Why Privacy

In today’s world of over inter-connectedness, mass corporate digital surveillance, intrusive government - is this even a question worth asking?

Maybe we can get inspiration to answer that question in T.S.Eliot’s poem ‘The Naming of Cats,’ -

“When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES. First of all, there’s the name that the family use daily, Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James, […]

But I tell you, a cat needs a name that’s particular, A name that’s peculiar, and more dignified… Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum— Names that never belong to more than one cat… But above and beyond there’s still one name left over, And that is the name that you never will guess; The name that no human research can discover— But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.”

Or this quote from James Clavell’s 1975 novel ‘Shogun’ which itself seems to be based on a remark in a book written by a Jesuit Missionary long ago - História da Igreja do Japão vol I pg 173, written by Father João Rodrigues, SJ. -

“It’s a saying they have, that a man has a false heart in his mouth for the world to see, another in his breast to show to his special friends and his family, and the real one, the true one, the secret one, which is never known to anyone except to himself alone, hidden only God knows where.”

Aah, what insight into the human soul. What would happen if one never knew one’s secret heart, that innermost hidden one, but an algorithm did? Does it already know? Can anyone, with a few keystrokes, see into my inner self, a self that even I can’t define or describe? Is it my heart, my face, my self, if I knew nothing about it? Or the algorithm’s? Do I want it to be?

The most valuable pieces of information on the internet used to be - who you are and what you’re going to buy next. This has now been expanded to - who you are, what you’re going to buy next, and who you’re going to vote for next. Soon we’re entering the realms of - who you are, what you’re going to buy next, who you’re going to vote for next, and what are you thinking at the moment. What you’re going to buy next can be manipulated, who you’re going to vote for next can be manipulated, what you’re thinking at the moment can be manipulated, but what they can’t change is who you are. Or can they?

That’s why Privacy. If not for you and your soul, then for who and what?

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 12. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.