The Case Against Privacy Regulation

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Any secrets?
nasimson   5/20/2012 11:32:43 PM

The pregnancy case is creepy. It substantaites that parents know their children less than Google/Facbook. I wonder what secrets of mine Google already knows that I have not told to anybody.

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Ryck   3/30/2012 5:08:09 PM

Mitch, I agree with your thought on government, as well.  The problem is that we have two sides that have their own agendas, so I am not sure who would do a better job, if they could, or if they could collaboratively do something.

John Barnes
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I'm with Ryck here, especially because today's technologies are extremely crude compared to what can eventually be in place.  Give me a development team with a mission, e.g., to develop a general, automated method for identifying the 3% most buy-ready people for any product or service, and I think it would take about five minutes to have that in place. [Edit later: five MINUTES? Too much coffee or not enough.  I meant five YEARS.]  And I could then use that general-purpose tool to prepare, for example, highly resellable lists of dissidents that governments in China or Iran might be interested in; or the list of the fifty people in your community who are probably the biggest donor to the cause you don't agree with, and the five hundred people most willing to picket their houses, and help them "find each other"; or, as we talked about in  another topic ages ago, a list of most-likely-to-relapse drug addicts and compulsive gamblers, which would be worth something to your local pusher or bookie.

This is a "cheap homemade atom bomb" technology, and at the moment we're incentivizing both developing it and spreading it.

Mitch Wagner
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Ryck, I think that Google and Facebook are on the side of good here, unlike the Goldman Sachs portrait painted by Smith. However, good intentions are not enough. Good intentions often leads to evil behavior.

I do not deny there are problems. However, I think government regulation would simply make the matter worse. For one thing, government regulation is often captured by incumbents who co-opt the process to preserve their domination of a market and make competition virtually impossible. 

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Ryck   3/30/2012 11:24:32 AM

Mitch, I am equally frightened when I think of leaving it up to business to sort out the privacy issue, in the name of not impeding progress and development.  When you consider how many organizations, Facebook and Zuckerberg being a prime example, push the envelope so far that you can't even recognize that there once was an envelope, you should be concerned about how businesses would reconcile their needs with the privacy of individuals.

Greg Smith's exit letter from Goldman Sachs exposed for some and confirmed for others, the belief of excessive greed and self-interest at Goldman.  Although many think this attitude permeates Wall Street, many others see it in most businesses, not just the financial services sector.  Considering this ego-centric organizational perspective, how could we trust that anything would be done to address an individual's privacy conern, especially when it could negatively impact a business' performance?




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