The Loss of Privacy in An Opt-Out World

Anyone over the age of 30 who spends any amount of time online has to be aware of the gradual erosion of online privacy and how we are slowly moving to a point where our online life has become opted-in by default.

… sacrifice your privacy on the altar faster than an Aztec Priest could ever rip out your still-beating heart …

A disturbing trend among people in the valley and other technology centric locations is the subjugation or near-complete surrender of one’s work, one’s copyright, intellectual property, and sometimes complete self to the great computer singularity (a concept I am shamelessly stealing from Jaron Lanier). All of your work and data becomes part of the collective sum of information. The value of the individual is subservient to the singularity of data. Your work, even if it’s under copyright, is used and often abused in mashups by others building and growing this singularity. Your sense of self worth and individuality are, as Mark Zuckerberg would have you believe, not your own: they belong to the collective body sum of human knowledge. If he sells it to the highest bidder, you shouldn’t have done it if you didn’t want that to happen


… Google will find out about it (when they invade your privacy by snooping your wifi networks, emails, passwords …

 This isn’t just a Facebook only trend. Google has been opting you into things automatically whenever they wanted to for years. In fact at this point it’s standard operating procedure. If they opt you into a program that puts your life in jeopardy with your abusive ex husband … oops! Sorry, our bad. We’ll try harder next time to not invade your privacy. But really we are working towards this singularity of storing all the world’s information. And not to worry: our leader Eric Schmidt says you just shouldn’t do things you don’t want online, like have an extra marital girlfriend. Don’t worry–Google will find out about it (when they invade your privacy by snooping your wifi networks, emails, passwords, and lord knows what else).

Now, bloggers, who often fancy themselves as reporters, are considering your tips as opt-in by default. Send them a tip and, unless you explicitly tell them otherwise, they will sell you down river almost as fast as Mark Zuckerberg will. When I grew up, we were taught the value of trust, and confidentiality was the normal rule when dealing with the press and reporters. That’s not the case anymore. Silicon valley wingnuts, who have a zealot-like, almost-religious devotion to building and becoming part of the computer singularity they are constructing, will sacrifice your privacy on the altar faster than an Aztec Priest could ever rip out your still-beating heart and spill your blood on the steps of a ziggurat.

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