one might fear about big government is incarnated in Starr's office. The democrats have never, to my knowledge, launched a similar probe.
  • When I lived in Berkeley, an organization named 'Copwatch'
    organized citizen surveillance of police actions. They used
    still cameras and video cameras to photograph police doing
    their jobs.

    Brin's point is that it's inevitable that the cops will have
    cameras. I agree. Brin goes on to say that GIVEN THAT, it's
    good for citizens to have cameras pointed back at them. I agree, too.

    Big Brother, we're watching you. And we saw what to did to Rodney King.
  • Goddamnit,
    what makes you think that a person who has all the power is going to
    voluntarily deny himself of that power when it is so easy to hide his abuse. he does..and then the camera on him picks it up and he's out of office faster than you can say something very short.

  • from the same premise of the village. While you did know everyone in a village, he contended that to have a private conversation with someone you needed only to step out behind the barn and talk.

    So back then, there was more privacy, if you wanted it, and less if you didn't care. I personally don't give a crap who knows what salad dressing i bought, or, for that matter, the amount of all my monthly bills. This was all stuff that people in the friendly village could find out if they wanted to. But, like in the old days, its nice to know you can have a private conversation if you want. Otherwise its 1984.

    BTW, good choice of article Hemos. Inspires lots of good debate.
  • Then you encase your keyboard in an opaque box, which can double as a faraday cage. And you turn the ceiling fan on high along with your HEPA filter. Or you use something other than a passphrase -- dare I suggest -- some sort of biometric data.

    Circumventors will always find a way in due time, and hey, according to Brin, if you outlaw the circumvention technology, it'll move underground and then only the elite groups will have them. But that's okay, because the more instrusive this stuff becomes (like gnat-bot cameras), the more expensive and difficult it becomes to circumvent. And guess who benefits? Yep, the elite groups, those with the money and power.

    It seems to be a general rule that whenver you introduce some new law, regulation, or restriction upon society, the more powerful groups are always the ones who most benefit from it. Take a look at the recent enforcement regarding underground gasoline storage tanks. The regulations have been around for about 10 years requiring all operators to replace their underground tanks and replace them with tanks which have monitoring equipment for detecting leaks. They just went into force the end of December, and because of this, about 20,000 rural gas stations have had to close. Search for "rural gas stations". So who either benefited most or got hurt the least? The big oil companies. And the little guys, the independent dealers, got screwed. They can't afford to pay $100,000 to "upgrade" their tanks, and the big guys can.

    Same deal here. The more surveillance there is, the more the elite groups can circumvent it relative to the ordinary person.

    P.S. AFAIK, AES is no good anyway. I think the algorithm's secret, so there's no good way to judge it's security. Anyone know more?
  • Sooo.. What is it that you'd be doing on the street that would make someone _notice_ you..
    As it stands, in the street, you're constantly being seen by countless people each day.
    Just very few of them actually notice.
    It'll be just the same with cameras.
    Now, please, come up with a reasonable counterpoint in this little debate. Don't just sit there and say 'are you nuts'. It doesn't really help make your point..
  • I live in Glasgow, the UK city mentioned in the article. We have had the cameras here for several years now, and the city is in certain respects, much better for it. The city centre is now a safe place to go in the evenings; you know that if there is a problem, then within around one to three minutes, there will be a police car or van on the scene. The number of city centre stabbings has decreased drastically. 5 years ago, you would not think about walking around the city alone, late at night. In this respect, the cameras have been a great advantage, as Glasgow is now a much more enjoyable place to live in.

    One of the other posters mentioned that many of the problems had moved to peripheral areas as a result of the cameras. This is also unfortunately true, but at the same time, the scale of the problem has been reduced significantly. It is much easier to reduce the crime when it acts in small pockets rather than in one centralised area. Using community policing in these areas (using methods that have been developed in the US), has been successful in reducing the crime further. I think that if you asked people in Glasgow, the majority would approve of the cameras. The city centre has been handed back to the decent people, and taken away from the gangs.

    There are certainly privacy issues at stake in this sort of situation. The cameras in Glasgow would appear (thus far) to have been used responsibly. The cameras are situated in a police control room, that has access to the emergency services. If they started being used for other purposes, obviously, then that becomes a problem.

    The poster who mentioned that the camera fosters a sense of responsibility is right. The reason that less crime happens in the city centre is because the gangs are afraid of being caught. In that respect, it is one of the biggest deterrents available, without resorting to Draconian laws. Whatever action you take to kerb crime, then there is always a degree of compromise between the right to personal freedom and privacy, and the right to live in a safe environment. I would rather live under the scrutiny of a camera, than live in a police state.

  • by K. ( 10774 )
    The point is, as monitoring technologies
    develop, so do technologies to counter them.
    If you really care, you can pgp-scramble
    a phonecall. And automated personal
    systems that blind security cameras are
    not outside the realms of extreme possibility.
    You can still do business in cash. And there
    have been quite a few attempts to develop
    anonymized electronic payment systems.

    It's deja vu all over again.


  • Unfortunately, you probably can't make these available to everybody in real time, because then the criminals themselves would be the prime viewers -- "Oh look, there's a cop car following me!"

    This has always been the excuse used to withhold information from the public: criminals, communists, some bad guys might misuse the information. Therefore we'll tell noone.
  • In a transparent society, there is more truth than in our own society, where we never know the facts for sure.

    Why do you think this, when a group with sufficient resources could churn out a tidal wave of disinformation? How can you differentiate truth from multiple sources of lies which seem to corroborate each other?
  • I object to your characterization of the British, but you did bring up an interesting point.

    How difficult is it to manipulate a digital image?

    When the manipulation of photographic evidence is within the reach of everyone (as it is now), how much credence should we place in it? It seems to me that as of this moment the standard should be that the camera DOES lie, and we should not accept it as a sole source of evidence in any (court) case.
  • Today, we're going to talk about tribunals, and we're going to talk about damages for unjustified firing. You admit you were contemplating suicide before the tribunal, your boss gets his ass kicked, and you get $100K or so in compensation.

    Then, is time to find another job. Jobs aren't exactly scarce in the US at the moment ...

    Except that the guy's in England, they have "loser pays", he loses and has to pay the company's legal costs (they're not so lawyer-happy over there, and he's less likely to win that lawsuit over there anyway).

    Sorry, Tom, pickin' on ya again ;-)
  • Let him be the first...

    I didn't think so...
  • I agree. Personal privacy needs to be fought for. Govmt's past behavior tells us THEY need to watched, carefully.
  • for those who don't know the name, you can find it in _The Fountainhead_.

  • Quite a while ago... about using fonts w/ shade variations (not just B&W).
  • by cduffy ( 652 )
    As people are untrustworthy, a state where their trust is unneccesary is desirable.

    Of course, in an ideal world people would be trustworthy and so could be trusted.

    In reality, a small percentage of people are untrustworthy -- but enough to significantly disrupt a society which assumes it not to be so.

    I _do_ assume that the waiter will steal my credit card and that the mechanic will overcharge me; It is by being concerned -- even paranoid -- that I am encouraged to ensure that those few who regularly betray trust will not likely be successful.

You know you've been spending too much time on the computer when your friend misdates a check, and you suggest adding a "++" to fix it.