Tuesday 25 September 2012

What price privacy? $2.08

With thanks to SheffieldForum.co.uk
"For everything Sheffield"
You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.

So said Scott McNealy, CEO of Sun Microsystems, and many people say they agree with him. Let's call those people "Roundheads".

Cavaliers believe that privacy is an essential ingredient in the recipe for human beings. Miss it out, and you cook up something different, not a human being.

Our location can be tracked by the mobile phone companies. Google records every website we visit. Our entire life history is on Facebook. Our every instantaneous emotional reaction is documented on Twitter. GCHQ want to store all our email headers. David Cameron wants to give all our medical records to researchers. The Department for Business Innovation and Skills wants us to maintain Personal Data Stores with so-called "trusted third parties" we've never met. DWP and the Cabinet Office want the same, so that we can all transact with the government on-line. The G-Cloud Puritans want to store all this data in the cloud with Amazon and others on servers that could be anywhere in the world ...

"There's something wrong with all this", say the Cavaliers. "No there isn't", say the Roundheads, "get over it". And so the argument continues, forever unresolved.

Except, sometimes, even the Roundheads briefly grasp the need for privacy, the importance of privacy, its value:
Claims that the privacy of direct messages sent between Facebook users had been compromised and that the messages were appearing publicly on users' timelines are false, the social networking service has said.

There was confusion on Monday amid reports in France that non-public messages sent in the years from 2007 onwards had started to appear in timelines, sparking many users to check back in the fear that potentially embarrassing private messages had become widely viewable.

Facebook's share price fell 9.1% to $20.79 at the close in New York on the back of the fears, the biggest drop since 27 July. The stock has slumped 45% since its May initial public offering, and hasn't traded above its $38 IPO price since the day after the share sale.
It is disputed whether people are right to fear that Facebook's privacy controls have failed. That's not the point.

The point is that the fear – whether or not it's well-founded – knocked 9.1% off Facebook's share price.

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