Anonymity vs. Privacy


Okay, that’s a fair opinion. I don’t think that’s how I’d describe it, but I appreciate that the author didn’t fall for the notion that anonymity is something only bad people should want.

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The hypothetical scenario would need better tradecraft.

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It is a good article that makes many excellent points. One issue with his definition of privacy is that a large company can do more with an individual’s private data than a small one, so there is an enormous incentive to grow and become a conglomerate. To solve that problem, I would limit the use of an individual’s data to the legal entity to which it was given (this would also limit outsourcing). Since companies try to limit liability though legal sub-entities, it would provide a natural limit to the ability of a company to use an individual’s data.

The story about loaning out your laptop out to many strangers to obtain anonymity reminds me about a true story that happened here in Arizona. Several years back, the state of Arizona hired a private company to put out automated photo-radar stations everywhere along the freeways, as a new revenue source for the state. No matter how careful you drove, eventually you would make a mistake and the machines catch every single mistake, every time. These machines were everywhere. Most of us eventually got at least one ticket in the mail, no matter how hard we tried to drive below the speed limit.

One guy rebelled (enter: the monkey face mask). This guy quit even trying to drive legally. He drove as fast as he wanted to go everywhere he went, every day. Every day, several new speeding violations showed up in his mail box, any three of which would be enough to suspend his driver’s license. But he had a plan. Everywhere he went, he wore a monkey mask. Several of his violation photographs showed up in the newspaper, routinely as the violations added up more and more daily. He became somewhat famous here in the Phoenix Arizona area. I remember that one of these famous photographs showed him traveling down the freeway, standing straight up on the drivers seat through the moonroof of his car, both arms reaching up in to the air, with no one steering the car as he sped past the photo-radar station well above the speed limit. In every of his classic photographs, you never saw his face. It was always the monkey-face mask.

Eventually he ended up in court. He said that there was no evidence against him because the guy driving the car always wore a monkey mask and that none of these people in the photographs was him. They reminded him that the car was registered to him. He reminded them that the law requires a facial picture of the driver and that he was not the driver in any of these pictures. He said that “I am a very generous person. I have many different friends that I loan my car to. I never charge them for using my car. I have only one condition. Anyone who drives the car must wear the monkey mask”. The judge told him that since he owns the car, that he will be responsible for all of the violations except for the ones he turns these friends in for. That’s not legal in Arizona either. I can’t remember how this issue eventually resolved. It disappeared from the media eventually. I think they staked-out his house and took pictures of him putting on the mask.

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Interesting, I looked it up and nobody ever followed up on how those cases turned out. You can find all of the records of the cases on Arizona’s Supreme Court website, but they want an absurd amount of money for letting you see the actual documents, and the minimal free record doesn’t say how the cases turned out.

Under the rules that the state set up for this system, you had to be properly served before you could be held legally accountable. When you got the ticket in the mail, there were stern warnings telling you how much trouble you would be in if you didn’t sign their form and return it to them, to take responsibility. A majority of us knew better and did not respond.

So they sent out process servers, telling everyone on the TV news that if you got served, you would have to pay for the process service fees also, so best to just mail the form in and save that cost. If the process service person knocked on your door and they saw that you saw them, they were allowed to leave it at the door. If you hid when they knocked, they had to leave without serving you. If a husband answered and said “she is my wife”, they could serve him. If a minor or a room mate answered and said “she is not here”, the process server had to leave without serving anyone. They had your photograph. So if you answered, you couldn’t lie to tell them that person isn’t home. It became a real game. There were news stories about process servers who got assaulted. I have never been a violent person. But I seriously wrestled in my own mind with whether or not I should assault the process server if they would have caught me. Most of us got away with hiding when they knocked, until they went away. Some people reported being visited several times, successfully hiding each time. If you closed your shades, it was as easy as just never answering the door. There were way too few process servers available to catch a majority of those who played this game. If you could make it six months without being served, your ticket got dropped. I waited and checked the court web-site regularly until mine said “Adjudicated”, meaning dropped. The DPS officers reported serving the guy in the article with 37 tickets themselves (probably all in the same visit). When the police knock on your door, I don’t know if hiding works or not.

Eventually, public outrage and lack of cooperation led to the end of that state program. People stalked the Redflex vans (the company that ran the program and maintained the machines), and threatened their employees, killing one person. The legislature buckled to public pressure to end the program. The whole thing was really an assault on the public by the state. Being human, you can’t be perfect every day of your life. And when you eventually messed up for the first time, there was a machine there to catch you. To me, the issue had little to do with traffic safety and had everything to do with whether or not I lived in a totalitarian state.


Amusing story, but what a jerk for endangering other people. I side with the cops on this one.

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Now that the cameras are gone, everyone has returned to traveling the prima facie speed limits again. Generally that means a safe and reasonable speed based on the given conditions. I passed a police car the other day doing 10 mph over the posted limit. No one cares. It was always about the money. The article said this guy’s tickets were generally for traveling 11 mph to 15 mph over the limit. But people have been know to do crazy things when you oppress them. Hundreds of thousands of people evaded the legal process. Several people were stalked for violent intents. At least one person was killed. A few process servers were beaten-up. The state extorted millions of dollars from people because they were less perfect than the machines that surveiled them. Five mph over the limit was excusable. But each and every time you went 6 mph or more above the limit, you would have to pay $175. The machines were everywhere.

I think the same thing is ahead for us on the internet. We all need a good mask. This guy’s monkey mask symbolizes exactly why everyone needs anonymity on the internet, especially with free speech suppression gaining traction now in the US. All they need to do is call you a terrorist, to deny you of your right to free speech.

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I’m fine with oppressing people who think their “freedoms” are more important than other people’s safety. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

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This statement is terrifying

Some say it’s safer to profil everyone through googles services, so we know who you are, who are your friends, where you are, what you will do, what you think about anything
Seems you are okay with oppressing those who don’t use google services

I can put public camera all over your home for everyone safety, are you ok with oppressing those who don’t want public safety cameras into their homes ?

He who gives his freedom for safety gets none of them

I think the monkey case was just a pissed off guy who just wanted to highlight the unsane amount of repression taking place by making a so excentric move that it will make public noise

I think you misunderstood the statement. Oppressing those who endanger others, not those who resist surveillance. These are two fundamental difference in the mindset. One values his rights above all, others value the social contract (law) they agreed to (speed limits). To put it in simple examples

  • Breaking surveillance cameras is good
  • Breaking surveillance staff bones is bad
  • Finding loopholes in machine-generated fines is good
  • killing people to avoid machine-generated fines is bad
  • wearing mask to screw surveillance algorithms is good
  • Driving without hands on wheel to demonstrate how little you care about rules and laws is bad

And, I think you misundertood my statement.
You, me or amarok do not decide what is good, or bad for the safety of everyone
Just like your little list is yours, legally you don’t get to decide what is good or bad, the governement does

Tomorrow if the governement decide those not profiled by google (or others) services are endangering others, then you give them the credit to oppress you

Edited out: some part not relevant

No, my position is that if I don’t agree with government I’m trying to find a way (people thinking like me) to through them through the window. Not poor guys who are just making their job. You on the other hand are advocating that if you don’t agree with the gov - it’s a war, and therefore all means and actions are justified and there could be lateral damage (causalities).

@ruff has correctly understood the intent of my statement. In the monkey mask example, if I observed the guy driving recklessly and unsafely, endangering the lives of others, I would gladly “oppress” him by calling the police immediately. In that moment, it’s no longer about his right to be anonymous, which I support. It’s about the obvious imminent danger caused by his behavior.

This can’t logically be extrapolated to support the analogies you presented.

Okay, you are now totally miles away from what I was intended to explain, it’s probably my fault, I probably badly explain my point a view
I just find the previous statement horrible and dangerous
I’ll stop here, I feel like it will only go deeper in the misunderstanding of each other, and it will prevent me from writing things I’m legally not allowed publicly

This thread is drifting away from the original subject
Please let’s go back to the original subject