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[ NNSquad ] Re: NYTimes on U.S. vs. Europe on Privacy and Google (and fragility)
Understanding the economic implications of the two approaches cited in the column is very important. While I want to be careful about simplistic readings I’ve long argued that the US First Amendment has played an important role in driving our economy by enabling new ideas to be heard. It also reminds me of the difference between promising Egalite (Equality) and Opportunity as framings and the implications
The NYT story does point out how easily the privacy laws can be abused and used cynically. We’ve also seen stories about how British liability laws have been used to suppress and intimidate. It seems strange to use the governmental Stasi as an example for protecting privacy from companies when the British government places cameras everywhere.
The value of the information made available via search engines has demonstrated the value of a world in which information tends to be made available. One way to interpret David Landes’ The Wealth and Poverty of Nations is that countries which can tolerate disruption do far better than those suppress it. As Spain tries to become more like the rest of Europe is Europe in danger of being like the Spain of the last 500 years? Perhaps the US has been fortunate to be able to absorb disruption and today’s politics might be a sign of the limits on our ability to do so.
Let’s not forget another form of opportunity – the presumption of innocence.
The different approaches have consequences and it’s not an accident that Google and other companies are US creations.
To respond to (I argue closely related) “fragile” post. This also goes to the question of whether the US can fail fast . Perhaps but this is where the opportunity paradigm and the first amendment comes to the fore. It’s a “deal with it” model, sort of like the Internet and best efforts. It’s harder to fail than a model which depends on prior restraint. What struck me most in Ferguson’s fascinating “The Ascent of Money” (the TV series – is the book much different?) is the degree to which it’s about hindsight. For each of the high risk bets, especially in the case of hedge funds, somehow the people talked about and interviewed are the winners. That’s a major distortion – it should be about finding value in the happenstance rather than having to depend on wisdom about the unknowable future.
What worries me more are the slow boil effects such as climate change. A bit off from the First Amendment topic is the issue of overly coupled systems but that is another story ...
NYTimes on U.S. vs. Europe on Privacy and Google
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/28/weekinreview/28liptak.html (New York Times)