T Nation

How Important is Privacy?


I saw a similar articles like this: http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/politics/Obama-Administration-Wants-National-Online-ID-113201589.html about a plan for a internet ID. I really do not know what this would entail or why it is even being considered. Dovetail this with what the leaders of Facebook, etc. pushing for less privacy, under the rational that when everyone gives up privacy it becomes unnecessary. Add in some internet bullying and stalking, and a pinch of website trolling....

Anyway, how important do you think privacy of your identity is on the internet?

Do you think people should be held accountable for their actions while online? (Who should police this?)

How do you think the loss of privacy will effect the nature of the internet?


When I hear about people getting prosecuted and potentially facing jail time for things said on the internet I get scared.


Slander? Threats? or what?


Nothing is really all that private anymore.

Just gotta roll with the punches sometimes.


Internet privacy is important, and not just for trolls.

Accountable for what actions? If you run a web site that steals and sells people's identities or something, then sure. But I think that falls under existing laws regarding wire fraud. Kiddie porn would be another example where offenders should be tracked down and prosecuted. But it will be the death knell for the internet when people face charges just for saying idiotic stuff on a forum or for clicking on the wrong link and getting an eyeful of diarrhea-related porn.

As for the question about who should police the webz, it should be the individual web sites holding the power to ban obnoxious posters. Last thing I would want is for some government bureaucrat to decide that a site that promotes the creatinz, and heck, even sells it in micronized form, is a danger and should be shut down.

Let's leave 1984 back a quarter-century ago, where it belongs.


Slander is enough. I agree we need privacy, but I also agree that it is way too easy right now for people who are anonymous to screw with people who do have more information about themselves out there.

I mean, shit, we live in an age where someone can "tweet" that you have herpes and everyone on campus will think you do whether it is true or not. I think SOMETHING needs to be done to curb that ability and I can't see anything that fits better than reducing how anonymous you really are.

If people were truly held responsible for the things they write, do you really think some of the racist and outright stupid shit that we see on this forum would be as rampant?

Of course not...because most of those people are cowards who would never say that in real life to anyone living.

You take away that wall they can hide behind and I am sure you will see far less of it.


So X you are saying there should be no privacy? That you have an online tag that allows anybody to see who you are, where you are, how much you have, etc? I understand and agree that privacy allows people to slander and be assholes, however what about theft of your identity?


I am not saying there should be NO privacy, but I am saying that I am not sure what the solution is to random anonymous people fucking up your personal life simply because they can.

If you own a business or have a professional degree, your info is already out there for the public if they know where to look...but things like facebook and youtube allow criminals and assholes to connect the dots easily to locate you.

How do we stop that from happening other than having some type of way to find someone after they put something on the internet that can hurt you?

I like my privacy...but I get stalked more than most on this forum and I doubt people would continue to act like that if knew who they were.


I do not think legal accountability necessitates removing all privacy. However, determining what is criminal, threatening, etc. could be difficult(though not always). Especially with all those out there saying what is said on the internet does not matter, could not possibly be serious, etc.

For example:
Facebook 'Attack a Teacher Day' invite gets girls arrested

Also, who would decide in the case of threat/teasing/etc.. At many universities allegations of sexual misconduct rest on the accuser felling like something inappropriate happened, not the intent or even the actions of the accused. In the case of a student/professor case, if the student feels wronged that is enough. The sexual harassment training I received stressed keeping a squeaky clean reputation, be extra careful with everything you say, and do not meet with students behind closed doors/one-on-one/etc. I would not want this to happen on line. I do not like working in that environment at all, actually.


Agreed, I am just wary for my own personal privacy.

What alternative though Internet Police? My little sister got hazed and attacked through the net her first year of college 5-6 years ago. It crushed her self esteem etc.

I again agree with what your point is, but stalker is one thing stealing all you have is another. I know that is probably irrational fear but friend of mine's wife had her identity stolen. Not an easy thing to fix. Internet stalking is more of a social stigma.


The thing is, what you write here does matter...and it strikes me as pure insanity when people log in claiming nothing written on line should matter...because why are they online if none of it matters?

The ONLY reason they even think it doesn't matter is because they aren't sitting right in front of the people they are insulting.

I personally think stalking should apply on line to some degree. If some jackass locates your job phone number and calls it potentially saying something that could get you terminated, why would they not face charges?

Hell, how do we find them?

Look at what happened on bb.com when that boy killed himself. Tons of people were online just watching it happen as he laid on his bed to die...while they kept making jokes and throwing insults.

Youtube and the internet has created a society filled with people who think they are free from any repercussions for the things they write. I got called a "nigger" here when I know that same little kid wouldn't think about saying it to my face. Things like that escalate when people feel they are free from the consequences....so what do we do when it does escalate?



Identity theft is something else, to me. The real problem with identity theft is that the burden of proof to disprove what personal info companies had is too high, while the standards for verification of the individual's information is too low for the companies. I think new regulation is desperately needed to increase the verification standards for companies whose data influences credit scores, medical records, insurance rates, etc.


Identity theft is a major concern...and should be for everyone. I am not sure what the solution is....I just know that the way the internet currently is can not last forever. The more business is done on line, the less you can expect for everything to be completely anonymous.

Facebook is showing this now since employers are now know to look at that site for potential hires. Now, you may have thought that racist comment you made last year was funny as hell....but if it keeps you from making 80K this year, you just may stop being so "internet free".


LOL there are a lot of guys on here that would be fucked for sure. We are about the same age and I was just raised with a real sense of privacy and fear of Govt. invading our personal lives.

I agree we are not far from some type of true internet security/police measures. I wonder if there has been law suits of discrimination for the FB thing?


I have discussed this in my classes, usually just a few of the students understand the implications you point out. I am tempted to have them use their Facebook page to introduce themselves in front of class. I doubt any will be any willing participants.


In an ideal world, it would be nice if a guy gets pays the price and loses out on a good-paying job offer because he posted some racist attack while hiding under the moniker of "BigGunz2231" or whatever.

But can see such anti-privacy legislation as likely to have unintended consequences. These days, it seems there are pantywaists who get offended over anything and EVERYTHING. People have sued because their kid was asked to say the pledge of allegiance, which is "psychologically damaging" to the kid in their mind. Other people are so upset by the sight of a nativity scene at Christmas time, they can no longer function. Or they drop away in a faint if someone wishes them a Merry Christmas when they don't happen to celebrate that holiday. As a country, we've gone so far over into sissyfication, I hate to think what will happen when anything anyone posts online, regardless of actual intent, can be a punishable offense as long as someone comes forward to object to it.


I think I see both sides of this issue and in the end I am against this plan. I hate the idea someone can sit in a Cincinnati suburb and use some satellite server to make it appear they are in Europe while they pry into the lives of other people who post on the internet but I see this type of system just making it easier for the bad guys to get information while they continue to find ways to circumvent the system.


And does this make him unqualified for the job though, personal life aside.

True, the punitive measures of course would be what is important in anytype of policing action. I mean automatically banning people is great, actual jail time for calling someone a name online is something else.


Maybe we all need to read up on post-structuralism; from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-structuralism

"Post-structural practices generally operate on some basic assumptions;

* Post-structuralists hold that the concept of "self" as a separate, singular, and coherent entity is a fictional construct. Instead, an individual comprises tensions between conflicting knowledge claims (e.g. gender, race, class, profession, etc.). Therefore, to properly study a text a reader must understand how the work is related to his or her own personal concept of self. This self-perception plays a critical role in one's interpretation of meaning. While different thinkers' views on the self (or the subject) vary, it is often said to be constituted by discourse(s). Lacan's account includes a psychoanalytic dimension, while Derrida stresses the effects of power on the self. This is thought to be a component of post-modernist theory.

* The author's intended meaning, such as it is (for the author's identity as a stable "self" with a single, discernible "intent" is also a fictional construct), is secondary to the meaning that the reader perceives. Post-structuralism rejects the idea of a literary text having a single purpose, a single meaning, or one singular existence. Instead, every individual reader creates a new and individual purpose, meaning, and existence for a given text. To step outside of literary theory, this position is generalizable to any situation where a subject perceives a sign. Meaning (or the signified, in Saussure's scheme, which is as heavily presumed upon in post-structuralism as in structuralism) is constructed by an individual from a signifier. This is why the signified is said to 'slide' under the signifier, and explains the talk about the "primacy of the signifier."

* A post-structuralist critic must be able to use a variety of perspectives to create a multifaceted interpretation of a text, even if these interpretations conflict with one another. It is particularly important to analyze how the meanings of a text shift in relation to certain variables, usually involving the identity of the reader."

cliff notes:
-what the author meant is less important than what what the reader thinks it means
-the above will be very individual
-texts mean different things at the same time


Related: Heard on Charlie Rose that Facebook and Linkedin are the fastest growing network sites and they require actual names, not aliases. They pointed to issues of trust verse privacy.