Privacy Myths
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Kerby Andersonnever miss viewpoints

A few decades ago, Americans were increasingly concerned about privacy. Back then, we did several radio programs on the topic but now many of our privacy concerns have faded.

Mark Zuckerberg put this in perspective. He said when he got to his dorm room at Harvard, the question many students asked was, “why would I want to put any information on the Internet at all? Why would I want to have a website?” He then went on to acknowledge that people (especially his generation) became more comfortable with sharing information online.

In his book, Why Privacy Matters, Neil Richards writes about some of the myths that surround privacy concerns. One myth is that privacy is about hiding dark secrets. We hear the argument that “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.” But that doesn’t mean we should have everyone see everything. We wear clothes out of modesty. We don’t want videos of what we do in a bathroom or bedroom.

Another myth is that privacy isn’t about creepiness. He provides lots of examples of privacy invasions we would not tolerate. Yet we have the famous comment by Google’s Eric Schmidt that I have mentioned in previous commentaries. He explained that: “Google’s policy is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it.”

Another myth is that privacy isn’t primarily about control. We are assured that we can make informed choices about the amount of information a technology company can use. But do you really read all the words in a privacy notice? One famous study from more than a decade ago estimated that if we were to quickly read the privacy policies of every website we encounter, it would take 75 full working days to read them all.

Privacy concerns still exist, and we need to focus on them in the future.viewpoints new web version

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