Recently, an opinion piece in The New York Times, “Why We Should Stop Fetishizing Privacy” made the case that breaking up the big tech companies and demanding regulation is not the answer to protecting us online.
In the piece, Heidi Messer a technology investor and entrepreneur wrote:
“Media coverage of the threat to personal privacy from technology tends to follow a narrative in which privacy is a virtue, Big Tech its evil predator and government the good knight capable of protecting it.
But this narrative ignores the realities of modern life and may lead to devastating trade-offs. It fetishizes privacy, demonizes technology and assumes that government is the right institution to protect us.”
What Ms. Messer leaves out of her piece is that for those of us who advocate for privacy and individual rights are not about running to the government to keep big tech out of our lives, we want Big Tech and Government out of our lives.
What the piece also leaves out is the fact that the Government and Tech have been in bed with each other for years. No one batted an eye when Former President Barak Obama was praised for his use of social media to drive voters to his campaign and eventual win but now that President Trump has done the same thing, big tech and social media are evil and need to be regulated?
The call to break up Facebook, Google and the like had nothing to do with the fact that they undermined the public trust but that in the fact that they were caught doing just that. Facebook, Google, Twitter and Amazon are all guilty of invasion of privacy and spying on their users and in the case of Google (YouTube), Facebook and Twitter of deplatforming those they did not like which in the age of the Internet is like saying that person does not exist.
So, the answer to our privacy is not choosing between Big Government and Big Tech, the answer is to have both of these groups leave us alone. We’ll be told that if we want to fight terrorism and criminals we need to be willing to give up some aspect of our privacy and if you have nothing to hide, it shouldn’t matter. That is a terrible case of 1984 logic.
We should advocate for our privacy because it’s our privacy and no one has the right to invade it. Not the Government, not Corporations. Everyday, we hear that this is a human right and that is a human right but the greatest human right and the one most under threat is privacy.
We do not fetishize privacy, we demand it.
The New York Times. 2019. “Opinion | Why We Should Stop Fetishizing Privacy,” May 24, 2019. https://nyti.ms/2ECcWax