AC – Transparency and privacy

Debate with Brad Templeton (Electronic Frontier Foundation) bt (at) eff.org. versus David Brin. Brin’s book the Transparent Society.

Brin. Think you can be anonymous? Try wearing a ski mask and a trench coat in a shopping mall. Cameras are getting smaller, cheaper, more mobile faster than Moore’s law. How will you ever stop the proliferation of the cameras and databases? Doesn’t think there’s such thing as privacy. The majority can be protected by transparency (the elites can’t oppress us).

Templeton. Thinks that can’t exist with lots of transparency. Why do we care about privacy? Privacy is freedom. “A watched populous never boils.” Surveillance doesn’t chill all freedom, but why give up any freedom? Think about when you went off to college and you’re parents weren’t watching you any longer. Anonymous communication was the foundation of free societies. Example, the Federalist Papers. Why be a privacy zealot? You have to protect other people’s privacy to protect your own. Example, if you’ve suffered a privacy attack, then you become a privacy advocate. Transparency’s Virtues. Transparency on the powerful, accountability against abuse, open society. Darker aspects. Aristocrats are too strong. Fake reasons, like national security and global competitiveness, we must see all to assure your privacy. Repressive states are real but transparent societies are utopias–there’s never been such a thing. Example of failure of enforced transparency? Campaign finance reform–2004 election was the richest election ever. Where’s the fully transparent company? Investors haven’t flocked to any. Example, blogs (transparent) can skew because people end up reading only things they agree with.

Jurvetson (moderator). What is the business model of the transparent society?

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