Privacy Is O-V-E-R Over

My sentiments below may seem in conflict with the fact that I run a fintech startup which believes deeply in pseudonymity, and protects the identity of those users who wish to remain pseudononymous at all times. But there is a big difference between that, and what I’m about to say.

Privacy is O-V-E-R over.

Many of you will whine and cry as I am seeing a lot of in my stream coming from the All Things Digital conference. Waaaa, people should have their privacy, they should own their data, they should have this right and that right and, and, and, and….

It’s over. No matter how much you feel it shouldn’t be, how unfair it is, it’s over, and it’s time to accept it. No amount of laws, rules, or protections is going to change that, it’s just not. So you can be a pragmatist and learn to deal with it in a smart way, or you can be an idealist and get run the hell over.

I always choose to be a pragmatist, and where I feel I can actually help move a cause that can be moved, I try.

Look, you don’t and never will own your data. When you sign up for any service online, there are terms of service which state that they can either use your data, or they can’t. When you click that join button, the data is all theirs, and in many cases they can do whatever the hell they want with it. You are using their product, most times for free, and guess what, you are the product, or rather your data is. That’s the trade off here, you get great free services, and they get your data.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Everything you do these days produces data. Hell, you produce data just by walking down the street with a cellphone in your pocket. The cell company can see the flow of people around a city this way, and it’s an amazing data set. The cops (or the NSA) can track you via your cell phone, they can track you in a million different ways that you don’t even know of. You produce so much amazing data that we are only beginning to tap into to create smarter more connected systems.

And that data is not yours, just get over it. Yes you produced it, but it’s definitely not yours.

The government is going to allow us all to have personal drones, along with law enforcement. Those drones are going to be equipped with all sorts of tech to collect data, from anyone and everyone.

I always found it hilarious that people thought they had privacy in the past. Wiretapping, c’mon, the government has been doing that for decades, you really think laws prevented them from doing that.

The truth is that people who want to collect information will do whatever technology allows them to do. Laws will never, ever prevent them from stepping outside the bounds of the laws we write.

Our founders included privacy in the constitution for two reasons. One, because there was at the time to preserve it, before technology destroyed that. And two, because they understood the government should not have the power to take it away, that in order for liberty to be preserved, people needed to talk and act beyond the government’s ear. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

In no way am I saying that the reality of the situation here is good. In fact, I believe we have a huge problem on our hands. I can invision some really bad stuff coming from all of the data our government, certain companies, and nefarious individuals can obtain these days with and without your permission. How about DNA? You certainly don’t have to volunteer to give a blood sample for anyone to get your DNA, and then potentially discriminate against you based upon it.

We need to think of out of the box solutions to this issue. But I know one thing, your privacy is dead, and you’re never getting it back, no matter what solutions we come up with.

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