David Kirkpatrick

March 11, 2010

It’s time to push for online privacy

Filed under: Politics, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:15 am

The argument about the generation growing up with social media and handheld audio/visual recording devices (otherwise known as mobile phones) is a pretty good one. I wouldn’t disparage the generation out of hand, though. It’s entirely possible they grow into a heightened sense of online privacy and a clear understanding of just what’s important and not in the public/private legal debate.

From the link:

If the public wants online privacy it had better fight now for laws to protect it because businesses won’t and individuals don’t have the clout, security expert Bruce Schneier told RSA Conference attendees.

The longer information-privacy policies go unset, the more likely it is that they never will be set, says Schneier, an author of books about security and CTO of security consultant BT Counterpane. As young people grow up with broad swaths of information about them in the public domain, they will lose any sense of privacy that older generations have.

And they will have no appreciation that lack of privacy shifts power over their lives from themselves to businesses or governments that do control their information. Laws protecting digital data that is routinely gathered about people are needed, he says. “The only lever that works is the legal lever,” he says. “How can we expect the younger generation to do this when they don’t even know the problem?”


October 11, 2008

John Stuart Mill and liberty

Filed under: Arts, et.al., Media, Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:54 pm

Adam Gopnik has an excellent essay in the October 6, 2008, issue of the New Yorker on John Stuart Mill and his contributions to modern liberty.

Here is my favorite passage from the piece (link goes to the entire article):

It’s also true that many things the Victorian Mill couldn’t even have imagined being asked to tolerate have come to be tolerated under the sway of the argument he began. The idea that people would demand the freedom to practice sodomy would, I think, have astonished Mill as much as anyone else in his day. (The topic isn’t mentioned anywhere in his writings, though Bentham did write a courageous essay against hanging men for it—and then thought better of publishing the piece.) Yet, demanded on Millian grounds—no harm; no foul—the freedom has been granted. In a sense, social conservatives like Rick Santorum are right: there is a slippery slope leading from one banned practice to the next. Give rights to blacks, and the next thing you know you are giving rights to women and sodomites and then the sodomites are renting formal wear and ordering flowers for their weddings. The slippery slope is what Mill called liberty. Every time we slide a little farther down, what we find is not a descent toward Hell but more air, and more people breathing free.

(Emphasis mine.)