Before we discovered the extent of the US government's surveillance under Prism, which collects and stores data about our phone usage and actually keeps the entire contents of much (most? all?) of our emails and online chats and posts, corporate America was collecting data about our online adventures and shopping habits with a mind to more effectively marketing to us. 

While the latter may feel creepy and seem offensive, it at least can put before us products and services we are actually interested in. 

Compromising our privacy does, without doubt, solve some crimes and prevent some terror attacks. But when does giving up this privacy stop being worth it? We can always use the "If it saves one person's life" argument, but that argument may not hold as much water as it seems. At some point, trading some lives for keeping some privacy might be worth it.

Just like in designing cars. You can make a safer car but each improvement makes the car more expensive, so there have to be trade-offs. What's the point, after all, of designing and building a perfectly safe car nobody can afford? 

So, is giving up privacy a good thing, and if so how much?

What steps could each of us take to preserve much, most, or all of our privacy, and how practical are those steps?

Tags: Prism, crime, privacy, terrorism

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Typically, the way to know the time is right for something is that it happens.

We do pay attention to those other problems, and the government mirrors the concerns of the electorate, which is how democracy works. Perhaps people should be more concerned about global warming, but they are not.

As for the degree of transparency, it's hard to reveal what's going on to the public without also clueing in the terrorists.

As for people choosing not to fly after 9-11, in a country with 300 million people, that was hardly the universal response. 

It's easy for an outsider to misunderstand the goings on in the US. For example, I was in touch with people in the UK who realized they had totally misjudged the US when we elected a black man as President, and realizing they were a long way from electing a Prime Minister of Pakistani or Indian heritage. You should stay away from your flip assessments of America. Many Americans feel that universal healthcare is a bad idea for a constellation of reasons, some of them fact-based and some imaginary, but few of them having to do with not caring. I disagree with them, but to say it's because we don't care is a little flip.

"Typically, the way to know the time is right for something is that it happens."

And the time we know something is not yet right is when it is revealed  and generates major public backlash because people don't really trust their government. Often for good reasons.

gallop poll of public trust in government

"We do pay attention to those other problems, and the government mirrors the concerns of the electorate, which is how democracy works. Perhaps people should be more concerned about global warming, but they are not."

which is why people(myself included) are fundamentally irrational on many issues. The trick is to accept our underlying biasis , study them and then with that information make more rational dicisions.

"As for the degree of transparency, it's hard to reveal what's going on to the public without also clueing in the terrorists."

so you are saying that this spying program cannot function properly without being completely invisible? does that mean that now we know about it the only recourse is to shut it down completely?

"As for people choosing not to fly after 9-11, in a country with 300 million people, that was hardly the universal response. " not universal but statistically significant never the less in showing how a lot of humans simply suck at assesing risk.

"It's easy for an outsider to misunderstand the goings on in the US. For example, I was in touch with people in the UK who realized they had totally misjudged the US when we elected a black man as President, and realizing they were a long way from electing a Prime Minister of Pakistani or Indian heritage. You should stay away from your flip assessments of America. Many Americans feel that universal healthcare is a bad idea for a constellation of reasons, some of them fact-based and some imaginary, but few of them having to do with not caring. I disagree with them, but to say it's because we don't care is a little flip."

I do apologise for that. I also want you to know that i am in no way saying this is all America's fault. My opinion this is due largely to simple but  maladaptive human cognitive biasis. It is just America is the worldleader in many respects and so is the biggest target to aim for.

But then to be fair, it was no more fair of me to blame the resistence to health care solely on people  not caring for one another as it was for you to to attribute the over the top response to terrorism threats solely on people really caring for one another. The reality is that these are complicated multifaceted issues.

And the time we know something is not yet right is when it is revealed and generates major public backlash because people don't really trust their government. Often for good reasons.

No, the time is not right when it is both revealed, explained, and defended. Until then, it's just a knee-jerk reaction.

"We do pay attention to those other problems, and the government mirrors the concerns of the electorate, which is how democracy works. Perhaps people should be more concerned about global warming, but they are not."

which is why people(myself included) are fundamentally irrational on many issues.

You said it. I didn't.

"As for the degree of transparency, it's hard to reveal what's going on to the public without also clueing in the terrorists."

so you are saying that this spying program cannot function properly without being completely invisible? does that mean that now we know about it the only recourse is to shut it down completely?

No, it is overseen by elected representatives who can pass the rather strict security qualifications. Don't think this means it's overseen by people who are eager to rubber stamp their approval, though. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) is hardly a rubber stamper.

"As for people choosing not to fly after 9-11, in a country with 300 million people, that was hardly the universal response. "

not universal but statistically significant never the less in showing how a lot of humans simply suck at assesing risk.

Yeah, a lot of us aren't really statisticians. An incident like 9-11 makes taking a long car ride suddenly more attractive. Go figure.

"It's easy for an outsider to misunderstand the goings on in the US. For example, I was in touch with people in the UK who realized they had totally misjudged the US when we elected a black man as President, and realizing they were a long way from electing a Prime Minister of Pakistani or Indian heritage. You should stay away from your flip assessments of America. Many Americans feel that universal healthcare is a bad idea for a constellation of reasons, some of them fact-based and some imaginary, but few of them having to do with not caring. I disagree with them, but to say it's because we don't care is a little flip."

I do apologise for that. I also want you to know that i am in no way saying this is all America's fault. My opinion this is due largely to simple but maladaptive human cognitive biasis. It is just America is the worldleader in many respects and so is the biggest target to aim for.

But then to be fair, it was no more fair of me to blame the resistence to health care solely on people not caring for one another as it was for you to to attribute the over the top response to terrorism threats solely on people really caring for one another. The reality is that these are complicated multifaceted issues.

I wrote, "Why do you assume that a desire to do something about terrorism arises from a personal fear of being in a terrorist attack rather than a desire simply to prevent more attacks no matter whom they affect? People understand that terrorism of the 9-11 variety is very localized and that they are very unlikely to be in the locale where the attack takes place. Rather, it comes from an urge to protect the country."

I don't see "urge to protect the country" as a synonym for "caring for one another."

BTW, if you're going to continue this conversation, please start a new top-level thread within this topic for the sake of making it easier to follow.

My answer to this is a particular T-shirt that I own, and wear when ever I visit anyplace that I deem to have too much security, whether it's an airport, or a sporting event.

Unseen- one simple question. Just how vital was it to keep this a total secret from the voting masses? Just it seems to me now that even though everyone knows about it they are still arguing rather stridently that keeping it going is critical for national security. If it is still so effective when everybody knows about it then i really dont see the excuse for keeping it secret except that they where afraid the voting masses would not accept it. Atleast not in anything like its current form.

Sorry one more.

"You said it. I didn't."

Are you trying to say that you  have absolutely non  of these natural biases that evolution has programmed into our species ? I personally find that a little hard to believe.

Oh, it's just as effective as when it was secret? Can you document that? 

There are people who maintain that he has done no harm, but what they mean is "not so far." The most serious damage may be brewing now and may not show up until months or years from now, now that we've tipped the bad guys off as to how we've been keeping track of them.

If a nuclear device detonates in the harbor of Los Angeles or Seattle or Miami, perhaps it will have been facilitated by knowing how NOT to communicate with each other. They can also use the methods that have been exposed to distribute DISinformation.

"Oh, it's just as effective as when it was secret? Can you document that? "

Please show me exactly where i said it is still just as effective? all i said is that total secrecy could not have been so critical to it if now ,even though everybody knows about it, they are still arguing that it is critical for national security.

Your second argument is bunk as it supposes that something of this size could be kept secret indefinitly. The fact is something of this size and complexity only has a few years shelf life before the secret comes out. Even before snowden's leak this spying was pretty much an open secret with anyone who had any interest in the subject, or clicked on certain youtube video's. The only group of people who consistently had no clue of what was going on here was the general law abiding public.

"Oh, it's just as effective as when it was secret? Can you document that? "

Please show me exactly where i said it is still just as effective? all i said is that total secrecy could not have been so critical to it if now ,even though everybody knows about it, they are still arguing that it is critical for national security.

Nice dodge.

Your second argument is bunk as it supposes that something of this size could be kept secret indefinitly. The fact is something of this size and complexity only has a few years shelf life before the secret comes out. Even before snowden's leak this spying was pretty much an open secret with anyone who had any interest in the subject, or clicked on certain youtube video's. The only group of people who consistently had no clue of what was going on here was the general law abiding public.

We don't know if anything can remain secret forever because forever is a long, long time, and if it stays secret, we'll never know about it, will we? I'll grant that secrets tend to be revealed, but we'll never be able to document the unrevealed secrets.

At any rate, he affected the particular date the secret(s) was/were revealed, which he had no right to do. And it certainly is clear he didn't consider the potential consequences. 

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