That our own biggish brothers, in the name of national security, draw from ever wider and increasingly transparent fields of data may disturb us, but this is something that corporations, nongovernmental organizations and individuals do as well, with greater and greater frequency. The collection and management of information, at every level, is exponentially empowered by the global nature of the system itself, a system unfettered by national boundaries or, increasingly, government control. -- William Gibson, "The Road to Oceania" New York Times opinion piece
I keep most of my data
on the Internet public to the world. Partly this is so strangers can discover my insights and quirks and find whatever inspiration helps them. Partly this is to level the playing field: ordinary folks on the 'net can learn about me almost as easily as secretive government organizations and corporations with platoons of computers.
Incidentally, one reason I'm not on Facebook is, despite all the bluster about how they're destroying privacy, they've not made it very easy to provide information to the world at large. For a long time, the "Share these photos with others, even if they don't have a Facebook account" sent an email to non-users that just invited them to create an account. I don't think it's possible to create an RSS feed of your status updates so people can read them in their own preferred way. Despite happily taking people's email passwords and plundering their address book, they refuse users the ability to export a list of their friends' contact information
. And if you're worried about the government tracking your activities on the Internet, just think about what Facebook can do with all the data it has from every page with a "Like" button you've visited. Can you get a copy of that?
This month has had a lot of blustering about the government "groping" people and taking "naked" pictures of them. While the TSA ritual is ridiculous on a nigh-Kafka scale, remember that this sort of behavior is not limited to governments. Private companies will gladly grope you on your way in to a large concert and deny you service with no recourse based on the rumors in your credit report.