Our Privacy Delusions

Friday, January 04, 2013


We all claim to want privacy online, but that desire is rarely reflected in our online behavior. OTM producer Sarah Abdurrahman looks into the futile attempts we make to protect our digital identities.


Johannes Brahms - Violin Concerto op.77 in D Major


Alessandro Acquisti, Jacob Appelbaum, Sarah Feinberg, Alex Goldman, Mat Honan and Ryan Singel

Hosted by:

Bob Garfield and Brooke Gladstone

Produced by:

Sarah Abdurrahman

Comments [8]

Andrew from New York

I thought the segment really lacked nuance -- a lot of the examples were really overblown. I should be concerned about any reference to my sexual orientation in my gmail because Uganda is considering a 'kill the gays' law? That's so far-fetched as to be absurd.

Grownups get to make choices about risk. Revealed preferences tell you quite a bit, and a lot of people apparently think that the joy/satisfaction/connection that they get from, say, putting photos on Instagram is a privacy tradeoff worth making. The Diet Coke and a Big Mac framing used here is a bit condescending - I think most people who post to Twitter are aware that scary scary strangers or 'the government' could be reading it.

Jan. 27 2013 03:29 PM
Bryn from New York

In case anyone is interested, here's a Lifehacker article on privacy respecting alternatives...

So far I've checked out DuckduckGo and StartPage. They work fairly well, but not as good as Google. But that is what a lot of this comes down to. What's more important? A slightly better search engine or your privacy?

Jan. 09 2013 10:23 AM
Art in Canada from Canada

Tomorrow’s Data Today – just to look out ahead of the box for a moment:

Reflection on this subject is often through the lens of the world around us today, the people in power today, and the issue can be tempered by what we perceive to be the reality of those individuals. For example … "but it's the president so, you know, it's probably OK, he's cool, and a Democrat."

Be that as it may, all this data is going to be around for a while. So it's not only about the world we live in today, it's also about how that data might be used in the world we’ll be living in in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years from now as well. What did your father do with google? What did your grandfather do with google?

And does data collected that is supposed to evaporate, really evaporate? Who knows? How hard is it to just copy and archive it? (or with new laws not yet written – de-archive).

Will new terrorist attacks at some point in our future lead people to vote into power a radical neo-Joseph-McCarthy-esque regime out of fear? Will government continue to eviscerate itself, engineering a transfer of society progressively more and more out from under the control of democratic processes, to a society more and more under the control of corporate interests? (the data will transfer along).

Who looks at all this data, for what purpose, and how they use this data is only partially answered by looking at today’s world. All this data will also be subject to new laws not yet written for the benefit of new regimes not yet in power, who will hold true whatever beliefs they choose to hold true about individuals, society and corporate interests.

Jan. 06 2013 02:55 PM
Bryn from New York

I enjoyed the article and I'm interested in learning more.

Does anyone know of an email service that encrypts email in a way that they can't access? Or is the only anwer to keep it local? If so, is there a good pop client for iPhone and/or Android?

What about encrypted files I stick in a cloud? How hackable are they?

Is it possible to anonymously search Google and Bing? Setting up a TOR service just to hide a couple search terms sounds like overkill.

As you can tell, I fall into the Big Mac, Fries, and Diet Coke kind of privacy guy. I want to be more healthy, but I don't know where to start.

Jan. 06 2013 12:30 PM
Dennis Mick

Today's show repeatedly missed a key point.

Surveillance stifles dissent. Measures instituted initially or ostensibly for prosecuting crime or fighting terrorism can and often are easily turned on anyone who legitimately opposes another political faction or government.

Dissent is vital to a sustained democracy because, without opposition, governments will surely overreach and some measure of freedom will be lost. The right to organized dissent or political opposition is seriously endangered by lax protections from covert surveillance.

Even those of us with nothing to hide should be very concerned about how weakened privacy protections can and will be used politically.

Jan. 06 2013 11:18 AM
keith from Elkmont

People have lost their abilities to have what my grandfather and his generation considered the most important way to survive. Our founding fathers had it in their prose and tent of being who they became. "Common Sense", Mr. Payne knew this well as did Mr. Orwell.

Jan. 05 2013 07:42 AM
Mark from Rowlett, TX

If you're interested in this subject and not watching Person of Interest on CBS you're missing the best treatment of this issue on TV. The show is of course fiction, but the underlying issues of "The Machine" are real, as evidenced by this week's OTM.

Jan. 05 2013 07:07 AM

As an IT professional, I can say this was a very well done article. Well worth listening to for the professional and anyone else interested in understanding and protecting your privacy.

Jan. 05 2013 06:45 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.