Privacy vs surveillance

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Kim O'Hara
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Privacy vs surveillance

Post by Kim O'Hara » Sat Jan 09, 2016 3:56 am

A useful article (especially if you follow the links) about the gradual erosion of our privacy - mostly online, but it's happening IRL too - and why it matters.
The governments of Australia, Germany, the UK and the US are destroying your privacy. Some people don’t see the problem…
“I have nothing to hide, so why should I care?”
It doesn’t matter if you have “nothing to hide”. Privacy is a right granted to individuals that underpins the freedoms of expression, association and assembly; all of which are essential for a free, democratic society.
The statement from some politicians that “if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear” purposefully misframes the whole debate...

Your freedom of expression is threatened by the surveillance of your internet usage – thought patterns and intentions can be extrapolated from your website visits (rightly or wrongly), and the knowledge that you are being surveilled can make you less likely to research a particular topic. You lose that perspective, and your thought can be pushed in one direction as a result. Similarly, when the things you write online, or communicate privately to others, are surveilled, and you self-censor as a result, the rest of us lose your perspective, and the development of further ideas is stifled. ...
It's at http://robindoherty.com/2016/01/06/nothing-to-hide.html but I got it via a newsletter from Access Now, https://www.accessnow.org/, which works to increase digital rights and freedoms.

:coffee:
KIm

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skittles
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Re: Privacy vs surveillance

Post by skittles » Sat Jan 09, 2016 5:16 am

I know I self censor, everywhere. I don't even pay electronically at many stores like walmart because I know the transaction will be used to adjust my credit score even though I am actually fiscally responsible and have more in the bank than 90% of Americans. Because of my occupation, I'm very cautious about electronic transmission. Right now I'm using Tor, but under the assumption that it is compromised. Btw, https://www.accessnow.org/, is running a "5html canvas imaging" script that is used to identify computers using a proxy. Now why would they want to do that?

Strictly speaking, I don't have anything to hide from the government. But I do have things I want to keep private (hide) from corporations that would compete with me, steal my work or ideas before I copyright them, form strategies against my business ventures, or make judgements about me. I also want my political ideas and just personal things like who I am dating, where I live, or my health hidden.

You know, if you really wanted to fight this, you would get corporate access to a data aggregator and use the data against influencial persons. All the supposedly anonymized data from google etc. actually isn't and it goes straight into the hands of data aggregators which then supply it to others. They then use it to make judgements about you even though it's supposedly used for product placement. The private sector, which was at the root of the NSA to begin with, has made laws to allow them to do as much as the NSA did. A USA company can now share any information with anyone, at their discretion without even informing you.

The idea that mass survelliance is beneficial because it allows criminals to be caught is absolute BS. Any of you that has filed a report of a missing person, a crime, or took someone to court know that the NSA will NOT help you, even if it involves homicide. Besides that, there are video cameras that are put up around many cities for "terrorist" surveliance that, even if you know they have recorded a crime, will not be made accessible to you on request. I'm speaking from experience as a friend of mine died at one of these spots.
"My main teacher Serkong Rinpoche, who was one of the teachers of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, explained that having a protector is like having a very strong and vicious dog. If you are a strong person, you could go sit and guard your own gate every night to make sure that thieves don’t attack, but usually people wouldn’t do that. It’s not that we don’t have the ability, it’s just: why bother? You could post a dog there instead." - Alex Berzin http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/ar ... rs_ab.html

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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Privacy vs surveillance

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Sat Jan 09, 2016 8:36 am

An issue which is incredibly important to the future of democracy, and gets hardly any mainstream attention.
The idea that mass survelliance is beneficial because it allows criminals to be caught is absolute BS

If anything it makes successful terrorism more likely, as now the authorities are so focused on big data that they have increasingly poor human intelligence. If you look at many of recent attacks, it was just people overlooking information...I think the deluge of data makes it harder for people to make concrete decisions.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

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dreambow
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Re: Privacy vs surveillance

Post by dreambow » Sat Jan 09, 2016 9:06 am

skittles, "I also want my political ideas and just personal things like who I am dating, where I live, or my health hidden" Absolutely true! Who wants big business and the government monitoring every move? Its plain sinister!
I try and pay cash whenever I can.

tingdzin
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Re: Privacy vs surveillance

Post by tingdzin » Sat Jan 09, 2016 9:29 am

This is a very under-discussed issue. If people truly realized how much of their "private" information is in the hands of people who have no scruples against using it against them, or for their own profit (financial or otherwise), there would be much more outcry. As long as people have to have their F---book, though, nothing will change.

SpinyNorman
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Re: Privacy vs surveillance

Post by SpinyNorman » Sat Jan 09, 2016 12:30 pm

skittles wrote:You know, if you really wanted to fight this, you would get corporate access to a data aggregator and use the data against influencial persons. All the supposedly anonymized data from google etc. actually isn't and it goes straight into the hands of data aggregators which then supply it to others. They then use it to make judgements about you even though it's supposedly used for product placement.
I'm not engaged in any criminal activity, so personally I worry more about commercial organisations misusing my data than I do about governments misusing it. Lot's of money is made buying and selling personal data, and commercial organisations are regularly hacked with sensitive customer information being stolen, ID theft proliferates.

I tend to maintain a low profile on-line, and I wouldn't touch Facebook with a bargepole. ;)

madhusudan
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Re: Privacy vs surveillance

Post by madhusudan » Sat Jan 09, 2016 12:42 pm

I agree with the author's perspective, though I take issue with the idea that, " Privacy is a right granted to individuals." Privacy is a pre-existing and inherent right. Once this distinction is understood, the issue becomes clear.

The violation of privacy is in itself a crime.

One interesting objection I've considered filing at work is that I am unable to complete my duties ethically because I cannot guarantee the privacy of the personal information I transmit, which I am legally obligated to do.

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Re: Privacy vs surveillance

Post by SpinyNorman » Sat Jan 09, 2016 12:51 pm

madhusudan wrote:Privacy is a pre-existing and inherent right.
Says who? Surely human rights are subject to human convention?

madhusudan
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Re: Privacy vs surveillance

Post by madhusudan » Sat Jan 09, 2016 1:40 pm

From my perspective rights stem from the interaction between the apparent physical reality and a sentient being's ability for self-reflection and rational thinking. In other words, because I appear to have a body, which occupies space, it should belong to me and not someone else. I have a pre-existing right to control my body and its actions. We can also deduce rights if we accept the premise that all humans share them equally.

I doubt we'll resolve this ongoing debate, but I enjoy the amiable exchange of ideas. Can we play out your claim that rights are subject to human convention?

In another time and place, chattel slavery was widely practiced. I interpret this as a grave crime. Through the lens of your perspective, which I might term moral relativism, how would you view that historical phenomenon?

SpinyNorman
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Re: Privacy vs surveillance

Post by SpinyNorman » Sat Jan 09, 2016 5:56 pm

madhusudan wrote:In another time and place, chattel slavery was widely practiced. I interpret this as a grave crime. Through the lens of your perspective, which I might term moral relativism, how would you view that historical phenomenon?
I think human rights are a good cause to get behind, but I do see them as a human construct rather than as some kind of moral absolute. Throughout history people have had to fight for their rights, they're not a given. I tend to see the right to privacy as quite a long way down in the list of priorities.

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Re: Privacy vs surveillance

Post by Taco_Rice » Sat Jan 09, 2016 11:34 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:A useful article (especially if you follow the links) about the gradual erosion of our privacy - mostly online, but it's happening IRL too - and why it matters.
The governments of Australia, Germany, the UK and the US are destroying your privacy. Some people don’t see the problem…
“I have nothing to hide, so why should I care?”
It doesn’t matter if you have “nothing to hide”. Privacy is a right granted to individuals that underpins the freedoms of expression, association and assembly; all of which are essential for a free, democratic society.
The statement from some politicians that “if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear” purposefully misframes the whole debate...

Your freedom of expression is threatened by the surveillance of your internet usage – thought patterns and intentions can be extrapolated from your website visits (rightly or wrongly), and the knowledge that you are being surveilled can make you less likely to research a particular topic. You lose that perspective, and your thought can be pushed in one direction as a result. Similarly, when the things you write online, or communicate privately to others, are surveilled, and you self-censor as a result, the rest of us lose your perspective, and the development of further ideas is stifled. ...
It's at http://robindoherty.com/2016/01/06/nothing-to-hide.html but I got it via a newsletter from Access Now, https://www.accessnow.org/, which works to increase digital rights and freedoms.

:coffee:
KIm
I saw this little comic where Alaric shows up at the gates of Rome, but then the Romans threaten to expose the invaders browser histories to their mothers, thereby thwarting them. You'd think people would be up in arms about it, but then, the surveillance state would get them for it. LOL. Hopefully it doesn't squash dissent to the point where it eventually just produces people who care less and less about being exposed or listening to legitimate authorities.

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When facing a single tree, if you look at a single one of its red leaves, you will not see all the others. When the eye is not set on any one leaf, and you face the tree with nothing at all in mind, any number of leaves are visible to the eye without limit. But if a single leaf holds the eye, it will be as if the remaining leaves were not there. One who has understood this is no different from Kannon with a thousand arms and a thousand eyes.
— Takuan Sōhō, the Unfettered Mind

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skittles
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Re: Privacy vs surveillance

Post by skittles » Sun Jan 10, 2016 2:21 am

Another thing I failed to mention before is that philosophical processes can be falsely interpreted.

I personally am of the school of thought that other views have to be tentatively considered valid in order to understand and evaluate them. If someone were to listen in on my conversations they would have no end of statements that could be taken out of context. The ability to discuss, "What if this was true?", with impunity is necessary to reason. If you can't question your or the media's views without ending up on a no-fly list, you can't reason.
"My main teacher Serkong Rinpoche, who was one of the teachers of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, explained that having a protector is like having a very strong and vicious dog. If you are a strong person, you could go sit and guard your own gate every night to make sure that thieves don’t attack, but usually people wouldn’t do that. It’s not that we don’t have the ability, it’s just: why bother? You could post a dog there instead." - Alex Berzin http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/ar ... rs_ab.html

madhusudan
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Re: Privacy vs surveillance

Post by madhusudan » Tue Jan 12, 2016 2:16 am

SpinyNorman wrote:I think human rights are a good cause to get behind, but I do see them as a human construct rather than as some kind of moral absolute.
Without malice, may I press you further on this point?

Your subordinate clause seems to suggest that you agree with my perspective that chattel slavery is a crime, yet you conclude by sticking to your guns. If rights are constructs, there is no objective standard by which to judge. By what standard do you judge slavery to be wrong? If this is something you're processing, and have no immediate response, I can respect that.

As for the moral relativism vs absolutism/universalism debate, would anyone on this board disagree that a Buddhist perspective advocates living according to absolute moral standards? I am familiar with teachings which state that being reborn as a human is particularly good because we can practice Dharma. Barbarians and animals kill in ignorance, but experience the effects of hells for that. This seems to suggest an absolute standard of action. I'm happy to hear other views on this.

Self-censorship has been mentioned. Any discussion of ubiquitous surveillance should include a discussion of Bentham's Panopticon. Here is a link for refreshing your memory: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panopticon . Our collective history of slowly emerging from under the thumb of oppressors seems to include periods of dissent. How would a virtual panopticon affect this process?

Finally, here is a possible future: https://www.aclu.org/blog/free-future/c ... -americans

I have a passing familiarity with gamification, and its implications will be significant and relevant to a discussion of this topic.

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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Privacy vs surveillance

Post by Kim O'Hara » Tue Jan 12, 2016 5:06 am

:good:
Other bits'n'pieces to consider:
William Gibson's Spook Country and Zero History.
Orwell's Big Brother (1984 is now feasible).

Network theory as in http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-05/c ... ou/6945060

:coffee:
Kim

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Re: Privacy vs surveillance

Post by smcj » Tue Jan 12, 2016 5:41 am

1.The problem isn’t ‘ignorance’. The problem is the mind you have right now. (H.H. Karmapa XVII @NYC 2/4/18)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)

SpinyNorman
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Re: Privacy vs surveillance

Post by SpinyNorman » Tue Jan 12, 2016 6:20 am

madhusudan wrote:Your subordinate clause seems to suggest that you agree with my perspective that chattel slavery is a crime, yet you conclude by sticking to your guns. If rights are constructs, there is no objective standard by which to judge. By what standard do you judge slavery to be wrong?
No, I don't think there is an objective standard for morality. People often claim that this is provided by God or religion but I don't buy it. If for example I'd been born in Rome several thousand years ago I might well have held the view that slavery was fine and legal. The fact that I view it as wrong now seems to be largely the result of my upbringing and culture.

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Re: Privacy vs surveillance

Post by SpinyNorman » Tue Jan 12, 2016 6:52 am

madhusudan wrote:The violation of privacy is in itself a crime.
But crimes are defined by legal systems, and again those are a product of human cultures. For example it isn't a crime for commercial companies to invade my privacy by cold-calling me on my unlisted home telephone number. Maybe it should be, but it isn't.

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Re: Privacy vs surveillance

Post by madhusudan » Thu Jan 28, 2016 12:01 am

I've spent some time mulling this over with some warm spiced wine, and while I have a number of further arguments for you, I'll have mercy and spare you the pain. Here is my lastest and bestest:

Human convention denies that morality is human convention.

I have three supporting arguments:

1. Nuremberg trials - The world rejected the Nazi claim that their actions were legal within their own system and that they were following orders, which is a legal requirement of their jobs.

2. Neighborliness - I've traveled a bit and lived abroad in a few countries. In every place on earth that I've seen, one person spying into the private affairs of another would be unacceptable. The vast majority of people live the reality of respecting rights daily, even if they do not explicitly understand this to be so. This is so clear that only an intellectual could miss it.

3. Common Law - This is my weak link, but I''ll go with it. According to my limited understanding of English Common Law, it stems from human traditions. It also closely aligns with the very same principles espoused by natural law proponents.

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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Privacy vs surveillance

Post by Kim O'Hara » Thu Jan 28, 2016 8:18 am

madhusudan wrote:Human convention denies that morality is human convention.
:twothumbsup:
I like that very much, and I will probably share it elsewhere - but mostly to mess with people's heads, I'm afraid, because it doesn't prove anything at all about morality.
Not that I think you're wrong in general, however. I think that there is an underlying consensus that some things are nearly always wrong and some things are nearly always right. If I went looking for its source I would probably look at evolutionary psychology (look it up if you haven't heard of it). If I wanted the quickest summary of it, I would go for or or another version of the Golden Rule.

:namaste:
Kim

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Re: Privacy vs surveillance

Post by Jeff H » Thu Jan 28, 2016 3:15 pm

Perhaps the “objectivity” of the standard is just the common desire to protect one’s own privacy. To protect that, people draw concentric circles in a hierarchy of who has the “right” to privacy and who doesn’t. But I think the desire to spy is also a powerful motivator for vast numbers of people who will act on it whenever they can. I agree with HHDL who says that every living being desires happiness and freedom from suffering and that Buddhism provides the most sensible means to attain that. So on those grounds I personally agree that privacy should be an objective standard. But “convention” –- especially in a Buddhist context -– refers to the misguided efforts of seeking happiness through ignorance. It plays out in opportunity and power struggles (not so much “well-mulled” consideration over warm spiced wine ;)).
:coffee:
madhusudan wrote:1. Nuremberg trials - The world rejected the Nazi claim that their actions were legal within their own system and that they were following orders, which is a legal requirement of their jobs.
Don’t confuse “the victors” with “the world”. Had the Nazis won it might have been quite a different trial. The victors’ always claim “the world agreed” (or that they are right regardless).
madhusudan wrote:2. Neighborliness - I've traveled a bit and lived abroad in a few countries. In every place on earth that I've seen, one person spying into the private affairs of another would be unacceptable. The vast majority of people live the reality of respecting rights daily, even if they do not explicitly understand this to be so. This is so clear that only an intellectual could miss it.
“The neighborhood” is one of the inner concentric circles where self-interest dictates that it is prudent to advocate protecting the rights of others because you want to protect them for yourself. I don’t deny there are a great many people who sincerely respect others’ privacy. Those people believe in the principle that such universal respect is ultimately most beneficial for all. Nevertheless, there is a significant number of people for whom their personal sense of protection, and even happiness, is best served by detailed knowledge of the private lives of others. Given the opportunity and/or the power, those people will spy –- and believe it is their objective right to do so.
madhusudan wrote:3. Common Law - This is my weak link, but I''ll go with it. According to my limited understanding of English Common Law, it stems from human traditions. It also closely aligns with the very same principles espoused by natural law proponents.
I think you are correct about the intent of the law, but I think the reality of creating legislation and, especially, enforcing it, is somewhat less idealistic.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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