Recent developments made me release a second episode of my privacy podcast for this week covering German police accessing COVID-19 registration lists from restaurants for criminal investigations.

The Private Citizen 29: Privacy is a Right, Not a Privilege

I know you’ve asked for input from people who didn’t write before, but I just couldn’t resist. ;)

I must confess, don’t think highly of GDPR and similar regulations. I think they do more harm than good, and I think the whole “right to be forgotten” concept is outright insane. I mean, ask Barbra Streisand, it doesn’t work that way; it you expose something you don’t want people to become aware of, there’s no way to un-expose it anyway, and if that’s something you don’t care whether people become aware of or not, the whole point is moot…

And I don’t really care what information corporations have about me anyway. The only case where I can realistically fathom a corporation have advantage when they know something about me that I’d rather they didn’t is insurance: if they want more money from me because they know I eat unhealthy from time to time, that’s an issue. Other than that, what can a corporation do with that information about me or my family? Sell me a product I didn’t really need? Well, it’s up to me to make right purchase decisions, and I’m not going to blame my unfortunate purchase decisions on ads.

Google knows a lot about me; I used to have Gmail for my main inbox. For a decade they knew literally everything about my life. Do I think it’s a problem? Yes. Why? Only — only! — because they can be subpoenaed by the government to give that information up.

And the government — oh, yes, that’s dangerous. Corporations are about money, which is relatively harmless; the government is about power. Power over me personally, with the police to tell me what to do. And money, too, of course, with the taxman telling me how much I owe. That’s the real threat here, not some subtle influence on my purchasing decision; these people can put me in jail, they can execute me, they can take all my money, they can do anything they please, and I have no way to retort, nothing to fight back with short of mass protest — and for that I need to come in big numbers, or they just throw me in jail individually.

If you think I sound tinfoil-hat’y or otherwise paint too dark a picture, keep in mind: I’m Russian. There’s history here, and not a single good reason to assume government’s benevolence on any level of any aspect. The government is bad and it is out to get me, period. Better safe than sorry.

So yes, I agree with you: the government getting the information is much worse that companies. And we should resist that in any way we can. The problem is — and you’ve pointed that out — where’s the public outcry?

Where indeed? Or are we — me, you and other listeners of this show — a geeky minority with tinfoil hats and weird ideas of no use to anyone? ;)

Oh, and you’ve asked on an earlier episode to provide pronounciation hints. In case you’re going to mention this piece of feedback, my name is [jevˈɡʲenʲɪj] [kʊznʲeˈt͡sof] (maybe even [jɪvˈɡʲenʲɪj] [kʊznʲɪˈt͡sof] in some of the variants). ;)

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The Federation

Per procrastinatum ad astra