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MIT Technology Review: The Real Privacy Problem

This article lays out some aspects of digital privacy that I had not considered.

The Real Privacy Problem

Evgeny Morozov (author of The Net Delusion)

Most proposals for enhancing our privacy treat it as an end in itself. Instead we need to be talking about how to best stimulate democracy—a balancing act that laws or market mechanisms can’t achieve alone.

In 1967, The Public Interest, then a leading venue for highbrow policy debate, published a provocative essay by Paul Baran, one of the fathers of the data transmission method known as packet switching. Titled “The Future Computer Utility,” the essay speculated that someday a few big, centralized computers would provide “information processing … the same way one now buys electricity.”

Our home computer console will be used to send and receive messages—like telegrams. We could check to see whether the local department store has the advertised sports shirt in stock in the desired color and size. We could ask when delivery would be guaranteed, if we ordered. The information would be up-to-the-minute and accurate. We could pay our bills and compute our taxes via the console. We would ask questions and receive answers from “information banks”—automated versions of today’s libraries. We would obtain up-to-the-minute listing of all television and radio programs … The computer could, itself, send a message to remind us of an impending anniversary and save us from the disastrous consequences of forgetfulness.

It took decades for cloud computing to fulfill Baran’s vision. But he was prescient enough to worry that utility computing would need its own regulatory model. Here was an employee of the RAND Corporation—hardly a redoubt of Marxist thought—fretting about the concentration of market power in the hands of large computer utilities and demanding state intervention. Baran also wanted policies that could “offer maximum protection to the preservation of the rights of privacy of information" ...

Continued: http://www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/520426/the-rea...
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Adding some additional links that help confirm the picture described above:

Privacy and Obamacare
http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2013/08/21/obamacare-h...

http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/healthcare/315083-a-c...

Government Snooping goes high-tech
http://reason.com/archives/2013/10/25/government-snooping-go...



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