[note: adding this page while reading Glenn Greenwald‘s no place to hide (all quotes in this top section form his book) – and wondering about a different way to approach – talk about privacy]

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perhaps – the state or condition of being free from being observed…

…is more about us and less about the other people

in no place to hide Glenn writes ch 4:

what made the internet so appealing was precisely that it afforded the ability to speak and act anonymously, which is so vital to individual exploration.

is it to be anonymous.. or to be non-judged..? ie: spaces of permission with nothing to prove. time and space to be – to self-correct/shed – or not. which you could be in a crowd/community of happy people – who aren’t paying attention to you in order to judge you.. mostly because they don’t have time since they themselves are modeling eudaimonia, being usefully preoccupied, but are yet at your beckon call – like an unschooling mom. but they also aren’t judging you – and you aren’t judging them in your observations of them – because all of our needs are met. in that calm – i think we’d care less about anyone watching. so the safe ness of the space.

Glenn writes more on this mindgame here:

only when we believe that nobody else is watching us do we feel free – safe- to truly experiment, to test boundaries, to explore new ways of thinking and being, to explore what it means to be ourselves.

like a 5 yr old.. who can dance like no one’s watching even when people are.. or ask any question without feeling judged/shamed/stupid.. no? neo cortex not threatened ness. perhaps if only we could believe that nobody else is judging. perhaps if we could ourselves spend more time on offense than defense.

in 1984 – citizens were not necessarily monitored at all times, in fact, they had no idea whether they were ever actually being monitored. but the state had the capability to watch them at any time. it was the uncertainty and possibility of ubiquitous surveillance that served to keep everyone in line..

so our fear – that people will get out of line… begs a mechanism to help with that chaos.. to shorten time between intention and action and finding your tribe.. every day. and then if you can’t keep yourself and others (orland bishop ness) safe – the call back in is more like – your own song ness… than prison/punishment/surveillance..

since the institution – any institution – was not capable of observing all the people all of the time, Bentham’s solution was to create “the apparent omnipresence of the inspector” in the minds of the inhabitants. “the persons to be inspected should always feel themselves as if under inspection, at least as standing a great chance of being so” they would thus act as if they were always being watched, even if they weren’t. the result would be compliance, obedience, and conformity with expectations. Bentham envisioned that his creation would spread far beyond prisons and mental hospitals to all societal institutions. inculcating in the minds of citizens that they might always be monitored would, he understood, revolutionized human behavior.

in the 1970’s Michel Foucault observed that the principle of Bentham’s Panopticon was on e of the foundational mechanisms of the modern state. in Power, he wrote that panopticonism is “a type of power that is applied to individuals in the form of continuous individual supervision, in the form of control, punishment, and compensation, and in the form of correction, that is, the moulding and transformation of individuals in terms of certain norms.”

in Discipline and Punish, Foucault further explained that ubiquitous surveillance not only empowers authorities and compels compliance but also induces individuals to internalize their watchers. those who believe they are watched will instinctively choose to do that which is wanted of them without even realizing that they are being controlled – the panopticon induces “in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assure the automatic functioning of power.”

detox needed

with the control internalized, the over evidence of repression disappears because it is no longer necessary: “the external power may throw off its physical weight; it tends to be non-corporal; and, the more it approaches this limit, the more constant, profound and permanent are its effects: it is a profound victory that avoids any physical confrontation and which is alway decided in advance.” additional, this model of control has the great advantage of simultaneously creating the illusion of freedom. the compulsion to obedience exists in the individual’s mind. individuals choose on their own to comply, out of fear that they are being watched. that eliminates the need for all the visible hallmarks of compulsion, and thus ..

..enable control over people who falsely believe themselves to be be free.

dang. Ed. pluralistic ignorance. oppress\ion.

for this reason, every oppressive state views mass surveillance as one of its most critical instruments of control.

we need to keep reminding ourselves that control is a sign of failure..

The safest course, the way to ensure being “left alone,” is to remain quiet, unthreatening, and compliant.

suffocating from the day. the death of us. ness.

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perhaps – the state or condition of being free from being disturbed by other people…

…is more about freeing everyone up to happy/useful preoccupation (so they/we aren’t inclined to disturb/judge)

Neil Gershenfeld – (and others) – giving people – or allowing people to do what matters to them.. assume good – more inclined toward offense than defense.. defense is a man made construct. as evidenced in research by people like peter gray

….pentagon trying to improve defense via a better weapon to win a war  – rather tech that gives people something else to do, .. the generals got that.. but not clear what office in the pentagon is the office of preventive technology     – Neil G

our biggest defense – trusting that people are good ….and that most people want civilization to work    – Daniel Suarez

it’s like – not just giving assumed criminal types something better to do, let’s give the assumed regulators/judges/authorities something better to do. [wiley – we could be changing the world but policy keeps getting in the way. and of course – none of us if one of us ness]

so imagine 7 billion people experiencing the luxury/freedom to do the thing they can’t not do.. everyday. no one would have time/concern for bickering/oppressing/controlling others.. if they were truly at peace with themselves.

what’s needed/missing is space/time to be – fix/know/become self. trusting that. and when it doesn’t work.. when orland bishop ness does impose on others – again – calling the person in by your own song ness… than prison/punishment/surveillance..

we don’t really seek/crave flat out privacy or solitary confinement & time out ness wouldn’t be so devastating. we seek space/time w/in a community that is happily/usefully preoccupied yet at our beacon call. to be known by someone (attachment), and to be truly ourselves (authenticity). ni ness.

perhaps it’s not so much that we’re being observed.. but rather – it’s the judgmental attitude.. that control/oppression/shame lurking over.. that keeps us from us.

that some person could possibly have the ability to know enough in order to judge another.. rather than realizing the danger of just one story, of thinking communication has been accomplished

a people experimenta qr film ness – i know you ness

– – – – –

more from Greenwald’s no place to hide:

perhaps the most famous formulation of what privacy means and why it is so universally and supremely desired was offered by us supreme court justice Louis Brandeis in the 1928 case… – right to be left alone is the most comprehensive of rights, and the right most valued by a free people.

the makers of our constitution undertook to secure conditions favorable to the pursuit of happiness. they recognized the significance of man’s spiritual nature, of his feelings and of his intellect. they knew that only a part of the pain, pleasure and satisfactions of life are to be found in material things they sought to protect americans in their beliefs, their thoughts, their emotions and their sensations. they conferred, as against the government the right to be let alone.

1890 – Samuel Warren and Court Justice Louis Brandeis write the seminal harvard law review article “the right to privacy,” arguing that robbing someone of their privacy was a crime of a deeply different nature than the theft of a material belonging. “the principle which protects personal writings and all other personal productions, not against theft and physical appropriation, but against publication in any form, is in reality not the principle of private property, but that of an inviolate personality.”

privacy is essential to human freedom and happiness for reasons that are rarely discussed but instinctively understood by most people, as evidenced by the lengths to which they go to protect their own. to being with, people radically change their behavior when they know they are being watched. they will strive to do that which is expected of them. they want to avoid shame and condemnation.

oscar wilde… most people are other people ness. so let’s quit watching people with judgmental eyes/hearts

perhaps the privacy we truly seek is best taken in plain-view/broad daylight – of a healthy community.

perhaps privacy is less about having a place to hide and more about being invited to exist, being accepted in all your eudaimonia ness. people actually wanting that for you be\cause: 1- they/we know it’s better for all of us; 2- that means they/we get to have that luxury as well.

perhaps the “state of being free from public attention” has more to do with 100% of people being usefully/happily preoccupied – aka: doing the thing they can’t not do.. ie: no time for squabbles/egos/paperwork/credentialing/observing-in-order-to-judge/etc…

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feb 2015 – (via tweet from Rob)

How to Be Invisible

she embraces her invisibility as a kind of liberation.

Throughout the natural world, the capacity for camouflage and the ability to recede into the background come with lavish beauty and biological aplomb.

They also propose that becoming invisible, .. is not the equivalent of being nonexistent, ..

a lightness of being, a composure, and all the grace of going unseen.

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how do i hide





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– – – –

ie: .. our encryption/protection/privacy – comes from the too much ness of documenting everything. begging you to connect with the actual person in order to decode. (like we create our own layer of security – much like what David writes about what the too much ness of bureaucracy does for us – in a bad way)

and again – not even that you couldn’t decode it.. but you have no desire to (for bad) because you’re too busy being. the desire to decode it (for good) is embedded in a desire to connect with the person.



document everything

ps in the open

global systemic change


mar 30 2016 – conversation on privacy between Glenn, Ed and Noam:


Watch the full discussion on privacy between @Snowden, @ggreenwald and Noam Chomsky:

13 min – noam: start from commercialization of the internet.. i was working in the lab.. at mit.. pentagon funded..  that’s pretty much the way much of the econ works… the internet intended by early designers to be free/open.. hope/expectation to widen horizons.. free interchange… contribute to more helathy/demo society.. once it gets commercialized.. that all changes…… it’s really up to us.. tech is basically neutral.. you can use it to oppress or to liberate..

16 min – glenn: see self as citizen rather than journalist…  most critical check was supposed to be free press… whether you call that activism/journalism/treason… i.. try ing to make things a lot more difficult for those who hold the greatest power

18 min – ed: whistleblowers are selected by circumstance… a nation is comprised of people… we all have responsibility to alert others of wrong doing.. how did we get here.. how do we reach a point where the individual is all the society can rely on….  if we are to have a democracy.. we must know what govt is doing in our name and against us… or else we’re no longer directed by public.. we’re ruled from above..

24 min – what is privacy.. my data my self

25 min – noam: any form of domination/hierarchy must be assumed initially to be illegitimate.. should be a high burden of proof/justification of authority.. it’s a burden that can very rarely be met… there are diff kinds of security… security of population.. is constantly ignored/overruled… suggests that claim to legitimacy of authority is on very shaky grounds..

28 min – glenn: a lot of time people treat privacy as an abstraction.. dismissive about it.. remote.. not something we demand… yet when we say.. i don’t need privacy – nothing to hide.. we actually practice it all over the place… locks/passwords/et al… we really understand instinctively why privacy is so key.. the need to do things w/o other people watching when we lose privacy we lose critical part to be free/fulfilled individual..

33 min – ed: when we’re talking about privacy today.. we’re really asking the word to do too many things… privacy – right to enjoy products of own intellect… fountain head to all other rights… right to self.. right to a free mind….. what allows us to determine what we believe w/o being influence and pre judged… freedom of religion has no value if you can’t determine what you believe in… this is inherently understood.. the underpinnings of our language.. called private property for a reason… arguing you don’t care about privacy because you have nothing to hide is like arguing you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say… rights aren’t designed for the elites.. they are least threatened.. rights are almost always needed on a reg/continuing basis by those who are different/ahead/minority/vulnerable…  saying rights aren’t needed.. is probably the most anti social thing i can imagine…

39 min – ed: rights don’t exist for majority.. rights exist to protect minority from majority…  there’s this inherited ideas that some interactions leave no trace.. the nsa et al.. thought.. that’s quite a shame.. imagine if we could hear everything.. tremendous investigative value.. buckets keep filling.. meta data.. private activity data.. there were private spaces before that no one could intrude upon…. advance of tech has allowed state security agencies now can create forms of omniscience..  this is a decision public should be involved in.. cannot be made for us by a few officials behind closed doors

43 min – glenn: ed saying – i don’t have any fears about what’s about to happen.. the only fear i have.. is that we report and people shrug.. and say i don’t care.. and of course.. that’s exactly what did not happen..shows just how concerned people are.. ie: companies fully cooperating w govt in secret… then when came to light.. backed off.. knew had to demo they would safe guard privacy – not because suddenly privacy activists… but rather self interested reasons.. because they now know that people really care about privacy

48 min – noam: personal need to privacy – answer given centuries ago by blaise pascal..root of man’s misfortunes is the lack of a room which you can *sit quietly and undisturbed… perhaps tech.. leads to an intimacy that is fraudulent…

quiet in room

52 min – glenn: more subversion of democracy than privacy.. govt made this incredibly consequential choice.. completely in the dark.. about using tech in (an inhumane way).. if they make that w no transparency…  what we have is a purely illusory democracy..  seeing docs labeled – top secret.. didn’t make me want to tremble.. put to publish as fast as i could

55 min – ed: 2013 – all reporters will have blood on hands… but now 2016  – director of nsa, national intelligence.. et al… have asked for single name of someone who died as a result.. and there are none… on us sharing reports w/ govern before disclosing… in order to argue if it might harm… as years gone on.. govt argued less and less.. in many cases.. don’t even return calls.. they are more concerned about looking bad in newspaper than someone getting harmed… so.. shows me.. any real risks were mitigated… is this revealing that we are classifying so many things… ie: the avoidance of scandal .. that we have lost sight of what a really life threatening secret truly is…

1:01 – glenn: the bigger scandal.. is that your govt makes it almost a felony if we disclose any of their dealings

1:02 – ed: govt trying to change the convo – from our privacy to protecting their going’s on…

1:03 – noam: almost nothing in docs are concerned with population.. most is about govt remaining secret… ie: docs tell us that cuba is result of castro’s defiance of us policies… which asserted us dominance of western hemisphere... problem is that this encourages people in latin america to take things into own hands.. and we can’t tolerate that.. govt doesn’t want you to know that that’s why we’re carrying out terrorist warfare.. other things./reasons are rare… overwhelmingly population is enemy of state..

1:07 – ed: and this is going on in modern docs…

1:09 – how to combat terrorism…

noam: plenty of people who live constantly under threat of terrorism.. ie: go to yemen – constantly in fear… massive global terrorism…  ie: isis: as long as you keep bombing us .. were’ going to keeping responding by attacking you..  15 yrs ago .. located in afhpak… today.. everywhere.. there’s another possibility: get to the roots/causes… not exciting.. but it would work… if you want to end the terrorism.. otherwise.. follow isis play book.. and hit it with a sledge hammer

a nother way – for all of us.. 2 needs.. gershenfeld something else law..

1:14 – glenn – root cause issue is at the crux of all of this.  first – on diff between targeted and mass surveillance… reading thru docs.. how few have very little to do with targeted surv… we always talk about trade off between security and privacy.. this is a false dichotomy – ie: if you collect everything.. won’t know what you have…. so do they really not get that.. or what is their purpose..    now on… recent media… so investigative.. but no one is asking… what’s the underlying motive… what can we do differently that lessens that desire and dissolved that infrastructure..

thinking of tweet about – how to profile – by looking at how us has been targeting….. and again – how to model/be a nother way..

1:21 – noam: perception in arab world that us blocks democracy/development.. so we can control… rumsfeld is repeating what we do know and what we should know.. don’t have to read secret docs… to know

1:22 – ed: on fear not being based on facts… now.. people profit off industry of terrorism analysis… on us being worried about a few terrorists.. who kill fewer than our police… we lived through nuclear fears… ie: brussels.. preventable through traditional means.. not mass surveillance.. … we had same thing in boston marathon bombings… we were warned… why didn’t we stop it.. realities.. our resources are mis allocated… when you collect everything you understand nothing… these guys aren’t stupid.. if not working for terrorism.. than what is it working for.. what is that what… using more for political police… ie: porn of politicians.. et al

1:30 – glenn: using worst case that we would all sympathize with.. in order to make ie: apple bow to working for govt…. on orwell not being watched all the time.. but that you could be being watched…

1:36 – ed: on the flip – of us knowing very little about public officials and they knowing much about private citizens… – on using tor and signal..

1:45 – noam: intro to animal farm… press owned by wealthy men and if you have  good ed you have it instilled in you there are certain things you wouldn’t do to say/think… a frame work of obedience instilled in you.. concept of objectivity… tell truth inside belt wave ie: report what dems/repub, but not outside.. (which is where more relevant stuff is).. it’s not just govt secrecy that prevents us from seeing what’s going on in world.. it’s our own obedience to framework of conformity that’s established in part by a good ed.. we should be cautious about that..

1:52 – glenn: on ed teaching us that all individuals have the power to stand up.. to institutions et al

1:53 – noam: on ed/glenn’s  impressive contribution to our freedom/democracy…


via Zeynep

zeynep tufekci (@zeynep) tweeted at 6:31 AM – 29 Jan 2018 :

I’ll emphasize: In the digital age, there is NO meaningful informed consent with regards to data privacy that operates at an individual level. Current implications are unknown; future uses are unknowable. Companies structurally cannot inform and we are in no position to consent. (

zeynep tufekci (@zeynep) tweeted at 6:37 AM – 29 Jan 2018 :

“Check your privacy settings”—which is your standard Silicon Valley response—is no response. In the digital age, data privacy simply cannot be negotiated and consented to at the individual level. (Let alone via wrap-around, click-through, as-is legalese).