Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Episode 65: The Commodified Assets of Others

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Just ahead we have in this here nation a presidential election, and a hum-dinger by all accounts. I'm not here to play favorites, since mine have already been tossed to the wayside. I am concerned, though, in this here Episode 65: The Commodified Assets of Others of topics that seem never to be considered by your usual gang of reportage professionals, namely, that we blithely discard key points of self-identfication that no one who has ever lived in actual police states would so casually offer simply for the "privilege" of mere "free" "social media."

No fancy quoting in this episode. You hear only myself a bit peeved at the insistence that I view commercials. I even go off-course without a prepared script to temper the rage.


  1. Most of this episode is pretty good, but I think you engage in some dangerous equivocation when you say it no longer matters who controls the government. Yes, privacy has been eroded. Yes, a totalitarian government could use that information in some nasty ways. But, as you note by comparison in the description above, the US is not yet an "actual police state". (Though one candidate in our presidential election is the self-proclaimed "law and order candidate", in favor of indefinite detention, torture, mass deportations, and overt racial profiling.) Secret police of authoritarian regimes don't just have people's personal info, but the authority to arbitrarily arrest people, throw them in secret prisons, or torture or kill them. There's a large and significant difference between between "Stasi-like powers" and actual, literal Stasi.

    1. The fact that you use the term "dangerous equivocation" all but confirms my overall point.

      I'm aware I have the freedom (and the privilege such freedom brings) to not be concerned about such voluntary surrender of private info. I have in my past, though, met folks who suffered under unfriendly watchful eyes. One woman, for an example, would not let her own children join any scouting-esque organization here in the States because of what she saw of the Hitler Youth as a child herself.

      Now, you would hardly fault a parent for being concerned about their children given such a lived experience, would you?

      Perhaps my extensive time with people such as the woman mentioned above (and it was extensive time, not just a casual acquaintance) has made me wary of providing too much personal information.

      I feel I have much greater understanding of the attitude displayed by folks from now-unified Germany. They currently enjoy freedom from police interference in their lives arguably more than we in the States*, but still have opt-in requirement laws for media image inclusion and "simple" online "cookie" tracking.

      I do understand there are some significant business models that depend upon that data flowing uninterrupted. Such an understanding increases my disquiet; it means there will be active resistance to any tightening of privacy requirements, which leaves hypothetical worst-case scenarios open longer, and therefore more likely to be realized.

      *Consider, for example, the disquieting gap in phone surveillance laws as compared to phone technology, where, in some municipalities, police can buy just about unlimited data from the phone companies, sometimes including real-time GPS tracking.