When Everything You've Ever Said Can & Will Be Used Against You By Anyone... Forever

from the anonymity-suddenly-seems-a-little-more-interesting dept

Leave it to Rick Falkvinge to add a bit of perspective on the various debates going on in the world today concerning both data retention and anonymity, by telling people to think about how you might act knowing that anything and everything not only can, but will be used against you, by pretty much anyone at some point in the future. I'm sure some people will insist that they have no problem with this. But think about how many little things you do that could be taken out of context or used against you in some manner or another.

It’s the equivalent of a police arrest in the United States, where you are told — very seriously – that “Everything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law“. What happens? Well, most people take the hint and shut up completely.

Now, imagine if it wasn’t just a court of law as in the arrest scenario, but that anybody that could see anything you had ever said. Future employers, dates, law enforcement… not just in your own country, but also every country you’ll ever visit in the future. Also, imagine that this holds true for the rest of your life, with the laws undergoing change in the next 60 years or whatever number of years you have left, and imagine what you say today is going to be repainted in the light of 60 years from now. (There was nothing said in 1941 which was common knowledge and social glue then, but which would be terribly embarrassing and a complete block-out if found today, was there?)

It would become practically impossible to say… anything remotely challenging. At least if you wanted a future. You may still talk about the weather.

Many people are willing to share a lot of their life online. But I think almost everyone likes to keep at least some aspects of their lives private. Efforts to wipe out anonymity and to record data for as long as possible put the things you'd rather be kept secret at risk.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Aug 2011 @ 2:32pm

    I have a different interpretation of this situation, and a more favorable one. When everything youve ever said truly _can_ be used against you, and everyone else as well, then society will renormalize itself to discount things youve said in contexts which are appropriately ignored.

    You dont scrutinize naked bodies at the showers in the gym, just because everyone put their bodies right out there in the open. You see it, you ignore it, you pretend it didnt happen.

    You do scrutinize scantily clad bodies at the bar, because thats part of what youre supposed to be doing there.

    You say stupid stuff in informal contexts online? It will be logged, and you will not be held accountable. Hell, people won't even go looking for it. You'll be tempted to sometimes... but you won't. Because it would be a serious transgression of good manners.

    You say stupid stuff in formal contexts online? More likely to be held against you. But guess what? Folks have been dealing with tarnished reputations since time immemorial and if you have an interest in giving people a fair shake, you give them credit for more recent good behaviour.

    The Internet is even anticipatingly trying to teach this to you! You have to learn not to click that link, not to look at that thing, or you might end up goatsed or rickrolled or lemonpartied. You learn that when you don't need to click that link, you do not click it!

    When the world is at your fingertips, it is up to you to decide what information you get. It's a shift of responsibility, but everyone will be dealing with it at the same time, and it will work out in the end.

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