Posted by: Ben | August 12, 2008

Privacy

The biggest issue for Galapag.us is privacy. That’s what people tell me, that’s what everyone writes about online, that’s the flashpoint issue for the web these days.

But I view privacy advocacy to some degree as something the powers that be want you to buy into. While it’s important to be able to control how your information is used, that is not the state of affairs right now. The NSA freely taps into all of your information (including e-mail), credit agencies know your purchases, local and federal agencies know your flight and travel and criminal patterns.

They thrive because we know so little about ourselves. Few of us meticulously enter data into Quicken to analyze our habits. Few of us have time to look for vulnerabilities in our lives. Who is our advocate? No one.

So imagine this: privacy is how businesses and governments convince you to keep the status quo. Security is what you really want: control of your information.

Also imagine that you will reap far more benefits by being completely open, as everyone else is completely open too. If enough of us are open, then the benefits of being able to spy on us are reduced, especially if those organizations working to use us are forced to be open themselves. Obviously power inequality will still exist, but not if individuals create a network effect of an open information standard and capitalize on many of the benefits that businesses and companies currently enjoy freely against us.

Better security is coming. OpenID as opposed to multiple logins, more use of a specialized cloud for protecting data. But we also need better transparency to level the playing field. Because it’s obvious we’re not going to get the legislators on our side with the way things are now.

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