Privacy and the Internet, an honest assessment, but is it good or bad?

Bruce Schneier in this CNN opinion piece makes it very clear: privacy is gone. He uses three examples of people who all the reason in the world and the technical savvy (including our former CIA director) to maintain privacy and how it proved impossible for them. Take all the security measures you can think of, and those who want to know about what you do, who you are, how you spend your time will find out.

“Big Data” is a term we are going to be hearing much more about.

News headlines last week said that our defense analysts now consider cyberwarfare a greater threat to our national security than terrorism. That’s is saying a lot.

Sometime I think I’m about the only person in the world not absolutely terrified by the loss of privacy. It’s a little to me about the fear or animosity toward cops. Some people seem to treat police like enemies. Sure, occasionally I panic a bit when driving and I see a patrol car with radar checking speed. I only panic though when I’m not in cruise control and may have not been watching my speed. Other times, I’m wishing they would catch some of these yahoos flying by me as I am maxed out at 76 mph in a 70 zone.

I’m certain there are a lot of people doing things using the Internet that they are not particularly proud of. Is it possible that this lack of privacy may help keep people from doing the things they just as soon their spouse or children or friends or pastor not know about? I was raised with the understanding that somehow, somewhere an eternal record was being kept on my actions. That I will face a day when that record will be replayed in full view of the ultimate judge and perhaps all of humanity. Talk about big data! For many, being given that kind of thought as a young child may seem cruel and lead to vast guilt. Not really, providing that forgiveness and grace are also part of that picture. Buried in the deepest sea and all that.

We seem to have sort of lost the value of teaching about right and wrong, including the thought of some kind of record being kept and some possible disclosure of that record. But, that religious teaching is being replaced by a secular equivalent. No doubt the growing recognition of what Schneier is talking about is triggering a lot of fear and guilt. Perhaps it is also serving in some cases as a restraining force. When someone thinks about logging onto that porn site, will they now start thinking about who will know about it when?

There is a difference in the old idea of big data (religious) vs. today’s idea (secular)–I’m not sure where forgiveness and redemption comes in. Wait and see on that one I guess.

 

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