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76781 Posts in 13501 Topics by 1651 Members - Latest Member: Arnold99 July 22, 2024, 11:33:41 pm
WinMX World :: Forum  |  Discussion  |  WinMx World News  |  Why Offline Privacy Values Must Live On In The Digital Age

Author Topic: Why Offline Privacy Values Must Live On In The Digital Age  (Read 682 times)

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Why Offline Privacy Values Must Live On In The Digital Age
« on: November 05, 2012, 10:50:48 am »
Whenever pirates demand the right to send anything to anybody without being tracked, we are somehow accused of wanting things for free. That’s not true. What we demand is simpler: we demand the laws to apply equally online and offline; we demand our children inherit the civil liberties that our parents fought, bled and often died to give to us. It’s an entirely reasonable demand.

Let’s look at the classic letter to illustrate this. The physical letter, consisting of an envelope, a folded paper with writing on it inside the envelope, and a stamp.

This was what personal communication looked like in our parents’ offline world, and it was enshrined with certain civil liberties. I’m going to focus on four of them.

First, the letter was anonymous. You, and you alone, determined whether you identified yourself as sender on the outside of the envelope for the world to know, on the inside of the letter for only the recipient to know, or didn’t identify yourself at all when sending a letter. This was your prerogative.

Second, the letter was secret in transit. Nobody had the right to open all letters just to make sure they didn’t contain something illegal or immoral – or something copied, for that matter. If you were under prior suspicion of a very serious crime, your mail could be secretly opened to find evidence of that crime – but no letter would ever be opened routinely to check for new crimes.

Third, the letter was untracked. Nobody had the right – nor, indeed, the capability – to record who was communicating with whom. Nobody was able to monitor all mailboxes to see when somebody dropped a letter in it, much less the ability to identify that person and connect them to the address on the letter dropped in the mailbox. It was a fundamental right to keep your connections to yourself.

Fourth, the mailman was never responsible for the contents in the sealed letter. How could they? They were not aware of its contents, nor were they allowed to make themselves aware of its contents. Their responsibility and accountability started and ended with delivery of the packages to the address on the envelope.

This is a set of civil liberties that our parents and grandparents literally fought, bled, and sometimes even died to give us. It is entirely reasonable that they carry over to our children in the environment they communicate in, just as the rights applied to the offline world of our parents.

But when you point this out, some will protest loudly. The copyright industry, in particular. “If you allow anybody to send anything to anybody else, even anonymously, we can’t make any money!”

To this, I respond, so what?

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