Saturday, June 8, 2013

privacy

With privacy issues in the news, there's been some interesting discussion:

MR on creative ambiguity
- Matt Yglesias (who I like more and more since he's moved to Slate) on tech companies and tech exports, and with a relevant movie recommendation which I heartily second, The Lives of Others.

It seems like social norms about privacy change much faster than laws about privacy (see how people have quickly adapted to privacy-compromising technology, and how short-lived were the objections to each new facebook rollout...). This is even more true for privacy law than other kinds of law because lawmakers have incentives that conflict with privacy protection. I also believe privacy is an extremely valuable legal principle, both simply as fundamental human right that should be enshrined as clearly as the freedom of expression, and because no government in history can hold so much power over personal information without abusing it. Therefore, I'm afraid that people will get used to a lack of privacy and stop pushing back through legal channels before the law can adapt to protect our privacy in the digital age. Maybe the negative consequences to this lack of privacy will initially be rare enough to be justified as acceptable collateral damage in the war against terror, but in the long run, you know, "first they came for the Xs and I did not speak out because I was not an X" and so on...

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