LFI.4: week 7 discussion on privacy talking points

I’m making this thread in advance of our weekly meeting to start collecting anti-privacy arguments. If you’ve heard arguments AGAINST privacy, post them here so we can discuss them in class on Thursday. I’m thinking about things along the lines of “I have nothing to hide”. I’m also particularly interested in times when you’ve heard these arguments from library admin or IT, or other people in your community in positions of power.

“No one reads privacy policies or terms of service.”

“That horse is already out the barn!” / “It’s too late.”

“Privacy is dead.”

“If I’m not doing anything wrong…”

“I have a Facebook account but I never post. I just look.”

Me: “Who reviews vendor agreements?”
Responses: crickets

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So much of “I have nothing to hide,” and “you get services (online) in exchange.”
The idea that doing things “in secret” is dangerous to the general population. Don’t protest things, or if you do, you shouldn’t worry if you’re peaceful. Cameras catch criminals. Public safety is more important than free speech. If you’re recorded all the time, you’ll always follow the law. And on and on and on.

“I don’t care if Jack knows what memes I like”
“You are your conspiracy theories”/“You’re just being paranoid”
“We have to collect this because the higher-ups said so” (the mayor’s office, a grant, etc.)
“We aren’t liable for what 3rd-parties do”/“We are insured if something happens”

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While I think my colleagues seem privacy-minded, when I ask questions, I feel like in the org I am put in an adversarial position. So, I get silenced or I am met with silence (no responses).

In general, “I really don’t have time to read that stuff, they just want my info so I can get a discount.”


LNJ: But, do you know whether they sell your info? And if so to whom?
M: I don’t know.
LNJ: What type of info do you share?
M: They already have my main info.
LNJ: Do you know how your info is stored or how long it is kept? You could have read the agreement by now…

As others said, the main things I hear are:

  1. i have nothing to hide
  2. it is too late, its all out there
  3. nothing will work if we restrict privacy
  4. it is too complicated

“I like seeing ads relevant to me”
“It’s too much work and no one will appreciate it or even notice”
“Patrons give up privacy when they walk into a public space like the library.”
“We need this information, just in case it become relevant in the future.”
“Google, Amazon and Facebook already have tons of information on people - what does it matter if we use a privacy protection tool in the library?”

A lot of the same as up thread; I’d like to include…

  • “I’ll hear if there’s a data breach, then I’ll just change my password” (SINGULAR PASSWORD. ONLY ONE. APPARENTLY USED FOR EVERYTHING)
  • “It’s easier this way.”
  • “All of these companies hire security firms, so it’s fine.”
  • “Well I just use my old email address, so they don’t really know anything about me.”
  • “I’m not interesting enough to keep tabs on”
  • “It’s important for us to keep gathering data about use to build a better platform.”

My library’s IT talks a big game about enhancing privacy education for patrons…but it’s a different story for staff in-house. Then everything we do is under scrutiny, cameras are installed, and Big IT Brother is watching.
In regards to vendor agreements, I heard yesterday, “there’s only so much we can negotiate when we’re on a government timetable” which rang depressingly true.

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All while this is going on…

After trying to give someone access to a folder and document with privacy-minded Next Cloud: “This :face_with_symbols_over_mouth: is too much trouble with its passwords and encryption. I just wanna get stuff done.”

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Been trying to get friends and family to use Signal, at the very least for communicating with me. After explaining what it is, why I care about it, etc. the response has commonly been, “I can’t manage another app!” “Seems really sketchy…” “What are you so worried about?”

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In my experience, the anti-privacy rhetoric has morphed into a cost-benefit analysis (what is gained from using the tech is essential or wins out over the loss of privacy).
Cameras: This surveillance is needed to protect us from actual threats.
Amazon or Google smart assistants: more widespread, cost-effective; easily accessible assistive technology
Tracking patron appointments/patron information: Know what troubleshooting measures have been taken/know who’s “abusing” the service

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Wow! That’s a new one, then why then do the platforms get worse and less easy to use?


"But I’ve changed my privacy settings. And like Apple says, “Privacy. That’s iPhone.”

Lolwut. Meanwhile…


I don’t have an iPhone but I get the sense that it does protect you from yourself, from some phishing and other things but not from privacy violations by apple. If you have an iPhone or know more about them, is that accurate at all?

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Good questions and distinctions, Amy. I’m very curious about how Apple does, or purports, to respond to its consumers’ concerns about privacy and time spent on our phones.

For example, some of the marketing around the Apple Watch was in response to backlash about users resisting being tied to their phones. So they applied behavioral research and marketing language to designing and implementing the Apple Watch as something that permits one to leave your phone at home or not be as closely tethered to it.

I raise that example to highlight how I’m viewing Apple taking consumer concerns and backlash around privacy and creating narratives that they care about the control and power they wield over user data. I think Apple knows that people are watching them when it comes to cases like their resistance to the FBI wanting a backdoor into their encryption and the timing of that massive hack of celebrities’ phones and nudes, I think it was, the day before they were like, “Hey, give us more data for Apple Pay!

Sorry for the essay! tl;dr: yes, I think Apple takes on board what consumers want and backlash to privacy-invading features all while maintaining their bottom line.

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-everything above!
-idea that you should only take steps to protect privacy when you have something to hide, rather than all the time
-“Let’s not call it surveillance Michelle, its really monitoring” It is what it is - changing the name doesn’t change the practices! (branch manager)
-devices that rely on collecting data are cheaper/easier to use—so its an easy of use, access argument
-every vendor is owned by private equity so does it really matter which one? (library admin in response to me posting that article about ancestry being bought out by Blackstone)


This is so telling.

It’s just a password!!! Ahhhghghhh it takes like 4 seconds.

Apple is better than Android for privacy and security by an order of magnitude. The security part is more significant; for example only Apple’s mobile environment has application sandboxing which limits how much apps can interact with other parts of the operating system. Another thing that’s significant is that data selling isn’t really part of Apple’s business model, so while they do collect some data it’s not like Android (Google) where that’s a huge part of their bottom line. On the other hand, Android suffers from various security issues including a software update timeline that lengthens based on whoever your phone manufacturer is (the only device that gets timely updates for Android is the Google Pixel). Over and over again Google has been shown to be collecting huge amounts of data off Android users, and they’re always battling some security flaw or another.

The one benefit to Android devices in the privacy realm is that you can remove the Android operating system and install a free software alternative like LineageOS, but you’ll face performance and other issues with these alternatives.

The enormous difference between Apple’s “pay a premium for better privacy and security in our walled garden” and Android’s absolute hot mess is especially significant when you consider that Android is the most popular OS in the world, so the majority of the world’s poor who have mobile devices are on this platform.

Thanks all!
At the moment I’m sort of the Android go to person for help with installing library apps on Android phones as most staff have the iPhone so I feel badly switching! And I don’t want to pay for an iPhone but I also don’t want to be any more focused on phone privacy and security than I already am (which is not that much!).

We all had a lot to say about people avoiding dealing with privacy issues - but I just found this article showing people might be more concerned than we thought: