Marshall says that we’re not doing anything about data privacy (where we refers to the depressingly uninformed public). That sounds about right to me: SOPA, Snowden, and the NSA kind of ended up as one-shot news items to most, worthy only of a short panic session over whether or not someone in Washington has been giggling at your dirty browsing habits.

The threat of digital privacy invasion seems to have gone down an awful lot like the way the Ebola panic did – Ebola was really only scary until everyone realized that the only people getting their insides liquefied are the ones who did something stupid like live in Africa. The good Americans are safe. Similarly, the only people who need to worry about their lives as database entries are the sorts who do nasty, evil things on the internet like sell illegal narcotics, order violent assassinations, or download music for free.


Data privacy for most people is just someone else’s problem, or maybe a matter of philosophy:

Privacy Opinions

Didn’t I say that there’s always a relevant XKCD?

On the other hand is a handful of computer-savvy people that are downright freaked, like a paranoid combination of XKCD’s The Crypto Nut and The Conspiracy Theorist. A group composed of the sort of people ready to kill their Facebook accounts, set up a network of pillow forts covered with Faraday cages, and communicate by sending pictures of cats through the postal system (PGP email encryption is only slightly more complicated). Or, at the very least, start replacing every service they use with something from

Their reaction makes sense, to me: these are often the kinds of people who live totally different lives on the internet. Their discomfort is akin to being a bit bothered that at any given time you might be being followed by a tall man in a suit who is recording what book you read with breakfast, and sometimes he has a short man with him who records your dirty jokes, and you don’t know who they’re working for, but sometimes the two look at each other and compare notes, and then they smirk and say “tut-tut!” in unison, but you can’t be sure if they’re always around because the worst part is that they are totally invisible, _except for when someone who knows points them out, and then _has to hide with the__ Russians to avoid gettin__g beaten up.



I don’t think this scenario is going to happen any time soon (I bet that wrench would actually cost at least $6.98) but I feel better having a bit of control over who’s watching what I’m watching.