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[ NNSquad ] Torches, Pitchforks, and Google Privacy

                   Torches, Pitchforks, and Google Privacy


Quickly!  How is President Obama's birth certificate like discussing
Google privacy issues?  Got it yet?  Still thinking?  Sorry, 
time's up!

The answer is -- regardless of how logically and rationally you
approach either of these topic areas -- there are people who insist on
forcing fetid fairy dust into the discussion, invoking a range of
"what if" and conspiracy scenarios suitable for late night cable TV

I should know better by now.  Really I should.

Someone (probably not Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, or Mark
Twain -- despite what you may have heard -- but possibly mystery
writer Rita Mae Brown) once said that "the definition of insanity is
doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."

By that rather clinically problematic definition, maybe I should have
joined the tea table with the Mad Hatter long ago.  Clean cups!  Clean

I keep attempting to discuss privacy topics with a rather cold logic
that might earn praise from the Vulcan Science Academy, but some of
the reactions I get seem to be straight out of Clown College.

No, wait.  That isn't being fair to clowns.  Not at all.

I'll put it another way.

My posting from last Saturday -- "How 'Privacy Correctness' Is Leading
Us Dangerously Astray" ( http://j.mp/IwVa1T ) -- generated a 
range of responses.

Many of these were thoughtful indeed, on all sides of the relevant
arguments.  This seems completely appropriate.  It isn't chopped liver
we're talking about, these are complicated issues involving
"bleeding-edge" aspects of society, philosophy, and technology.  There
are no easy answers.  This is hard stuff, and reasonable people can be
expected to disagree in significant ways regarding these subjects.

Yet what can throw you for a loop is when you receive rants that cause
one to question whether or not we're all currently even living on the
same planet.

It seems that whenever privacy issues are invoked, especially any that
involve Google, there are folks out in the Internet ether who
immediately start dowsing torches with kerosene and sharpening their
pitchfork prongs for maximal effect.  And we know what usually follows
in the next scene.

A great deal of this -- what I will tactfully label as 
overenthusiasm -- is likely the direct result of misinformation about 
the underlying reality of how these complex technologies and systems 
work, blended with a strong dose of emotion.

I'm also forced to somewhat cynically suspect that various other
aspects of the dramatically illogical reactions -- in some cases,
anyway -- are calculated specifically to damage any parties who dare
express views not in compliance with the privacy "party line," and
perhaps also to keep some groups' funding tills teeming.

Still, much of the village mob contingent is seemingly being driven by
human nature, and (very likely, I'd assert) by the overall
radicalization and coarsening of discourse in our ever more toxic
political environment.

So the arrays of associated obscene diatribes inflating my inbox
shouldn't be a surprise, even as they are disappointing.

Again, these topics are difficult, and important.  They are very much
in need of exposition and spirited dialogue.

But frankly, the time I spend on these issues does not improve my
health nor good looks, and definitely doesn't help to pay the bills.

I will not engage with anyone who is unable or unwilling to show a
minimum of common courtesy.

Agree or disagree with my stands on the issues as you will.  I would
hope for no less.  But if you can't be civil, if you can't be
rational, if you're going to insist on spiking your communiques with
the sort of nonsensical, fallacious filth that has become all too
common in the political realm, I will treat your messages in the same
manner in which I dispose of spam, frauds, phishes, and unsolicited
holiday fruitcakes.

On the other hand, I most certainly welcome the opportunity to work
with anyone who is seriously interested in these matters -- so cogent
contacts and reasoned discussion are always appreciated.

And you don't even need to show your birth certificate.

Isn't that a relief?

Lauren Weinstein (lauren@vortex.com): http://www.vortex.com/lauren 
Co-Founder: People For Internet Responsibility: http://www.pfir.org 
 - Data Wisdom Explorers League: http://www.dwel.org
 - Network Neutrality Squad: http://www.nnsquad.org 
 - Global Coalition for Transparent Internet Performance: http://www.gctip.org
 - PRIVACY Forum: http://www.vortex.com 
Member: ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy
Lauren's Blog: http://lauren.vortex.com
Google+: http://vortex.com/g+lauren / Twitter: http://vortex.com/t-lauren 
Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800 / Skype: vortex.com

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