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Peak indifference to surveillance


In my latest Guardian column, I suggest that we have reached "peak indifference to spying," the turning point at which the number of people alarmed by surveillance will only grow. It's not the end of surveillance, it's not even the beginning of the end of surveillance, but it's the beginning of the beginning of the end of surveillance.

We have reached the moment after which the number of people who give a damn about their privacy will only increase. The number of people who are so unaware of their privilege or blind to their risk that they think "nothing to hide/nothing to fear" is a viable way to run a civilisation will only decline from here on in.

And that is the beginning of a significant change.

Like all security, privacy is hard. It requires subtle thinking, and the conjunction of law, markets, technology and norms to get right. All four of those factors have been sorely lacking.

The default posture of our devices and software has been to haemorrhage our most sensitive data for anyone who cared to eavesdrop upon them. The default posture of law – fuelled by an unholy confluence of Big Data business models and Greater Manure Pile surveillance – has been to allow for nearly unfettered collection by spies, companies, and companies that provide data to spies. The privacy norm has been all over the place, but mostly dominated by nothing-to-hide. And thanks to the norm, the market for privacy technology has been nearly nonexistent – people with "nothing to fear" won't pay a penny extra for privacy technology.

We cannot afford to be indifferent to internet spying

(Image: Anonymity, Privacy, and Security Online/Pew Center)


One Response to “Peak indifference to surveillance”

  1. John Pubman says:

    Cory,

    I would be very interested in any browser or security settings you would be willing to share; I use Firefox and Linux.

    At present, I do this:

    - Block cookies by default, whitelisting what I like
    - Send Flash cookies to /dev/null
    - DOM storage disabled via about:config
    - Use Adblock Edge with several subscriptions
    - Use Disconnect add-on
    - Use Flagfox add-on to see where webserver is located
    - Disable geo-location in about:config
    - Disable css-visted in about:config

    Any thoughts or ideas you wouldn't mind sharing would be very much appreciated.

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