Where Do We Draw The Line Between Pragmatism And Paranoia?

RedPhoenix

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First, drhowarddrfine, let me stress this one point. I'm not against marketing. I don't mind ads. People have to make a living. But I value my privacy. It's one of the reasons why I use FreeBSD (it has more options than Linux that cater to the security-minded). So now that that's out of the way... It seems as if many of us don't know where that line is. Some of us go to reasonable lengths so we don't suddenly get PUPs by clicking on cleverly designed buttons disguised as "Download", etc.. Some (thankfully not myself) go to other lengths on the deep end. I asked about blocking ads and tracking on the DNS level, not just to maintain security and privacy, but to study and understand how it works. Some of you might not know this, but I have a deep interest in how various Technologies work. Which means that I might try to implement things that some might deem unnecessary. And, though you may not know it, I actually have Autism, and don't really have a family or many friends to go on trips with, and so I have a lot of time to devote to my small business of installations on people's Hardware and just learning things. Anyway, where do you guys stand on this issue? Thanks for your time, and please, no hammers.
 

obsigna

Aspiring Daemon

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„We“ are many people. Personally, I draw the line when counter-measures start to prevent me from doing useful things and/or consume too much of my valuable time.

So, I go for tools that after installation need almost zero maintenance.

However, my issue with tracking and targeting is not actually my Privacy as such. A year ago, I wrote:
https://obsigna.com/articles/1528644109.html said:
Targeting defeats the Age of Reason, it substitutes reason by choice, and it turns citizens into tools, i.e. fools. However, Google Analytics is no more a battle to fight, this has been lost already.
 

trev

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While there may be some who still place some value on their privacy, the vast majority care not at all and have already willingly sold themselves to the likes of Facebook et al. The Internet-related privacy battle has already been lost.

Even for those who gone out of their way to be careful. For example, I have never signed up for nor used Facebook. Yet nonetheless Facebook know certain things about me. How? Friends who do use Facebook and post annotated photos in which I appear, have Facebook email me Facebook "invites" etc.

I too am guilty by necessity. I avoided signing up for a PayPal account for as long as I could. Nonetheless, sometimes I had no choice but to use a credit card via PayPal. After some arbitrary number of transactions, PayPal started rejecting my credit card unless I signed up for a PayPal account. So, I either stopped purchasing from any merchant who only accepted PayPal or signed up for an account. I signed up for an account. Lo and behold, every transaction where I'd used any of my credit cards through PayPal previously was already nicely listed in my transaction history.

I had a similar experience with Google. I once owned an Android tablet which required a Google account. Wandering around the various privacy-related options I noticed Google had listed every YouTube video I had viewed. It didn't stop there. There was also a list of my "friends" being anyone who had ever emailed me from a Gmail account. I think I recall there also being a list of all the Google Documents I had viewed.

The privacy horse has well and truly bolted, no point trying to lock that barn door now.

All of which is not to say that I don't still attempt to put in place counter-measures. However, such measures now only serve to limit, not prevent, any invasion of privacy or, as obsigna noted above, behavioural or psychological manipulation.
 

OJ

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Even for those who gone out of their way to be careful. For example, I have never signed up for nor used Facebook. Yet nonetheless Facebook know certain things about me. How? Friends who do use Facebook and post annotated photos in which I appear, have Facebook email me Facebook "invites" etc.
Actually it's worse than that. One is likely to cruise by a web site that has a Facebook icon that calls home. Check your cookies and there is generally a present from facebook. That's a whole other level of tracking there. But yeah, you probably knew that already. :)

The privacy horse has well and truly bolted, no point trying to lock that barn door now.
I see it slightly differently. Most people seem to suggest that their name and/or other information being available on the internet is a bad thing. Being of the generation where a physical "phone book" was distributed, even including house address and profession, I still like to be able to find people and be found by others. The real problem is actually large databases used for antagonistic purposes. By antagonistic I mean things which are not in one's personal interest. That includes the massive databases accumulated via loyalty cards (not even online) and other activities of data brokers, as well as police state type activities. So, my approach is to obfuscate. Without going too far out of my way, I try to make the information gathered in those places less complete and less useful.

I think the title of this thread alludes to a difference between those who try to make everything perfect, even when that is not possible, and those who are able to think it through in a manner that is actually relevant to their life. I don't waste my time on the unachievable, and I'm not paranoid - but I also don't give up.
 

forquare

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Personally, I draw the line when counter-measures start to prevent me from doing useful things and/or consume too much of my valuable time.
I think this is my general premise, also.

When it comes to services that I can self-host, I am slowly doing so. I think the only Google service I frequent is YouTube, aside from that I have nothing consciously to do with them (though I'm certainly being tracked around the web by them and am likely using their services indirectly).
Like RedPhoenix, much of what I do at home aids learning and satisfies some sort of itch. My current service to reclaim is email - but this is less because I am privacy conscience, and more because I am curious.

While in principal I don't mind companies having data, I do mind when they use it to exploit and manipulate me. It then pains me to find, once they've taken my data and exploited me, that they've not taken care of it and given it away in a security breach.
 
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RedPhoenix

RedPhoenix

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I think this is my general premise, also.

When it comes to services that I can self-host, I am slowly doing so. I think the only Google service I frequent is YouTube, aside from that I have nothing consciously to do with them (though I'm certainly being tracked around the web by them and am likely using their services indirectly).
Like RedPhoenix, much of what I do at home aids learning and satisfies some sort of itch. My current service to reclaim is email - but this is less because I am privacy conscience, and more because I am curious.

While in principal I don't mind companies having data, I do mind when they use it to exploit and manipulate me. It then pains me to find, once they've taken my data and exploited me, that they've not taken care of it and given it away in a security breach.
Yes. :) This. :) This is exactly the point I was trying to make in my post about ad blocking and blocking tracking in FreeBSD as a Server OS. :D But as you stated, I do not mind tracking, up to a point. For instance, I make a point to install bsdstats from the repository on every new FreeBSD installation (I really should get to installing it on my Server). :) Thanks for your thoughts on this important issue! :)
 
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RedPhoenix

RedPhoenix

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Actually it's worse than that. One is likely to cruise by a web site that has a Facebook icon that calls home. Check your cookies and there is generally a present from facebook. That's a whole other level of tracking there. But yeah, you probably knew that already. :)



I see it slightly differently. Most people seem to suggest that their name and/or other information being available on the internet is a bad thing. Being of the generation where a physical "phone book" was distributed, even including house address and profession, I still like to be able to find people and be found by others. The real problem is actually large databases used for antagonistic purposes. By antagonistic I mean things which are not in one's personal interest. That includes the massive databases accumulated via loyalty cards (not even online) and other activities of data brokers, as well as police state type activities. So, my approach is to obfuscate. Without going too far out of my way, I try to make the information gathered in those places less complete and less useful.

I think the title of this thread alludes to a difference between those who try to make everything perfect, even when that is not possible, and those who are able to think it through in a manner that is actually relevant to their life. I don't waste my time on the unachievable, and I'm not paranoid - but I also don't give up.
Well said, OJ. :)
 
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RedPhoenix

RedPhoenix

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While there may be some who still place some value on their privacy, the vast majority care not at all and have already willingly sold themselves to the likes of Facebook et al. The Internet-related privacy battle has already been lost.

Even for those who gone out of their way to be careful. For example, I have never signed up for nor used Facebook. Yet nonetheless Facebook know certain things about me. How? Friends who do use Facebook and post annotated photos in which I appear, have Facebook email me Facebook "invites" etc.

I too am guilty by necessity. I avoided signing up for a PayPal account for as long as I could. Nonetheless, sometimes I had no choice but to use a credit card via PayPal. After some arbitrary number of transactions, PayPal started rejecting my credit card unless I signed up for a PayPal account. So, I either stopped purchasing from any merchant who only accepted PayPal or signed up for an account. I signed up for an account. Lo and behold, every transaction where I'd used any of my credit cards through PayPal previously was already nicely listed in my transaction history.

I had a similar experience with Google. I once owned an Android tablet which required a Google account. Wandering around the various privacy-related options I noticed Google had listed every YouTube video I had viewed. It didn't stop there. There was also a list of my "friends" being anyone who had ever emailed me from a Gmail account. I think I recall there also being a list of all the Google Documents I had viewed.

The privacy horse has well and truly bolted, no point trying to lock that barn door now.

All of which is not to say that I don't still attempt to put in place counter-measures. However, such measures now only serve to limit, not prevent, any invasion of privacy or, as obsigna noted above, behavioural or psychological manipulation.
It does sound discouraging, but remember this: all information has an expiration date. ;) Thanks for your response on the matter. :)
 
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RedPhoenix

RedPhoenix

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„We“ are many people. Personally, I draw the line when counter-measures start to prevent me from doing useful things and/or consume too much of my valuable time.

So, I go for tools that after installation need almost zero maintenance.

However, my issue with tracking and targeting is not actually my Privacy as such. A year ago, I wrote:
I didn't know you have your own Website. :) I'll visit it, and Bookmark it, ok? :) Thanks for your input. :)
 

getopt

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But, I live in the U.S., and encryption isn't banned here (yet). :\
This you wrote referring to GDPR which is EU legislation. Your writing ("but") suggests that encryption is banned there which is wrong.
I don't mind ads. People have to make a living.
The Internet has become the main "warzone" for all kind of marketing where advertising pictures are the visible part only. For personalized advertising-attacks a huge data industry works mostly unnoticed by the users generating exorbitant profits not being even fairly taxed. The Data&Marketing-Complex use a global playfield where they just can act almost without any regulation and they do it in such a greedy way that they influence legislation heavily around the globe for not touching their self taken privileges.

You are right saying people have to make a living. But which people do really profit from Internet and data-driven advertisement? Which people do profit from "Big Data"? It's the 5% who have the resources to do so, and they do not have in mind the well being of the 95%. The ordinary people are just needed as long as they keep the wheel turning. Good products don't need a hammering marketing that even hammers on our privacy.

All this is not near the peak. Data collectors now try to explore mood and feelings while surfing the Internet. They may tell you if you tend to euphoria or depression, being calm or aggressive along with your political habits. Do we really deserve such a technological future?
 

Trihexagonal

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I got a Google account so I could use their Webmaster Tools to get my sites indexed, jumped through their hoops to get HTTPS and added a viewport metatag so I wouldn't be penalized. My site only uses valid XHTML and CSS, no scripts, ads or cookies and the only thing that shows as a tracker are my W3C code validation buttons. That only so they can tell which page you came from for validation purposes.

I never use gmail or stay logged in to do anything but work on my site. If Google sees my IP# searched for something or watched a youtube video I'm not worried about it. I have #1 and #2 Google ranking in a search for FreeBSD Desktop Tutorial so I can't complain. #5th rank too if you include the article about it in freebsdnews.com, but who's counting. :p That was Marketing in its truest form, by word of mouth, and not missing a chance to shamelessly promote it and myself.

Everything else falls under my basic Internet Security Plan. This is as close to Social Media as I get and won't let people take a photo of me if they use Facebook. I won't use a browser that doesn't support the extensions I deem necessary and it's never too much trouble to sift through a few scripts to see which ones are actually needed for basic site functionality. Once I have things set up the way I want it's only a matter of updating uBlock Origin on a regular basis. The rest is business as usual and I don't worry about anything past that point.
 

toorski

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It does sound discouraging, but remember this: all information has an expiration date. ;) Thanks for your response on the matter. :)
Information is a BIG word which depends on its application and context, at least in the English language. In general terms, there are various ways where and how information is stored, retrieved and used. According to some, then and now, who claim to know better (I hope) or think so, information never expires. If it did, we wouldn’t know about the past. Or else, those who provide latest information, that are based on past information, lie or make shit up, then&now :-/

According to Me&I, there’s infinite amount of information around us that never expires. But, we the primitive homo primates have no abilities or intelligence to process, store, analyze, understand, imagine or visualize most of the information that surround us, no matter how many computers, software applications and networks we build to deal with it.

Until we understand how our brain works, how universe works, how birds fly, navigate and communicate without engines, clocks, navigation equipment, radios and satellites, how sea mammals communicate and navigate without engines, clocks, sonars, radios, and satellites, how earth worms regrow split body parts without medical equipment or how to communicate with other creatures on this or others planets, we will build machines supported by so called AI software to collect useless information designed and developed by dumb homo sapiens to annoy each other.:)
 

malavon

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I'm so going to become the nutcase of this forum after this post, or at least one of them. Remember me the way you thought I was ... ;)

My difficulty with losing privacy really isn't about the fact that my life is being tracked and used to sell me items. I'm one of those people (about 30% of humanity) that truly isn't positively influenced by advertising.
The problem lies with the fact that people don't really understand that there is no such thing as just data. The value in big data doesn't lie in the data itself, it lies in the information that can be inferred from said data.
That's where things become more abstract, but also way more dangerous. Using the data that's in people's GMails, private Facebook chats and everything else is used to understand the target's emotional state. This
is basically marketing 101, but the same information can be used in much more sinister ways. In the past this was the terrain of intelligence agencies, using information to gain a way in to someone's mind. To give you
one example: there have been studies about how easy it is to manipulate people into committing suicide. All it takes are a few orchestrated mishaps based on someones past at the right time and to provide the target's
most likely method of choice. The parts in bold can be inferred from the data that people hand out to social media easily.

I could start raving about what other people do or do not understand, but I'd rather make people think for themselves. One question and followups I generally ask people (mostly irl) when this topic is brought up is the following:
would you be scared more if <known dictator from the past> had access to this technology that told him everything about yourself? If said dictator has a radically different set of ideas about things you find important, and is willing
to purge the world of people who do not agree with his version of ideas, would you still be comfortably giving out your data?
This risk is real today (and has been real in the entire past of humanity):
Look at Turkey, where Erdogan's police has used social media to identify 'threats' against his supreme reign based on what ngo's they supported (many linked to Gülen) and who they associated with.
Look at China, where all social media is essentially state-controlled to be able to identify dissidents and where their data will be used in the future to score and classify people into obedient and subversive groups.

Handing out your very thoughts to people you do not know is a folly. Handing out blackmail material is truly insane.
Would you be throwing all of your private mails, chats and whatever onto the streets? Would you hand out USB sticks with all your private data, every picture you've ever taken, every message you've ever sent to your friends
or even enemies on to anyone passing you by in the streets? If the answer is no, then why are you doing the very same thing while you're reading this?

On a final note this: data does not expire. It's a false assumption to think that what I wrote/thought 10 years ago, is no longer relevant. Or rephrased, can be no longer used against me. I am still the same person and the
choices I made in the past, the experiences I had in the past still define me to this very day. People do not truly change, especially after their brain no longer grows (before 25y for most people). The information that
lies behind the data will remain relevant for ever.
Think about this: if in the future you're running for an important office and someone unearths something that you wrote 20 years ago in a drunk stupor, would you not be sorry about having kept all your data out there?
It's not because you think it might be irrelevant, that other people are going to think so. Especially the easily manipulated ones, like the typical voter, will care a lot.
When this happens to people right now, they have to think who may have made this public. In the future, you won't even have to think because you did it yourself. You'll think back to the times people didn't understand
the value of their data and come to regret the choices you made.
 

obsigna

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You guys are going to go crazy once you learn about Nielson and Arbitron.
Are you talking about their Portable People Meter?

Note, I heard about Nielson already in the past, about their broadcasting reach business since the 1940's (by their predecessors). I now updated myself by the way of the respective Wikipedia article. I cannot see anything which would even remotely be able me let going crazy. Their business is doing real measurements (full stop)

So, a real measurement is an observation of a physical condition by absolutely avoiding influencing the same. Here take physical in a general sense and avoid any influence literally. The latter is the difficult thing they're trying hard to do and therefore they're in business for such a long time, and I wish them all the luck for another 80 years.

What they are doing is like temperature measurement using a tiny device immersing it into the big (social) pool and publicly report the temperature reading. This is by far different from what Google and Facebook are doing. To begin with, they create the big social pool. Then they measure all sort of things in there, and the readings are not for serving any curiosity (although Google Analytics likes you to believe this), no the readings are for controlling the physical conditions in the pool. The primary business of Google, Facebook, Twitter, and the like is controlling and gaining influence - for the time being mainly for parasitizing their shares on sold goods and services. Parasites tend to grow as large as possible, but only merely keeping their hosts alive.
 

obsigna

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I didn't know you have your own Website. :) I'll visit it, and Bookmark it, ok? :) Thanks for your input. :)
You're welcome. Many articles are in German language. These can be translated quite well to English using online translation services, except the Google Translator, because Google is blinded on my site by the firewall. The Microsoft Bing Translator works quite well. The following would be the translator prefix https://www.translatetheweb.com/?from=de&to=en&a= and behind the ...&a= you would append the complete URI of the page to be translated.
 
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RedPhoenix

RedPhoenix

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You're welcome. Many articles are in German language. These can be translated quite well to English using online translation services, except the Google Translator, because Google is blinded on my site by the firewall. The Microsoft Bing Translator works quite well. The following would be the translator prefix https://www.translatetheweb.com/?from=de&to=en&a= and behind the ...&a= you would append the complete URI of the page to be translated.
Yeah, I get why you'd block Google through your Firewall. :) I'm curious: which version of FreeBSD do you use for your Server, and if not, which other OS? :) Also, I find it fun to play with URLs, and see what I can cook up or find, such as on dilbert.com . :D
 
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RedPhoenix

RedPhoenix

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I'm so going to become the nutcase of this forum after this post, or at least one of them. Remember me the way you thought I was ... ;)

My difficulty with losing privacy really isn't about the fact that my life is being tracked and used to sell me items. I'm one of those people (about 30% of humanity) that truly isn't positively influenced by advertising.
The problem lies with the fact that people don't really understand that there is no such thing as just data. The value in big data doesn't lie in the data itself, it lies in the information that can be inferred from said data.
That's where things become more abstract, but also way more dangerous. Using the data that's in people's GMails, private Facebook chats and everything else is used to understand the target's emotional state. This
is basically marketing 101, but the same information can be used in much more sinister ways. In the past this was the terrain of intelligence agencies, using information to gain a way in to someone's mind. To give you
one example: there have been studies about how easy it is to manipulate people into committing suicide. All it takes are a few orchestrated mishaps based on someones past at the right time and to provide the target's
most likely method of choice. The parts in bold can be inferred from the data that people hand out to social media easily.

I could start raving about what other people do or do not understand, but I'd rather make people think for themselves. One question and followups I generally ask people (mostly irl) when this topic is brought up is the following:
would you be scared more if <known dictator from the past> had access to this technology that told him everything about yourself? If said dictator has a radically different set of ideas about things you find important, and is willing
to purge the world of people who do not agree with his version of ideas, would you still be comfortably giving out your data?
This risk is real today (and has been real in the entire past of humanity):
Look at Turkey, where Erdogan's police has used social media to identify 'threats' against his supreme reign based on what ngo's they supported (many linked to Gülen) and who they associated with.
Look at China, where all social media is essentially state-controlled to be able to identify dissidents and where their data will be used in the future to score and classify people into obedient and subversive groups.

Handing out your very thoughts to people you do not know is a folly. Handing out blackmail material is truly insane.
Would you be throwing all of your private mails, chats and whatever onto the streets? Would you hand out USB sticks with all your private data, every picture you've ever taken, every message you've ever sent to your friends
or even enemies on to anyone passing you by in the streets? If the answer is no, then why are you doing the very same thing while you're reading this?

On a final note this: data does not expire. It's a false assumption to think that what I wrote/thought 10 years ago, is no longer relevant. Or rephrased, can be no longer used against me. I am still the same person and the
choices I made in the past, the experiences I had in the past still define me to this very day. People do not truly change, especially after their brain no longer grows (before 25y for most people). The information that
lies behind the data will remain relevant for ever.
Think about this: if in the future you're running for an important office and someone unearths something that you wrote 20 years ago in a drunk stupor, would you not be sorry about having kept all your data out there?
It's not because you think it might be irrelevant, that other people are going to think so. Especially the easily manipulated ones, like the typical voter, will care a lot.
When this happens to people right now, they have to think who may have made this public. In the future, you won't even have to think because you did it yourself. You'll think back to the times people didn't understand
the value of their data and come to regret the choices you made.
Your reply is quite likely the best one on here (no offense to you all ;)). Though I disagree that people cannot change, I agree with literally everything else you said. You're not crazy. This level of manipulation is carried out every day, from the Board Room to the Oval Office, possibly. :\ Like him or not, your reply reminds me of President Trump, and how his "locker room talk" about grabbing women by the */dev/null* still continues to haunt him to this day. You've given me a lot to think about. :) Thanks for your reply. :)
 
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Crivens

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Just remember that in the last census before 1933 people here did not think bad about writing down their religion.

Now think again about what might be hideworthy in some years. Nobody knows, and that is why one should go for the absolute zero with his data.
 
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RedPhoenix

RedPhoenix

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Just remember that in the last census before 1933 people here did not think bad about writing down their religion.

Now think again about what might be hideworthy in some years. Nobody knows, and that is why one should go for the absolute zero with his data.
Yeah, like the Gypsies and the Jews in Germany..... They (the Nazi scientists) also experimented on disabled people, so I would have been killed back then. :\ I was born in 1991, thankfully. :(
 
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