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You are responsible for your own internet privacy

Tom Kaneshige | Oct. 24, 2014
Bill Clinton's run for presidency nearly derailed when rumors surfaced that he had smoked marijuana during his time in England. In an effort to control the damage, Clinton admitted that he indeed experimented with the illegal drug but "didn't inhale." Imagine how history might have changed if a video of a glassy-eyed Clinton with a joint between his lips had shown up on Youtube (which, of course, didn't exist at the time).

You have to start from the perspective that you have no real privacy. That sounds pretty scary.

Stahl: There's this idea floating around that if you're not doing anything wrong, why should you care? I look at the other side of this. There's an article in the New York Times this month, "We Want Privacy, But Can't Stop Sharing," where the idea is, if you know that whatever you do is available out in the public domain, either through the government, Facebook or Google, you really begin to look over your shoulder. Are you willing to go to a demonstration for, say, the shooting in St. Louis of a young black man by an off-duty cop, if you know you're going to be surveilled? Even though you have a constitutional right, there's a chilling effect on people's behaviors whether or not they're doing anything wrong.

I'm old enough to remember Richard Nixon when he was president. HBO just did a special on the last Nixon tapes. Here was a president of the United States who, when a reporter, Dan Schorr, started pushing and probing around the Vietnam War, had his people get with the IRS to start auditing Schorr's tax returns. We have historical evidence in America that even doing legal things can result in intrusive government on you.

We're suspicious for good reason. Do big corporations also violate user privacy?

Stahl: We know they're collecting whatever they can. The business model of the Internet is about collecting information and using this information for either marketing or sales purposes. Some of it is valuable. I shop on Amazon regularly, and it's nice that they keep track of what I shop for, because they make some good suggestions.

But when the government via subpoena gets that information or when Amazon sells it off, we don't have the right to limit what's being collected about us nor get the benefit financially. The common theme behind Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party is that big government and corporations are in bed together.

Yes, we have the story of Yahoo pushing back when the government wanted access. But we've also got a history of the telecom providers and others rolling over when the government wanted all that information. If big corporations are collecting it, where's the privacy for us? I've read contrasting reports about millennials' views on privacy. Are they driving toward privacy? Or are they recklessly sharing personal information and pictures?

Stahl: Our kids are taking pictures and putting them on Snapchat, and god knows what kinds of photos. Snapchat is supposed to forget, but it looks like a third-party app connected into Snapchat didn't forget. Then there's the nude celebrity photos.


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