Just think about the one thing in your life that you did where you go, “Man I’m so glad nobody knows nothin’ about that.”  You know what I mean?  And then think of a whole bunch of ‘em.  Now let’s condense it down into a 2-hour special and run it on CNN for about six months.  Let’s see how we all hold up, you know?

Rodney Carrington, Laughter’s Good

Seriously.  Whether it’s CNN, or the Internet, or small-town gossip, it sucks donkey balls.  

And the people who thrive on the gossip, love to make it sound like you’re somehow different, like whatever they found on you is not only horrible (even if it’s completely innocuous and not at all scandalous in reality) but uniquely horrible, as if there’s a single person on the planet who couldn’t be taken down by this stuff, because everyone has done shit they’re not proud of, or that looks really bad even if it isn’t actually really bad, or both.  It’s just that some of us get privacy and some don’t.  

That’s literally the only difference between me and any other person – other people got privacy, I didn’t, other people got to tell their own stories for themselves without other people twisting it into something it wasn’t, and I didn’t.  That’s all.  Presence or absence of cyberbullies and gossips and (sometimes) fame or notoriety, is the only difference between those of us who get privacy and dignity and those of us who don’t. 

Which is why I try hard to make my blog a gossip-free zone.  I don’t always succeed, but I at least try.

anonymous asked:

Is it alright if a potential boss asked for your passwords to Facebook, tumblr and other personal apps?

NO NO NO. That’s private information that you do NOT have to give to anyone, especially someone who is using their position of power to take advantage of you. It’s sketchy enough that employers are looking at your public information online, they really should not be looking at your private information.

Our cultural narrative about privacy is completely backward: What we really fear is not that the internet — or a prospective employer, or a nosy lover, or Big Brother — knows too much about us, but that it knows too little; that it fails to encompass Whitman’s multitudes which each of contains; that it reduces the larger, complex truth of who we are to a few fragmented facts about what we do; that it hijacks our rich, ever-evolving personal stories and replaces them with disjointed anecdotal data.
—  Some thoughts on how to own your story.

NSA surveillance: how librarians have been on the front lines to protect privacy

In the hours before US senators voted to take on the might of the National Security Agency this week, their inboxes were deluged with more than 2,200 supportive emails from a most unlikely group of revolutionaries: America’s librarians. 

Keep reading


New comic! (link)

Other: Part 1. This comic is a quick overview of what surveillance means and how we can’t avoid interacting with it.

The killer is, there’s no ‘off the grid’. That step where they compare you against norms and patterns? (3: analysis and response), well, that’s where when you’re something weird, or unexpected, you get flagged for further scrutiny. You can’t disengage from all our surveillance systems without it looking weird, and once it looks weird, you’re right back in the system, tagged as 'weird’ somewhere for someone to look up one day.

Now, not all surveillance is bad. Public health does a lot of surveillance, and when it’s done ethically, they’re trying to track health issues and implement plans that make our communities safer. And some of it is a trade off: want to vote? there has to be some way of keeping track of registered voters, so that’s just part of a democratic process.

But it’s happening. every organized system you are part of is gathering and storing information on you. Heck, even your volunteer position has your name and number and emergency contact somewhere, doesn’t it?

And the bar for understanding and reacting to this is so fucking high, it’s essentially impossible for people who haven’t made a whole career out of understanding it. No one understand what Apple’s ToS means as a whole, and so when we click 'ok’, what are we really consenting to? Is that even consent?

Tune in shortly for the next installment: Classification, You, and Everyone Else!

In the privacy of a doctor’s office, a patient can ask any question and have it be covered under doctor-patient confidentiality. But what happens when patients want to search possible symptoms of a disease or ailment online?

It’s common to search for treatments for a migraine or stomach pain on WebMD, or a flu strain on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. But there’s no way to know who else may be privy to that search information. So where do the data go when a patient presses enter?

Online Health Searches Aren’t Always Confidential

Illustration credit: Stuart Kinlough/Ikon Images/Getty Images

I’m speaking to you from Silicon Valley, where some of the most prominent and successful companies have built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency about their personal information. They’re gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be.
—  Apple CEO Tim Cook

Recently, mediocre singer (but excellent future infomercial host) Michael Buble got in hot water for posting a pic he snagged of a woman in shorty shorts. And some were offended when Neil Patrick Harris took a break from being a horrible Oscars host to expose the unusual behavior of this New York City subway rider:

For some, this issue is very simple: It’s wrong to take pictures of people without their permission. I’ll admit that stance is clear and straightforward, but I also don’t find it compelling. No one disputes that drilling a hole in a dressing room wall to snap pics is wrong. Everyone agrees using a telephoto lens to take shower pics of your neighbor can’t be defended.

But when you’re out in the world, can you really expect that no one will take your picture? You’re putting yourself out in public. If people don’t need permission to look at you, what is the ethical reason they’d need permission to save one millisecond of that glance? What changes the ethical question of holding an image in your memory versus holding it in your phone? I think if we answer that question honestly, it’s the things that might be done with the photo and not merely that someone memorialized a millisecond of your appearance or behavior that you were already showing the world.

5 Ethical Questions On Posting Photos Of Strangers Online

Yoink! TSA Publicizes Man Traveling with Bag of Cash. Then Feds Seize It.
Now he may have to prove the money is not involved with any crime to get it back.

Happy Independence Day weekend, America! What better example of what “freedom” has come to mean in the United States than a situation where an airline passenger, after being prodded and searched by the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA), has his property photographed and publicized online by the TSA and then seized.

Was said property a gun or a bomb? Was he arrested and charged with a crime? No and no. It was cash. The man was carrying thousands of dollars in a bag through the airport at Richmond, Virginia. According to a TSA spokesperson, the “unknown bulk” of the bag’s contents triggered alerts, so they searched and found the money. Then somebody decided they should photograph this man’s personal property (by which I mean $75,000 or so) and post it on Twitter. To say that this is a violation of the man’s privacy would have to assume that the TSA has any grasp of what privacy even is.

There were some outraged responses from some people on Twitter at this flippant exposure by the TSA. But that’s just the insult. The injury is that a federal agency then seized the man’s cash. He now has to prove that the money is his and that it has no connection to any illegal activities, or the government may just keep it. The Washington Post, noting the seizure, points to TSA blog post from 2009 providing the agency’s justification for its behavior:

TSA officers routinely come across evidence of criminal activity at the airport checkpoint. Examples include evidence of illegal drug trafficking, money laundering, and violations of currency reporting requirements prior to international trips.

When presented with a passenger carrying a large sum of money through the screening checkpoint, the TSA officer will frequently engage in dialog with the passenger to determine whether a referral to law-enforcement authorities is warranted.

The TSA officer may consider all circumstances in making the assessment, including the behavior and credibility of the passenger. Thus, a failure to be forthcoming may inform a TSA officer’s decision to call law-enforcement authorities.

So even though it’s perfectly legal to carry huge sums of cash onto a plane, if you refuse to answer TSA agents’ questions about the money, or they just don’t believe you, or they just gin up whatever reason they like, they can summon law enforcement to seize it and then force you to grapple with the federal government’s incredibly complicated asset forfeiture process just to try to get it back (check out a flowchart here).

Your Privacy Is A Commodity And You Will Continue To Give it Away (Retro Post)

I’ve started republishing older, relevant posts here. I edit them for consistency (fix spelling and grammar where I catch it), relevancy (removing broken links), and now I’m adding GIF (This is Tumblr). 

I first wrote this post April 03, 2012. 3 years later I think I can say that, while I was a bit overly optimistic, I got this one right (doesn’t happen all the time).

Originally posted by argography

We live in a rapidly evolving time. It’s scary. We’re going from a time where we lived our lives in private to where we are increasingly living in public. What we did behind closed doors, what media we consumed, what conversations we had, who our friends were, what news articles we read and what we liked, was known only to us.

The only way companies and governments were able to find out this information about us was through huge expensive research initiatives where armies of college students were deployed to ask us what we thought and what we did. It was our choice to give this information away or not.

But increasingly we’re giving away that information “for free” and far more of it than we’ve ever given away before. Why? In simplest terms we gain social capital from our over-sharing, but it goes way beyond that.

Invasion Of Privacy With Consent

Originally posted by walkingconfessions

Every week there seems to be a new story about some app or social networking service that is being accused of violating your privacy. Facebook is almost always somewhere in the mix as they are the service that is most aggressively pushing the boundaries of our privacy. Over the weekend a new app called Girls Around Me sparked off the debate again. The app pulled Foursquare check-ins from public Facebook profiles to locate girls in your area. Creepy? Yes. In violation of any rules? Nope. But it was still pulled down. This app basically confirmed all the worst fears people have about geolocation and privacy.

Despite this, and much worse, we will continue to give up our personal data. Not only will we continue to give up our personal data, we will give up even more than we are today.

Keep reading