Aug 20, 2010

OK: Pirate Party Slams Google CEO on Transparency, Privacy and Surveillance

From the Oklahoma Pirate Party:

“In a world of asynchronous threats it is too dangerous for there not to be some way to identify you. We need a [verified] name service for people. Governments will demand it.” – Eric Schmidt, Google CEO

There is so much wrong with this statement that we are having a hard time even deciding where to start. The Government will always attempt to increase the monitoring of the governed, and the self appointed leaders of the internet are only too eager to assist. Being able to identify all individual users, as well as being able to track their location and all activities, will benefit the business side of the online world more than anybody.

“True transparency and no anonymity” – Eric Schmidt, Google CEO

We have to admit that Mr. Schmidt is a master at marketing, and to be able to market effectively you have to be a master at spinning the truth. Transparency, after all, is a noble cause. Who would say no to transparency? It is one of the main issues the Pirate Party is pursuing. Mr. Schmidt picked his words very wisely, but the course he is pursuing will lead to only one outcome: Full surveillance and no privacy. Transparency is a choice where people make the conscious decision to reveal details about themselves and about their activities. We, not Google or the Government, weigh our options and decide to reveal the details. When these details are, as Mr. Schmidt himself states, demanded by the Government; then transparency becomes surveillance.

Mr. Schmidt also was very wise in picking the word anonymity. For many people anonymity implies that you have something to hide, that you must be “up to something” or you would not try to hide your activity. “Privacy” is a word that is received more favorably, and that is the reason it was not used. Anonymity and privacy have the same meaning: That you will reveal information about yourself and your activities selectively. It does not imply malicious intent or bad character, and frequently it is the perceived privacy of the internet that encourages many to turn online for help: A partner in an abusive relationship looking for help to leave their abuser; a couple who just had a miscarriage looking for support; a person with an addiction trying to change their life. Without privacy these people might never take the first step towards help.
Read the whole thing.

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