Re: poly: Re: more privacy

From: Robin Hanson <>
Date: Fri Jun 05 1998 - 14:31:13 PDT

David B. writes:
>... Robin says zilch about the central point
>of my thesis... that catching eavesdroppers in the act is more effective as
>a deterrence to invasion of privacy than any combination of technological
>or legal mask/shrouds will be. If the ante gets upped by new hi tech mikes
>& cameras, this will be more true than ever. They will not spy on you, no
>matter how well equipped, if (a) you are equipped with a hi chance of
>catching them in act + (b) society disapproves of spying so that they face
>drawbacks to getting caught.

As spying gets cheaper and harder to detect, then to maintain deterrence
you'd need some combination of increased efforts to detect spying and increased
punishment if caught.

1. I don't think restaraunts are in such a spy-deterring equilibrium now.
   The current reason for lack of spying seems to be the raw cost to do it.
   No one seems to be looking for spys or punishing them if caught.
   So you're postulating a whole new social situation.
2. I don't see the drawback to associating with someone who has been known
   to spy on other people in restaraunts. I don't see why I should punish
   them and myself by not associating with them. So absent formal laws
   against spying I don't see how such punishment is a social equilibrium.
3. I don't see how one distinguishes primary spying from monitor spying.
   That is, if one is accused of spying, why can't one defend oneself saying
   that one was just checking to see if the other person was spying?

Robin Hanson
RWJF Health Policy Scholar, Sch. of Public Health 510-643-1884
140 Warren Hall, UC Berkeley, CA 94720-7360 FAX: 510-643-2627
Received on Fri Jun 5 21:36:41 1998

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