Keizer’s small book looks at privacy today and in years past, in both the personal and public spheres. His approach to the topic is more philosophical than policy: you won’t find solutions to the problems of data mining or warrantless wiretaps within, but you will be prompted to think hard about privacy and its many contexts. Much of the book was written in anger, and the anger is infectious; but then, sometimes anger is the best path to change.

Reading notes

The disease and the cure

Keizer on the fallacy of choice:

Late-stage capitalism seems to thrive on this double-edged strategy of marketing both the disease and the cure. The same economy (and sometimes the same corporation) generates carcinogenic chemicals and chemotherapy, literacy-stunting software and software to address illiteracy, fatty snacks and diet pills, processed food and vitamin tablets, laborsaving devices and exercise machines, deafening audio speakers and noise-reducing headphones—as well as computer spyware and security systems, infrared cameras and lightproof shades, guns for home invasion and guns for home defense. We are sold the bit for drilling and the peephole, and we are sold the plug to stopper it up. We are sold the notion that this amounts to a meaningful choice.

Keizer, Privacy, page 94

To continue the thread: we are sold the technology to mine our data, and then sold the encryption tools to prevent the mining. A more meaningful choice would begin with a better question: why do we need to mine that data in the first place? Perhaps instead of learning what people are up to, we can remove the conditions that make that information valuable in the first place.