Blog post

On Stupidity of Some Privacy Themes

By Anton Chuvakin | October 16, 2015 | 0 Comments


Now is a Maverick research season here at Gartner and I wanted to draw your attention to my favorite Maverick research piece that published so far (well, apart from our own on AI exploitation – more on this later). The paper is called “Maverick* Research: The Unbearable Cost of Privacy” (any Gartner license gives you access) and it is jam-packed with insights!

Frankly, I see a lot of idiocy in the field of privacy. A LOT! One of my favorite examples is combining “privacy is a human right” (which this paper strongly argues with) with “my home IP address is private/protected info”, leading to …well… no Internet, really.

In any case, some fun quotes follow:

  • “Despite privacy being a legislated right in many jurisdictions, it must be thought of as a preference to avoid making costly business and regulatory mistakes.”
  • “People perceive negative privacy consequences of advances in information technology. However, evidence of such privacy consequences, despite numerous well-publicized breaches involving personal information, is weak.”
  • Government remains the top threat against privacy and personal freedom, both through legitimate exercises and abuses of power, yet the focal point of privacy regulations is on the commercial sector.”
  • “Privacy is a popular concept in isolation, but few consumers choose it over other things they may value, such as free services and improvements in user experience. Privacy advocates claim that this phenomenon is evidence of a “privacy paradox,” but the concept of revealed preference from economics and psychology is a better explanation.” [so, there is no paradox there]
  • “Practically all information about a person represents some type of shared knowledge.” [i.e. not private!]
  • Previous efforts to stop advances in innovation in the name of privacy failed. We can only hope that, for the sake of those least fortunate in society, current efforts will fail as well.”
  • European privacy laws may be perceived as a last gasp in a long, drawn-out drama going back to the Middle Ages — an attempt to preserve a hierarchical social structure that protects the position and status of the privileged.” [one of my favorite quotes!]

Overall, it would be silly to say that I am “anti-privacy”, as there are clearly a few uses of my personal data that I may object to. However, I find a lot of recent privacy brouhaha to be thoroughly dumb! Read the whole paper, as it makes a really well-researched claim that most defenses of privacy regulation are harmful, misguided or self-serving by some old vested interests.

Now, go enjoy “Maverick* Research: The Unbearable Cost of Privacy

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