[FoRK] Apple collecting, sharing iPhone users' precise locations

Jeremy Apthorp nornagon at nornagon.net
Mon Jun 21 20:30:14 PDT 2010


On 22 June 2010 13:00, silky <michaelslists at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Tue, Jun 22, 2010 at 12:51 PM, Jeremy Apthorp <nornagon at nornagon.net> wrote:
>> Personally, I don't know where to stand on the privacy scale. After
>> having thought about it for some time, I still don't even really
>> understand what privacy *is*, or  whether it's inherently important.
>> The question I try to ask myself is: what would a society with no
>> privacy look like? Would that be a good society?
>
> It's important.
>
> One of the more obvious ways it's important is that people live
> differently to how they work. Now, you may argue that your private
> life has some bearing on your work life, and that's true to a degree;
> but your work doesn't own you. One thing to look at is the recent
> controversy surrounding Tavis Ormandy and his disclosure process to
> Microsoft.
>
> Taking it to the extreme, if there was absolutely no privacy ever,
> you'd need to have people who are comfortable knowing everythinng
> about each other, and still working with them comfortably. I suspect
> there are many uncomfortable truths you wouldn't want to know about
> people around you right now; you have no business knowing.

That is a circular argument. If we had no *expectation* of privacy,
then why would I be uncomfortable?

> But if you
> did know, what would you do? It's probablt in your nature to treat
> them differently. It would be impossible not to. But if this attitude
> of different treatment were removed from the human species after long
> exposure, then there would be no reason for privacy.

Is that a future to be avoided or sought out?

> But while it
> exists, it's required (ignoring, obviously, the illegal things people
> may do).

Agreed.

>> It's also worth noting that privacy is a relatively new concept. As
>> far as I can tell, it started being important to people around the
>> mid-1700s: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=timeline-a-history-of-privacy
>>
>> Why did privacy not matter to people before then?
>
> Keep in mind if may have, but it's not documented. Anyway, an easy way
> to reconcile possible reasons is to consider why we care now. We care
> now to keep our jobs and our friends and our lifestyles. If our jobs
> weren't determined by smchoozing and personailty (and also our status
> in society, etc), then we'd care less.

It's certainly the case that privacy is important today for a variety
of reasons. What I'm interested in exploring is whether it is
fundamentally important to a good society, for some definition of
'good'.

j



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