A Few Important Echoes

Do you have any idea who last looked at your data? Seth Finkelstein brings up some some great points in this article but the one I want to focus on concerns the use of privacy protecting technology:

Note that while it’s a common recommendation to use technical means to protect one’s privacy (such as the “Tor” anonymity system, at torproject.org), such measures are frequently not workable for any but the most knowledgeable and dedicated people. They are often inconvenient and shift a burden on to citizens to be constantly on guard, as opposed to not requiring such guarding in the first place. Using privacy/anonymity programs is good advice, but in overall terms, a bad solution.

I think the point is well taken. Not only should we be making these technologies easier to use (and I think the Tor folks doing so) but we should also recognize that the problem is embedded in a host of other issues. Technology may help us in the short run, but it does not solve the problem. (Oh, and I too like the phrase Seth coined “The price of total personalisation is total surveillance.”).

Catspaw also picks up on a similar theme in response to esquire’s nomination of psiphon as one of the six ideas that will change the world.
She writes:

I’m glad that the issues around internet censorship are getting mainstream attention, as every additional mention helps, but I worry when software programs like Psiphon are advertised as a magic bullet that’s going to make the problem go away. It won’t. This is a complicated issue with very deep social, political and legal structures supporting the censorship, and no piece of software is going to be able to counter that; it’s not just a technical issue.

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