Why We Should Stop Fetishizing Privacy

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Disclaimer: This response isn't written by myself but by a Reddit user named gimtayida on /r/privacy. His response to a low quality article was so impressive that I had to put it down as a rambling article for everyone to see.

Holy propaganda. The writer of this article owns a data network company that works on machine learning. Imagine actually agreeing with this and being a Big Tech apologist. Imagine have no critical thinking skills.

Media coverage of the threat to personal privacy from technology tends to follow a narrative in which privacy is a virtue, Big Tech its evil predator and government the good knight capable of protecting it.

Privacy is a right, yes. Big Tech is it's current largest predator, yes. People think the government is a white knight, no.

But this narrative ignores the realities of modern life and may lead to devastating trade-offs. It fetishizes privacy, demonizes technology and assumes that government is the right institution to protect us.

No one absolutely demonizes technology. They demonize the company/service that is harvesting the personal details.

Privacy — the right to be free from unwanted intrusion — no longer exists in an absolute sense.

Because Big Tech and Co have lobbied hard to make sure it's that way.

Regulating tech companies could create problems worse than the ones we seek to solve. The biggest companies — led by Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google in the United States, and Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent in China — are data networks, aggregating information to provide valuable services underwritten by advertising, e-commerce or user subscriptions.

Boo hoo? They still make money of contextual ads. Not as much, but there is still money to be made. It is not our job to make sure companies rake in $100B a year or to maximize their profits.

They have all become both hugely profitable and vital to the global economy. The Department of Labor estimates that employment in the computer and information technology sectors in the United States will grow 12 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Again, it is not the job of citizens to make sure a company is successful. They will either adapt or fail and something else will take it's place. It's extremely rare that a vacuum is created because service leaves or a company fails. It's always replaced. Companies were making profits well before the age of invasive data collection. To justify it by saying "but think of the jobs" is sickening.

The companies also provide income to millions of non-employees, including Airbnb hosts, Instagram influencers, eBay sellers, and Uber and Lyft drivers. If we constrict their fuel — data — we may hurt not only the quality, cost and speed of their services, but also the drivers of growth for the world’s economy.

Are you seriously trying to tell me that I need to be bent over because of Instagram Influencers and eBay sellers? That is your justification? Not a single one of those services needs the amount of data they collect to function nor do they need to share and sell it. Not a single one.

Innovation will also suffer. Our culture celebrates entrepreneurship and accepts failure as part of the process. As a result, the United States has been the architect of the new economy. But privacy evangelists have made villains of the very companies the world emulates. Rather than debate how to expand this economic opportunity, they call for fettering it.

Innovation will suffer? Where the hell is the source for that? Innovation will happen no matter what. You don't need untold amounts of data and the ability to share, rent, or sell it to anyone you want to do it. We did not get where we are today by doing that and we don't need to going forward.

The evangelists assert that regulating access to data or breaking up big companies will put that data back in our control. But this is naïve. We share our photos, emails and other personal data daily. Almost any individual or company, big or small, can collect and misuse it. Size doesn’t make a difference.

Oh, so because anyone can misuse it, we should even bother trying. People are asking for nobody to collect all of our data. They're asking for it not to be passed around and sold to anyone who flashes a few dollars. It doesn't matter if the company is big or small. Google and Facebook are the examples in the discussion because they are the biggest offenders and people all over the country know them and can understand.

If safety is the actual goal of protecting privacy, consider this: Large tech companies may be our best line of defense against hackers, state surveillance and terrorists. These companies have the talent and resources to match well-funded and sophisticated adversaries. As the threat of cyberwarfare grows, shouldn’t we consider whether it would be prudent to break up companies that are our best allies against foreign and criminal intrusion?

Wrong. These people will still exist whether they work for Google or not. "Muh terrorists" is a shit strawman. Google is not defending our nation agaisnt intrusions. Facebook sure as hell isn't either. Any company can have good security practices. Not just Big Tech. Also, if they didn't collect every ouch of our daily lives, they would be less of a target, most likely since there is little to no data to be gained.

Regulation also assumes that lawmakers understand how the internet operates. But many of the questions asked of the Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg at his most recent congressional hearing reflected a staggering display of ignorance about the businesses that have fueled America’s economic growth for over a decade.

Our policy makers should be asking the actual experts for opinions but they dont' care. They are handed money from Big Tech to stay ignorant and complacent. That said, there are absolutely policy makers who know the dangers. They just all happen to be on the Democratic side.

Privacy advocates often point to European privacy rules as a model for the United States. Under those rules, the General Data Protection Regulation, companies that operate in Europe or handle European data are required to obtain consent before collecting data. They also must provide users with the “right to be forgotten” — the ability to delete their information upon request.

As it should but they need to actually enforce it. It's a good start but it could still be better.

In theory this might sound beneficial. But some services we highly value, such as spam filters, require analyzing emails quickly — and without consent. Allowing everyone “the right to be forgotten” will enable people to erase information about bad actions that society might benefit from seeing.

That's not how it works, at all. What an uneducated statement.

And do we really want to emulate European rules if they undermine competitiveness? With the uncertainty over how to comply with those rules, entrepreneurs have looked to markets on other continents, strengthening big companies that can afford to pay big penalties for their privacy violations. The rules make it more costly to build a data network, which could explain why there are no European rivals to America and China’s big companies.

This has nothing to do with competitiveness. There weren't any rivals before the GDRP either by this statement. And rivals don't mean anything to anyone. People don't give a shit about companies having rivals, they care about their personal lives and not having it invaded. Blame the US for not caring about its citizens privacy to give the companies here "an unfair advantage". You do not blame the people.

The lack of data networks will make it much more difficult for Europe to compete in building artificial intelligence applications that could allow us to live longer, more fulfilling lives, precisely because they collect and store huge amounts of data, which in turn makes algorithms more accurate. Engineers today are focusing on using artificial intelligence not just to improve shopping and social networks, but also to cure diseases, provide clean energy and better manage food supply and transportation systems. My own company, Collective[i], is a data network that uses machine learning to help companies manage revenue with the goals increasing economic prosperity and reducing layoffs created by uncertainty.

Strawman. How is Uber needing my location when I'm not using the app beneficial to society? Why does Blizzard need to mine everything on my phone to just to get into their conference? Why does Facebook need to track me and build a profile when I chose not to use their service? This is the stuff people care about.

Expecting government to sort this all out reflects a blind trust that defies historical experience. The Fourth Amendment was written to protect against arbitrary searches and seizures of property by the government. Regardless of how you feel about WikiLeaks or Edward Snowden, they revealed that governments are watching us. People forget that Apple has fought to protect the privacy of iPhone users from the F.B.I. And that the Chinese government uses access to data to stifle dissent and profile minority groups.

People are expecting the government to clamp down and form protections for its citizens. The government can change all of this if they want to, but why do it? No one is rioting in the streets or killing officials, so why change anything? Also, Apple is no golden child and you say the Chinese do that as if the US doesn't right now.

Finally, it is time to stop glorifying anonymity. In the internet underworld known as the dark web, where users go to be anonymous, there are no Facebooks or Googles to set standards for speech, no opt-out provisions for individual users, no trail of data the authorities can use to prevent or prosecute crimes.

There it is; the boogeyman. The people commiting crimes are not using Facebook or Gmail to conduct their criminal activites and the ones that do would be caught regardless. People are still having their data collected when they don't even use the services. That's a problem.