Robert Woodward | Chicago Reader

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Re: “Are privacy's days numbered? Pew asks experts to weigh in

It's interesting that to post a comment on this article, a person has to either register with the Chicago Sun-Times and reveal an eMail address that must be verified, or have a Facebook account. Anonymous comments aren't allowed.

I believe the publisher answers the author's question in some ways?

There's no assumption of privacy in public discourse. You may be photographed and your voice may be recorded in a public place. The internet, in this example, is a public place, therefore there is no assumption of privacy.

Is your eMail private? No. If you read the Terms of Service for your ISP and eMail provider you'll very likely find there is no guarantee of privacy and often a specific statement that says it is not guaranteed.

Privacy in eMail can be obtained through hard encryption, but most folks don't bother, even though it's free (using tools such as GPG). It's too much bother for most folks, who operate under the assumption they have nothing to hide, so they shouldn't worry. That works in a stable legal/political system, but when laws and policies change unexpectedly it may become a liability.

Financial privacy was done away with in the US in 1913 when the Internal Revenue Service was invented. Since then, the IRS has extended global reach, to the effect that even the legendary Swiss banking system has been brought to heel. With the advent of the PATRIOT Act of the early 21st century, the United States have explicitly compromised the privacy of all electronic communications in direct conflict with the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution, though it expressly refers to "papers", which few people use any longer.

To be secure and private, individuals have no choice but to trust encryption, and trust is paramount in that equation; the algorithms involved are complex and very difficult for a layman to verify. As a result, I expect privacy will continue to be a luxury of the wealthy, as it has been for most of recorded history.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Robert Woodward on 12/18/2014 at 11:20 AM

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