Monday, November 18, 2013

New Theory: Your Privacy Doesn't Matter

As reported in this TechDirt article, law professor Eric Posner wrote the following:
Mass surveillance—where emails and other communications are vacuumed up, stored in databases, and then searched for keywords—doesn’t harm anyone in itself. The problem only arises when the information is used to detain, interrogate, or harass people.
What a remarkable concept (translated): It doesn't matter if the government violates your privacy, so long as you don't know it. Just think how this can be applied!

Some examples of things that don't matter:
  • It doesn't matter that your 401-K was stolen, so long as the monthly reports show the money is still there.
  • It doesn't matter if your mechanic tacks a few unneeded parts onto your bill, since you won't ever know if any were broken anyway.
  • It doesn't matter if you're sold a smoke detector that doesn't work and you don't know it. (Maybe you'll be lucky and never find out; and if you're unlucky, it probably won't matter anyway since you won't be around to complain.)
  • It doesn't matter if you're sold food contaminated with e. coli, since there's no way you'll ever be sure which food it was that made you sick. (Even the government has trouble figuring that out.)
  • It doesn't matter if the doctor accidentally removes your kidney along with your appendix. (I have only one kidney: I know about this. The loss of one kidney "doesn't matter".)
  • It doesn't matter if your daughter disappears because she was raped and murdered, so long as no one finds her body. (You can always hope she just ran away.)
  • It doesn't matter if your vote isn't counted, since you'll never know your ballot was thrown out "accidentally".
  • It doesn't matter if you don't know your civil rights were violated.