Ana Viseu on 3 Feb 2001 05:06:04 -0000

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Re: <nettime> Privacy Anyone?


In your post you are trying to separate two things which, in fact, cannot 
the separated. The loss of privacy and the creation of net borders. The 
creation of borders is dependent on the loss of privacy, for you cannot 
block someone out unless you have some information about who they are.

Dismissing privacy as a perceived issue, and concluding that it is a 
non-issue because when posting on Nettime most people use their real names, 
shows a superficial understanding of what privacy is. Privacy is not 
connected to the voluntary giving out of information about oneself, rather 
it has to do with the ability to control who has access to this information 
and when. In other words, the loss of privacy has to do with a loss of 
control of one’s own personal information. The creation of huge opaque 
databases, controlled by self-regulating businesses is a real problem, 
because as individuals we cannot access them or even find out what is 
collected there. A good metaphor for today’s privacy issues is Kafka’s The 
Trial, where the main character is accused of having committed a crime and 
is told that there is a ‘complete file’ on him, but is never given access 
to the file in order to find out what the crime is. [1]

Nortel’s new software aims at doing exactly that: extract personal info 
without one’s consent. And they are not shy about it. On their website one 
can read: "Imagine a network that knows who you are, where you are, and can 
reach you whether you're on your mobile phone or at your desktop. Even 
better, imagine instead of finding your Web content, it finds you”. It is 
scary to think of may find you…

Nortel admits that there are privacy risks, but trusts on the good market 
self-regulation to solve them. I don’t.

The attempt to create frontiers on the Net (and this time not wild-west 
ones…) is directly, although not exclusively, related to privacy. The 
discourse on the creation of borders takes many forms: national 
sovereignty, security, law, taxation, etc. But it can be reduced, in a very 
basic form, to the balance between the right to privacy and all the above 
mentioned issues. Check out, for example, the new European/international 
Cybercrime Law.

If one wants to maintain a border-free internet then dismissing privacy 
concerns is definitely the wrong approach.

Best. Ana Viseu

[1] See an article on today’s NYTimes on this:

At 01:27 AM 2/1/01 +0100, you wrote:

>creepy yes, but not very significant.

Tudo vale a pena se a alma não é pequena.

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