Why privacy matters even if you have nothing to hide [2018]

privacy Sep 8, 2020

— originally posted on my old bogger blog at parmu.ml on 14th December 2018 —

Before I begin:

"Knowledge Is Power"
Lemme tell you this, data - it's a very powerful asset. More valuable than gold, more valuable Bitcoin. It will keep getting powerful and in a time when AI is more skilled than you, the only valuable asset you'll have is your data, which you signed up to give up when you checked on "terms and conditions".

Imagine this reality:

You leave your home and as soon as you leave, a person who's looking at you logs that activity in his diary. That person is looking at where you're going, what you're doing, what you're reading, what your views on a topic are, know your political views, know who you fancy and has the ability to control what you see. This is what we're living in.
Have you played Assassin's Creed Black Flag? In that game the Assassin's and Templars fight for an artifact that allows them to see what every single person in this world is doing. They envy that shear power. Imagine a power to not just see everything everyone are doing but also control what they see and do.

Some less known facts said by Edward Snowden

“Arguing that you don't care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don't care about free speech because you have nothing to say.”
― Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden has talked about how NSA employees would just type in your name and have all the information about you and your connections. That nude you send to your boyfriend/girlfriend? If the employees like that nude, they'll show that to everyone in the office and share that photo to themselves for personal use. Would you be fine by that? Do you want your nudes to be shared and talked about in a bunch of people? A lot of NSA employees use tools like xKeyScore to spy on their loved ones.

The following is a list of why privacy matters that most articles don't write about:

#1 - AI will be very powerful in future and only the people with big datasets can build and control them

Facebook's news feed is an AI. This newsfeed has the power to control mindsets. Have you heard of Google Duplex? Its a pretty neat AI and when it came out, I was curious how it works and I reliased that its fairly simple, but do you why only Google made this? Because they had the data (also they're super smart people).
AI can be used to build powerful world scale propaganda machines. A lot of why AI is booming these days is because of a certain mathematical model called a deep neural network, but these neural networks are completely useless if you don't have the data to train them on. If only a few companies have that data, only a few will have AI. And I can assure you a monopoly on Artificial Intelligence cannot work out well for everyone.

#2 - Whistle blowing will be impossible

Data can be used to build powerful predictive models. And I mean it, really powerful. We villainize corporations about data privacy but the real threat is the government. With data, a good enough model and computational power, governments can predict every single prominent activity that happens. Don't believe me? NYPD already uses data to predict where and when a crime would happen before it even happens. Of course, they're doing good things so what's the problem? The problem is you cannot grant a single authority that much power and expect them to do only do good things with it. What even is good? There are 7.3 Billion people on this planet and there is no way we're all going to agree on anything. Who decides what's allowed and what's not?
When Edward Snowden decided to whistleblow the NSA, he did a lot of activities to gather documents and proofs to support his findings. Do you think the NSA would've done nothing if they had known (i.e their model predicted) that, this employee is going to whistle blow? Sure not. They would've stop him before he could do anything about it.
This authoritarian, mass surveillanced world is what Internet of Things is going towards. Authorities like the government can do whatever bad they want and have the power to stop anyone who decides to talk about that. If you think that would never happen, lemme remind you that technology has had a good track record of doing things people thought to be impossible.

#3 - We act different when we're being watched

“Under observation, we act less free, which means we effectively are less free.”
― Edward Snowden

People act differently when they're being watched. You would be creeped out if there was a physical person spying on you all the time. This is just creepy. Privacy is a right and should be respected. Don't insult it by saying you don't have anything to hide.
“Arguing that you don't care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don't care about free speech because you have nothing to say.”
― Edward Snowden

#4 - Its not just about preventing terrorism, its about power

"These programs were never about terrorism: they're about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They're about power." - Edward Snowden
Power spoils the best in us. Its true, mass surveillence helps prevent crimes, but fucking over everyone else's privacy is a trade off way more dangerous than any terrorist organisation.
We shouldn't be focusing on limiting what people can do but focus on creating better people.


I hope you reconsider your views on privacy after reading this. If yes, these are some ways to protect your privacy:

Some ways to protect your privacy:

The best way is to switch to open-source alternatives.

Open-source and peer2peer technologies are the only ones you can trust.

#1 - Switch to Linux

Linux is an open-source operating system. It easier than windows to install and, quite honestly, better than windows and mac. If you're a gamer, Valve has been working very hard to support linux with AAA gaming titles and the list keep growing but if you're not a gamer, look no more, linux is what you should use.

#2 - Messaging App

Do you use facebook messenger? My condolences. If you use WhatsApp you're on a better position since all your texts are end-to-end encrypted but I should tell you that Facebook still uses your meta data. Facebook has planned to inject ads on WhatsApp stories from 2019 and ads aren't just images, they're scripts, scripts that track you. I don't trust facebook at all so the best messaging app would be Signal. Signal is an open-source privacy texting app founded by the founder of WhatsApp after he regreted selling out his user's privacy to facebook. So yeah, use Signal.

#3 - Mobile Phones

Our phones are the primary source of our data because they're always with us. There's not much you can do without getting your hands dirty with some technical stuff. The best alternative would be to switch to LineageOS (only for Android) but that would not be easy since you would lose some great features like Samsung or Google camera. So its better to just root you phone and remove bloatware that spy on you (Jail Break for iOS).

#4 - Social Media

There's not much you can do, but don't use facebook. There's been some decentralized alternatives but I wouldn't recommend them. If you use social media for memes, switch to something like Reddit. Reddit isn't privacy centric but it atleast gives you more control over your data.

#5 - Payment

This one isn't easy. You can choose to use cash but our economy is moving towards being a cash-less so it's better to use a cryptocurrency like Monero XMR or Zcash. You can use Bitcoin, but its not very good at privacy. You use certain privacy wallets like Samourai wallet which is what I use for my Bitcoins. Using cryptocurrencies isn't easy cause they haven't gone though massive adoption but maybe its good time that they do?

#6 - Configure privacy settings of all services you use

Change Google's privacy services to collect data about you. This won't stop Google completely but its better than giving out everything. Do this to every service you use, twitter, instagram, reddit all of them.

#7 - Don't use Chrome

Chrome analyses every website you visit and is a complete privacy disaster. Switch to Tor browser but if you're not ready for that commitment, switch to firefox instead.

#8 - Change certain browser settings

  • Enable "Do Not Track" in your browser settings
  • Do not grant websites permission to read all your cookies

#8 - Educate everyone else about this. Vote for privacy laws, even from the government

Yeah, do that.



Tis' my blog

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