Confidentiality

How to maintain it

Bad people, criminals and big business and authoritarian states, would like to use you. They want your money, or they want to use you to spy on your friends. How much effort should you spend on fixing this?

Some. The trick is to triage.

First up, do not get hung up thinking you are a special agent who needs to hide from the NSA. If the NSA cares about you, you are not my target audience; I’m sure someone else in your concrete bunker is way more expert than me anyway.

On the other hand, don’t think you have nothing to hide. For one thing, you have to hide you bank login from crominals or criminals can take your money. But you have a lot more to hide than that. I can’t be arsed making this argument; many others have. Short version: Even if you personally had nothing to hide, and if you were so committed to leading such a facile insipid life that nothing you have ever done will ever offend anyone with power over you, that every boss, colleague and friend would regard everything you have done as saintly, (and I cannot begin to imagine how boring you must be if this is the case) then you still don’t have the right to make that call for your loved ones. Your friends and family don’t deserve to have you spraying their personal histories over the internet for them. And don’t simply surrender because it’s too hard: That’s just doing what big business wants you to do.. Privacy is a weakest-link phenomenon. Do not be the weak link. Instead, for us normal people, the rule should be: Start by not giving your information away for free to everyone.

Security Planner will walk you through this. Or if you want to feel fancier, Andryou’s beginner-friendly tools or, more hardcore, see Quincy Larson, How to encrypt your entire life in less than an hour.

How we could do it better now

So, some baby steps towards a healthier privacy regime. I am going to list some techniques that have aroused my attention. Later I will triage them according to how urgent is the priority of the privacy leak they plug and how onerous to handle; e.g. something like:

Keep my data out of the hands of criminals

See keeping credit card details out of the hands of the mafia

Keeping your friends’ secrets away from corporate surveillance

See confidentiality, corporate surveillance edition.

Keeping your friends’ and also journalists’ secrets away from government surveillance

See confidentiality, state surveillance edition.

Working on the politics of confidentiality

See the quantified other.