Ian Bicking: a blog :: Surveillance, Security, Privacy, Politics

Occasionally, one stumbles on a piece that isn’t absolutely germane to the areas one covers, but makes you think. Ian Bicking (a well-known developer at Mozilla, the non-profit that makes the Firefox browser) explicitly says his ponderings about the nature of online security and privacy aren’t about China or other explicitly free-speech-unfriendly regimes, but it’s still a usefully refreshing perspective.

Political beliefs held in private don’t much matter. Complaining about politics in private situations is fine, because it just doesn’t matter. So sure, you are safe from political persecution if your privacy is maintained… but it’s because you are impotent not because privacy is some part of a political struggle.

This reminds me of a playground sense of privacy. On the playground you might say you like They Might Be Giants and the playground bully says that’s so gay, and you think I shouldn’t have said anything. But it doesn’t really matter how much you reveal in that situation, it doesn’t matter what you say you like — the bully isn’t making a pointed critique on your preferences, they are just trying to hurt you. The only way privacy will help you is if you are so quiet that the bully doesn’t notice you at all and picks on someone else instead.