A Parable of Technology and Privacy


(I have to apologize to the world for having written this… it was my instant reaction to a mailing list question about “what is the relationship between technology and privacy in the modern world”. Enjoy. Or ignore.)

The relationship between Technology and Privacy in the modern world is abusive. It’s the kind of relationship where “I fell down the stairs” is a thing they say when standing in the infirmary where Privacy is being stitched up.

It isn’t that Technology wants to abuse Privacy. It’s more that Technology really loves Privacy, and wants it to understand how it cannot stand to loose it. Ever. And it really doesn’t like it when Privacy looks at that other guy. “Civil Liberties”, right – what a macho motherfucking asskisser. Playing it all cuddly and hippie, as if he’s important.

Technology is a decent guy. Hard working, puts in his hours. He’s slightly obsessive though and sometimes hangs out with bad company. His four best friends, Apple, Microsoft, Google and Facebook, tend to hang out at the Korova Milk Bar, where they talk about the shit that happens in other people’s lives. They would know, because they’ve got transcripts of all of it. When asked by people on the street, they blame Technology, or their other friend, The State, a shady figure who uses too many amphetamines and likes torture. Technology doesn’t really like being blamed, but what can he do? He can’t really ditch his friends, they’re bankrolling him after all.

This is the main problem in Technology’s life. He loves Privacy, but between being super jealous of her friendship with Civil Liberties, and being financially dependent on four jerks who like to make him their whipping boy, there’s not a lot he can do.

The only way Technology sees out of this mess is to find work for somebody else, somebody who respects him and wants him to thrive. Civil Liberties, despite their differences, would love to pay him, but hardly has enough moolah to keep himself going. Privacy is flat broke, on account of being constantly robbed of everything by The State, who needs to somehow fund his addictions. But maybe, just maybe, there’s a solution that’ll allow Technology, Privacy, and Civil Liberties to settle their internal strife and live happily ever after.