Back to discussion of the nature of things. Not so recently have I become interested in clandestine activities.
One could define clandestine activities as those that are undertaken with actor, actions, reason and existence concealed or obfuscated. Organized clandestine activity is one where human and other resources are pooled and organized to perform advanced massive and pervasive clandestine activities. Clandestine organizations and clandestine free agents are groups and individuals who perform organized clandestine activities. There could also be unorganized activities such as accidental activity. Clandestine activity by high technology: wire tap, ether/wifi sniff. Data mining records Clandestine activity by process:
Why the formality?
Because I find myself spending far too much time thinking about my coworkers reading my emails at work, my boss reading my personal emails, my friends, my wife, my parents reading my emails, my coworkers changing my code seconds before I check them into SVN…
So, what are all these clandestine activities and what difference does it make? Let us dissect the above paragraph into its constituencies:
Monitoring: secret collection of information: boss hires someone to read my personal email. To me, I am okay with people being aware of my personal activities. As long as it is does not materially detrimental to my quality of life. I think corporation law protecting secrecy is the minimal level of protection we have.
If I have stated that I want something private, then it should be protected as my personal privacy.
If I have taken sufficient measures to conceal it then it should be private.
For example: mail service provider instrumenting a password and my using a password on my email account demonstrates both intent and effort in hiding my personal emails. Please do not read them! It should be protected just as much as a stocker looking through my blinds which also shows desire and effort towards hiding something.
Reaction: acting on the information gathered under fake reason: boss plans to have an important meeting on the day I scheduled an interview at another company before I ask for that day off for a dentist appointment. Information asymmetry here causes employee to be at an disadvantage. Setting up a DUI check point to block bank robber’s escape route.
Masquerading: acting under the identity of an actual person or entity: eg coworker changes code in my work directory with out asking me. Stealing and defaming my identity. I feel this should be against rule of law and rule of companies. This can effectively kills a person’s identity and his reputation. Doing this is like putting poison in his drink just before he swallows it. This should not be allowed.
Subjects of organized clandestine activities are of two types, some are effectively forced to participate (you cannot buy a house unless you share your information with all our bank networks…), British surveillance system of cameras. Others participate amicably because they do not care or participate in the clandestine activities. And lastly, there are those that accept that they are subjects of clandestine activities without participating in it. I cannot imagine who wants that, but perhaps I can be persuaded that this is indeed an acceptable, and indeed more optimal, society like I accept the police been given the ability to legally (but completely publicly) use force and sometimes deadly force.
There are several issues that needs to be thought through.
- Personal Privacy is a person’s property, the loss of privacy has money (among other) value.
- Personal Privacy is a person’s right like speech.
- Personal Privacy is a mechanism important to capitalism or other aspects of economy or society like competition is. Or is it a bad thing like prostitution?
- Is complete Personal Privacy effectively impossible in a modern society?
- Is @usps.com an option? snooping my email can be big an offense as stealing my physical snail mail.
- What if I invested $5million of my own money in a company? Would I want the employee’s personal emails be read and reread by several trusted parties?
It is nearing July 4th this 12th year into our new millennium, I am reading a blog entry of my own from 2006ish talking about this exact issue with exactly same complaints that my email is being read and my code is being messed with.
I wish I could come to terms with these thoughts! They have consumed far too much of my time…
Happy July 4th!