Privacy: Who Needs it

Edward Snowden tries to convince me to worry more about privacy. “They’re trying to shape your behavior!” he warns.

I rudely say: “Americans by and large don’t care, and I mostly don’t care. I figure that teenage boy across the street could be picking up the stuff I send. The cork’s out of the bottle. What difference does it make?”

Snowden has good answers.

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Google’s former CEO once said, creepily: “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”

Snowden points out that we will feel pressured to “constrain our intellectual curiosity, and even frankly, our weirdnesses … because we could potentially someday be judged on the basis for it.”

Another scary thing about today’s internet is that big tech companies have the power to manipulate. Facebook even did a study that confirmed they could make users angrier by controlling which posts they saw.

“This is controlling human behavior by a private company!” Snowden points out.

“For what end? Just to see if they could… the next variants… are not going to be just to see if they could. It is going to be for their advantage. It is going to be to shape laws, it is going to be to shape elections.”

More of Snowden’s points, and my pushback on whether tech companies are really “monopolies”, in the video above.