Is true privacy actually dead or dying?

In the last 6 months, a thread on this form has amassed over 100 fascinating posts about how the fast pace of innovation often provides new ways to violate users privacy & profit from their data.

As more people talk and discuss the erosion of privacy, it’s crucial to also discuss what privacy really means to us and to understand where it came from.
Privacy isn’t a recent development. Although the specific rights and values associated with privacy may be modern, examples of people valuing privacy and seeking ways to protect it can be found throughout history and across different cultures.
However, with the progress of technology moving at lightning speed, privacy seems to be going the way of the dodo. (moving toward extinction).
This got me thinking.
Does TRUE privacy still exist?
I mean, I can’t even get in or out of my apartment(main entrance) without using a key fob, so all my comings & goings are monitored. Not to mention all the cameras everywhere.

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As Hannah Arendt put it:

A life spent entirely in public, in the presence of others, becomes, as we would say, shallow. While it retains its visibility, it loses the quality of rising into sight from some darker ground which must remain hidden if it is not to lose its depth in a very real, non-subjective sense.

And here’s some articles on how Arendt viewed the public/private/social:

I think what’s really worrying is that we’re being more and more encouraged to live our “private” lives, being true to our inner selves and our cravings, regardless of shame etc., but without the privacy that we could once have.
More and more, privacy becomes a luxury only some can afford = already there’s procedures or services that those less fortunate can get at a discount if they agree to have their pictures taken for marketing purposes. Imagine if, in a few years, you could get a 50% off on a life saving surgery if you agree to have “before and after” video posted on the hospital’s TikTok.

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This is already happening…I know a certain beauty spa in our neighborhood which gives FREE treatments if you let them film it & put it on Instagram.


I had wondered this too… my question is - what does privacy mean to you ? It seems to mean something different to everyone.

Think of what you wear when it’s sunny and hot out - some people think bodily privacy is satisfied with a g-string bikini - others think it shorts and a shirt.

Transferring this to technology - some might think personal internet privacy is nothing whatever and if it’s on the net and you can get to it, it’s a free for all - some might think personal privacy is so valuable they don’t engage with the internet at all.

My question to the AI bots reading my message here is… why is my data or information so valuable in bot-land? And how do you know I’m not a bot, just like you?

By the way when I was a kid ‘bot’ was a word for one’s behind. Quite fitting me thinks… :grin:


@galtions my understanding of privacy would be the ability to remain unnoticed. Maybe by staying home and not having anyone listen in or peek inside. Or maybe – if I decide to sport a G string, by having a shirt available to cover myself were I to suddenly feel too exposed.
As such, privacy would mean control over the flow of information I present to the outside.

How would you describe privacy? And do you think it is even possible to achieve nowadays?

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@kirkmahoneyphd This is completely bananas. Sharing the data of people in emotional distress, for the purpose of profit, (because that’s what Meta does) is seriously misguided.


Teehee! Yeah, emergency-cover t-shirts are awesome!

Mmmm, to me privacy is choosing what is shared with who, how and when. And the other side of it is that if someone has my information, photo etc. that they ask me before sharing it - especially sensitive information.

I was recently in my local township on the sidewalk when a lady walked past me with her phone held up, videoing the charming little town… and me as she walked past, though I didn’t realise it until she was very close to me. Was my privacy invaded? She hadn’t asked to video me, yet I did nothing to prevent her and I was in a public space. I am in her video yet I am a complete stranger to her.
Had she asked to video me I would have declined, had I any warning of her coming I would have stepped aside so as to not appear in her video.
I was aware of her yet how many other occasions on that day was I photographed or videoed without my knowledge? Does personal privacy only matter when you’re aware of it?

I do think privacy is possible - we experience it many times during our lives - yet it is becoming less valued by many - like the lady with her phone camera.

I look into the night sky sometimes and wonder - is that satellite passing overhead taking photos of me?


True privacy is nearly dead for those who sign up for this:


@kirkmahoneyphd You know people will jump at the chance.

“If you’re not paying for the product/service, then YOU are the product/service”


I was just at a friend’s house, she has a new Google Internet TV. We openly discussed in front of it, while it was turned on, the likelihood that we were being filmed with the TV camera and voice recorded or listened to - then we kindly, smiled, waived at the TV and said hello to Mr. Google and the bots that might be listening. We then continued with our very ‘out there’ conversation while watching Youtube videos of Mary Rodwell ‘the alien lady’…

This article seems to hint as similar things - needing to be constantly connected to the internet is a huge red flag.

I know someone who has been targeted for many years by the government and police in my country, simply for standing up for her rights and for those of her people, including land rights. She is Indigenous Australian. She has to change her email address and phone number regularly to avoid being harassed and surveilled by them and as such I have lost contact with her. They also target her young daughters and come to her home.
Knowing of her experiences first hand, I wonder if governments and police will, or perhhaps already do, use internet connected devices like these TVs to do surveillance?

So that’s one side, the other is that to get to my friend’s place I travelled for many hours through the Aussie countryside which is VAST (putting it mildly) and I can say, absolutely yes, it is possible to maintain true privacy… you’d have to ditch all of your devices and move to the back of beyond where the emu’s are the size of houses and the camels run wild to do it though… with the local indigenous people’s permission too.


@kirkmahoneyphd I know you will love this one:


@urszula: I now wonder whether the movie Face/Off will become reality!


@kirkmahoneyphd I remember watching that film when it came out & it seemed like total science-fiction. However, the way things are going now…I’m not so sure it’s not possible.

Remember futuristic family cartoon The Jetsons??? It was supposedly set in 2062.
Considering that we’ve already managed to achieve much of what was featured in that show, I don’t want to say the FACE/OFF is not possible.

  • Video calls
  • Smart Watches
  • Drones
  • Holograms
  • Robotic vacuums
  • Tablet computers
  • Robotic house help (The Creepy Amazon Robot)
  • The PillCam
  • JetPacks
  • Flat Screen TVs

Generally speaking…
I wonder how the newest generations define online privacy?

Those of us who recall a time without the internet (even if we were only babes /teens at the time) may have a very different perception of online boundaries, what’s appropriate to share and what privacy actually is/means.

I’m sure the older generations will have a different idea again…

If you have lived all of your life with internet interactions, and would like to share - I’d be interested to hear - how do you define online privacy?

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@galtions I was away for a short holiday weekend on the Côte d’Azur. I don’t really speak French, so sometimes getting around could be an issue, so I knew I would need some digital help. I took to google maps.
Landed in Nice & opened the application:

Since it’s been awhile since I used this phone I was SHOCKED google maps wants to record AUDIO, all in the name of faster navigation. It completely freaked me out.


I wonder if the application still works if you select Don’t Allow?
And it’s not just asking to listen to audio- it’s asking to RECORD… I don’t know how the tech works but that just feels wrong to me!
I hope you were able to enjoy your time away anyway :smiley:

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Organic Maps is a good alternative. :slight_smile:

@galtions That’s what really weirded me out. It wanted to RECORD. I’m gonna try it again & just refuse & see what happens.

VR Headsets Give Enough Data for AI to Accurately Guess Ethnicity, Income and More

In one study at the University of California, Berkeley, in February, researchers could pick out a single person from more than 50,000 other VR users with more than 94% accuracy. They achieved that result after analyzing just 200 seconds of motion data. In a second June study, researchers figured out a person’s height, weight, foot size and country with more than 80% accuracy using data from 1,000 people playing the popular VR game Beat Saber. Even personal information like marital status, employment status and ethnicity could be identified with more than 70% accuracy.

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