Thursday 2012-01-12

Moglen just bitched out a young reporter for using Facebook. While the reporter uses Failbook, they do have a PGP key published on public keyservers, so let's rewrite the interview along much less contentious lines.

AJ: I'm looking for like, whether this (banks using social media data) is a privacy issue?

Mr. Moglen: Well, it *is* a privacy issue; however there are many perspectives from which to view it. Do you use Failbook, sorry; do you have an account on Facebook?

AJ: Umm... yeah, all my friends are on Facebook.

Mr. Moglen: From your perspective it's very useful, right? You coordinate for parties, meet at some location, friend A will bring this, friend B will bring that...

AJ: Sometimes; mostly it seems like I just play stoopid games with my friends.

Mr. Moglen: Well, banks and consumer corporations are very interested in you and your friends spending habits, right? When you get new money, say from a loan, how much of it will you spend on things you don't really need?

AJ: Yeah, but don't they already have that from my credit card?

Mr. Moglen: Some of it and it costs them, so if they can get it cheaper from Failbook, then....

Let's broaden this and see if it still makes sense. Say there's some guy who happens to own a nice beach. No one goes to his beach, so he tries changing the rules; he changes the rules to allow people to walk around nude on the beach.

A bunch of kids like this because, you know, no tan lines. Word gets out, before you know it, all these kids are there naked, having fun. Well, this guy sees this, and sets up some high-tech cameras in the woods and surreptitiously photographs the kids during the day and also at night.

Of course, this guy has the Internet, so he goes online and starts selling all the footage of the naked kids at play during the day, and also when they're, umm, occupied with each other at night. The kids don't hang out on those sites, so they never know that people all over the world are fapping to these little movies of them.

AJ: Ok... well, just bust the child porn fapsters and everything's ok, right?

Mr. Moglen: So, that's one perspective, just shut down the commercial use of social media data. However, that would bankrupt the social media sites fairly quickly. They don't have anything other than data. So, then the beach goes away....

AJ: So we keep the beach and let the fapsters pay for the beach?

Mr. Moglen: So by now, the cops have heard about what happens on the beach, only they can't get on the beach, since it is privately owned, so they make a deal with the owner guy: we won't hassle you or little fapster operation if you let us set up cameras of our own in the woods.

Of course, the owner guy says sure, and before you know it, people who brought some pot to the beach are getting pulled over on the way home for crossing the double-yellow line, and well what do you know, the cops find some pot on them.

AJ: That's really just not cool at all.

Mr. Moglen: Well, it *is* the law; what gets privacy and legal people really angry is when that data is used against one group of people and not another. Like black people going to jail for minor drug offenses way more than white people. Like when something's illegal for the 99%, but not for the 1%.

AJ: That is so wrong.

Mr. Moglen: Feel free to keep using social media if you're sure you never break the law, and that your friends won't say something stupid. Or you can try convincing the social media sites to change how they run....

AJ: ....