The PrivacyPapers was released over a two week period of emails by Michael Kasdan, who has generously given us permission to post it in its entirety over several posts.

You can search Twitter: #PrivacyPapers, for the content and to share comments.

3. Privacy Papers – 1.0

From: Michael Kasdan
Sent: Monday, August 19, 2013
To: privacy-papers@googlegroups.com
Cc: Michael Kasdan
Subject: Privacy Papers – 1.0

Welcome to The Privacy Papers (Friend us on Facebook!!  #followusonTwitter! Pin us (?) on Pinterest!  Make us your boyfriend/girlfriend on Tinder!), where I email questions on the topic of privacy to a group of fascinating and fantastic volunteer luminaries (those being you!), and we trade emails for the rest of the week (or maybe more; not sure yet) beating this horse until its good and dead.

If, by some miracle, this works out and is both fun and interesting, there will be future series on education, parenting, mindfulness practice, rainbow-looming, and spelunking.  And I’ll quit my day job as a lawyer.  (But don’t worry!  Please.  Don’t worry.  You just signed up for this one.)

The Daily Show Breaking News:  Google: “Gmail users can’t legitimately expect privacy.”  Just like Google can’t legitimately expect us to use Google+.

I want to kick off our #PrivacyPapers discussion with a TEDx talk given by Chris Soghoian last year, which I think does a nice job of framing some of the key issues I see, including the economics of privacy (dealing in the value and monetization of user data), the power of companies like Facebook and Google (and many many others), government surveillance, and more.  (Now, with 20% MORE government surveillance!)

Watch it (or at least browse the transcript there).

For those of you who don’t want to watch it, here is a snippet from his talk:

“The dominant business model in Silicon Valley is to provide free services to consumers in exchange for their personal and private information.  They give fantastic social networking services, free email, web brewers and other software and in exchange they collect our data and they monetize it.”

In other words, to borrow from Field of Dreams, sort of:  “If you build it, they will come.  And then you monetize them.”  Or as one of the comments below the above video so astutely noted, “if its a free service, more than likely you are the product.”  Or, to continue on the movie riff, let’s just say, the world might be ready for the a privacy documentary entitled “Monetize Me.”

(See, now its like you pretty much watched it.  Except for the other 15 minutes that you didn’t see, which really are pretty good.  But for chrissakes.  How much time does this guy think I have…?!).

Anyway, Soghoian closes his talk by stating that when it comes to choosing between the business model and privacy, privacy never wins.  The business model will win every time.  And therefore, “if we want privacy, we are going to have to start paying for it.”

This leads me to my first question:

Do you like Gladiator movies?  (No no – I’m kidding.  That’s just a line from the movie Airplane.  That’s not *really* the question.  Everyone loves Gladiator movies.  Duh.  And what does that have to do with privacy, anyway?!)

No, the first question is this:  What the heck does this mean?  “If we want privacy, we are going to have to start paying for it.”
Second question (which is in three parts – “I will answer the last part, first…”) goes to the alleged power of these companies collecting and mining the data.

To set the stage a bit, this is from a Mitch Kapor interview:  “I think that in all generations…leaders in the industry had a very complicated mix of motives that are party idealistic, partly pragmatic, and partly Darth Vader…[they key difference is how powerful their companies have become]…What you do isn’t just affecting 5 or 10 million nerds and geeks, its everybody and everything.”

In a similar vein, this Harvard guy I follow on Twitter, Umair Haque tweeted this series of thoughts the other day:
“We have the worst of all worlds when it comes to the politics of tech.  Institutions are opaque; people have no privacy”
“That’s completely backwards.  In an open society, institutions should be transparent, and people’s lives opaque.”
“In this sense, tech itself is eroding the basic social contract open societies depend upon.  And that’s deeply worrying :)”
Alarmist or cause for alarm?

So question two is on a scale of 1 to 11, where one is the lowest and 11 is HUGE in the This is Spinal Tap sense, how concerned should we be about private companies like Google and Facebook?  Why should we or shouldn’t we be concerned?  And if we are concerned, what the heck should we/can we do about it?

AND………..GO!

From: Bill
Sent: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 1:43 AM
To: privacy-papers@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: Privacy Papers – 1.0

#1 – If you want privacy, you have to stop selling yourself for services, and instead pony up some $$$ instead.  “when it comes to choosing between the business model and privacy, privacy never wins” is the quote that gives it away.

But I don’t feel this argument holds water.  We only have to go so far as Netflix to find a company that will both take your money AND mine your data (recommendation engine).

The problem is that users (people) don’t care about privacy.  If they did, they would “comparison shop” their services between companies with good privacy practices and companies with bad privacy practices.  This fact alone would keep companies in check.  Nobody would want that black “I don’t care about privacy” mark on their records.

#2 – I’m going to go with a 4.  I’m more concerned about the opaque wall of what the government is doing with my personal information rather than some random tech company.

From: John
Sent: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 6:34 AM
To: privacy-papers@googlegroups.com
Cc: Michael Kasdan
Subject: Re: Privacy Papers – 1.0

The timing of this email is intriguing as I just read another bit of coverage on the patent Google filed for something called Pay Per Gaze.  Basic idea is that when you look at ads through a wearable device like Glass, Google could charge advertisers based on what you look at, and if you liked what you saw.  Part A is done via image recognition, and part B is done by measuring pupil dilation, a proxy for physiological proof of excitement/interest.  The idea being that without you having to do anything, by looking at an ad, the technology could tell where you’re looking and if you liked it.  So the whole, “you’re the product” idea expands a bit here.  Now you’re more like a carbon intermediary, eliminating the need for those tricky surveys that suffer from bias when people are given a product to test and talk about.
So far I haven’t read any coverage about Pay Per Gaze that focuses on what I consider to be screamingly obvious – Pay Per Gaze isn’t about ads as much as it is about other people’s faces.  Facial Recognition technology is becoming highly advanced.  So take the example I gave above about ads and replace it with the idea of looking at other people.  Who are you looking at?  Do your pupils dilate in a way that indicates your reaction is positive or negative?  If that data is public, people will start wondering why you’re looking, or not looking at, certain things.  Are you a racist?  A pervert?  Or husbands and wives may wonder, “I checked your data for the past month – your heart rate, stress monitors and other device reporting via Pay Per Gaze indicate you’re bored with me.  Are you going to leave me?”

I’m writing an article for The Guardian along these lines and have already interviewed a few lawyer friends on this issue in terms of the idea of our faces and copyright issues.  I used to be an actor, and made my living off my image.  Not because I was famous, but because I literally was the product (or “talent”) when being filmed. The same idea applies today.  Companies are monetizing our data, period.  So decide now if the scenarios I’ve laid out work for you or not, because this issue is not really about privacy any longer.  It’s deeply economic and cultural, whereas privacy (beyond those pesky Constitutional Rights, easily avoided) are largely about preference these days.  And our preference is to avoid thinking about the ramifications of privacy.  That’s why I’m very excited about this group because talking about privacy today, right now, is essential.  Writing for Mashable I understand how fast tech moves and it’s maybe 5-7 years before augmented advertising allowing scenarios like I’ve described is ubiquitous.  The infrastructure already exists for it to happen.
If these ideas seem extreme, all I ask is you let them simmer for a bit because they really aren’t.  I live in Maplewood, NJ (where Mike lives) and on Sunday saw the Google Street View car three times in my neighborhood.  Literally, three.  I find it fascinating that people don’t see the utterly clear connection between the fact that a company has literally photographed the planet (and is now going to own wi-fi and other connectivity in Africa via blimps) and the idea of wearables like Glass.  Glass is simply an extension of Street View that we could probably call, “Meet View.”  People are already mapping each other’s faces, with the additional component of adding real-time video to the mix.  So now what you look at, and however it registers, can instantly be tracked by Google, advertisers, or anyone else, stored, tagged, and added into algorithmic mixes defining your identity.

Sorry for the long post, and I know I seem anti-Google today.  Apologies to any Googlers in this group, and I genuinely hope to be proved wrong on these ideas.  But from a technology perspective, I have to point out – I’m not being extremist.  I didn’t file this patent.  And I’ve been writing about Augmented Reality for about three years and have a deep expertise on these technologies.  In this sense, I don’t think “privacy” is a big enough word for these “papers.”  And when we say, “people don’t care about privacy” I think we should reword that to say, “people have been trained to think they don’t care about privacy.”  Because that’s closer to the truth.  When you in essence start seeing other people’s thoughts, when your children can easily be videotaped in real-time and projected online, when your medical data gets aggregated and you’re refused a job based on a digital portrait of your health you can’t control, you’ll probably care.  But within another 2-3 years, it won’t matter.  Because what you care about and who sees it won’t be controlled by you any longer.

So I think I covered question #1.
For question #2, I’m going to see your Spinal Tap and raise you – 14.  And Bill, while I agree any opaque wall (like the government) is a concern, when you say, “random tech company” I have to point out Google and Facebook are far from random, or small in stature.  They are both larger than many countries, and for a few years now essentially (at least in the States) only have to vaguely tolerate the US Government or at best pay fines and continue on with their work.  (Here’s the NYT piece along those lines, Google Concedes that Drive-By Prying Violated Privacy).

Am I the extremist in the group?  🙂

From: Kevin
Sent: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 5:35 PM
To: privacy-papers@googlegroups.com; Michael Kasdan
Subject: Privacy Papers 1.0

First off, thanks to Michael for the invite.

Quick intro – I’ve been an attorney at Amazon’s Lab126, the subsidiary responsible for the Kindle, for about 5 years.  Prior to that I was at Microsoft for nearly 3 years and the bulk of the rest of my career has been spent at Wilson, Sonsini, where I represented a variety of small and large tech companies, including Napster and other companies with some interesting business models and who each took slightly different approaches to privacy.  I’m a technology/IP transactions attorney with a focus on a mix of IP and business transactionsI’m looking forward to having a discussion about these types of issues with smart people.

OK, that wasn’t really quick, was it.

Now to the questions.

#1 – I updated my phone recently to a Google Nexus 4.  It has a service called Google Now. In many ways it’s pretty amazing.  At any time I can hit the search box and Google Now has information that is relevant to me at that moment, or that it guesses might be relevant based on all the information that it knows about me (collected for many, many years, since the day I first used Google while logged in (or used it from a computer that I later logged into) and day I got my Gmail beta invite (I was in the first wave of non-employee beta testers).  For example, Google knows that I got an e-mail from Schwab about some Amazon stock that I had vesting.  I just hit the search box and Google Now pulls up the Amazon stock price.  It also knows that I got a shipment notice from Amazon for some printer ink, so it has already pulled up tracking information for the package.  In some ways it seems to be worlds colliding.  I expect Amazon to know about my stock and shipments, but to see Google doing things with the data (even if it’s for me) is a little jarring.  Helpful, but jarring.

When I signed up for Gmail years ago, I (unlike many others) did read the privacy policy. I knew that Google would be scanning my e-mail, but at the time it was explained as something they would do to help prioritize my mail and serve me ads within Gmail to support their service.  That was the bargain I knowingly struck at the time.  I am also aware that from time to time they’ve updated that privacy policy, to allow themselves more ability to use data they have collected and will collect, for other purposes, sometimes even to offer new services to me. This scope creep and munging of all of their services together makes it difficult to value what I’ve given up and gotten in exchange.  The other challenge is that although Google might claim that I can vote with my feet that the bargain isn’t fair, there are no other alternatives that I’m aware of now where the bargain is any different and there is quite a bit of friction involved in changing an e-mail you’ve used for all manner of communication for years and moving to a different OS system when your apps and related data will not be transferable.

A couple years back the producers who created the amazing series Battlestar Galactica (not the Loren Greene version), did a prequel show called Caprica.  Apparently the lack of space battles and attractive fighter pilots doomed it to only last one season, but the first season was really great.  The show focused on the rise of artificial intelligence, and in the very first episode (highly encourage you to watch), a super genius programmer creates an AI avatar of herself that for all intents is a mirror image of herself and can evolve.  When pushed about how in the world a program could replicate life, the AI explains that for all of our lives we’ve been laying down digital tracks – what we’ve bought, who we’ve called, what we’ve text’d what we’ve liked, what we’ve listened to and all of that data, floating out there in company databases around the world was enough to create a detailed enough picture of who we were that the operating system itself didn’t have to be overly complex…it just had to be able to draw from all the data.

That got me thinking.  How far are we really from that now?  Take the most prolific writers of the past and I’ll bet you that all of each of our web rantings and other data far exceed what that writer put out to the world.  We have enough information about prolific authors to get a limited sense of their personality.  At a certain point, all of the data out there about me is me…it could use it to replicate my voice figuratively and literally – Nuance collects voice data from anyone who uses Siri or other services powered by their back end.  In addition to the right of privacy, should we also be considering whether at some point our data should be treated as an extension of our physical person?  At that point does use by a company without express agreement in each case constitute indentured servitude?  At what point did this creep in the rights I’ve given up for the services I’m provided cause a part of me to become a Google and Facebook sharecropper?

To answer the question in a short sentence:

Yes, if we want privacy we are going to have to pay for it, and the price may be that we have to support an independent intermediary between our digital selves and those who want to use them and suffer some friction in extracting ourselves from our “free” services. We essentially have to move our digital selves from sharecropping to community gardening and to do that we need to purchase a plot of land.
Question #2

I think cause for alarm.  I’d give it a 7 for personal 11 for government transparency. I used to be more of a “market” solves it type of person, but the market doesn’t solve a problem with your government…you’re pretty stuck unless you’re wealthy enough to forum shop for a new government.  It seems that no matter their intentions, every politician gets to the point where the powers that be convince them that secrecy is a magic tonic that must be applied to fight the bad guys.  I’m convinced that the opposite is true and the more secrecy is applied, the more your own government becomes the bad guy.  If anyone should have an utter lack of privacy, it should be government officials.  Every record (unless of a personal nature) should be a public record.  You can’t hold your government accountable if they never have to account.  No secret meetings…any meeting with a public official should be recorded and available to all on the internet. I think that would go a long way to reducing lobbying.  Let congress and the senate become a reality TV show…someone will watch and if it gets interesting enough, someone will report it.

All right…this is long enough and hopefully sufficient that Michael won’t call me out on facebook for my NASA/NSA posts coming before my Privacy Papers response  #:o)

From: privacy-papers@googlegroups.com [mailto:privacy-papers@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of Michael Kasdan
Sent: Wednesday, August 21, 2013
To: privacy-papers@googlegroups.com
Subject: RE: Privacy Papers 1.0

You just blew my mind with the AI thing from Caprica.  Damn.

Otherwise, sorry to interrupt.
Carry on…

From: Kevin
Sent: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 6:05 PM
To: Michael Kasdan
Subject: Re: Privacy Papers 1.0

Yeah, when they said it I started thinking that between all of my posts, purchase history, etc., if someone were smart enough, they could mimic my writing, speaking and thinking. Could you imagine 20 years from now when our generation has had nearly 50 years of our life online, how much raw information you could draw from to create a virtual avatar? Creating an AI becomes more of a data access/analysis problem than a “create a new soul from nothing” problem.

From: privacy-papers@googlegroups.com [mailto:privacy-papers@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of Michael Kasdan
Sent: Wednesday, August 21, 2013
To: privacy-papers@googlegroups.com
Subject: Fwd: Privacy Papers 1.0

More mind-blowing thoughts from Kevin below.

Yup.  We got to artificial intelligence with souls in approximately three posts.  Three.  That’s the number of licks it takes to get to the center of a Blowpop, according to the overzealous owl, anyway…

From: privacy-papers@googlegroups.com [mailto:privacy-papers@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of Michael Kasdan
Sent: Wednesday, August 21, 2013
To: privacy-papers@googlegroups.com
Subject: Fwd: Privacy Papers 1.0

Also.  Note to self:  attractive fighter pilots a prerequisite to sci fi success.

From: John
Sent: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 7:12 PM
To: privacy-papers@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: Privacy Papers 1.0

LOVED Caprica.  Yup, cap-worthy.  And BG was phenom, re: AI and robots/morality.

I interviewed a friend whose doing some forward-thinking work in Augmented Reality and we talked about this type of stuff.  One idea he had I hadn’t thought of is that if Google/whoever, owns enough data of us to create an avatar, they could also eventually print 3-D copies of us (since people are now printing body parts, etc).  So our digital doppelgangers could be walking around soon and we can re-enact scenes from the original Star Trek.  For fun, I’m going to find people who say, “I don’t care about my privacy,” 3-D print them, and have those doppelgangers show up at their houses.

From: Bill
Sent: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 7:19 PM
To: privacy-papers@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: Privacy Papers 1.0

I don’t think we’ll make it that far.  Google became self-aware sometime last year and won’t let that happen.  Humans are already a threat to it, it won’t let us duplicate ourselves.

“We are the Borg. You will be assimilated.”

From: John
Sent: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 7:22 PM
To: privacy-papers@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: Privacy Papers 1.0

Tangent: http://datadealer.com/.  Fun video about a game looking for funding on kickstarter where you play a devious data dealer.  Fun stuff, and great parody.  Getting a lot of press.
From: privacy-papers@googlegroups.com [mailto:privacy-papers@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of Michael Kasdan
Sent: Wednesday, August 21, 2013
To: privacy-papers@googlegroups.com
Subject: RE: Privacy Papers 1.0

Oh, John…

*shaking 2-dimensional digital head slowly*

In your excitement that our conversation is off and running (and AWESOME), you forgot Rule Number 4:

“So that one person doesn’t dominate the discussion and everyone has time to chip in – if they want to – let’s go with the rule that once you respond and write an email, you can’t write again until 4-5 people chip in with their responses.”

Well.  At least you weren’t throwing pieces.  (That would be breaking both Rules 3 *and* 5).

NB:  Said Rule does not apply to your friendly neighborhood Moderator 🙂

From: Brian
Sent: Thursday, August 22, 2013 11:19 AM
To: privacy-papers@googlegroups.com
Subject: Privacy Papers 1.0

As a first comment, it looks like I should have paid more attention to my writing classes in college so I could even try and keep up with the caliber of the responses everyone has posted so far.   Second comment (and I’m only saying this because of a past experience), all of my comments are my own and are not those of Foursquare Labs, Inc.  That also helps prove I’m a lawyer.  Third comment, Caprica was doomed to fail from the start.  There was no way they were going to succeed in getting fans of outer space battles who were depressed to see Battlestar Galactica end to stick around for a land based back story.
Now to the questions.

Question #1 – My first question back is, “privacy from whom”?  Are we worried about privacy for the information we share with the first party service provider that shows us what the weather is going to be today (FYI – the Weather Channel app did not say it was going to rain today and I checked  it this morning) or are we worried about the first party sharing that information with a third party advertiser, analytics company etc?

The “pay to play” argument we hear from industry groups whenever there is any talk of allowing consumers the ability to restrict the amount information they share usually has to do with advertising supported services.   E.g., “If I can’t put ads on my site you’ll have to pay for it because I won’t be able to afford to run my business.”   But, as Bill pointed out in his response, in practice it is not true that if you actually pay $$ for a service that service will limit the amount of data it collects.  Instead, most of these services collect the same data as the free services but add the additional data point of “willing to pay $$ for this type of service.”   It appears that the only thing you really get in exchange for paying for a service is a service with no ads within that service (except in Hulu’s case, which drive me nuts).   But even in the non-ad supported services, most include in their privacy policies the ability to place cookies on the service for advertising purposes, which may include serving ads to you on other websites.   So, in reality, by paying you have just gotten rid of the ads, not stopped the information from going to a third party.
Until consumers understand what “privacy” actually means, you can’t ask them to pay for it.   I personally like that Amazon knows enough information about me to provide me relevant suggested products.   Or that Netflix knows what movies my children watch to suggest additional relevant movies.   In this world of targeted recommendation services, I want them to provide me appropriate recommendations.   Do consumers realize that if they have complete privacy that these recommendation services won’t work?  That instead they’ll only see run of network ads (“There are singles in your area…”)?   The Target article is an interesting one.  I’m sure that there were a large number of people who were freaked out by that story who shop at Target but still go because of the amazingly relevant coupons they receive.

Please note, when I say “what ‘privacy’ actually means,” I am not proposing privacy policy tweaks or anything close to the NTIA multistakeholder debacle that is currently in play.   I actually don’t have a proposal, but maybe someone on here does.

Question #2 – I’m going to go with a 4 for personal and a 6 for government.   On the personal side, I am okay giving companies my information to provide me services but there is always the concern about what they do beyond that.   On the government side, maybe because I watch too many movies or read too much Tom Clancy but I always suspected the government was doing this anyway.   Also, as a social media user, I’m not that private of a person and at times I have the “I have nothing to hide” attitude.   Also, I’m a little biased by the fact that I have friends and family that serve in the armed forces who are protected by the information that the CIA and NSA collect to even consider the argument that intelligence agencies should tell us everything they have and how they collect it (I’m looking at you Bradley “Chelsea” Manning).

From: privacy-papers@googlegroups.com [mailto:privacy-papers@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of Michael Kasdan
Sent: Thursday, August 22, 2013
To: privacy-papers@googlegroups.com
Subject: RE: Privacy Papers 1.0

Thank you Brian.

(Public Service Announcement: We have updated Wikipedia to correct the gender of Ms. Manning)

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Lisa
Date: Thu, Aug 22, 2013 at 2:16 PM
Subject: Re: Privacy Papers 1.0
To: Michael Kasdan
Wowza. This is getting thick. And interesting. I’ve changed my opening twice…

JUST LIKE BRADLEY CHELSEA MANNING

Lisa

From: Michael Kasdan
Sent: Thursday, August 22, 2013
To: Michael Kasdan
Subject: Fwd: Privacy Papers 1.0

From: Lisa
Sent: Monday, August 26, 2013 5:25 PM
To: privacy-papers@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: Privacy Papers – 1.0

#1 The first question is this: What the heck does this mean? “If we want privacy, we are going to have to start paying for it.”

“I for one welcome our new Ant Overlords.”

(You gentlemen can quote Forbes and reference Galactica, I’ll stick to The Simpsons.)

Thanks to everyone who contributed, especially for going first. I don’t know that we answered your questions, Mike, but this group certainly provided me with some great food for thought.

My guess is that you included me here because of the economic theory slash book I’m drafting, that I’ve been boring you with for months, about the nature of our globally interconnected economy. The theory is based on my work producing a documentary on parent activists in the Occupy Wall Street movement, (Parents of the Revolution, hopeful release 2014) and my observation about the current corporate power structures, and both our complicity, and relative impotence within those structures. (Any argument that doesn’t acknowledge our complicity in the systems and structures with which we live by, and with, is not valid in my opinion.)

I’m no Luddite (although Lisa Luddite would be a great Superman heroine’s name); I embrace technology with both arms. I also acknowledge the power of our machines, i.e., digital tools, to facilitate the expression of human thought and human impulse, which occurs at roughly the speed of light – and the obvious detriments of that speed, as the 2008 financial near-collapse shows.

How do we mediate a safe middle, knowing that our digital tools have the power to increase abuse of humans by other humans exponentially, but also human creativity and potential, too?

Which is where Privacy comes in. The truth is that some people need some of my information, some of the time, in order to serve me, and I willingly make a deal with some digital devil, every day. In exchange I’m able to safely store and transfer my money, work from any laptop anywhere, anytime; have food and goods delivered, send gifts, keep in touch with classmates and cousins, invest in companies, pay my dental bills, and have access to more information than was ever humanly possible (plus cat videos).

In other words, I manage my life online. I never read but always check “Agree to Terms and Conditions” because I know those policies are not meant to instruct my daily use – rather they are written for the bad times. The divorce. When things go wrong. (Great legal language should seek to be like the best, secular Ketubah.) And things going wrong are so infrequent – while I get great, free, service every day.

The problem is that there are SO MANY PEOPLE I have to deal with to get through my day (see, all of the above) because I can’t do or get anything for myself (food, water, etc.). We are now these rotating, transactional selves and bits of my digital self are spread all over the web. And each part of me has a different password I can’t remember.

I suspect that our faith in the notion of a benevolent Privacy – that our data will not be used against us – is like the bees, or civil liberties, or paradise: we won’t know it’s true value until it’s gone.

And I must ask, Private from whom? The question itself sets the context, presupposes there is an Us, people with personal information or “data” that is private and Them, those that would traffic in our data for gain or malevolent purposes. Privacy vs. Secrecy.

Should we be worried about the government when the NSA just confessed that they can’t even Search all the emails they collected. (It’s okay, some teenager in Skokie just created an App for them.) Everyone on Facebook knows my business, but the folks I elected to run my country and keep my family safe from nuclear attack can’t look through my messages?

Let me save everybody the trouble. I’d be happy to sign a document right now telling the US government that they can have all my digital data anytime they want. Then the US can focus just on those bastards who won’t sign up. (You know, the ones with something to hide.) (I’m kidding.)

Now, should I be worried about FB and Google and Twitter trafficking in my bits and bytes? Maybe.
Kevin said:”…[T]o see Google doing things with the data (even if its for me) is a little jarring. Helpful, but jarring…..In addition to the right of privacy, should we also be considering whether at some point our data should be treated as an extension of our physical person?”

Yes – if our digital DNA is being used to create new entities (for now, profiles for profit, in the future, TBD) we should be able to control it, like any biological reproductive right and responsibility.

And John wrote: “Pay Per Gaze. Basic idea is that when you look at ads through a wearable device like Glass, Google could charge advertisers based on what you look at, and if you liked what you saw.”

(So? Isn’t that the world’s oldest profession / business model?)

And; “Saw Google Street View car three times in my neighborhood”

Clearly Google dispatched the car as soon as Mike launched PP.

Also, “They are both larger than many countries, and for a few years now essentially (at least in the States) only have to vaguely tolerate the US Government.”

Now, that raises an important question about global jurisdiction and truly scares me. What governments does Google / FB / Twitter have to comply with for requests on my data? Only the country in which I’m a citizen? Does the Chinese government have the right to request information from these companies about my data, if I’m not a citizen of China, but purchase things from China? What constitutes jurisdiction when Goog & Facebook are larger than most countries? How do countries retain power? With a trained and ready military, and an arsenal. Is data their arsenal? If data is their arsenal against us, then fearing for our Privacy is appropriate.

Jeez, I had no idea I was so paranoid. Or Patriotic.

So, the answer to your first question, should we pay for privacy is; one, I already thought I was and two, money can’t buy me privacy.

And, you may take my last statement as answer to your Question #2.

An Eleven. And, I don’t know what to do about it.

Also, Mike, I know you meant your questions in the terms of the practical, and how it affects business and the rights of the customer. But I also see it as an existential question: what is our purpose here? Is it maximum efficiency in our transactions? And will we trade our Privacy, parts of ourselves, to get it? Or is to enjoy life, and help our fellow man?

Our digital servants are excellent for managing our transactions and freeing up our time. Now, what are we going to do with that free time?

If the human concept of utopia is freedom from pain and fear and hunger, how have we advanced closer to it with our technology? And what does a machine’s Utopia look like? They already have all these. Perhaps their utopia will be to become like human beings – will all the sensual inefficiency of our kind; the nuance of feeling and experience, the heartaches and triumphs of love, joy, and loss.

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