The Meaning of Privacy

Many of our political battles today — marriage, public schools, religious belief, homosexuality (and sexuality at large) — actually revolve, in the public sphere, around what you think “privacy” really means. The Federalist, for instance, recently pointed out:

The left’s operational concept of freedom is that you are allowed to do and say what you like—so long as you stay within a certain proscribed window of socially acceptable deviation. The purpose of the gay marriage campaign is simply to change the parameters of that window, extending it to include the gay, the queer, the transgendered—and to exclude anyone who thinks that homosexuality is a sin or who wants to preserve the traditional concept of marriage. Those people are declared outside the protection of the law and in fact will have the full weight of the law bear down upon them until they recant their socially unacceptable views. –The Federalist

For our culture today, privacy has one essential meaning: the right to do whatever I like while no-one else is watching. Or, to be more precise, to have some space in my life where I can do what I like. To put a finer point on it, to have a space where I can engage in any sexual activity I like without society condemning me.

But by restricting privacy to one single set of physical acts, our libprog culture is engaging in a bit of tail-eating. As pressure increases to accept anything done “in the name of love” (given “love” is now a synonym for sex), and given the increasing pressure to, in fact, make such acts a matter of public concern, the libprog worldview is shrinking the concept of privacy into nonexistence. The irony of those who’ve built their entire worldview on “get out of my bedroom, it’s private,” getting into everyone’s bedroom in the name of tolerance (in order to enforce “freedom”) seems to be lost on the average libprog thinker.

The real essence of privacy is the right to think what we like to think, to believe what we like to believe, regardless of whether or not anyone agrees with us. These private beliefs must be translatable into public action if privacy is to have any real meaning — for instance, the right of a church, or a family, or a family business, to refuse to pay for contraception for its employees, or to refuse to expend personal, creative, or social effort in supporting homosexual marriage. There is not only the right to believe what you choose, but also to refuse to support those who believe differently than you in their activities.

The left strongly supports “conscientious objectors,” those who refuse to join the military because they are pacifists, in their nonaction, but refuses to support churches and family businesses who refuse to support homosexual marriage. The left supports the rights of teacher’s unions to endorse political candidates with money taken involuntarily from teacher’s paychecks, and yet wants the government to censor “news outlets” to “make certain they’re telling the truth about political candidates.”

And yet both are founded on privacy — the right to refuse to support those who you don’t agree with in taking an action in the public space.

As the Federalist says, privacy includes — must include — the right to be wrong, or it has no meaning at all.


Confused About Sex?

You should be.

Being homosexual is not something a person chooses, so denying homosexuals marriage is a rights violation akin to racism. After all, if you’re “born that way,” and your sexual orientation is encoded in your body from birth, then how can anyone discriminate against you? Further, homosexuals can’t “convert” those who are “born straight.”

On the other hand, gender is a “fluid construct,” chosen by each person as they see fit, in different situations, over time. Teachers shouldn’t call students “boys,” or “girls,” they should call them, well, let’s see… Purple penguins.

It’s okay for your child to carry a sign like this:


“Slut walks” are not only fine, they’re actually empowering. But it’s not okay for a Republican candidate to say he was “sexually active” on his 18th birthday.

It’s good to teach kids about birth control and “safe sex” well below the “age of consent.” But don’t actually have sex with a child under the “age of consent,” because that would be statutory rape. Don’t run around saying that one of the targets of sexual freedom crusaders is to eliminate the age of consent, or lower it dramatically. That would be disgusting, and a slippery slope argument, and thus logically invalid.

We should get government out of our bedrooms. After all, who’s business is it who you choose to love? But wait, we need to make certain the government validates the consent that’s going on in there, because women (who are intrinsically equal to men in all things) might be getting raped. Or is that a man dressing as a woman who’s being raped? Or perhaps a woman dressing as a man who’s doing the raping? Or… ?? After all, women (whatever a “woman” is any longer”) should control sex, unless they turn that responsibility over to the government for them. Heck, why not just consider the marriage certificate the only positive assent allowed, and be done with it?

Liberals don’t want to talk about sex — it’s totally, like, private, you know? — except when they talk about it, which is all the time. Any two people who love one another should be able to get married. Except a father and his daughter, a mother and her son, or three people. Unless, of course, you’re into that sort of thing (give it time — now that the first wall has collapsed, the rest will follow).

If you’re confused, don’t feel bad. And if you’re not, then you’re probably a progressive. But why all the contradictory positions?

Because this isn’t really a discussion about sex. Instead, it’s really a discussion about power and conservative belief. The “sex game” benefits the libprog’s purpose on several fronts.

First, it allows progressives to cast conservatives, especially religious ones, as prudes. Conservatives, especially Christians, should be required to walk around like lepers of old, ringing a little bell and crying “Uncool! Bigot! Prude! Idiot!” Just so a “normal” human doesn’t end up downwind of them, you know, or accidentally make some sort of actual physical contact with such a disgusting creature. This “uncoolness,” you see, shuts down the conservative voice in politics. Who can take a Christian seriously about the need for freedom of religion when they’re so blatantly uncool about sex?

Second, it has the desired effect of safely making government a permanent fixture in every bedroom everywhere, no matter your age or “orientation” or “marital status.” If you thought libprogs wanted government out of the bedroom, you’re wrong. To put it simply, “progressive” means “progress” in every area of life. As people are too stupid to progress on their own (see Christians as an example), then they must be forced to progress. How can you force people to progress if you don’t control the bedroom, as well as the boardroom?

Third, it has the desired effect of ridding the world of that pesky thing called a “family,” which has ever stood in the way of the power of the state to shape people as the state likes. After all, who’s ever heard of someone educating their own children (and doing a good job)? Who’s ever heard of someone with a strong family winding up on government welfare, or under the government’s thumb in some other way? Families breed independent thinkers, and the only independent thinkers libprog’s like are those who think just like they do.

So if you’re confused about the sex wars, you can try this special trick. For any “war” being waged in the sexual arena, just squint your eyes real small (so everything gets fuzzy), and ask — “how does this effort work to destroy the family, increase the power of government, or shame Christians?” — and you’ll probably understand the real point.


The End of the Free Internet

Today marks the beginning of the end for the Internet as we know it. Over the next generation, the Internet as we know it will be replaced by a new Internet. In case you missed the announcement:

To support and enhance the multistakeholder model of Internet policymaking and governance, the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) today announces its intent to transition key Internet domain name functions to the global multistakeholder community. –NTIA

For those who don’t understand, there are several crucial parts to the infrastructure that runs the Internet. One of those parts is the domain name (DNS) system, which maps the name you type into your browser bar into an address — analogous to a mapping program that converts “Bart’s Deli,” into an address you can drive to, or a telephone number you can call.

Why is this so crucially important? Because this is the tip of the iceberg, the camel’s nose. The end game is total “multistakeholder” control over every aspect of the Internet, from designing the protocols and setting the standards that make the Internet run (the purview of the IETF today), to the delegation of names (DNS, as above), and addresses, to deciding how and where service providers will interconnect, what services they will offer, and what they will charge for those services. That this is the end game has been made as clear as possible, given the ingrained habit of obfuscation by high level believers in the big government dream, on multiple open mailing lists by representatives of the EU and other governmental organizations.

If the stakeholders already have control of the Internet, do they stand to gain anything from hasty, ad hoc evolution efforts? Or are they more likely to lose some considerable degree of control to governments and multilateral governance models? –CircleID

But what’s so bad about a “multistakeholder” model? It all depends on your definition of “multistakeholder;” this is one of those Humpty-Dumpty words, a term with multiple definitions by intent, designed to allow the speaker to say one of several things depending on who you’re speaking to. In the world of individual rights, “multistakeholder,” means “open to participation by anyone who’s interested and competent.” This is, in fact, precisely how the IETF is built today. Anyone who has an interest of any type in Internet standards can join the mailing lists, go to the meetings, and participate. In the eyes of a modern neo-newage progressive, however, “multistakeholder,” has an entirely different meaning. What it means is insuring that everyone participates through some representative system in a well defined process that’s transparent enough to avoid questioning, while being opaque enough to be controlled by the “right people,” or “people like us.”

In the one model, if you’re a lawyer, engineer, security expert, or privacy advocate who would like to participate, the mailing lists are open, and everyone on them is willing to listen to your opinion. In the other, there must be a specific number of lawyers who represent all lawyers, a specific number of engineers who represent all engineers, etc., all with input channeled through specific processes to insure everyone has a “fair say.” The progressive process is focused on groups, not people, and therefore must be certain to include the right number of people from the right groups to “represent the world.”

As the “international multistakeholder community,” moves into each area of Internet governance, they will bring their model with them, inevitably shutting down (and out) individual contributions, and replacing them with group contributions. It won’t matter what an individual engineer who’s worked on computer networks for the last 20 years thinks. There will be one engineer to represent all engineers, pitted against one government minister who spends all their time and power figuring out how to subvert the process to the gain of the government in question.

The result will be, in the end, an Internet that is less open, with more surveillance, and increasing controls on what may, or may not, be said. Take a good look around at what you see as the Internet today. In 20 years, if Christ tarries that long, it won’t look anything like it looks today.

And that won’t be a good thing.


You Still Think it’s About the Data?

Funneling a steady stream of diversions straight to your pocket, smartphones are often cast as the ultimate distractors. But a University of Michigan engineering professor sees potential for them to be something quite the opposite. What if they could act as mentors in mindfulness, helping users stay attentive in order to achieve particular goals? … College Granny aimed to help students balance studying and socializing and develop healthy habits in both parts of their lives. The user can set the app to remind him or her at appropriate times to go to sleep, take a study break, or quit after just one game of beer pong, for example. … “The app would be able to have a constant, almost living presence in the user’s life, and could thus help them form their decisions even more than if it were just a browsing app…” –Michigan Engineering

No, the data collection we see in progress right now isn’t “just” about collecting the data. It’s about control — about learning how to control people by examining what they’re doing now, and then finding the best way to “nudge,” them in the direction the designer, or engineer, thinks is “healthy.”

These little cell phone apps are voluntary, of course, and only in the research phase — but there’s nothing liberals and “social dogooders” desire more than to get inside your head all the time. The left wants you out of the bedroom, but they want in your pants pocket to tell you how to live your life in every other respect in the greatest detail possible.

Reminds me of Lewis:

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.


Liberal Agression in the Culture War

Both companies suing the government under Obamacare have no objection to providing insurance plans that cover the cost of birth control pills and other forms of contraception. What both the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties object to is paying for abortifacients — drugs that terminate a pregnancy rather than prevent one. (Hobby Lobby also opposes paying for IUDs, which prevent implantation of a fertilized egg.) The distinction is simple: Contraception prevents fertilization and pregnancy. Drugs such as “Plan B” terminate a pregnancy, albeit at an extremely early stage.

The plaintiffs in these cases aren’t saying the government should ban abortifacients or make it impossible for their employees to buy them. All they are asking is that the people using such drugs pay for them themselves rather than force employers and co-workers to share the cost. In other words, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood want such birth control decisions to be left to individual women and their doctors. Leave the rest of us out of it.

But leaving the rest of us out of it is exactly the opposite intent of the authors of Obamacare. The law forces not only arts and crafts shops but also Catholic charities and other religiously inspired groups to choose between fulfilling their mission or violating their values. You may have no moral objection to such things, but millions of people do. By what right are liberals seeking to impose their values on everyone else? Isn’t that something they denounce conservatives for?

Town Hall


If Something is Free…

I guess very few people really work for free. We all do for the family, charity or clubs but basically when we work for a company, we get paid – at least I do. If you look at it from a company perspective, they need to get the revenue to pay the salaries, right? So far, so good. Now we have companies, which offer services for free like Google, Facebook, Twitter etc. – how do they pay the salaries? Right, through advertising. It is very interesting for companies to do targeted marketing instead of just “spray and pray”. They will pay money for that. But in order to do targeted advertising (and thus finance the “for free” service), the advertiser wants to know you, your interests etc. to serve you as good as possible. Makes sense? So, your data is what companies are interested in, you are trading your data, your privacy for the free service. You agreed to it and you do it voluntarily. Keep that in mind.

I want to be very clear that quite some companies currently are crossing a boarder when it comes to privacy, which I feel is unacceptable. Especially as they collect data from different sources they own, from different services they run and then correlate data. There is a limit, what should be done with my data. So, I do not feel that the current situation is ok, but it is not only the government’s role to do something against it. If you stop using the service and others do as well, the company’s revenue stream will drop. It is all about money.

The social implications of this model are, what really worries me. There were a lot of discussions about the NSA (or any other government) spying on foreigners. A lot of people got upset but did somebody really change the way they use technology? Did somebody really stop using Facbook, Twitter, Dorpbox, Skydrive, etc.? I am not aware of too many people. We are upset but we are ready to accept the risks for the benefit we get. As I said, it is in your hands to a certain extent how far you want to influence where your personal data resides…

Roger Halbheer

Here is one place where Christians could truly counter cultural, prizing personal relationships over impersonal, and stopping constantly putting our lives on Facebook and Twitter for all the world to see.


Privacy and the Threat to the Self

To get a sense of what I mean, imagine that I could telepathically read all your conscious and unconscious thoughts and feelings — I could know about them in as much detail as you know about them yourself — and further, that you could not, in any way, control my access. You don’t, in other words, share your thoughts with me; I take them. The power I would have over you would of course be immense. Not only could you not hide from me, I would know instantly a great amount about how the outside world affects you, what scares you, what makes you act in the ways you do. And that means I could not only know what you think, I could to a large extent control what you do. That is the political worry about the loss of privacy: it threatens a loss of freedom. And the worry, of course, is not merely theoretical. Targeted ad programs, like Google’s, which track your Internet searches for the purpose of sending you ads that reflect your interests can create deeply complex psychological profiles — especially when one conducts searches for emotional or personal advice information: Am I gay? What is terrorism? What is atheism? If the government or some entity should request the identity of the person making these searches for national security purposes, we’d be on the way to having a real-world version of our thought experiment. –NY Times

An interesting point about this quote: the NY Times consistently supports bigger government. But how can you have bigger government, more government control over our lives to “make us do good,” if the government doesn’t also have a correspondingly larger view into our privacy? How can the government “make us do good,” without the levers of power which this very article decries as being politically dangerous?

This is the paradox of the modern liberal mind: a government big enough to make you do the right thing is big enough to make you do what it wants regardless of whether its the right thing or the wrong thing. There’s no way to have perfect control over citizens for the good without also having perfect control over them for evil.


It’s not the Data

skull-xrayA lot of people think the NSA’s Prism project, snorking up tons of information “just in case we need it,” isn’t really that big of a deal. After all, “who can analyze all that data, and make sense of it, or bring it down to my level?” Or, “who really reads all this stuff?”

But if this is what you think then you’re missing the point. Big data isn’t about lots of information in real time at all.

It’s about control. Take this small example, from a recent election.

A lower-tech effort with the same purpose was pulled off last year in Arizona. A national left-wing advocacy group, Mi Familia Vota, sought to register new voters with as much certainty as possible that they would vote for Democrats. Calls were made with the promise of home improvement store gift certificates if the respondent would answer a list of questions. The freebies never came. Instead, union members and paid activists canvassed and registered likely prospects in key congressional and legislative districts. –Town Hall

In other words, data mining is being used here as a control on who is encouraged to register to vote by predicting who they’ll vote for. This is a rather crude example, but it’s also easy to relate to. The broader examples are larger in scale and scope. Let’s take a purely hypothetical example.

Let’s say you notice that each time a particular image is shown in television, people eat less. Now, if your goal is to get people across a specific area to lose weight, how will you react? You’ll arrange to have that image shown in television. A lot. In every conceivable context. You don’t care way this correlation exists, you don’t care if your manipulation of people is ethical, and you don’t care about any other side effects that might happen along (after all, you’re not measuring all side effects, just the amount people eat). If you can control what people see, you use that control to extend your control into another area of their life: how much they eat.

This is what data mining is all about: control.

The dream of big data is that you can predict (and therefore control) not only how much some eats, but also what they wear, what they eat, etc. This can easily be extended to how people vote, so those with the power of government can remain in power forever, even in a democratic system, simply by using the data collected to predict precisely how people will react to specific policies and ideas, in order to remain in power.

The other side effects of a policy become secondary issues. It doesn’t matter how many lives Obamacare will end or ruin, so long as it garners votes. It doesn’t matter if Detroit goes bankrupt, costing people their dignity and lives, so long as the policies that got Detroit there garner votes, and attention can be directed elsewhere when the disaster actually strikes. It doesn’t matter if you throw an innocent person in jail for making a video that really didn’t cause a certain embassy to be destroyed, ending American lives, so long as it causes enough people to stop asking questions about what really happened.

Never mind the wreckage in human lives and social capital. Never mind the ethics (because we, the rulers, know what’s best for you anyway). Never mind sin nature (because we don’t believe in all that fuddy duddy Christianity and sin stuff), and the danger of unintended consequences (if there are unintended consequences it’s just because our model isn’t big enough).

The politicians, the community organizers, those who are “wise,” “know better.” They can be trusted with all this data, because they can be trusted with control.

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