Sunday, June 09, 2013

The Upsides of the Death of Privacy

Technology has killed privacy. Even aside from the USA's latest privacy invasions, most of us are semi-voluntarily leaving a trail of information as we go about our Internet-connected lives.


Much is made of the downsides of the death of privacy, but what about the benefits? Like, remember when having an alibi for a crime meant you had to have physically been with another person who could vouch for you?

Today it's more like:

Yes officer, I was there when the car was stolen, but as you can see from this Instagram picture, I was taking a selfie in the bathroom. I tweeted it at the time of the theft with the caption "looking #good in my new #shirt, not stealin' cars, lol." I know, it is a nice shirt isn't it? I forget where I got it, but just check my Mint account.

That hit and run the car was involved in? Officer, by that time I'd checked in on Foursquare at the grocery store blocks away. I was buying the chocolate and bacon for the recipe PC Plus recommended based on my shopping history. I forgot to check in when I walked to Starbucks after, but just look at my Starbucks Card, use facial recognition to find me in everyone else's location-tagged photos from that day, and follow my exact route on Moves.

My actual every move on Friday.
The body in the trunk? Miss, according to Last.fm I was listening to that happy-ass "Good Time" song by Carly Rae Jepsen and Owl City on repeat all day. Do you really think it's possible to commit murder to that song? I know you're a fan of CRJ, officer; I already creeped your Facebook. And according to your OkCupid profile, we're an 89% match. Now that I've been proven innocent, let's go grab a beer.

See? That's all without the NSA's involvement.

I think there is something to the "if you're not doing anything wrong, then there is nothing to fear from your every move being tracked" argument. The often-forgotten continuation of that is that if you're doing something right, you've got a whole lot more ways to remember it and show it off.

I'm being somewhat tongue-in-cheek. There are genuine downsides to the death of privacy (maybe I'll write another post tomorrow about that), but it's not all bad. Us do-gooders espouse openness and honesty as virtues, and a removal of privacy is a step in the direction of forced honesty.

Just don't, you know, commit any actual crimes with your phone on.