Privacy and piracy: What are we telling the kids?

The lesson is that ownership of information is a corporate right, and that people are only licensors.

"Privacy is dead"

Privacy is not dead, even if some kids are starting to believe it's so. Last year I read yet another recent graduate blithering, in one of the local alt-weeklies, about how privacy is an outmoded notion that old people cling to. Even financial data came up in the conversation, and I thought, "Oh, you poor thing -- I'll be here with a blanket and some hot cocoa when you wake up, your violated financial data barely identifiable as your own, while Mom peruses the details of the viral gift your ex gave you splayed across your hacked MySpace page."

Some things are better kept private -- passwords, for example. And it's a fine line between waving access to one's data in the wind and losing control of it, yet the distinction is often lost on the less astute kids. Getting another MySpace account is easy, but another Social Security number is not. More cynical kids might have a look at the state of internet monitoring, marketing from personal financial data and use of medical data for dubious research, then adopt the idea that personal privacy is a granted by public and private service providers, not inherent right.

How is it that one arrives at such a naive or deeply cynical position, and how could such a person hack it in the modern workplace? Even a pancake-house cashier needs to understand the consequences of logging in and out of their Squirrel system; do you really want your next generation of employees to operate on the assumption that all data should be treated as public information?

"Justice is purchased"

Mentioned earlier, enforcement of the ailing media industry business model -- where artists are subject to predatory contracts, and consumers to predatory conditions and pricing -- has been propped up by changes to copyright law that withhold material from the public domain far longer than could have been imagined until recently. Worse, enforcement of what would have been civil actions is now conducted with disproportionate assistance by law enforcement, or even by RIAA rent-a-cops impersonating law enforcement officials.

The aftermath of discovery and media raids has left thousands of people amidst lawsuits filed by companies with vast legal and financial resources, with the vast majority of those consumers bullied into revolving-door settlements against the threat of ruinously long court proceedings. If the kids weren't cynical by now, this demonstrates clearly that money and power can buy laws and enforcement, and that due process is meaningless.

If the civil courts can't support a defense of a business model, then the business model needs to die. We don't need more laws, just enforcement of the ones we have -- or had, before the MPAA and RIAA started to monkey with them. Even some of the positive news in this regard is tarnished. For example, the French audio recording industry association intends to force Internet service providers to identify specific illicit file-sharers and their specific actions -- at the expense of user privacy.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jon Espenschied

Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?