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Category: Privacy and self ownership

Owning our own information and telling Big Brother to get lost

Encounter in a small town

ACT I, SCENE I A restaurant reminiscent of the Hog Trough Grill & Feed. It is mid-afternoon and only two tables are occupied. A MAN and WOMAN enter and seat themselves at a booth toward the back. Immediately, they notice a one-foot tall, brightly colored, three-sided CARD. There is one on every table. From the lack of ketchup stains, wrinkles, and fingerprints, the enormous cards appear to be newly placed. The woman plucks the card from their table. WOMAN (READING): United States Census 2010. It’s SAFE! It’s EASY! It’s IMPORTANT! It’s used to allocate more than $400 billion of federal…


Shah Rukh Khan’s autographed body scans

Ohhhh, I’m waiting for these to show up in a Google image search. Shah Rukh Khan is pretty darned sexy, even in images that don’t show all his … er, endowments. But (unless this claim turns out to be a publicity stunt by the Bollywood star), thanks to airport body scanners — you know, those machines that never, ever, ever preserve images of our nekkid bodies — autographed views of him in his (so he claims) full glory are already floating around in the world, or at least Heathrow Airport. Oh, lucky us, huh? Just think what future stars our…


Census: arrogant or desperate?

Shazam. $2.5 million bucks for a 30-second SuperBowl spot to advertise the census. $138 million (or more) for the entire Cooperate with Your Masters campaign. In 28 languages, yet. Are these folks Soviet-style arrogant, spending money on their Big-Bro agenda as if the poor taxpayers actually had any? Or are they flat-out desperate because more and more people are realizing that census resistance is a safe, no-nonsense, and ever-increasing way for people to send a go-to-hell message to Washington? Or both? A couple of months ago, on a visit to the Big City, my friend and I had to scoot…


Monday Miscellany

Here’s a small collection of stuff I’ve picked up or thoughts I’ve thunk during the last week. This might become a regular feature. Or not. 🙂 An astute observer dropped this into the comments on a census post this morning: “Don’t Trust the Census.” Maybe you knew that so-called “confidential” census data was used to round up Japanese-Americans during World War II. Did you know that General Sherman — he of the unpunished “civil” war crimes — used census data in his genocidal march to the sea? The virtues of adversity. I mentioned the heroic Sister Kenny in my recent…


New level of search privacy

Dr. Katherine Albrecht — who is as beautiful as she is intelligent and (I can personally testify) as kind as she is gorgeous* announces via YouTube a new level of search-engine privacy to debut this [now LAST] Thursday. The search engine she represents, StartPage (aka IXQuick in Europe), already bills itself as the world’s most privacy-respecting. This week it adds a proxy service to, “… revolutionize the way people surf the web by allowing completely anonymous access to virtually any page on the web. … We are upping the ante by allowing users to privately visit the websites they find…

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More on the census and GPS tagging

In today’s earlier post on the census, I mentioned that, starting last year, census workers have been sent out to record the GPS coordinates of every residence in the U.S. Some people were surprised by that. So here are a pair of backgrounders. The first is totally mainstream — an NPR article from 2006 extolling the planned GPS program and mentioning its potentially “life-saving” virtues. (Although it does note, too, that private companies and others would sure like to get their hands on all that juicy data.) The second is a more recent, more speculative, and more alarmist piece from…


The census and the death of civil society

One more reason to resist the census, courtesy of that great thinker and great lady, Wendy McElroy. One way in which civil society breaks down — and social engineering ascends — is by making individuals turn against each other so that the peaceful activities of my neighbor are seen as harmful to me. Most of the current arguments for participation in the American census are based on the idea that my desire for privacy damages society. How? Last year one of my acquaintances was thrilled to get a job doing preliminary census work (e.g. GPS tagging other people’s homes). She…