Arkady Grudzinsky


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Do we need privacy?



1. The state or condition of being free from being observed or disturbed by other people.
2. The state of being free from public attention.

So, it's a form of freedom. I find it deeply controversial.

Does it mean that we should not pay attention to each other? There are stories on internet of people dying in subway from heart attack in the midst of a crowd passing by.

Is it possible? We leave traces behind us every minute - online, when we use credit cards to buy something, even by walking in the street with a cell phone in our pocket. Why are we outraged or feel threatened when we find out that someone "is watching"? Perhaps, it goes deeper in our psyche that we think or can explain.

What is the difference between privacy and secrecy? When and why do we need them?

Some people put their whole life online. Some are cautious about giving any personal information to anyone. Ironically, we can protect ourselves from oppression and crime both ways.

What's your attitude towards privacy? I would appreciate the links to videos and sources on this topic.

  • Jun 16 2013: I heard a very thoughtful statement on a news program this morning about this very issue. The statement was: "If you want privacy then you can't have Google- you can't have both!"
    The more I thought about that the more I realized, how true that statement was, but it goes further then that. The only real way you can obtain complete privacy & secrecy, is to be a hermit far far back in the woods & mountains and even then, someone will know about you.
    I may not like it but I have learned to live with it- to a point at least!
    • Jun 16 2013: Good point, Gale - nowadays, we just can't have our cake and eat it too.
      So when does security turn into a police state? I read recently that the Netherlands taps more phones than any other country in the world... It ain't all windmills, wooden shoes and cheese out here, there's more data collecting and privacy invasion here than the states, apparently! Every citizen is required to spontaneously produce an ID if asked, regardless of whether you're 80 years, or 8 months old.
      And somehow, none of this makes me feel any more secure...
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        Jun 18 2013: What's brewing in your country Liz that requires this? Apparently my nowhere country has this too but if the day comes when i'm asked i think i'll just fake a "No Engish" phrase but that only works on the british imported cops.
        • Jun 19 2013: Ken, I ask myself the same thing... I can't imagine in a socialist system like this ine, where everyone understands the need to help each other out, that this is necessary. It is a multi-cultural society and yet becoming more and more discriminitive... It seems there is a direct correlation between extreme nationalism and the recession. Anyone else seeing this?
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          Jun 20 2013: Seeing it here in Sweden too Lizanne...
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        Jun 18 2013: Wow, that's sad.
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    Jun 25 2013: Sometimes, we are so effective in preventing other people from "spreading lies" that we become deaf to the truth. Or, rather, there is no truth to hear any more... there is nothing to hear at all...

    Here is a true fact: the last on-topic comment in this conversation was made 2 days ago.

    I'm still interested to hear some fresh opinions. But if, after reading this thread, you decide that it's best to keep them to yourself, I wouldn't blame you :-).
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      Jun 28 2013: This comment reminded me of an interview with Bill Clinton.

      "Tell us the truth, mr. President."
      "Yes, but what is 'the truth'?"

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      Jun 21 2013: Interlesting Carol but damn it your bang on, this may sound stupid but my privacy online digitally mirrors what you said, a formulation space. Not that that was what you meant or was trying to say. I wonder if we need space or a buffer before we install, an interesting thought to dally with.
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      Jun 21 2013: Awesome thought. So, privacy is like a make-up room and a curtain that separates our messy self from the audience ready to applaud or boo.

      "All the world's a stage,
      And all the men and women merely players:
      They have their exits and their entrances;
      And one man in his time plays many parts,
      His acts being seven ages." -- Shakespeare
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      Jun 21 2013: But then, is our online life "on stage" or is it "behind the scenes"?
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        Jun 22 2013: Maybe both depending on the platform.

        The less moderated a platform is the more "behind the scenes", preparatory, sometimes verbally agressive behaviour one can get which is one of the reasons why I try to avoid platforms or foras that do not have rules of conduct... On the other hand, it is often at such online places, when people use masks and avatars, that the truth comes out. It can feel safer to speak the truth, share a secret, when wearing a mask, an online mask that can give you an illusion of secrecy.

        I say illusion of secrecy because online it is only an illusion. We can be both on stage and behind the scenes, for some spectators there's no difference.
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    Jun 20 2013: Hi People. I've only just arrived so nice to meet you all.

    My views on privacy?
    Officially we have them. Unofficially we do not.
    Wiki-leaks prove this again only just lately.

    The safest avenue to privacy in my opinion especially these days, is to presume you have NONE and act accordingly.
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      Jun 20 2013: "Acting accordingly" could mean two things: 1) avoid doing or saying anything that we may later regret of doing or saying; 2) surround ourselves with walls, fences, reinforced doors, secure servers, and cryptography. What's your preference?
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        Jun 20 2013: I recall some tv show thief of saying something to the effect that there is no impregnable system, only ones that are more difficult to over come than others, so it all boils down to opportunity and motive.

        I'm going for door number one, its the safer bet.
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      Jun 27 2013: Hi Martin....Welcome to TED.....nice to meet you too:>)

      I agree...our world is what it is, and we can act accordingly....assume that we have no privacy!

      I choose #1 Arkady...."avoid doing or saying anything that we may later regret..."
      I find this way of communicating not only "safer", but also more peaceful.

      When I was a wee little lass, my mother asked the question....what if everyone in the world knew what you are doing or saying? At that time, we didn't have the instant connections with communication systems that we have now, and she was using it as a way of teaching a lesson. That seed was planted in my brain a very long time ago, it is still there, and I feel it is a GREAT foundation, which influences my communications on all levels.

      This is another way to balance our perception of privacy, as well as balance our life, because it is important to "know thyself" to be able to communicate accurately, with honesty and respect.
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      Jun 17 2013: The recent news about the Ohio man who managed to keep 3 kidnapped women in his home for over a decade without raising suspicion of his neighbors is a great example of how privacy can be misused.

      You make a great point that any social interaction takes away our privacy. We can live isolated lives and give up all conveniences of modern life, but are we willing to do so? And if we are not willing to do so, why do we complain about the lack of privacy?

      I visited your web site. I admire what you do in this age of consumerism. You seem to enjoy a lot of privacy. But this privacy comes at a price - you have to give up many conveniences. And even then, as social beings, we cannot live without exchange. You can't live completely "off the grid" - you use internet, you publish books, and even post online the pictures of your home inside.

      Re: "we have to make sure we are not part of the problem and reason for the snooping."

      I think, this should be the major concern, not privacy. I would add, the government needs to make sure that it's not part of the problem and the reason for people hiding underground and keeping their secrets.
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          Jun 17 2013: You are blessed to afford such luxury! :-)

          I have a wife and 3 kids and my house that sucks out my bank account is choked with stuff that I don't need. I think, I would much rather have your lifestyle than the one of a billionaire.

          "We are all just prisoners here, of our own device"...

          "Last thing I remember, I was
          Running for the door
          I had to find the passage back
          To the place I was before
          "Relax, " said the night man,
          "We are programmed to receive.
          You can check-out any time you like,
          But you can never leave! "

          Definitely, government is not the greatest threat to my freedom and privacy. I am.
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    Jul 15 2013: To tackle the question: do we need privacy for what?

    Do we need privacy for security?
    Do we need security for well being?

    The 4th Amendment of the US Constitution is often referenced when discussing privacy. But the amendment only indirectly invokes the concept of privacy. It directly invokes the concept of security.

    "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

    Security is often the primary goal of privacy. Companies secure their data and documents by keeping them hidden. Governments do as well. The current US administration condemns the leaking of classified documents, because it believes such leaks to be a threat to national security.

    So is personal security dependent on personal privacy? I believe so.
    Is the security of democracy dependent on the personal privacy of the populace? I believe so.

    Should I want to rob your house, does it help me to know that your key is under your doormat, and you're away for the weekend?

    Would the Berlin Wall have fallen had the Stasi known every East German citizen involved, their location, correspondents and plans before the event?

    In the future, should every member of our species be secure in their thoughts, or would this be unecessary for a free society?

    What is a more realistic scenerio here on Earth: absolute transparency for the actions and intents of every human being, including law-abiding citizens, criminals, companies and governments, or absolute transparency for the governed populace under a government cloaked in secrecy?
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    Jul 15 2013: An equally legitimate question might be: should we want privacy?

    Because if a fair condition is sufficed simply by needs, we could all make it by in a cell with bread and water.
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      Jul 16 2013: Given that privacy is linked to security and more security usually means less freedom, should we want security?
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    Jun 27 2013: In today's world I'm probably a dying breed but I put that down to when I was very young and working at a hospital. 27 years ago privacy and patient rights was taken as normal and having health professionals all through the family, one takes it as normal.

    That man that said " too many stories" told you a lot and everything about himself Colleen, some or a lot of people out there don't have 1/5th of the life experience that you have and others on here and that can make them ugly.

    Have you ever heard of the term " Subjective vampirism?" For a quick five minutes when I first heard of the term I thought "I must assess what I have done and what I absorbed from others who have lived a more fuller life so as not to be confused what is mine and not mine"
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      Jun 27 2013: You are right Ken....people tell us a LOT about themselves. I believe we can only give to others that which we have in our hearts, so if someone is behaving in an "ugly" way, it simply shows us that is what s/he has in her/his heart.

      I also am very conscious of confidentiality, after working/volunteering with so many agencies which have a vulnerable population. It helps for all of us to be honest and truthful about the information we put on line about ourselves.

      I have not heard of "Subjective vampirism"....would you share more information about it?
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        Jun 27 2013: Re: "it simply shows us that is what s/he has in her/his heart."

        I also hold an opinion that what we say about other people characterizes us more than it characterizes those other people. It's useful to keep this in mind when judging others.

        It's funny, as I say that, I can see how this can be viewed as a snide remark or a hypocritical opinion if what I say is directed to someone personally, but, again the way we see what others say characterizes us rather than those other people - hypocrisy is in the eye of the beholder. "we see things as we are, not as they are". Essentially, what I say here is the meaning of "if the shoe fits..." idiom.

        That's the enigma of those self-referring statements of which I wrote earlier: "this statement is true" is impossible to either prove or refute.
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        Jun 28 2013: Arkady's right and he has a far better grasp of the english written language than me, if i tried to tap an explanation it would probably come across as hypocritical and pompous. Cool, I'll ask Arkady next time when i'm wrestling with a difficult explanation i want to put across.

        It's a long story with that term Colleen but i think for those of us that have only 1/4 of the life experience that you have and are open or receptive and curious about others lives they can sometimes get lost in anothers life.....I hope she wasn't hinting to me, this person can be coercive and not in a constructive manner either. I don't believe it myself but what happens when you've been around people that make you feel they are sucking the life out of you or feel like they are black holes, creepy.

        When are you going to write that book? I'll buy it. Everyone here should write a book.
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    Jun 25 2013: This talk is VERY much on the topic. It is surprising that this talk got only 59 comments since 2010
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    Jun 20 2013: I have only just linked my real name to my central email accounts and to be honest, i think i should not have done that as google is always working. Back track a search and the way too get me is through fb. It's disturbing to know they do not delete your account and what's worse is fb's tempting app messenger which combines all messaging into one ui. someone has to slap the zuckerberg guy, personal messaging is personal.
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      Jun 21 2013: I also think that Facebook is more invasive than Google. I believe, Facebook, actually, can sell your information to third parties while Google just uses this information to provide their own services to marketers.

      What I also don't like about Facebook is that they can change their privacy policy without notice and sharing my information is, usually "opt-out", not "opt-in" which means that I have to find an obscure check box in deliberately confusing interface to prevent Facebook from sharing my data.

      I also keep myself logged out of Facebook. If you don't do that, Facebook will know about all web sites you visit. See the little FB and Twitter logos on this page? I just find it time consuming to manage privacy levels on who sees what.

      Google and Facebook are pushing people to tag faces on pictures. I avoid doing that. They seem to use face recognition software to tag faces on all other pictures they have.
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        Jun 27 2013: Yes, it is very time consuming. I also find that changing the privacy policy is at least undemocratic. There are millions of people on facebook and it serves different purposes for different people. Unmoderated groups are one thing, attention seekers with thousands of "friends" and followers and then the fact that, well, it's actually pretty difficult to really communicate there. Maybe some of you heard of the example of a youngster somewhere in Europe who accidentally invited thousands of people to a party, I guess it was in France, it was all over the news as it almost led to violence.

        Facebook has a lot of pictures of mine, some of them were tagged before, I removed the tags, but it doesn't mean that there aren't a lot of people who might look like me, this is a bit scary. Another thing - what I'm missing is the very simple "are you sure you want to do that?" Add, remove, send etc. Also - getting yourself out of facebook is a) difficult b) may cause some questions from others (why aren't you on facebook anymore, don't you like us? or me? - I got that once when I deactivated my account after discovering that I don't really use facebook. I came back because of some peer pressure i.e. didn't you see on facebook that we were supposed to meet?) I've met people with different approaches but it actually seems that all of them can be against you at some point, but all of that can be fixed, I hope. It is good to have people liking what you put out, it's not ok to sit around judging people by what you post without really asking why you do it and what you mean.

        I'm logged out of facebook, I sometimes look at it, check it.
        But the e-mail is there most of the time and I see strange information there as well - somebody logging in from platform I don't use, from places I haven't visited... And also the smartphone era - 3G is worse than Wifi when it comes to location and check-ins. A lot of issues to be resolved there, on many levels.
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          Jun 27 2013: Pat has pointed me to this talk some time ago . Discussion was related to economic exchange, jobs going to China, etc. But this talk seems to have much deeper implications. People seem to divide things into "created" and "natural" (or "evolved"). Debates between evolution and creationism are still raging.

          But think of technology. Is it, really, "created" by humans? Do we really have any control of what technology emerges where? Reading about Manhattan project, it seems to me that once there is capability for technology to exist, it WILL be created by somebody. The question is not "if", but "when". There are mechanisms beyond control of individuals or governments to prevent this from happening. Technology follows the same laws of evolution as living organisms. I would like to start a TED conversation about it some day - another "creation" vs. "evolution" discussion with a twist.

          With that said, it seems to me that we have no choice but to accept the existence of these technologies as reality and deal with it like we deal with existence of animals, say, bears, which may occasionally break into our car or steal our camping food supply.

          I have a Facebook account, but I don't post anything there that I would be uncomfortable to share with EVERYONE.
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        Jun 27 2013: As I said - a lot of things to be resolved. I probably need to do something with the facebook account I have but, as I said, it is not always so obvious how people react to things. Or, more importantly, how facebook reacts, isn't that a bit more important when discussing evolution of technology? (I'm replying to your comment, not the general social problem/development/era-thing)

        Perhaps it will encourage some folks to make better choices?, as Colleen said.

        When it comes to posting - sometimes a little click or confusion as to who sees what may lead to trouble, as in the example I provided. There are others and misunderstandings of this type are countless.

        EDIT - just to add one point that was mentioned before - facebook can do whatever they want without really asking the users/user if that's ok with them. You can argue that that's just the way it is, but to me, that's not a valid argument.
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          Jun 27 2013: Have you watched this talk?

          It seems to agree with my point that we have trouble understanding trends and models which go beyond our personal experience, such as global social trends or historic events that go beyond our lifetime or, even human history (climate change cycles). This is regarding your note that we have trouble understanding how these corporate decisions are made.

          It's seen even here on TED. It's fascinating to watch how much anxiety is caused by these on-line interactions. To me it feels like watching these storm clouds in the recent TED talk.
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        Jun 27 2013: I've watched it, yes.

        Have you heard of Big Data Analytics? But anyway, climate is one thing, society is another.
        Anxiety is caused by on-line interactions, that's true, but in my case (just to be rational) - since I haven't done anything illegal or broke any rules... you get the picture. I understand what irrationality is though and how a discussion can get heated. What I'm thinkling right now when responding is the very thing you yourself are saying - this is fascinating. I may have different experience and perspective, but I guess we can agree on that.

        Again - it's true that there are models and trends that can be difficult to understand because you have to go beyond your personal experience. I do not know yours, you do not know mine so this is just a discussion.

        Storm cloud in a teapot, this old saying just came to me, is that what you meant?

        I wish I had a link to a talk now, but there's no one talk or link I can think of, I'll get back to that.
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      Jun 27 2013: Ken and Arkady,
      I was very hesitant about providing information about myself when I first started using the computer. I now feel that it is a GREAT tool, and if we want to use it, we can find and encourage a balance.

      I discovered that there is information "out there" about me whether or not I choose to have it "out there". Luckily, the information I have found, simply verifies the information I've given about myself.

      A person on TED once told me that I had too many stories....they were not believable. Well, they weren't believable to him obviously, and that's ok. However, many of them can be verified on line. The local and regional boards I served on, and continue to serve on for example, are all a matter of public record, and minutes of the meetings, as well as other information are on line.

      Because I was somewhat of a locally "known" character at the time of my head injury (actor, model, Mrs. Vermont, etc.), there were newspaper articles at the time of the accident and follow-up articles. It was kind of weird at first, when I started getting out and going to the local store.....everyone was asking me how I'm doing, talking to me like I was an old friend, with kindness and compassion. It was really very heartwarming.

      You ask in your introduction Arkady...."Does it mean that we should not pay attention to each other?"
      Perhaps it means that we can pay MORE attention to each other? Perhaps it will encourage some folks to make better choices? I'd like to plant the seed my mother planted many moons ago. How would you feel, if everyone in the world knew what you were doing or saying right now?
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        Jun 27 2013: What you're sharing here, Colleen, made me think of a couple of things:

        - I should really google more often ;-)
        - there are so many untold stories out there, a lot of them could be so heartwarming, others - thought-provoking. After reading your comment I actually thought the following - why didn't I share more of mine or wrote them in a poetic or often individual way, sometimes that could be confusing to some. One example - I once began telling a friend about some experiences I had while being a newbie in a newspaper. The positive ones, of course. She opened her eyes and said "can I touch you? wow" I wasn't expecting that, I thought the reaction would be "who do you think you are?"

        "How would you feel, if everyone in the world knew what you were doing or saying right now?"

        That's why people need privacy, I think, especially in the world today where surveillance is omnipresent and the recordings can be misused. I sometimes stumble upon videos with names like "funny man in the toilet" and such. I don't think that's funny for that man to be filmed and out there on the net. Paradoxically, I do enjoy watching such videos at times (and have to use them at work in a different context), but I will not tag them to laugh at anybody.

        I agree that we should pay attention to one another. But not too much attention and not unwanted attention, that's a different thing.
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        Jun 27 2013: Coleen,

        I have linked a third video to this conversation:

        It's a bit boring and could benefit from some visuals, but the content is excellent. We don't trust unfamiliar things, but as we get more familiar with them, we feel more secure. E.g. knowing what Google does with our information makes people more comfortable using Google. Even though it does not change the reality, people feel safer and "in control" when they know what to expect. On the other side, Facebook practice of changing privacy policies without notice makes people perceive Facebook as more invasive, where as Google practices might be a lot worse.

        I also feel that having information about ourselves online can serve as protection from slander and false accusations by providing multiple cross-references which cannot be faked. Sometimes, however, a piece of information on the Internet can come from one dubious source and spread all around the web - people referring to the same myth copied over and over, creating an illusion of credibility. I see that a lot with "research shows" statements (not to question anything that you say, Coleen).

        Even having some uncomfortable stuff online can, in fact, help us. Many people fight their own demons and have their own weaknesses and "hot buttons". It may help people to be more sensitive to each other.
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        Jun 27 2013: Just to add another thought to what you're saying, Colleen.

        You say that a computer is a great tool, I agree. What I'm thinking about when responding to our comment is a debate, or an interview, I saw on youtube - Richard Dawkins was responding to a question from a person living in an opressive society (link to another conversation that is ongoing - what is worse). The question was fairly simple - what am I supposed to do? The answer was also simple - internet. Reaching out may be a good idea. I sometimes wonder why some voices on the net are more visible than others. I have some thoughts on that but am not sure where to post them really, it's a complex world.
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        Jun 28 2013: Hi again, CS.

        Here's two links to add to the conversation:

        A lot of great points there. Some contradictions, but let us focus on the positive outcome for everybody :)

        Best wishes.
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      Jun 28 2013: Your account can be deleted, but in order to do that you have to write to facebook, that's what I heard.
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        Jun 28 2013: Thanks Anna, I should've known this, I only have an account at Fb for family overseas but they are pushing me to use skype yet i'am hesitant, for some reason vidding to them doesn't feel like they are far away.....A hold over from the days of letters and expensive phone calls?
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        Jun 28 2013: I'm surrounded by the latest tech and this is what i'm surrounded with as well. If this is what we call up to date then we got problems.
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          Jun 29 2013: Thanks for sharing this perspective.

          I also agree that children getting addicted to the internet is a growing problem, one of the issues to be resolved. Balance, individual needs, education and properly regulating time of usage must be taken into consideration when adressing this. Online learning has potential, but there are great points in the video.

          Getting addicted to being online all the time has its risks. Probably some of he commenters have heard of a girl somewhere in Asia dying because of addiction to MMORPG. Her team travelled to be at her funeral, that showed how deep the bond betwen her and the others were although it was only online. Two points - online exchange of thoughts in a chatroom may bring people together without risk of being subject to any form of pysical abuse, but there can also be problems and hostility, we've even seen it here in this conversation.

          I used to get addicted to games, I remember sitting for months in front of the computer. When I was already grandmaster of everything in the game and tried every game modification possible I got bored. My mother used to bring me food and take plates away after a couple of hours - the plates were not empty, I was so much in the game that I didn't really feel like eating. I sometimes paused to take a bite of something, but in certain games you cannot pause and young people do not have this balance.

          This is not necessarily bad but having all life online has its risks.

          I remember when I was done with the game, came back to studies after vacation and started doing something else - travelling here and there, singing in a choir and travelliing with them my mother made a comment - "That is good, you will be among people."

          I got internet when I was about 17, it changed a lot. I have so many stories and perspectives to share on this that the fact that I've got less than 129 characters remaining will probably make me start a new conversation :)
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        Jun 29 2013: Wow! I can semi relate but from what you posted and being a young woman it's time you bring this great experience to the wider community and audition at your local Tedx or if there isn't one Anna then organize one. Forgive me for sounding coercive but your post is brilliant, There must be millions of young women hard gamers that can relate, i jump into a gamer forum usually full of young males, i'm the oldest. There's a few young women but not a lot. I'm there for the forum storyline RP community creations. They are just young gamers full of exuberance for the franchise but some have a writers talent.

        I haven't seen all the Ted vids but I'm sure there hasn't been one female gamer talk?
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    Jun 17 2013: there is a common misconception that privacy is a right. it isn't. just as healthcare or food is not a right. they are all things that we need to create for ourselves with effort, and we need to balance the costs versus the benefits. and everyone has to work on his own privacy, according to his own preferences, capabilities and situation.

    if the government / a company / a stalker spies on us, it is immoral? not inherently. if said entity breaks into my computer, or physically breaks into my house, steals my phone, it is immoral, criminal act. if he uses lies and deception, he might be subjected to legal action, forced to pay compensation or something. but if he uses technology to spy on me, it is not against any moral laws. it is my task to defend my privacy, either myself, or buy the services of an expert.

    any calls for stricter regulations are misguided. what we need is better tools, better understanding, better industry standards. so privacy can be an option for those that value it.
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      Jun 18 2013: You don't have the right of privacy in Turkey!? We also have the right to healthcare and food and we do have a legal right to privacy here in Sweden.
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        Jun 18 2013: for example in turkey. we can safely say that if a right just does not exist, it also does not exist in turkey. turkey is not that special a place. pi is 3.14... there too. plants photosynthesize. it is just another country.

        no, you don't have the right to healthcare, it is a lie. what you have is a system of confiscation and handouts. it is not a right, it is a limitation to a right.
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        Jun 18 2013: not a definition, but a necessary attribute: a right is something that every person naturally have, and can lose only due to an immoral act of another individual.

        thus life for example is not a right. you can die at any moment from disease or accident. not being murdered is a right. you will never get murdered unless someone actively and purposefully murders you, which is an immoral criminal act.

        having property is not a right. your property not being taken away by others is a right. if you don't have property, this is just an unlucky state of affairs. if your property gets struck by a lightning, it is bad luck. but your property can only be stolen if someone deliberately steals it. this is an criminal act, and you have the right not to be offended this way.

        in other words, all rights are negative. you don't have right to something. you have rights to be free of some things, like aggression, theft, murder or fraud.

        privacy is not a right. but also, not being spied on is also not a right. the right to privacy just a consequence and case of property rights. i can hide in my house, i can close my window, i can use cryptography. and i have a right not to be interfered with such use of my own property. any kinds of spying on me that does not involve violation of my property rights is not (or should not) be a criminal act.
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          Jun 20 2013: Krisztian,

          I was following your definition fine as something is not necessarily a right but not having it taken away is a right, although that does sound a bit odd. Then you somehow created the exception of having your privacy taken away not being the same, without explaining why you feel its an exception.
          The logic does not follow.

          I feel, rights are things that government agree a citizen may have and enforces. What or why they are is not the issue.

          Just as laws can be changed with the stroke of a pen by someone in authority, so can rights. Here in Canada we used to have the "right" to fish without a license then one day, stroke of a pen, now we need a license.

          Now if Canadians had rose up in anger against the government and refused to comply creating more stress on the government than was reasonable for the licenses to be in place, the government probably would have relented, and the "right" to fish without a license upheld.

          If all the citizens INSIST on privacy voting out those that oppose it and voting IN those that support it, we will tend to have laws that will uphold that "right." Otherwise, stroke of a pen, it's gone.

          Two final thing I would say about "rights" its a hell of a lot harder to GET THEM than it is to keep them tough as that may seem.

          Lastly, when it comes to privacy, expect it to be violated right or no right. We have plenty of laws and the jails are filled with people breaking them, and of course governments are above the law.
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      Jun 18 2013: I think, anything can be claimed as a right as long as we can physically obtain it and defend it. In a desert, it does not matter whether you have a right to have water or not. There is no water. And if I cannot defend my life and liberty - physically or legally, I do not have any rights for them. Same with privacy. I have the right to as much privacy as I can get and defend.

      Surveillance is not inherently immoral. Trust and intentions matter. Parents installing a video camera in a child's room to ensure the child's safety are violating the child's privacy. But the child trusts that the parents won't harm the child and the parents intend good for the child. Issues with privacy arise when either trust or good intentions are lacking.
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        Jun 18 2013: but that definition would include slave keeping as a right. i disagree.

        according to my moral, surveillance per se is never immoral. of course you can condemn it, and you can refuse to cooperate with a person that engages in such activities. but we can not in general say anything about it, regardless of the intent. only the method counts. if he installs a bino on his roof, and it is not against any contract he made, it is not immoral. though, as i have said, it can be against my taste, and i can try to do against it, within my rightful possibilities. for example call him out for it, and make him a hated person in the town.
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          Jun 18 2013: My definition is a practical one. In many societies of the past, keeping slaves was a right. Perhaps, it wasn't moral by today's standards, but, I believe, in those societies, slavery was accepted both morally and legally. In most modern societies, one cannot legally defend slave keeping, therefore, it is not a right any more.

          I may not have a legal right, but if I can claim it and rally enough people for the cause, I can create a legal right. This is what happened with civil rights movement in U.S. in the sixties.

          A necessary element for having a right is claiming it. Government can use your own words against yourself in court if you give them incriminating information knowing that you have the right not to do so, but not invoking this right.

          People waive their rights very often. E.g., when the police was combing Boston neighborhood for Tsarnaev, I don't think, it was constitutional for the police to force their way into people's property. But, given the situation, perhaps, nobody thought to rise this issue. When people routinely waive their right, they lose it altogether (e.g. TSA searches in the airports).
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        Jun 18 2013: we have to know better. i recall a debate between the catholic church and atheists. at one point, catholic guy said: we can't expect a catholic person of 1400 to know that witch hunt is not a moral behavior, since it was the norm. the atheist opponent asked: then what are you for?

        moral can not dependent on culture. moral must be absolute. if something is not absolute, it can not be a moral statement. all of my contribution to this discussion is supposed to be absolute. if you have a counterargument, i might be proven wrong. but what i said, can not be a matter of opinion. either i'm right or i'm wrong. there is no third way.
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          Jun 18 2013: Kristian,

          So, how do you decide what's right or wrong? What's your absolute yardstick and litmus test to measure morality that would show the same result regardless of the context?
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        Jun 19 2013: my yardstick is a simple one: the nonaggression principle combined with self ownership and property rights. everything else is just application.
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          Jun 19 2013: A wise Zen frog was explaining to the younger frogs the balance of nature: "Do you see how that fly eats a gnat? And now (with a bite) I eat the fly. It is all part of the great scheme of things."
          "Isn't it bad to kill in order to live?" asked the thoughtful frog.
          "It depends . . ." answered the wise frog just as a snake swallowed the Zen frog in one chomp before the frog finished his sentence.
          "Depends on what?" shouted the students.
          "Depends on whether you're looking at things from the inside or outside," came the muffled response from inside the snake.

          Would you use force (aggression) to stop aggression? If so, how do you reconcile it with the non-aggression principle?

          How property rights are determined? What guarantees them? Are there limits on what can be "owned"? Ownership of information is controversial. When I buy a bottle of beer and pay with my credit card - who owns the information about this transaction? I? The seller? The credit card company? Or is the information just "out there", like the air, with no owner? Ownership rights seem to depend on what you can physically or legally protect.
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          Jun 20 2013: How do you know that nonaggression is moral? You can't say that humans are non-aggressive by nature and being aggressive violates some natural law, can you? I am not saying that aggression is moral. My point is that morality of non-aggression does not seem to follow from any natural law.
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        Jun 19 2013: the nonaggression principle is a misnomer. what it means is the non-initiation of aggression. aggression to stop aggression is fine. obviously, you can not use excessive amount of aggression. you have to aim for the necessary minimum that stops the initial aggression.

        property rights are not guaranteed by anything, they just are. property can be anything that is scarce. in modern theory, one can own usage rights for physical objects, like a view of a mountain range, or a smell of the air. ownership is created by being the first to claim it, or by voluntary transfer. information can not be owned, it is not scarce.

        it is not fundamentally important or interesting who defends property rights. it is the same thing as with our present legal system. having a right and being able to protect it are two different things. we have a law enforcement system that operates with a margin of error, just like any other system does. but it does not affect moral. stealing will be immoral even if the system fails to catch you. if you are the victim, you are still the legal owner of the stolen item, regardless of your inability to use it. it would be weird to say that you are not anymore the owner of the item, because the system failed.
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          Jun 19 2013: Re: "property rights are not guaranteed by anything"
          I would argue that rights which are not guaranteed by anything are not meaningful.

          Re: "information can not be owned, it is not scarce."
          This seems to mean that you do not acknowledge rights to intellectual property. Is it correct?

          Re: "it is not fundamentally important or interesting who defends property rights."
          When the government takes away your property for whatever reason (taxes, public land use, etc.), you are not the owner any more, are you? What you think does not seem to matter. What matters is what you can prove in court. Don't you think so?

          Regarding "first claim" and "voluntary transfer". Consider Palestinian land captured by Israeli government and voluntarily transferred to Israeli citizens by the government. Who is the rightful owner? Consider property expropriated by the Soviet government decades ago with new legal owners (according to the new legal system) living there. The heirs of the previous owner show up. Who has the right to the property? Is there an absolute answer to these questions?
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        Jun 19 2013: listen, be a little more cooperative. of course rights are supposed to be guarded by organizations, individuals, etc. but that is not the source of a right. the right exists in an empty universe too, it exists in wars, and in a hunter gatherer tribe. just it is not respected. rights do not have sources. they exist as a a part of nature.

        IP rights are not moral rights, they are just creations of an unholy alliance between the state and huge corporations. it is an instrument of aggression. IP rights are not rights, they are actually violations of rights.

        if the government takes away anything from me, i remain the rightful owner, and the government is an unlawful aggressor. surely, it is in accordance with their own laws, but those laws are not real laws, just an instrument of oppression. calling them laws is nothing but propaganda.

        a government can not capture a land, and can not own one. a government is not a person, and only person's can own property. unowned land can be homesteaded by anyone.
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          Jun 20 2013: Kriszitan,

          If you say that rights and morality exist in nature, you must admit that nature has a sense of justice. Then you cannot say that moral judgment is not applicable to acts of nature. Do animals have the right of not being killed by a predator and consumed for food? (see the Zen story above).

          When people say "natural" or "unnatural", they can mean a number of things - "occurring in nature", "traditional", or "aesthetically pleasing". It seems to me, you understand morality as "natural" in the same sense as Abraham Lincoln who said "When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That's my religion."

          Ownership is a strange concept. Most frequently, it is linked with control. Philosophically, we do not own or control anything - even our own body. I think that rights are a matter of belief. Faith, if this word does not scare you. I think, the sense of justice is irrational, emotional and subconscious - impossible to explain logically. We can leave it at that.
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        Jun 20 2013: something being part of nature does not imply consciousness or intention on part of nature. the world is full of spiral galaxies. we can't say though that nature has a sense of aesthetics, and it likes spirals. those spirals are just epiphenomena of simpler laws of physics. rights are similarly epiphenomena of the same physics combined with human traits. life forms with different traits might have different rights. for example a bee-hive like imaginary intelligent life form might lack the concept of the "individual", therefore property rights apply to hives.

        ownership is the right to control. it does not imply actual ability. for example if i'm in the office, i can't control my fridge at home. but i still own it. i guy in jail does not lose ownership of his stuff. just temporarily can't access his property. rights are always in the "ought to" domain, not in the "is" domain.
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        Jun 20 2013: "How do you know that nonaggression is moral?"

        i don't know. moral is not something you can derive from observations. some people attempted to logically derive the nonaggression principle as the only valid moral code. i think they are failed, and i also think that it is not possible. we have to *assert* that it is the good way to go. i'm trying to show why it is good. i can also show what certain counterarguments mean or what follows from them. if you dig deep enough, all other moral systems lead to either self contradiction or very ugly logical consequences we usually don't agree with.

        "You can't say that humans are non-aggressive by nature"

        i also cannot say that people don't rape. yet, i say that rape is immoral. natural law does not mean it is respected in pre-industrial societies. it only means it should have been. because natural law does not have a source, other than reality itself. one can not decide that murder is not immoral. it is not up to decision. your right for your body comes from the reality of the universe. if you are a slave in ancient rome, your right to your body is violated.
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          Jun 20 2013: Just to add a little more clarity to the morality issue, not that I disagree.

          The definition of morality is what is agreed to by a culture. This clouds the subject because what is real to one culture is not to another. E.G. in a mafia run Sicilian culture it might be immoral to not kill someone, or in a Nazi culture it is immoral not to execute a Jew, or in a Sharia culture and it is immoral to not kill an infidel.

          A more workable benchmark on this subject is survival which translates beyond your own survival. A person survives through others. It would be shortsighted to think that you only survive for your own benefit.

          This allows a person to gauge whether something creates more survival for all involved or not.
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          Jun 21 2013: Re: "i don't know. moral is not something you can derive from observations. some people attempted to logically derive the nonaggression principle as the only valid moral code. i think they are failed, and i also think that it is not possible. we have to *assert* that it is the good way to go."

          So, does it mean that you agree with my thesis that for rights to exist, we must a) claim them (assert or declare) and b) defend them or have some sort of physical or legal guarantee.

          I understand "self-evident" in the Declaration of Independence as something that provides evidence for itself. At the time when the Declaration was made, there was no such evidence. But all subsequent history shows that a system built on this principle is good and stable.

          But the first step is not based on evidence, it's based on faith, an irrational moral belief which later "proves itself". You seem to agree that moral principles do not follow from evidence or logic, don't you?
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          Jun 21 2013: @Pat re: "The definition of morality is what is agreed to by a culture. "

          This, actually, is the subject of this debate. See Krisztian's post earlier in this thread: "moral can not dependent on culture. moral must be absolute. if something is not absolute, it can not be a moral statement."
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          Jun 21 2013: Arkady

          Yes I know but the definition that Krisztián is using is not the same as morality in the typical sense, which is the agreed upon by the culture sense.

          The definition that Krisztián is using is akin to a definition of survival which is absolute.
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          Jun 21 2013: Krisztian,

          How about using "self" as an absolute yardstick to measure morality?

          I think, "self" is a powerful concept. Any moral statement can be easily tested for hypocrisy by applying it to the person who is making the statement:

          If someone who advocates openness, keeps and protects any secrets, it's hypocrisy. This seems to correlate with the "golden rule" - "do unto others...". It's absolute and relative at the same time. It's absolute in a sense that this rule works the same way for everyone. But it's relative to the individual or society.

          See my conversation with Pabitra on secrecy: the reasons why we keep things secret are the same for everyone (shame, guilt, fear), but things that we choose to keep secret are different for everyone.

          I think, the source of morals and rights is, simply, our own consciousness - ability for self-reflection - seeing ourselves in other people and nature.
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          Jun 21 2013: I'd say, to be moral, we need to be self-consistent - "practice what we preach".

          Consider the self-referring statement: "This statement is true." It's self-consistent: if it's true, it's true; if it's false, it's false. "it is as you say" - whatever you believe about this statement, is true. It is "true to itself".

          Now, consider a self-contradiction: "This statement is false". If it's true, then it's false; if it's false, then it's true. It cannot make up it's mind - constant doubt, hesitation, and uncertainty. The statement lies about itself.

          In a similar way, when someone preaches to give away your last shirt while keeping a full wardrobe of shirts, it's immoral. But when it's coming from a Christ-like person who is ready to die for his neighbor, it's moral. This is why, I think, the Crucifix is considered the ultimate proof of Christ's morality. Many people say, Jesus could prove that he is God by saving himself from dying on the cross. I think, it's exactly the opposite. By saving himself, he would only prove his hypocrisy. Also, note that whenever Jesus was questioned about his identity - by his disciples or by Pilate, he always asked back "what do you think?" and "it is as you say".

          I don't mean to proselytize - just reflecting on my understanding of the topic. I, personally, rarely practice what I preach. I'm a hypocrite. Although, I advocate openness, I don't like people snooping on me.
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        Jun 20 2013: do you have a patriot act in your country? do you have access to wikipedia in your country?
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        Jun 20 2013: constitution is not the source of any rights. it is written by man. it can be wrong. it is nothing but a snapshot of what its creators believed to be right at that time. if the best you can do is to bring a piece of paper to a debate about moral, you better look for some other ways of entertainment for yourself.

        the wikipedia reference pretty much makes sense, but it seems to be beyond your understanding.
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        Jun 20 2013: the logical step from "i don't think X is a right" to "you don't stand up for your right" is so broken, it boggles the mind. especially that just some pages above, i've engaged in a lengthy conversation about rights.

        according to your definition, slavery was a moral institution, just as witch hunting, mass murder or even the holocaust. it is also unclear how could any society develop, if moral is what currently exists. thus any call for change is by definition immoral.

        it is kind of a pity that you derive moral from written code and peer approval. think about it.
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        Jun 20 2013: so you refused to think about it. never mind.

        and you still failed to understand that in my view, privacy is not a right. neither natural, nor "unalienable", whatever that buzzword supposed to represent. it is not that difficult. from now on in this conversation, if i don't reply, it means "you did not bring anything new".
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        Jun 20 2013: i'm out of ideas here. can anyone help me out, and try to explain this guy what i'm saying, phrased in a way that he understands?
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          Jun 20 2013: Since you asked....

          Do you really want to understand each other? Or do you simply want to argue?
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          Jun 20 2013: Talking to Lamar is like talking to a parrot, I refuse to do it.

          At the other end of the spectrum I can disagree with someone like Arkady and actually have a debate or a Socratic type learning moment. But this is rare.
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          Jun 20 2013: Don't flatter yourself LaMar.
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          Jun 20 2013: @LaMar,
          Understanding can happen much better when one genuinely listens and participates respectfully.

          I do not agree that you are "always happy to debate people that can be respectful". I joined in the very first conversation you started on TED LaMar, and because I did not agree with you, you called me a troll and ordered me to leave the conversation. You seem to like to argue, which I continue to observe in most of your conversations.

          You say..."I have tore his opinion debates apart many times....".

          A person who seems proud to have "torn" everyone apart, doesn't seem very secure in himself. Perhaps there are several lessons to learn from this debate.

          Re: comment below.

          I am always honest LaMar. No, I am not "queen of TED" LaMar. TED is a community of people LaMar, and in case you have not noticed yet, it is an open, public forum where ALL community members have a right to comment. I am not crazy LaMar.
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          Jun 20 2013: Guys, I think this is one of those chicken-egg discussions which seems to trend towards discussing each other rather than the ideas.

          Any debate must focus on seeking common ground rather than discussing differences. If common ground cannot be found - just leave it at that. There is no need to discuss personalities.

          But I do see common ground in your opinions. U.S. constitution and the rights declared therein exists by virtue of Declaration of Independence which, in particular, says: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

          This passage has multiple implications:

          1. It states that humans have "unalienable rights" (LaMar's point). Some say "from Creator", some say "from nature" - I don't see the difference. This seems to support Krisztian's point of "natural origins" of our rights and that nature does not guarantee basic needs and survival for all - "pursuit of happiness", not "happiness itself".

          2. It implies that moral beliefs are "self-evident" and do not require any evidence refuting the popular stereotype used by atheists.

          3. It declares that government is supposed to protect these rights. This resembles the legal structure of a trust with the people as grantor, government as trustee, and future generations as beneficiary.

          4. Which, of course, promotes corporatism: government is a corporation.

          5. It approves disobedience to government (anarchy)
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        Jun 20 2013: if you can guess my age with 10% error margin, i'll send you a book as gift. also, discussing the personality or age of the opponent in a debate is ... rather uneducated.
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        Jun 20 2013: "He is young"

        "I am not here to play guessing games"

        oh. i see.
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        Jun 20 2013: yet you continued like 15 minutes later. it is not the problem. the problem is that you are a self indulgent bully. your complete lack of understanding prevents you from understanding your own limits, and this gives you self confidence. if you had to pay five dollars for every points i have raised, and you did not even attempt to reply to, i would already be a rich man, and you would be bankrupt. your presence benefits nobody.
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        Jun 20 2013: this is really the last time, then you have to send the money over

        you: Morals are what a society determines is the rules for their society
        me: according to your definition, slavery was a moral institution

        now it is time for you to answer. you are not only an aggressive bully, but also boring
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        Jun 20 2013: you will come back. bullies don't just go away. it is not in their nature. plus you owe me 5 dollars.
  • Jun 17 2013: You have a right to the degree of privacy you choose for yourself.
    It should not be violated.
    You have a right to how much of your privacy you choose to share with others.
    The rest is no one elses business.
    No privacy or secrecy will ever work until we stop judging one another, killing one another, demonizing one another.
    ostracizing one another and generally condemning one another so that the only place one can find safety is in the dark
    because coming out of the dark will be torture, crucifixion, humiliation, incarceration and many times death.
    This means we must love one another no matter what.
    Since we have and live in unjust systems, we must destroy those systems and create new ones that are just,
    not ones based or founded upon thriving on corruption, greed, crime, slavery, inequality, poverty, war and death.
    The people who profit off those, are those who currently are seeking privacy and secrecy and outlawing the citizens right to know. Why are we discussing these issues when those in power abuse them and have people talking about and worried about the few who abuse them the least?

    Please keep in mind those who believe the BS about terrorism and not only don't forget, but heed the words spoken by the person who murdered the soldier in England recently.
    He said, "leave us alone." Why is that so hard to understand and why won't people stay out of other peoples countries where they steal their resources, undermine their cultures, impoverish and enslave their people then go around saying, "we do a lot of good in the world." Since when?
    It is a totally bogus argument that if you have nothing to hide, then you won't mind loosing privacy.
    Yet again, those who keep on telling you this, want more privacy and secrecy for themselves when their "public office" was originally based upon transparency.
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      Jun 18 2013: Hi, Random Chance,

      Re: "No privacy or secrecy will ever work until we stop judging one another, killing one another, demonizing one another, ostracizing one another and generally condemning one another so that the only place one can find safety is in the dark because coming out of the dark will be torture, crucifixion, humiliation, incarceration and many times death."

      This is very well said: "until WE stop". We do these things to ourselves when we do them to others. But doesn't this mean that we need to stop demonizing the government, the rich, and the terrorists? When people condemn corruption, greed, crime, slavery, they rarely condemn themselves. These vices are, usually, implied in others. But isn't that the "demonizing" and "condemning" that you condemn? I have noticed that, as we condemn vices in others, those very same vices find the way into our back door. This is how we start killing thousands of civilians in foreign countries with drones "fighting terrorism" and then, destroy our own civil liberty denying due process to people who commit acts of terror.

      But now, how far shall we go in "leave us alone" policy? E.g. when I see a man beating his wife, shall I consider it "their private business"? Are the neighbors of Mr. Castro who held 3 women captive for over a decade justified in "respecting his privacy"? Shall we watch a government regime using chemical weapons against its own people lest we intrude into the internal affairs of a foreign country? But, on the other hand, who appointed us to be judges over other people and nations?

      Tough questions...
      • Jun 18 2013: Arkady.
        Yes, you are right.
        The best way is not to condemn, judge, or demonize.
        However, it really does feel to me that the best chance to travel down that road,
        is for those who are breaking or changing good laws, solely for their benefit,
        to stop.
        If we stop pointing fingers, we still need them to stop.
        Their safety needs to be assured but they still need to stop.
        That is why I keep talking about an "unjust system".
        It is the system we must demonize, dismantle, change and so on.
        But as long as we keep it, don't fight to destroy it, then our system will continue
        to run on corruption, greed, crime and so on, and those in control or at the top,
        will want to remain there.
        And in so doing, they are making a clear statement, they don't want peace, except for themselves.
        They are like those who extoll the virtues of slavery, but are not willing to be a slave themselves.

        Unless they are willing to stop, it will only grow worse, more Fascist and on and on.
        What do you do? Call it as it really is, or sugar-coat the truth?
        Today, most Americans don't want the truth.
        They worship lies and can no longer discern the truth.
        If they do,
        they are unable to act upon it.
        That's pretty bad.
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      Jun 28 2013: Lamar,

      Re: "Can you survive without privacy?"

      Let's take an analogy with nature. How do animals survive? It seems to depend on the animal and the kind of threat the animal is trying to avoid. Some animals hide from predators. Some predators need to be stealthy to catch pray. But some animals survive by wearing bright colors to warn predators that they are poisonous. Others mimic those bright colors so that predators think they are poisonous whereas they are not. Some animals are big and strong - they don't care. Hippos or elephants, for example.

      So, if we defend ourselves from theft, we don't want to expose much about ourselves. But if we defend ourselves from violence, we might want to carry a big stick around for everyone to see.

      And if a society is free from theft and violence, there seems to be nothing to protect ourselves from. So, reasons to keep many things private would disappear. Some other reasons would stay - e.g. business competition.

      Private information CAN be used against us. But whether it WILL be used against us is a different question. And whether WE KNOW how it will be used is also a factor (trust and familiarity).

      Privacy is often given away not only for security, but also for convenience. I believe, this is the main reason people give away their privacy these days. E.g. it's convenient to log into different web sites using Google or Facebook account. It's convenient to know where your family members or friends are or share photos with large groups of people, so people share information online. Sometimes it even HELPS survival (e.g. with people with mental or health issues).

      In other cases, people exchange privacy for money - allow auto insurance companies to install tracking devices in exchange for lower premiums or buy membership in stores allowing them to track their purchasing habits in exchange for bonus points.

      Survival is far from being the only factor.
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          Jun 28 2013: Lamar,

          But in most of these examples, people GIVE UP their privacy instead of protecting it. Which means, in some situations, privacy is counterproductive for survival: if a hiker wants to be found in case of emergency, he'd better let everyone know where he is. But if you go into the woods to hide from some sort of persecution, you don't want anyone to know where you are.

          Perhaps, we rethink privacy so much these days because our understanding of "what we need for survival" changes every day. Given your lifestyle, I'm a little bit surprised that you advocate that we need all bells and whistles for our survival. 200 years ago, people lived without electricity, automobiles, paved roads, railroads, radio, TV, computers, Internet, telephone. On the other hand, it would be unimaginable to support 7bln. population on Earth back then. It boggles my mind that Earth population doubled in my lifetime.

          How our "needs" come into existence is mysterious. Before TV was invented, people would not think they need one. Once it's there, people cannot live without it. Remember this video that was popular when iPad was announced?

          In retrospective, it's interesting to see what people viewed as "necessary" or "desired". But, really, do we need all this stuff for survival?

          For survival, we need to adjust to our environment - that's true. Environment is changing, so, what we need for survival is also changing. There is natural environment and there is social/cultural/economic environment. In our attempts to adjust to the changing environment, we change our environment, and then we have to adjust to the adjustments we made. This is how it goes, it seems. Circular reasoning - again.
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          Jun 28 2013: Completely agree. Perhaps, many people would not object to Prism, but many others would. It shouldn't have been forced onto people without disclosure. Then people may choose whether and how they want to use Internet and social media.

          On the other hand, there is this obscure line in privacy notices saying that the company may disclose information as required by the law. Now, there are PATRIOT and FISA acts which, most likely make Prism legal in one sense or the other. You said that we express our consent to be governed through voting. People did not vote on PATRIOT act directly, but their elected representatives did. Wouldn't that mean that people DID indirectly vote for Prism when they trusted representatives to enact laws like FISA and PATRIOT act?

          Do you see the fundamental problem with democracy here? We deem that it's "for the people, by the people" but when we find out that it's not for "us", but for some other people (who are, nevertheless, a part of this society), we object and protest.
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          Jun 28 2013: Yes, it will be very interesting. And things ARE moving. DOMA was struck down as unconstitutional. I view it as a huge step forward for human rights. I wonder if this will happen to PATRIOT act any time soon. I think, it should.
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    Jun 28 2013: In general, I believe we need privacy. Whether or not we have a right to it at any given moment depends on the situation.

    To me, privacy has much to do with security and vulnerability. The following talk does a good job of addressing these issues.

    And for those that like to share...
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    Jun 25 2013: This thread is about the darkest sides of our personalities.

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    Jun 23 2013: Hi Arkady,

    I think there is a component of privacy that is a primary need.
    That component determines the very basis of the individual.

    Just what is it that individuals find threatening when they are surveiled?

    We can approach it this way:

    A self is not a self if it does not have the capacity to act for sufficient self advantage (survival).

    In the absence of privacy, one's advantage is constrained to the advantage of the most dominant entity.
    Thus, surveillance destroys all selves except the dominant entity.

    Those who are surveiled become tools of the dominant entity and totally lose any self-ness as their self becomes entrained to the advantage of the dominant entity.

    There is a big difference between a tool, and a self. It is this aspect which is the fundamental threat.

    The dominant entity can not be trusted to respect the advantage of the individual.

    It's different in close social settings - we learn to trust each other and support each other's right to act for survival.
    If the dominant entity is beyond the close social setting it is a massive threat - both to survival and self-ness.

    So .. in this regard, the word "privacy" is far to general to support the analysis - it needs to be divided into close social and broad general settings.

    So perhaps we should talk about surveillance as violation of trust rather than intrusion of privacy?
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      Jun 24 2013: I also think that privacy and security are issues of trust. I've heard that in some countries, in some towns, people never lock their doors, because theft is so rare. But, perhaps, people still would not like strangers snooping in their homes. Some people put all their private life online, but, perhaps, they would be still upset to find out that someone is secretly collecting their information.

      Voluntary disclosure of personal information is different from government collecting the same information secretly or forcing people to disclose it. It feels like theft or robbery. Perhaps, my attitude towards it is same as my attitude towards government entitlement programs - I support voluntary charity, but I believe, taking money by force from one group of people for the benefit of another group is not right. It also is similar to robbery.
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          Jun 24 2013: Hi Lamar,

          I totally understand your stance in this.

          But the thing we all get fooled by is this notion that humanity can cope with great numbers in our society - as I observe, we simply haven't a clue .. so we abstract.

          And the instant we abstract, we lose it.

          I simply do not believe that humans have the physical brain capacity to truly understand a social group more than about 200 individuals.

          So if we talk about abstracts of fairness or compassion, we lose the reality of what these words actually mean . and this leaves us vulnerable to those who have learned how to derive advantage through our failure to see the flaw.

          I do not lock my house because I live in a small community - although we are sundered by the general social paradigm, we all understand that we each can damage each other about the same - so a simple complaint is powerful. Our only enemy is the blow-through stranger - and .. mostly, it is only those who live within walking distance of the highway, supermarket or railway station who lock things.

          Some of my neighbours are retirees from the city - they make their complaints via the police - but they get soon educated how the power over the fence is not what it is in the city - I can hurt them beyond their wildest dreams - but I am not as murderous as I could be .. they will learn.
          I go to folk music festivals where a tribal town erupts for a weekend or a week - and I do not lock anything - I have never been robbed - because community does not rob.
          My friends say - be careful .. and I say - are you here? Or are you yet to arrive? I have one friend who takes care of violence - he does it in the community, and he is the gentlest man I know.

          We are in a dream - we have lost our tribe. But it is right there. If you look, you will find it at your side .. it never left. It is not the savage that was told to us - civilisation is a lie.
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          Jun 24 2013: LaMar,

          The problem with all things "general" is that everyone has everyone has their own idea of what "general" is. It's not up to the government to decide what people may benefit from. It's up to the people. Providing benefits to selected groups of people at the expense of other groups of people does not seem like "general welfare" to me. It feels more like social manipulation. It's not done for "general welfare". It's done to gain the votes of those who benefit. And if I benefit from plunder, it does not make plunder moral.

          You quote Article I Section 8. It explicitly lists the powers of the federal government. They are, mostly, related to regulating currency and foreign affairs. But these days, feds feel free to meddle in every single aspect of society down to reading personal emails of U.S. citizens lest they commit acts of terrorism. If you support that model, how come you don't support Walmart?

          Arguably, Prism promotes "general welfare". Don't you think so?

          Yes, I use public parks and libraries, but, as Mitch mentions, these things are much better managed on a local level, from voluntary donations from citizens and local businesses, and from fees for, actually, using the services. It's a strange idea that someone in Washington D.C. can decide what's best for a community in Beaverton, OR.

          It's a lot better when needy people are taken care of by their neighbors instead of federal government. When federal government takes money from neighbors to give it to the ones it considers "needy", it kills charity.
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        Jun 24 2013: @Arkady,

        We have empowered meta entities that exceed our perception. This is a big problem.

        If a community behaves as the default that is what our species found to be the way to survive, then we will survive.

        If we go beyond that, then we must become another species or go extinct.

        The values of a default human tribe are not applicable to any larger congregation of humans.

        it works this way:

        In a default tribe, each member has the physical brain capacity to track every other member from the small family group to the extended tribal population - about 200 individuals.

        This is an exceptional skill because one cannot simply track the other individuals, but also track the Cartesian join between them - this is called the theory of mind - that we not only know each other, but what is known by each other about each other .. it's recursive to the limit of our grey-matter.
        A really stupid human can know what his friend thinks about his other friend, but a truly intelligent person knows what a friend thinks about another friend's thoughts about yet another .. and so on.
        This Cartesian network is the great power of humans - it makes our brains so large that our mothers often die getting that big cranium out of the birth channel. But if mother and child survive - they will do very well, even though the child will not actually become a viable mammal in it's own right until it is 7 years old - or older. That's a long time to be a foetus.

        What we talk about as trust, rights and entitlements are the default functioning parameters of a human tribe. If they are violated - then survival will end. If we do that abstraction as a species - that is extinction.

        We are not talking politics .. we are talking biology.
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        Jun 24 2013: It might help to have a look at this talk .. Ralston Saul is trying to "get at it".
        He's got a lot of the symptomatic stuff worked out, but either hasn't gotten to the biological simplicity, or is too afraid to reveal it.
        (watch both parts)

        He's very eloquent and deals with privacy in the talk (amongst a good many other things).

        So that makes him an acceptable place to start.

        I have no such qualms - I have nothing to lose - i hold no hope for humanity as it stands and look forward to seeing it disappear - thus I don't care who I offend. Because the truth is too late - it's all over anyway.

        The only hope I hold is that if any humans survive - they will have the default biological tribe which needs no history or ideology or economy - it will work if it is allowed to work and if there are a couple of dozen breeding pairs left in any particular viable zone.

        And If no such survival happens - that does not matter either - the universe will start up some other thing at some other time at some other place .. and I like that - it is the only sane hope for any lifeform anywhere..
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          Jun 24 2013: Re: "Article 1 Section 8 very clearly includes that one of those responsibilities is to provide for the general welfare."

          I think, this is where the golden rule of morality fails. "Do to others as you would have them do to you." It assumes that what is good for me is good for my neighbor. And we tend to make this assumption when we define "general welfare". It may work on a local level, as Mitch indicates, but it fails on national and global scale. In some locations people suffer from droughts, in other from floods. Nationwide standards on storm water management system and water supply just does not make sense. Some things need to be decided at the national level (foreign affairs, defense, currency), some are best left to states, cities, communities, and individuals. It takes a lot of wisdom to discern between these issues.

          I'm cautious to accept "general" statements one way or the other.
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          Jun 24 2013: Re: "Did you use student loans and grants that my and other citizens taxes paid for?"

          I have not paid a dime for my higher education. But I doubt you would like the system that allowed me to do that. I got my bachelor's degree in Soviet Ukraine. We had a mandatory course called "History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union". Every classroom had a portrait of Lenin above the blackboard. You could get into trouble discussing the advantages of the free-market system. Condemning was OK. But opinions diverging from the official position were not welcomed. I served 2 mandatory years in the military. I didn't do it for any benefits. It was an "honorable duty". Intellectuals - scientists, professors, engineers, were, sometimes, paid less than machine operators and manual labor workers. Equality and hegemony of proletariat. You tell me if it was "general welfare" or "general misery".

          Here, in the U.S., I got a second graduate degree. I had a tuition waiver and was paid research assistance. It was funded from a DARPA contract and some of the research was done for private corporations. The government and corporations paid for the research done by students a fraction of what they might pay for a similar research done by scientists in their own labs. My kids go to public schools. And I do pay state and property taxes on top of federal taxes.

          I'm ready to admit my own hypocrisy. I do benefit from the system. This is why I do not fully embrace Pat's ideology. But, as I said, the fact that we benefit from plunder does not make the plunder moral. It's up to you to judge whether the free education I got in Ukraine justifies the system that provided it.

          You can't generalize these things and judge others based on your experience and background. If you were oppressed by corporations, you wouldn't support libertarian agenda. But Krisztian in Hungary and I in Ukraine may have totally different experience with socialism.
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          Jun 24 2013: We live in an interesting age. Generations who witnessed Nazism and Communism are passing away. The generations of young people driving the social movements such as the ones in Turkey, Brazil, and Europe, have no direct experience of living under these oppressive regimes just as the revolutionaries in Russia at the beginning of the XX century have not witnessed the guillotine mass executions that took place a hundred years before that in France. Some of the ideas bounce back and the history seems to repeat itself every 3-4 generations.

          Just as Mitch mentioned that people have hard time perceiving social trends beyond their local communities, they also have hard time perceiving social trends beyond the life span of 3-4 generations that live simultaneously.
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          Jun 25 2013: Compliance with law is NOT voluntary. There is no way to withdraw the "consent".

          Libertarianism and Liberalism are different things.

          Plunder and taxation both mean seizing property by force. The word we use reflects the attitude, not the substance. Perhaps, "plunder" makes it a bit too emotionally charged.
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          Jun 25 2013: I am not against socialism or capitalism. Both can be very oppressive in their extremes. A healthy balance must be maintained. Decisions must be made case-by-case. Arguments about what is better in general are meaningless. Chicken-egg arguments can only be resolved when we talk about a specific chicken and a specific egg.
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        Jun 23 2013: Hi Time Traveler,

        I see you're addressing some of the issues of surveillance mentioned in a different comment that I reacted to, but I'll allow myself to reiterate as it can add to the discussion:

        As you say - "Privacy, if it is in terms to the greater good of society or to an individual, in my opinion does as such warrant intervention." - I agree, but the analysis and means of intervention should be well thought-out to prevent the following AI mistakes:

        Quote (again, sorry, not trying to spam or anything) "We learn of the case of a French man whose home was raided and who still remains on a terrorist watch list eight years later because algorithms in software analysing his movements determined he spent too much time looking at his surroundings..."

        You're also mentioning isolation as being a symptom of being afflicted. I'll juxtapose this with the following: writers, poets, painters, scientists, inventors, philosophers, musicians all needed their isolation to have mental space to be able to think and/or create. Had anyone considered Mozart, Newton, Plato to be afflicted and in need of intervention we would probably would not be able to enjoy their work and we would know less about the world today.

        You may also see these powerful, insightful and thought-provoking talks, much related to the contents of your comment:

        I'm pasting those links partly to respond, partly because I cannot, in any way possible, put the speakers above, or the contents or the talks above, into a basket labelled "atrocious behaviours", as you did.

        And welcome to TED (I really shouldn't have said that, I've been here for less than 6 months, but I do enjoy the dialogue :-)).
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          Jun 24 2013: Thanks Anna for your welcome and for your thoughts. I was careful to temper my remarks in order to frame a view that would not marginalise the innocents and so worded my thoughts accordingly.

          To expand upon my general thrust of the concept, it is more to do with working smarter and utilising technology more effectively.

          Youth suicide is a real and genuine societal concern, by way of one example.No doubt there would be statistically typified behaviours that are by and large common to this particular group and dare I say part of these would also be reflected in the online digital world (FB posts etc).

          If AI triggers (human instigated perhaps) were put into play when a code red typical type behaviour had been triggered, then perhaps a system could be devised with the help of professionals like psychologists who could then enable a rehabilative/help path for the sufferer.
          I don't pretend to have all the answers, however, I'd suggest perhaps some sort of covert online counselling sessions whether they be via online (random chat) or posts/links to beneficial sites/messages/pictures etc could be displayed on their web surfed pages, or in/on their posts!

          Solitude is a good thing and we all need it from time to time and as you highlighted Anna, some may need it more than others. However it is when things are very wrong, as in criminally or in a self harm sort of way that I believe technology can be better utilised for the greater good.

          Notwithstanding, no system is going to be perfect and no doubt there would be those wrongly caught up in the processes potentially, however as long as there is a much bigger benefit for having done it, then surely it is worth considering.

          Without knowing all the facts re the French national wrongly accused as a terrorist, we do not know how many the same system had uncovered who were and then as a consequence, how much death, destruction and human misery had accordingly been averted! : D
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        Jun 25 2013: "Without knowing all the facts re the French national wrongly accused as a terrorist, we do not know how many the same system had uncovered who were and then as a consequence, how much death, destruction and human misery had accordingly been averted! : D"

        Yes, that's true. But such cases also mean that the system should be perfected. You can get the same discussion on belts in cars, airbags and so on - they can save you from hitting your head hard but can actually be dangerous in certain cases, that is why they need constant development and perfecting. This should be based on experience - carefully recording all the mistakes, analysing them to prevent them from happening in the future while keeping in mind that the goal is to help people, not only the car users in this case but everybody (as virtually everybody is observed by somebody while out there or on the web - security cameras are everywhere, companies record clicks and visits, the big brother IS watching, as we all here know well.)
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          Jun 25 2013: Yes Anna, this the key to enhancing humanity via technological advances. It is why I had made reference to conducting activities in a global knights of the round table kind of way, incorporating a moralistic and honourable code of conduct!

          We all should learn from our mistakes and then consequently avoid repeating them! It is in this way that mankind can help those that need it the most without standing on the toes of the innocent, learn more about human interactions and our complicated species. : D
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      Jun 23 2013: I've just stumbled upon this short post, addresses some of the things you are proposing in a way:

      Surveillance can indeed help in tracking down criminal activity, but tracking down is one thing, identifying intention is another.

      QUOTE (about a documentary): "We learn of the case of a French man whose home was raided and who still remains on a terrorist watch list eight years later because algorithms in software analysing his movements determined he spent too much time looking at his surroundings..."
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          Jun 23 2013: Hi again,

          I've just posted another comment on this, but let me post this too, just to clarify what I meant by personality - I meant being strong and having opinions and defending them. Having a 'gut'. In my view, most people that participate in these conversation have it, otherwise there would be no conversations and no posts.

          First impressions made when it comes to a person, if not validated by experience and dialogue, remain what they are, just first impressions, that tend to be superficial and, well, personal and often wrong. I focus on what the person is saying, trying to show or point out and filter out unnecessary distractions such as preconceptions about the person. I must say that it ails me that people focus on their impressions instead of what I am saying at times, but I can deal with that (if it doesn't get too ugly or to the point where rules/laws are broken) as I think that thinking, learning and discussing should not be about rearranging previous preconceptions, but getting new knowledge. Knowledge not necessarily about people, but generally.

          Please see my other comments as well.

          I could ramble/expand on this forever, but that's not the topic of the discussion :)

          Back to NSA/privacy :)
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          Jun 24 2013: Agreed, with some more comments, not completely irrelevant to the topic (privacy and if we really need it):

          - I do not think people post on TED because they feel sorry for themselves.
          - I am warned about others being unsympathetic but, since this is not necessarily a support group, but a forum for discussion, do not worry about my liking, their liking, giving me feedback to ... and so on, I've made my point, I believe. Challenge and food for thought may not be liked in the beginning, defending oneself against food for thought/challenge/new information is no way to go. Sometimes going 'hmmm' might be enough, sometimes not.
          - I've seen and heard my fair share of things as well
          - I respect people because they are people, I respect them even more if they know that, although they're people, they're still animals, and that they can move beyond both if they try and use the frontal lobe for something more than just themselves and their groups/interests. You don't have to agree.
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          Jun 24 2013: Re: "I expect to earn my respect and respect does not mean you agree with the person but that the person has demonstrated they have a reasonableness for having that opinion."

          When I disagree with someone, chances are, I simply misunderstood the person. Very often, when I ask an additional question or two, I may see the point and, actually, agree with the person or get another perspective on the subject. But if my first reaction is derogatory, I simply get the same in response and never get a chance to find out the rationale behind the other person's opinion. At other times, I realize that the discussion regresses into a chicken-egg argument. That's usually a sign to stop.
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    Jun 22 2013: The toilet is where people might expect privacy, instead the lack of public toilets is an expensive problem for India.

    New Delhi: 3,712 public toilets for men and only 269 for women in the national capital.

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        Jun 22 2013: This happened to me the other day, the lifeguard caught me peeing in the pool, he yelled at me so loud I almost fell in.
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        Jun 23 2013: Re: "This issue would make a great TED talk."

        Think of a TED talk and the TED talk is here:
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          Jun 23 2013: Arkady, yes, I had forgotten this great talk.

          What I do not understand is, it is easy to dig a hole, do your thing and cover it.

          I have friends who live in Nova Scotia. They do not have a toilet inside the home, so.........they dig a nice deep hole and use it for a while, then they cover it up and go and dig somewhere else......they do not deficate wherever they please.

          Do you think that perhaps they just are not educated on the dangers of inadequate sanitation? How difficult is it to build a latrine?

          I just cannot wrap my mind around this seeming negligence.....and pure abandonement of good hygiene.
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          Jun 23 2013: LaMar, I will have to read up on this.
          The idea of swimming in other people's urine....bleach or no kind of nasty.

          What if the pool is not beeing cleaned properly to begin with?

          And, also, what if someone has some sort of bacterial infection in their body, the urine will still come out sterile?

          I know feces carry alot of disease and bacteria.......I have major issues with people walking their dogs and not cleaning up after them.....around here it has become the norm.
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          Jun 23 2013: Lamar do you pee in the pool also?

          We call our little dog Teeny, cause he's the teeniest.
          We call our big dog Meany, cause he's the meaniest.
          And we call the last dog Liberace, cause he's the peein'est

          Note to self must get over this fixation with urination, it is not sophisticated, which is contrary to my personal goal of being sophisticated like Lamar.
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          Jun 23 2013: LaMar thank you so much for this information.
          I'm still going to read up on summer is here.....and well.....pool parties abound.
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        Jun 23 2013: You know. I hope that somehow, this situation improves in India.

        Now, look at this.....does the same rule apply here?

        I am researching the topic......
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        Jun 23 2013: Here is an article that kind of expresses my cocern....that of chlorine balance and PH balance.
        I like the counsel they give at the end.

        I see that you are correct LaMar......urine is not that big a deal.
        But in a neglected pool, it becomes an issue.

        I am sorry Arkady for chasing a rabbit all the way to the pool.

        I'll come back and erase the comments if you want me to.

        [edited....copy/pasted wrong article]
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          Jun 23 2013: This subject is, perhaps, not so much about privacy as it is about hygiene. E.g. when my kids were little, we carried a potty in our minivan and preferred to use it in some remote spot on a large parking lot rather than having the kids use a public restroom.

          Hand washing wasn't a norm just a couple centuries ago and Europe had to go through plague epidemic to stop dumping waste into streets from windows.

          I'm not sure if learning about all the things we can die from is of much help to our well-being. One may be a germophobe and die in a car accident. I have a somewhat existentialistic view on these issues. Not that I think that we don't need to wash hands and clean pools, but I tend not to be obsessed by these things. Sometimes, if we have to go, we have to go. :-)
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    Jun 22 2013: Here is an interesting illustrated guide to how Google tracking works

    But this is more interesting:

    This means that on Google we get "more of the same" - sites that we don't like are pushed down to the bottom of our search list. Not a good way to get objective information.

    And here are ways to fix tracking:

    Interesting how things develop. Some Linux distributions, after the NSA scandal have promptly removed Google from the list of default searches in Firefox replacing Google with a search engine called DuckDuckGo

    It doesn't seem to track the clicks. On Google search results page, each link appears as a complicated code. On it's a simple html tag.
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      Jun 22 2013: It seems like duckduckgo engine has a strong potential for trust among public raging against scandals:

      That doesn't mean other engines cannot be trusted, depends on what type of security/secrecy/privacy an end-user is looking for or interested in. I've recently read that the fact that Google searches are kept may actually uncover abuse. The case was this: abusive parents googled for a plausible explanation of their child's bruises/other forms of health issues merely to lie to healthcare employees more effectively and escape responsibility. Had those searches been deleted, the child would still be at risk. There are a lot of facets and things to be considered here.

      Thanks for sharing. It is very interesting how things develop, I agree... What's next?
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      Jun 22 2013: Perhaps, the feeling of danger and threat is rather imaginary than real. Bad things happen, no doubt. But they happen to very few people out of millions. Yet, it's those stories that make it to the news creating an illusion of wide-spread problems. I don't know. May be, I'm downplaying it.
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        Jun 22 2013: It's true that it's the most drastic stories that make the headlines but how the media works has other issues and potential problems, especially in the world of new media. I see you posted an interesting comment about tracking so I'll refrain from expanding this further.

        Actually, when it comes to mechanics around google searches and other changes in the media (e.g. battle between Beta and VHS some decades ago) - this was no secret before. There were even long and comprehensive tv documentaries made on this, widely available to the public. Maybe the public was not that interested because of the drastic headlines. This is understandable.
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          Jun 22 2013: It does seem that societies across the world and within countries became more polarized - democrats vs. republicans, atheists vs. believers, rich vs. poor.

          More and more people rely on the Internet for information these days. May be, "the bubbling effect" described in is the reason. People just don't get exposed to the views they don't like and they have an illusion that the majority thinks as they do and those in opposition are a minority who "just don't get it".

          There is an example of this even in this very thread.
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          Jun 22 2013: Arkady

          I certainly do not feel that on most forums of which TED is no exception.

          Without at least some of this there is no learning
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          Jun 22 2013: @Pat

          Thinking of this bubble effect, the danger of it is that we won't "feel" a thing. But, I guess, this bubbling effect is not unique to online experience. We naturally make choices we like and stay away from new, unfamiliar things which we usually perceive as dangerous. The bubbling in search engines seems to enhance this tendency which may lead to a complete rejection of views opposing our own or even preventing us from being exposed to them. TED is full of open-minded people. But, I'd say, TED is an exceptional on-line forum in this respect.
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          Jun 22 2013: Arkady

          But I do feel constant push back, especially on TED. It comes from the culture the government has produced. On TED it is more subtle you might say it is what is not said, other times it is out front. For me personally I learn from people who challenge me as it makes me verify my reference points, other times I realize they are right, a true thesis antithesis moment, but that is rare because most people don't want the conflict and don't really communicate and so the information never really get evaluated.

          I think open mindedness is a facade that people project. When ever some one tells me that I know they are just the opposite otherwise they would not feel the need to say it in the first place.

          I really think it boils down to a willingness to communicate, this is the benchmark. Not to be confused with constant chatter and an incessant need to be right. But as part of the communication you have to be willing to say I don't want to talk about this otherwise you are allowing them to control you at your expense.
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          Jun 23 2013: @Pat re: " When ever some one tells me that I know they are just the opposite otherwise they would not feel the need to say it in the first place."

          This is a very good observation. Similarly, when someone tells me "trust me", it's a red flag for me.
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          Jun 22 2013: It's just a matter of how much you trust that the government won't use this program against innocent civilians. In case of Prism, my worries are also low. I'm sure, this program complies with FISA, PATRIOT Act, was authorized by FIS court, etc. So, the "outrage" of people in congress seems to be hypocritical and just a publicity stunt.
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        Jun 22 2013: "It does seem that societies across the world and within countries became more polarized - democrats vs. republicans, atheists vs. believers, rich vs. poor."

        The sheer amount of data is so vast nowadays that everybody needs a simplification just to maintain integrity and sanity. Before mass media this natural trend was there as well and still lingers, will probably not disappear any soon. The simplifying trend is to divide between "us" and "them", whatever you put into the us and the them. This may be conscious or not and it takes opennes, will and often fearlessness to liberate oneself from it completely.

        The problem is that putting complete trust in the bubbles without curiosity as to where they come from, how they were started and what they may lead to actually puts you in the us or them again, just in a different, this is stupifying. That is one of the reasons why I'm not a huge fan of the bipartisan system, it always leaves some groups behind. But fear not, I will not say "you just don't get it" if presented with a counterargument.

        I see your point though - customising the world for you by means of analytics may actually strenghten this trend - categorising people by their searches and making some information more visible may limit. Some of this is good but, on the other hand... If I don't like a TV programme, I change the chanel. Changing "the chanel" online is fairly easy but most don't know or care that there actually IS a chanel that they're watching when opening their browser.

        Juan - funny you should mention memes, fairy tales and veracity. Wasn't one of Snowden's nicknames Verax? Doesn't mean anything, just a loose association. He was also described as a 'loser' by one of his colleagues. Another thing that made me smile in your comment is the facebookey 'I like Prism'. Maybe it's time to make a page by that name if it doesn't already exist. That will probably help in breaking some bubbles.
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      Jun 22 2013: You know Juan, your comment, for some reason, made me think of how I have come to view privacy in a new light since technology abounds.

      When I step outside in public, I know that I am no longer guaranteed privacy.

      A friend told me how awhile back at a mall, he witnessed a young man using his cellphone to take videos of different unsuspecting girls as they stood in line at the food court. It was creepy. Those girls were out and about doing their shopping, and did not know they were the objects of some sick-o.

      That story taught me that you just never know who is watching, and taping......I think privacy in longer exists. You need to be careful.
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        Jun 22 2013: Hi Mary,

        I've actually seen the video you mentioned just a couple of hours ago and was one of the things I had in mind when I was writing my comment. One of the thoughts about the mask and alleged secrecy that it gives online was the following - some people will dare share the truth only if given anonymity, or an illusion of it.

        The example that you're giving. Yes, it is sickening. With the easily available technology the peeping, filming Tom could do anything with the videos including destroying the girls' life, online or not, as a result.
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          Jun 22 2013: Hi Anna,

          Wow, how good that you had seen the video.

          I once saw a program that dealt with secrets that affect us in a negative way.
          I remember they recommended writing it down, then burning the paper.
          I have heard this works as well.

          I think that sometimes in life it is easier to talk to strangers about a problem, and share a secret with a stranger, than it is with someone that knows you.

          And, yes, it was sickening to actually hear this experience from my friend.
          I alway repeat the story to others in a hopes of making them aware of the dangers out there. Young women are especially vulnerable. So it is important that they are aware of these peeping techno-Toms.
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          Jun 23 2013: I think, it's been observed a long time ago that people would share more about their lives with a random travel companion on a train than with a friend. People would also more readily listen to an advice coming from a stranger than from a person whom they know: "no prophet is accepted in his hometown".
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        Jun 22 2013: There would probably be less need for peeping and filming in secret if there was more cultural awareness and better education in families and schools. Personalities of peeping techno-Toms are not created overnight.

        But back to secrecy and privacy - seeking solace, empathy and will to listen to the secrets in a restrictive society and community has been there before the video and project described in it. It is not an unknown phenomenon that people went to bars to speak to strangers, talked to priest... Now they have therapists and internet, the latter being less safe than the previous due to rules applicable in therapy, not codified or required on the internet. If you're lucky you can always talk to good friends but why give them even more baggage when they surely have their own to carry? On the other hand, it's also a way to find out who is a true friend that knows a lot and doesn't abandon you and who is there in fair-weather.

        The talk in the video is indeed very strong and touching, at times funny, I enjoyed it very much, it provides stories and some solutions to the "I have something to say but I don't know how to/whom to etc."-issue in the world of "new media".

        And yes, as you said, you have to be careful. You can format and delete your whole hard drive, you cannot wipe the internet of what you wrote/posted before, everything is out there on "clouds" and there will always be people that, if they don't know you and don't care, may twist it or just misunderstand. Both can be hurtful to a vulnerable human being.
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          Jun 22 2013: I believe you have insight into the little things that keep people from sharing secrets....the baggage you would be unloading on others.

          Sometimes, if we are lucky to find a true friend, we are able to divulge the secrets that weigh us down. But I have seen this backfire. Many times knowing intimacies of others creates barriers instead of bonds. It is a terrible thing to trust someone with an intimacy, and end up losing them as a friend.

          It is a very complex issue.....everyone's minds are so different, and until we are exposed to secrets of others, we just will not know what our mind will do with the information.

          I too enjoyed the talk very much....and I also visited the website. It is very interesting.

          Anna, thank you for your responses, and for reading my replies.
          Have a wonderful weekend. :)
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          Jun 22 2013: Do know of any/can provide links to voyeurism in law outside the US?

          The link was a TED talk that Mary first mentioned that I also happened to have seen, hence the discussion on secrets/secrecy (if this is what you're referring to - )
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          Jun 22 2013: Thanks for the links.

          I already see an issue here without actually opening any of them. But before I do that, scan them and come up with a radical plan on how to change the world for the better that I might forget if I don't write it down, here's my concern, just a quick outline - you are allowed to enter facebook at the age of 13. Computer-facilitated solicitation is a felony, human trafficking is a despicable crime. These are global issues. Not every official is there to lead and serve, there are civilians out there who are not out there to that either. 1 + 1 + 1, anyone? How does observation without consent apply to non-minors? A twenty-something-year-old can be just as vulnerable as a 14-year-old.

          Please do start the conversation, anti-sick-os unite!
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          Jun 23 2013: You know Juan, it isn't everybody who will be a "sounder" use a word I read in a new conversation today.

          Some people struggle with getting involved in others' private affairs.

          I think everyone views privacy from a different angle.

          My first concern when listening to my friend's story was the privacy of the victims, as well as their welfare.....Can you imagine discovering that you had been taped unbeknownst to you?

          I don't think everyone knows that it is a crime to do this.
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    Jun 21 2013: @LaMar re debate 'is privacy a right'?

    Re: "The definition of self-evident Truth comes from the definitions for the words:
    Self: The self is an individual person as the object of his or her own reflective consciousness.
    Evident: Easily seen or understood; obvious. (syn Evidence)
    Evidence: To indicate clearly; exemplify or prove.
    Truth: Conformity to fact or actuality.
    Therefore, any self-evident truth must be obvious to an individual with easily seen evidence and conform to fact or actuality. That precludes opinions based on the unobservable and anything not experienced personally. "

    I disagree with the last statement. At the time when Declaration of Independence was written, there was no evidence that what is said there would lead to anything good. Society did not have a history of government built on such principles. There was no evidence that humans have any "unalienable" rights.

    Here I have to agree with Krisztian: "i don't know. moral is not something you can derive from observations. some people attempted to logically derive the nonaggression principle as the only valid moral code. i think they are failed, and i also think that it is not possible. we have to *assert* that it is the good way to go."

    I believe, "self-evident truth" means a statement that provides evidence for itself. Once a government founded in these principles is established, we have plenty of confirmation that it is good. Once we declare human rights based on moral beliefs without evidence, we have evidence that such declaration leads to positive outcomes.

    Compare this to the concept of trust. I cannot trust you with a $1,000 unless I have trusted you before with $100. The first step to trust is a leap of faith which proves or disproves itself.
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    Jun 21 2013: @Pat Gilbert Re: "Just to add a little more clarity to the morality issue, not that I disagree. The definition of morality is what is agreed to by a culture. "

    This, actually, is the point of debate with Krisztian who wrote: "moral can not dependent on culture. moral must be absolute. if something is not absolute, it can not be a moral statement. "

    I'm trying to understand what he means by that.
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    Jun 21 2013: I guess, this topic comes from a cognitive dissonance that I have regarding privacy.

    On one hand, it's creepy to feel that every our step is watched - by security cameras, satellites, phone companies, banks, email providers, marketers, advertisers, government. On the other hand, so what? Dwelling in fear and paranoia and getting angry about this can be more detrimental to my life than tracking itself.
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        Jun 21 2013: Perhaps, "driven by exchange", not necessarily consumerism. To maintain complete privacy, we need to live in a natural economy - produce goods for our own consumption - no money, no exchange, no need for communication. But that seems to be over a thousand years backwards in development of society.

        Are we moving towards society where everything is openly shared (communism)? No private property, no privacy. I don't mean it in a negative sense. Perhaps, in society of abundance where all resources are available to satisfy everyone's needs, ownership and privacy are not very important as there is no competition for resources - no reason for crime and protection.
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        Jun 21 2013: I bet, Pat has something to say about this. Once you get away from natural economy and set your foot on the path of exchange and division of labor towards narrow specialization and optimization of production, the scale of this exchange and division of labor begins between people, then spreads between communities, cities, and states. Global and international exchange and division of labor is but a natural next step lest we want to go back to natural economy.

        Exponential growth, however, is unsustainable. Exponential processes that feed on themselves need mechanisms to limit their growth out of control. Uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction is destructive, but controlled one, with proper feedback loops, can be very powerful.
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          Jun 22 2013: Talking to LaMar is a waste of time. Suffice to say that he is 180 degrees to economic FACTS on every one of his points.

          Using survival as a substitute for morality doesn't resonate?

          The one thing you can count on no matter what above all else is that the individual is going to do everything possible to survive. This is why girls want to look pretty, why guys want to be tough, this is why people want money, this is why nations want to have big stick weapons, this is why people want male children, this is why people do not want oppressive governments, this is why people want to be smart, this is why people want to be right, this is why people want to be interesting.

          Survival is not a yes or no proposition it is to what degree. Only a crazy guy would try to survive for himself, come to think of it that is exactly what crazy guys do. Other than them everyone pushes for the survival of all life in varying degrees.

          So when weighing the morality of something simply insert pro survival. Is this more pro survival or less pro survival in weighing the circumstances of something. This is about as absolute as it gets.
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        Jun 23 2013: @Pat re using survival for morality.

        It looks like you promote "ethical egoism".

        I think, there are volumes written on this issue and we can grow long beards arguing this topic. I've stated my position on morals in one of my responses to Krisztian. Morality seems to come from "self" - our own consciousness. To that degree I may agree with the "self-interest" concept, but when we elaborate it further, we get entangled in contradictions as it usually happens when we discuss "self". It quickly turns into a discussion for the sake of discussion ("self" again).
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        Jun 24 2013: LaMar, re: "Pat is a typical corporatist"

        Don't you think, "typical corporatist" is a stereotype?

        re: "He would probably be happy to see the US collapse and would help push it off a cliff if he could because poverty creates cheap labor and he profits from that."

        How do you make these assumptions?

        I like many of your opinions - in fact, I was trying to push another "like" on one of your comments, but TED said, I exceeded my weekly limit for "likes for this user". But I don't like finger-pointing and name-calling.
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        Jun 24 2013: La Mar,

        Perhaps, you might realize that on the other end of this spectrum is communism - no private property, everything belongs "to the people" (the government), and the government makes all political and economic choices "for the people" and "in the name of the people".

        As we try to stay away from the slippery slope on one side, we risk sliding down on the other side. This is where these discussions often turn into a chicken-egg argument. It's not a question which ideology is right or wrong. It's a question of how much we trust the government to take care of our needs and how much the government trusts the people to make good choices for themselves. That's the fundamental conflict between "individual good" and "common good".

        The truth isn't on either side. The truth is the act of balance so that we don't fall on either side. When a majority is pulling to one side, we have to rely on people like Pat and Krisztian who hold unpopular opinions to keep us from falling.

        "A tree falls in the way it leans. Be careful which way you lean." -- The Lorax

        “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”
        ― Mark Twain
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    Jun 20 2013: I think the need for privacy is closely linked to feelings of paranoia. The more paranoid we feel, the more we crave privacy.

    All it takes is one invasion of privacy to spark off paranoid feelings, which might then lead to oversensitivity in potentially similar situations. Breaking that cycle is difficult because the tendency is for paranoia to self-perpetuate, increasing the need for privacy - however irrational it may seem to an outsider.

    If observation is neutral in nature or mutually beneficial, then in theory, paranoia should be defeated because it is without malice. I say this through observation of people who I work with, as well as my own self-observation. But this is all observation for beneficial ends. It is a kind of 'symbiosis', and not in any way malicious.

    Due to the insidiousness of invasions of privacy on the internet, it is more often seen as malicious. We don't know who actually owns the eyes watching us, and why we're being watched anyway.

    Again, a self observation: Call it irrational, but when I see ads appearing on googlemail related to some obscure word I have written in a private email, I get angry. It feels like an invasion - a bit like a burglar in the house. Even though I've nothing to hide, I nonetheless find myself having to fight off paranoia about words I use in future emails.
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        Jun 20 2013: There is also a Mozilla add-on called Collusion presented here at TED

        It gives me the following:

        When you visit, it informs the following websites about you.

        Double-click and google-analytics are the worst offenders. E.g. double-click passes the data on to many other sites:

        When you visit, it informs the following websites about you.

        The site is potentially aware of your visits to the following websites.
        (following by a list of 45 sites).

        But I think, the U.S. is far from being a totalitarian state. In a totalitarian state, such add-on could not be openly developed and available for everyone for free. In a totalitarian state, there would be ONE party, not two and we would NOT hear the news that the government is reading everyone's email. To the contrary, in a totalitarian state, we would be lead to believe that the government has the best interest of the people in mind, corruption of politicians in the U.S. is unheard of, and we would not be having this conversation for several reasons: a) there would be no "reason" for it; b) people who think otherwise would not be around.
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        Jun 21 2013: I think, Collusion only shows who tracks you.
        There is an option in Firefox in Privacy section called "Tell websites I do not want to be tracked". I have it checked, but it does not block tracking. It merely indicates your preference for those web sites that may be willing to respect it.

        There are different ways of tracking. One is cookie-based, the other one is not. Cookies are small files that web sites save on your computer which contain information about your session. Most frequently, they are used by the websites themselves to remember who you are when you revisit the web site. But some of them allow third-party web sites to access these cookies. There is a way to disable cookies, but it is likely to make your browsing experience miserable - you will have to enter login and password and go through multiple confirmation dialogs every time you click on a link. Without cookies, most sites will not remember who you are each time you try to access a web page. It's like having to introduce yourself each time you say something to another person.

        There is not much you can do to prevent the non-cookie-based tracking. E.g., when you enter a Google search, Google will remember it forever and, perhaps, also the IP address from which you accessed Google. Google has a host of apps and "free" plug-ins which can be used by other sites: e.g. maps plugin. Businesses use these plugins for showing their location on the map and giving directions. Plugin is just an interface. Directions are provided by Google through the web site. Apparently, each time you do that, Google would know that you looked for directions from your house to some particular place even if you didn't use Google. It is likely that the search text field at the top of this page is powered by Google search - you can use the plugin to search your website only, but the search is done by Google.
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        Jun 21 2013: Each time you use Google search and click on a link in the list of results, your browser goes back to Google to tell Google what you clicked and only then Google redirects you to the web page you clicked on. So, Google knows web sites you are visiting. There is a Mozilla add-on that strips the redirect wrapper from Google search results and, as you click on a link, you go to the site directly - Google will not know about it.

        Open add-ons in Firefox and search for add-on with keyword "tracking". There is a similar add-on for Yahoo search.
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        Jun 21 2013: The best way to protect your privacy would be to use encryption and conceal your IP address.

        Check this out

        With this software, each time you visit Google, Google will think that the visit comes from a different IP address. Be careful, however, to log out from Google and delete cookies. If you log in or leave cookies, web sites will still know it's you despite the IP address change. Banks will, perhaps, block access to your account because they will figure out that you try to access the web site from a different part of the world than an hour before.

        I, personally, don't bother with any of this. It's a major hassle. You can see how tor service can be a safehaven for criminals. I don't very much trust people who do not want to put their name behind what they do or say. I believe, best security is based on trust, not secrecy and anonymity.

        Google is not as bad as it seems. I don't think, they sell your data to anyone. Google is very good in figuring out contexts and linking related information together. They can provide services to advertisers without disclosing your personal information. Say, an advertiser wants to market watches. They provide an ad for Google. Google knows from its database - by analyzing search patterns and personal data on gmail, Google+, etc., who might be interested in watches. Google then would put the ad it "thinks" you might be interested in on the side of search page or in the email interface. It's done by a machine. Nobody "knows" your search patterns, history, preferences, or personal email contents - not a person at Google, not the advertiser.

        This seems to be good for everyone. Ads are more efficient, and you get less random junk in front of your eyes.

        For government, it would be silly not to use this technology to figure out who might be interested in making a bomb - searching for blueprints, buying ingredients, etc.
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        Jun 21 2013: I don't trust AVG. It looks like Foxy Loxy that is eager to show you the way to the king, but, in fact, shows you the way to its den. By the obtrusive way they install their software on your machine (e.g. changing default search on your machine from Google to AVG) I can tell that all they want is to redirect your traffic to their own servers. Google is large, known world-wide and fairly well understood. What AVG does - I have no idea.
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          Jun 22 2013: I've just been reminded that I use something like AVG. It has just shown me two trackers. I took a glance at those and...moved on. They're not here to hurt me.

          Forgot to send a smile and wave peacefully at a webcam (which can be turned off and on by an external user if you do not deactive a script, s.ymting or the like, can't remember), I'll do it next time (the waving, not deactivating).
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        Jun 21 2013: Re: "The more you try to hide the more you are likely to draw attention to yourself in my opinion."

        That's my understanding too.

        If speed an ads are your main concern, then "Adblock plus" Firefox add-on may be what you want. It even blocks commercials that Youtube forces you to watch before each video. That will save you many seconds of your life.
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        Jun 21 2013: LaMar, That is indeed scary!

        Thanks for the donotrackme link. I'll check that out.
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        Jun 22 2013: Re: "If Firefox has the ability to know what companies and programs are tracking us why have they not included a blocking program that would use that information to block that tracking ?

        Sounds like they are threatening companies for a pay off to not produce that addon to firefox."

        Mozilla is a public open source non-profit project. It's community-driven. Add-ons are created, sometimes, by Mozilla, but, mostly by the users themselves. It does not look like they are after the pay-off. The add-on does what it does. I don't know why it doesn't do what it doesn't do. I have no thoughts about it, quite honestly. I am not a fan of reading too deep into people's motives.
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      Jun 21 2013: Allan,

      Paranoia is, usually, unwarranted fear. Sometimes, fear is justified.

      I agree with you that feeling of security and desire for privacy are proportional to trust. And trust or distrust build on themselves. I cannot trust a person if I have not trusted him before.

      Ads can be annoying, but there is no way to avoid them completely. Actually, it might be less annoying to get only targeted ads which, actually, might interest me rather than indiscriminate junk.

      But it can feel creepy. I ordered recently new check books online. I visited a few web sites to compare prices (all of them appear to be connected). After that, I started getting ads for check books while visiting completely unrelated sites like Yahoo, for example. It appears as if the whole world now knew that I was shopping for checks. But it is not so. Most likely, there was a cookie on my machine that was read by the web site placing ads on other web sites.

      My dad taught me that it is useless to feel angry towards a machine.
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        Jun 21 2013: "My dad taught me that it is useless to feel angry towards a machine"

        Funny you should say that. I bought my dad a brick made out of soft sponge that he could throw at bullsh**ing politicians on the TV...

        I'm not sure if this is paranoia or justified fear, but I've long suspected that anti-virus software companies actually generate many of the viruses they claim to protect us against - especially during the time when they implore us to undertake an initial free scan of our machines.
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          Jun 21 2013: I have long suspected this about the anti-virus software companies. This business too much resembles racket selling "protection" from itself: just pay and nobody will get hurt.
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    Jun 18 2013: I believe, attitude towards privacy would differ from culture to culture. I would expect, in Eastern cultures where "common good" is often valued higher than "individual good", concerns for privacy are not as great as in Western countries. In Eastern countries, density of population is also higher than in the West which means that people have less personal space physically. I would be interested to hear an opinion from someone who lives in the East.
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      Jun 20 2013: Spot on, Arkady. :) When you see washed underwear proudly being sundried on lines in every locality, you will know that you are in the East. In India, which is east too, not inviting guests to your bedroom is considered mean.
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        Jun 20 2013: This reminds me of a friend that has lived in East Malaysia and Bangladesh....she is from another Asian country.

        While visiting me stateside we spent hours discussing the various experiences she had while living abroad.

        In regards to the bedroom....yes Pabitra, she explained to me that when you invite guests over, it is customary to offer them your bedroom to take a nap after a meal. Then afterwards offer the bathroom for freshening up, then finally a good-bye refreshment.

        Also, that if the household is comfortable with your presence in their home, none of the cabinets will be locked. You can freely open up the family's drawers and cabinet doors and explore.

        She tried on several occassions to discreetly open doors and drawers, but they were locked!!
        I wonder what that says about my friend.....LOL :D

        When we first immigrated to the US it was customary to invite guests to take a tour of our home. Bedrooms included....but, we never asked anyone to stay for a nap.

        Perhaps this custom comes from the old days when people walked everywhere, and needed a rest before they ventured back home again?

        Nevertheless, Arkady is correct, attitudes vary from culture to culture....and sometimes even people within cultures. I love opened windows, and lots of sunlight in my home. But, at nightfall, I close curtains. My neighbors keep their curtains drawn all day and night. Anyone walking by at night can see right inside their home.....Other neighbors keep their curtains drawn all day and night, you can never look inside.

        We are all so different.
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    Jun 18 2013: Your question is in the domain of needs and wants! We need air and water to live, but privacy in this context comes under the category of a want, not a need as such!

    The differentiator here tho is when it transgresses into the area of criminality....because we don't as a society want to be safe but need to be safe from being murdered or raped etc!

    From this perspective, we don't need privacy because it obscures/protects the criminals as we need as a society to be protected from criminals.

    So now looking at this we could conclude that if we need water and air to live and a lack of privacy so that criminals can not hide behind privacy so that their actions are public to so then prevent them from murdering us, which prevents us from living, then in this context, we don't need privacy, as it kills us!

    As long as what you do is not criminal then you deserve privacy, however when you cross the line and become criminal.... then you need to be ousted and cut out like a cancer.

    The majority of people are not criminal, tho that said, it is a whole other argument with direct reference to criminals who could be saved from becoming one in the first place thru a properly managed and administered public works program that targeted key characteristics such as drug abuse etc! : D
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      Jun 18 2013: Re: "From this perspective, we don't need privacy because it obscures/protects the criminals as we need as a society to be protected from criminals."

      You forget the other side. Privacy of OTHERS is not needed for our security. But our own privacy protects us from crime. Being open also protects us from suspicion and government harassment as implied by one of the videos that I quoted.

      All in all, as I stated, privacy is a form of freedom. And talking about freedom has no meaning unless we define "from what". This article makes this point very clear

      security - The state of being free from danger or threat.

      privacy - 1. The state or condition of being free from being observed or disturbed by other people. 2. The state of being free from public attention.

      We can balance our need for privacy based on the relative value we place on these kinds of freedom: freedom from unwanted attention, freedom from danger or threat, freedom from suspicion of others.

      I think, being watched is often understood as being threatened. Perhaps, this feeling is an atavism from our primitive past associated with a gaze of a predator or an alpha-male. I think, this feeling is often irrational.
  • Jun 17 2013: This is not a yes/no issue. Privacy is not binary. Most people in the richer countries have very little privacy, but the little that they still have and protect can be very important to them.

    Personally, I have almost all the privacy that I want with very little effort. I live in such a manner that others take little notice of me. When people invade my privacy it is almost always for the purpose of selling something to me, and I quickly shut them out with very little effort.

    Privacy with respect to the government can be an important issue. In the long run, we will get the government we deserve. People must take responsibility for their government because it will be just as good as the people make it. When you accept that the government is an agent of the people, privacy with respect to the government becomes a choice of the people. The people can choose any degree of privacy from the government that they find acceptable. Personally, I would accept zero privacy provided that all government information is made available to the people, the police and the courts. Technology will soon provide so much information about people that getting away with a crime will be very nearly impossible. In my opinion, a crime free society is a good trade off for the remnants of our privacy.
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    Jun 17 2013: Who do not need privacy?

    As we need space to live and survive,

    privacy provides us a space to think and thrive.
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      Jun 18 2013: But how much of it do we need? How much of it is practical to claim or achieve? Are there limits on what we can claim private?
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    Jun 17 2013: well, I don't want people to be able to read my emails, for example. I think it's the feeling of being able to control your life, if people can read your emails who you haven't chosen to give access, you feel like you are not controlling your life. But of course if one is out in public one has to accept that other people are going to look at one.
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      Jun 18 2013: Isn't this a vain feeling? How much control do we have over behavior of other people? Once I send a letter or an email, I don't feel that I have any control over what happens to it. Even when a word leaves my mouth, I have no control over who may hear it, how it will be interpreted and how people will react to it. Very often people misunderstand each other.

      Three old men walk on the beach. One says: "It's windy today". Second says: "No, it's Thursday." Third says: "Me too, let's go have a beer."
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        Jun 19 2013: Well, now that you mention it, Arkady, I suppose it would not be terrible if someone read my emails, some stranger, there really are no secrets there.
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    Jun 17 2013: Arkady, I, like many, pee in the morning after waking up from a night's sleep. It's no secret. But I shall not welcome anybody to watch me in the act. It is private.
    I am not comfortable with secrecy. I hold privacy as an immutable right of a civilized human.
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      Jun 18 2013: "That's a little bit more information than I need, Vince, but go ahead."

      Where do you see the line between privacy and secrecy? Think of it in the context of Mr. Castro holding and raping 3 women in his house for over a decade.
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        Jun 18 2013: Your quote is lost on me. I shall try to answer your question though the ideas of privacy and secrecy are very subjective.
        When I want to draw a line between privacy and secrecy, I follow Jung. I think he was right to identify an element of shame or fear in secrecy, which is not present in the case of privacy. Privacy is voluntary though its limit, extent and expression may vary from culture to culture or even between individuals. Secrecy is a compulsion where things need to be hidden out of fear or shame. Jung wrote:
        "The possession of secrets acts like a psychic poison that alienates their possessor from the community.
        All personal secrets ... have the effect of sin or guilt, whether or not they are, from the standpoint of popular morality, wrongful secrets."
        I am not clear about Castro's reference but holding and raping someone is not justifiable under privacy. It needs to be secret.
        I observe that some commenters argue that privacy is not a matter of right. Opinion varies but I think right to privacy has been explicitly stated under article 12 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by UN.
        "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks."
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          Jun 18 2013: Thanks, Pabitra. Good input regarding the distinction between secrecy and privacy.

          Don't you think that privacy often turns into secrecy because of fear of crime or persecution? It seems to me that our need for privacy would be a lot lower if we did not have that fear.

          My quote is from the movie "Pulp Fiction".

          Ariel Castro is a criminal who has made the news head lines in the U.S. about a month ago. You can look up his name on the Internet.

          As a Russian from Ukraine living in the U.S., I understand that cultural references are not always understood :-).

          Well, since UN declaration says that privacy is a right, it is so. Declaration is all that's needed for a right to exist.
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        Jun 19 2013: It does but I don't think we can make an inference about a connection between privacy and secrecy from that.
        Secrecy has a kind of universal code whereas privacy is culture dependent. In India, parents still decide how an adult offspring will get a partner. I think in Europe and the US that's a private matter for a young person.
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          Jun 19 2013: Re: "In India, parents still decide how an adult offspring will get a partner. I think in Europe and the US that's a private matter for a young person."

          From what I know, sexual relations have always been heavily regulated by society in all cultures. The Bible has many pages of such regulations and today's struggles around homosexual marriages indicate that choosing a sexual partner is far from being a private matter. Ironically, the rich and the powerful have the least privacy in this respect. I think, I've read somewhere that in Europe a witness for the night after a royal marriage was required to make sure that the marriage was properly "consumed".

          But I agree that expectation of privacy depends on the culture. What do you mean by "the universal code" of secrecy? I still think, these concepts are related. At some point, desire for privacy can be interpreted as secrecy. What is the criterion for that? Is it purely arbitrary?
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        Jun 20 2013: "What do you mean by "the universal code" of secrecy?"
        Shame. Guilt. Fear. The neuro-chemical process in the human brain under those emotions are same irrespective of culture, race, geography. Since I think these emotions are precursors of secrecy, it appears it's code is universal.
        The point you are talking about, I mean the point at which desire for privacy can be interpreted as secrecy is, IMO, an emotional extension of the idea. At some other point desire for privacy can be interpreted as paranoia. Interestingly all secrets are private but not everything private is secret. Example: sex. On the contrary, though I have heard about 'open secret' but no 'public secret'.
        I always maintain my profile with a real name, with a real bio; my facebook page gives no impression of anybody incognito. Here in TED I freely share anecdotal stories, my family composition etc. So, I have a particular sense of privacy. Somebody else might not feel comfortable with my standard of it. I would not infer that this other person is secretive.
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          Jun 20 2013: "all secrets are private but not everything private is secret." - good observation. Thanks.

          Perhaps, the mechanism of secrecy is universal - shame, guilt, fear, as you mentioned (which seem different sides of the same emotion because there is an element of each one in the other two). However, what people choose to keep secret does not seem to be universal. Often, people feel no shame or guilt about behavior frowned upon by others and make no secret of it. Again, various types of sexual behaviors are a good example.

          So, secrecy can have a "universal mechanism" and yet, be relative to the individual. I believe, in the same way, morality itself can be considered absolute and relative at the same time. The way humans feel when they are treated immorally is the same for all humans, but things that make us feel that way appear to be relative to individuals, cultures, and circumstances.
  • Jun 17 2013: The problem is when the government has more privacy that the people.
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    Jun 17 2013: That's where you're wrong. There has never been a grandma bomber on an airplane. It could happen sure, but it's so much more likely that a military aged male from a muslim country will be the bomber. What sense does it make to search everyone when there is currently only one demographic trying to take down planes? Political correctness is counter to common sense in every way imaginable. Profiling works all the time on the El AL airline in israel. To my knowledge they've never lost a flight and profile based on who's actually likely to attack a plane.
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      Jun 17 2013: Well, I don't want to speculate. Perhaps, people with years of experience in airport security, especially from Israel, know better. This is a question of statistics and probabilities. I agree, perhaps, a grandma is an unlikely bomber, and it does not make sense to screen everyone in the airport. Just like it does not make sense to me to comb through everyone's email without a probable cause.
  • Jun 16 2013: I have a feeling the USA has done more of that then the Netherlands, but the USA just doesn't broadcast it. All under wraps as it were. It really isn't meant to make you feel secure just the assets of the country & those running it. Here in the States, if a large attack should happen, our government has a secure place to go while the rest of us are just thrown under the old bus.
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    Jun 16 2013: Well it should, but based on history in the states, I'm not aware of any actual success in preventing terrorism by searching people in airports. I seem to remember the shoe bomber and the underwear bomber both getting through security, now we have increased "security" measures in place for everyone when in reality some good old fasion profiling would do the trick, and allow my grandma to pass through security unmolested.
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      Jun 16 2013: I agree. Security is elusive. Those who mean harm would not use a secured door. They made everyone take off shoes in the airports - the next bomber stuffed explosives in his underwear. I'm glad, TSA did not follow the same logic. Profiling would not work either. Not all bombers look like mojahedin. There is no guarantee that the next bomber wouldn't look like your grandma.
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    Jun 16 2013: Privacy is directly related to security. You MUST have privacy in order to have security. The government would have you believe otherwise, that security depends on the lack of anonymity. I suggest people are rightly concerned about the collection of private data because the government is willing to abuse that information. If the United States had a record that instilled trust in it's leaders, people would be more likely to let information be collected. Instead, there is a deep mistrust of the Government by many Americans, and rightly so. They've already proven they are for sale to the highest bidder, that they will use information about people's political affiliations to subvert free speech. That they routinely lie, and trade the lives of people for the political security of their respective parties. They even want you to support laws they haven't read, and that they have to "pass, to find out what's in it". It's these things that make the unlawful collection of our data a gigantic issue that demands the attention of Americans. Unfortunately I believe it's too late to go back, because good men did nothing in the face of oppression, and allowed themselves be scared into giving up their fundamental rights. There is little chance the gov will decide not to use the new data centers its been building in recent years.
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      Jun 16 2013: Do you think that searching people in the airports improves security?
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      Jun 16 2013: Re: "Privacy is directly related to security."

      You need to specify whose privacy and whose security. My privacy increases my security. But everyone else's privacy makes me feel insecure.

      "security - The state of being free from danger or threat." Security is also a form of freedom.

      It's a feeling more than anything else. You made a good point - there is another component in this equation: trust. With trust, it's possible to have no privacy and feel secure.
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    Jun 16 2013: Yes , but the definition of privacy is relative to a person, place, time, situation etc etc .
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      Jun 16 2013: I agree. I myself have criticized many TED conversations for asking a question without a context. Here, perhaps, I'd like people to define their own contexts.

      It seems to me that privacy is controversial even within the same context: e.g. within family relationship, people often want to have attention of their partner/children and, at the same time, often want "to be left alone".
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        Jun 17 2013: Very right you are regarding the context. The case of privacy is very much delicate even after having some context . Say a person may expect a level of privacy from her/ his partner but when all other contexts bare same just with the change of a person the privacy changes, e.g. In the same time frame if s/he is talking to a doctor it changes dramatically.

        Here in online some uses disguised ID considering it's her/his privacy not to disclose original identity but others not.
        Privacy concept of a person with her/his person to her/his partner is different if they are living in a one room house to a mansion.
        So I feel it's really very delicate issue with contextual background.