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Privacy, etc

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May 16th, 2013
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  1. 1: First I excuse myself if you don't share the values I will expose in this post. If you find yourself uncomfortable reading, ignore this, it's an opinion, after all.
  3. Maybe you've been trying to do it lately, leave Facebook. Maybe you saw Microsoft's video condemning Chrome's tracking practices. Maybe you find creepy the fact that there's practically unlimited computing power somewhere that has all your data - your location, your emails, your chats, your credit card number, your friends, the videos you like, the websites you visit. Maybe you just found out that Twitter owns your tweets.
  5. I'll start with an apparently unrelated topic, Western democracies. These are, by definition, built upon the concept of the individual, the self, a human being with the right to privacy and freedom. Thousands of people fought in the XVIIIth and XIXth centuries for these causes they firmly believed in - think Thomas Jefferson, Simón Bolívar, Montesquieu. They gave us the Modern Republic - a place where freedom, individualism, reason and democracy are *theoretically* the basis of society.
  7. You may be wondering why do I bring old political philosophy to a startup news column. I believe the people that regularly visit this site have the capability to think about the state of affairs surrounding them. After all, they're *hackers*.
  9. This unlimited-computing-power entity (choose yours: Google or Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn) is, consciously or unconsciously, fighting a silent war with the privacy that took Western civilization centuries to formalize and organize, a set of values we, as members of a wide community with a shared heritage, can identify as definers of the ways we see and interact with the world.
  11. The problem is that we are, strangely, gifting the power of surveillance voluntarily, without even thinking about it, to *companies* that sell our information, or have the right to do so, according to the ToS we skipped in order to sound cool in a later conversation: "'I read and accept the ToS' is the greatest internet lie ever! LOL".
  13. Whatever your stance in this situation, be aware that I'm not trying to convince you, nor force you. I just want to send a message to those people that might take it seriously, that might be interested, to let you know that if you've felt paranoid, you're not alone. If you have gotten this far into the text, and never thought about this, I'd be very grateful if you gave some deep thoughts to this matter. And if you don't give a fuck about this, that's OK too.
  15. Just be conscious about the gift of privacy that you have, at least ideologically, been given. You don't have to be in Facebook, nor use Google, because there are alternatives that can perform as well as them. Unfortunately, given Metcalfe's law, hard work must be done in order to keep these alternatives from dying. It is, however, easier than trying to convince the behemoths to change.
  17. Please, consider privacy alternatives for the services you use. If there are none...well, aren't we *hackers*, after all?
  19. TL;DR: GOTO 1
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