Does Technology Only Impact Privacy In One Direction?

from the doesn't-seem-like-it dept

New technologies have absolutely contributed to the erosion of certain privacies, in many cases just by stripping away the obscurity aspect that allowed for “security by obscurity.” However, many people also believe that technology can equally be a driving force in re-establishing privacy as well: using things like better encryption and other tools that can be embraced as a better method for keeping private info away from prying eyes. Does it really turn out that way? An analyst is now claiming that technology is a one way street when it comes to privacy — and, if it wasn’t obvious, saying that it’s the wrong direction for those who want things to remain private. Given the pretty much unstoppable march of technology, does it really mean that technology has turned privacy into a luxury instead of a right, as the author claims? There are certainly those, like David Brin, who believe this is the case, and claim that the only response is to embrace the lack of privacy and make it possible to stop privacy violations by making it easier for you to spot privacy violations and out the violator (think about it for a second, and it actually makes some sense). However, others may contend that there is still a very real possibility that technology can be used in response to put the privacy genie back in the bottle. It’s not a question that has a single answer. It seems likely that the real answer is somewhere in-between, with technologies both helping to build up and tear down walls on an ongoing basis.

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Comments on “Does Technology Only Impact Privacy In One Direction?”

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dorpus says:

Big Brother or Old Lady?

The city of Osaka has placed robot mannequins called “obakores” who are supposed to personify the city. The mannequins will talk to passers-by and make immodest claims about how Osaka is a great city, and that it is “better” than Tokyo. The robots talk in loud, sharp voices which Osakans are proud of, because they are more working class… I mean, “down to Earth” people.

Paul M. says:

tracking corporate use of personal data

there are two techniques I use to track a corporation’s use of my details. These are inspired by an article I once saw on TV (at least 20 years ago), but unfortunately I can’t remember the name of the person who suggested it.

Add initials or extra middle names when you register with a corporation. So, for example, when I signed up to United Airlines mileage system, I used the name “Paul U.A Lastname”.

To track email address usage, you need your own domain (which ain’t expensive, less than $10/year from, and funnel all email into one mailbox (or use wildcards). Whenever you sign up with a website, use a new unique email address… e.g. paul-ua@ for united airlines, paul-bookmonthclub@ for book of the month club etc.

In this way I know categorically that a car parts finder website led to me receiving hard core spam to a new mailbox which have never existed before, and that United Airlines sold my email address to a third party without my permission.

z0idberg says:

Re: tracking corporate use of personal data

you can do something similar to the domain name thing with a gmail account. I read about it here:

basically if you gmail address is and you sign up to a website name you can give your email address as

Any email sent to will come to your normal gmail account and you can see that they sent it to

Saves the trouble of setting up a domain and managing it.

jeremiah (user link) says:

Privacy as Luxury

I heard a phrase from a colleague the other day: “Privacy is a luxury.” I think she’s onto something, in the sense that in the future….ahem “IN THE FUTURE….” privacy (read: the absence of your personal/consumer information in major data mines) is probably going to be a luxury service – afforded (literally) to those who can pay.

Of course, I’ve been wrong before.


gid (user link) says:


I sign most of my emails with pgp keys. Sometimes (although granted it is rare) I will get an email back from someone with their public pgp/gpg key. This allows us to communicate back and forth in relative obscurity through the use of encrypted email. I highly recommend GnuPG for anyone looking to have a good way of keeping information as secret as possible from onlooking eyes. In this day and age our worry isnt so much the government snooping our traffic, but private corporations.

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