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

Stephen D. Williams sdw at lig.net
Tue Jun 22 00:47:20 PDT 2010

On 6/21/10 11:36 PM, Jeremy Apthorp wrote:
> On 22 June 2010 16:14, Ken Ganshirt @ Yahoo<ken_ganshirt at yahoo.ca>  wrote:
>> --- On Tue, 6/22/10, Jeremy Apthorp<nornagon at nornagon.net>  wrote:
>> ...
>> Wanting to avoid getting caught doing something that might be severely punishable seems pretty "fundamental" to me.
> Is it fundamental to functioning society that people doing potentially
> seriously punishable things be able to conceal such?

For most of history, and in some ways in most places currently, things 
that should not have been punishable were.  Frequently, especially with 
"prurient" topics, the vast majority of "miscreants" and "deviants" were 
harmlessly abusing the "rules", often probably to a more healthy result 
than those dutifully following the strict code of conduct.  Porn is 
perhaps the best and most pervasive example.  Various forms of actual 
sex are probably close.  The full legal fix for large areas of the 
latter only happened a few years ago.  (I.e. it should be safe to be in 
Utah with your wife / significant other now, although I wouldn't press 
your luck.  Something like 39 sex acts used to be illegal there until 
the big blue SCOTUS smack down.)

Even in societies where everything was covered by restrictive rules, 
some and sometimes nearly all people engaged in breaking the rules under 
the semi-official standard that things kept non-obvious were OK.  Hence 
the big fight over Larry Flynt opening a Hustler store in Cincinnati: A 
significant population was involved in porn, or at least wanted to be, 
while actually saying and showing that in public broke taboo.  Privacy 
was much more important in the recent past.  It still is, but nothing 
like before.

As for illegal things that should be punished:  Perhaps, even though it 
can be galling and frustrating, it might be good to have some buffer 
that hides a few small excursions to the dark side.  This allows people 
to have second thoughts and recover before disaster.  Whether that makes 
sense depends on what is involved.

>> I offer at least one class of examples which illustrates specifically that privacy matters. Matters now and mattered long before the mid-1700s.
> Matters to individual people in individual situations, not matters to
> society as a concept.
>> Why don't you believe that to be the case? Are you saying none of that ever happened/happens? Or that if it happened/happens, privacy was/is of no import to those involved?
> Privacy is clearly important to people. I have conceded that perhaps
> privacy has always been important to people. The question remains:
> will privacy always be important to people? Stephen pointed out that
> people are sharing more and more of their personal lives with the
> world via social networking services. Will that come back to bite us,
> or is it the New Way?
Both probably.

Already we are pretty far along in not hiding religious selection, 
cultural source, sexuality, health problems, having families, past 
gaffes, etc.  At least for those under 25 or those keeping pace with the 
"new generation".  Going bonobo is not likely to happen, however, again, 
we're far closer than we used to be.  (Re: Sexting, Teenagers from a 
recent short era insisting that oral sex wasn't sex.)

How much privacy we desire and require depends inversely on how much 
social, business, and legal judgment we have to endure to what degree 
with what consequences.  Basically, how far does reasonable interaction 
with reality and others diverge from the social norm cone of 
acceptability?  How much tolerance is there for eccentricity, 
exploration, taste, stupidity, and error?  If we had to live with 
Sharia, we'd be dying for privacy, literally.  Instead, we're partway 
through an era of "Make a federal case out of it if you don't like it, I 
dare you!"  While only partly successful, this kind of thing has been 
successful enough to move the momentum significantly.

I find it ironic and funny that partly because of the desire to stamp 
out accessible porn of any type just 20 years ago, we're inundated with 
it and its pretty much all legal, free/cheap, and beyond those people's 
wildest dreams.

Secrecy and security are different generally than privacy, although they 
are also tools for privacy.  Fundamentally, I don't care that someone 
knows that I have a bank account, and I may not really care much if they 
know what my transactions are.  I do care about not being robbed.  
Requiring privacy in general to maintain security (confidentiality, 
integrity, availability) seems to indicate security through obscurity, 
i.e. don't make yourself a target, try to avoid being followed, etc.  
That's a cop out on the security and policy side.

I value privacy, and I understand a lot about security, however I don't 
want to feel like I need privacy.  I have a pretty good appreciation of 
the likelihood of attack, noticing, reacting, etc.  I make the risk / 
cost / benefit analysis all the time, usually opting for a combination 
of strong security and not worrying about it.  Mobile drives are 
encrypted (big potential loss / leak / abuse) while I don't shred much.

I find and fix fraud periodically.  Recently had to reverse a few bogus 
European charges on a checking account.  Had a teller accidentally make 
my deposit to another account last year.

> j


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