Re: poly: Re: privacy etc

From: Hal Finney <>
Date: Tue May 19 1998 - 13:16:51 PDT

I've had many discussions with David Brin about the views he sets forth
in his new book, both in public forums and in email, and I know that he
has consistently rejected the label of being anti-privacy.

Why, then, is the new book subtitled "Will Technology Force Us to Choose
Between Privacy and Freedom?"? That's just going to make people think
that David is proposing that there is a dichotomy between privacy and
freedom and we must choose one or the other. I suggested exactly this
on the extropians list a few months ago and David took sharp exception
(my words marked with >>, David's reply with >):

>>In discussing the pros and cons of privacy, Brin argues that there is
>>a dichotomy between privacy and freedom, that if we have the one, we cannot
>>have the other.
>This proves my point. It is, indeed, a total misunderstanding. I said no
>such thing.

This subtitle is only going to further spread this "total misunderstanding".

The publisher's web page at
leads with the comment,

  A respected futurist advances an argument sure
  to cause debate: In a wired world, the best way to preserve our freedom
  will be to give up our privacy.

It goes on to say:

  But award-winning author David Brin asks, What's so great about
  privacy? We could all be much better off in a society where everyone
  (not just the government, and not just the rich) could look over
  everyone else's shoulders.

  The Transparent Society details the startling argument that privacy,
  far from being a right, hampers the real foundation of a civil society:

How could anyone read this without coming away with the impression that
David is opposed to privacy? It says he wants us to "give up our
privacy," that he asks, "what's so great about privacy," and that he
argues that privacy "hampers the real foundation of a civil society".

I realize that David may not have complete control over what the
publisher writes, but surely he has some influence. He is one of the
most successful writers working today. They wouldn't want to antagonize
him unnecessarily.

I can't understand why the book is being presented as advancing this
anti-privacy position, when David has so strongly objected whenever his
critics have characterized his views in this way.

Received on Tue May 19 20:23:06 1998

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