Is Privacy Too Expensive?

I don't know if you ever think about your privacy, but if you do, you realize that it is getting scarce - and maybe, expensive.

LAST year, I spent more than $2,200 and countless hours trying to protect my privacy.

Some of the items I bought a $230 service that encrypted my data in the Internet cloud; a $35 privacy filter to shield my laptop screen from coffee-shop voyeurs; and a $420 subscription to a portable Internet service to bypass untrusted connections protect me from criminals and hackers. Other products, like a $5-a-month service that provides me with disposable email addresses and phone numbers, protect me against the legal (but, to me, unfair) mining and sale of my personal data.

In our data-saturated economy, privacy is becoming a luxury good...

This quote is from an interesting recent NYTimes article ("Has Privacy Become a Luxury Good?").

Science fiction writers have thought about it - writers like Philip K. Dick was obsessed with it. For several hundred highly focused and relevant links, take a look at my section on Surveillance in Science Fiction. Here are some choice bits:

But I'm more interested in whether or not we can do something about it. Isaac Asimov described an anti-spying device in his 1951 novel Foundation.

Fans of William Gibson may recall that privacy was very expensive indeed in the world of his 1984 novel :

[He] saw that it was a solid sandwich of circuitry, nearly a centimeter thick. He helped the man lift it and position it in the doorway. Quick, nicotine-stained fingers secured it with a white velcro border. A hidden exhaust fan began to purr.

"Time," the man said, straightening up, 'and counting. You know the rate, Moll..."

"... we'll want full screen for as long as we want it."

"Hey, that's fine by the Finn, Moll. You're only paying by the second."

They sealed the door behind him, and Molly turned one of the white chairs around and sat on it, chin resting on crossed forearms. "We talk now. This is as private as I can afford."
(Read about Gibson's privacy screen)

I don't think I recall any sf authors (or anyone) predicting that we ourselves would be the source of the problem. The biggest cost to privacy today is what you'd need to give up to have the privacy you wanted:

  • No cell phones
    They track your position to within a hundred feet or so. And of course there is the metadata from your phone calls, not to mention the content of the calls. Add to that your texting, pictures and so forth.
  • No credit cards
    Your credit card transactions provide endless trackable bits of information about you and about how your tastes have evolved over your adult life, not to mention where you've lived and traveled.
  • No cities, no towns
    Too many CCTV cameras associated with businesses, ATMs, gas stations, etc.
I'm sure there are many other examples.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/5/2014)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Surveillance ")

Graphene Thermopile May Grant Predator Heat Vision To Humans
'What the hell are you?' Predator vision systems at work.

RF-Capture Lets MIT Boffins See Through Walls
'A television set that would see through walls...' - Nat Schachner, 1936.

MIT's Microwave Camera Sees Through Walls
'Through the lenses of those goggles Costigan's keen and highly-trained eyes studied every concealed detail...' - EE 'Doc' Smith, 1934.

Ultralight Origami Crane UAV Flexes Its Wings
'They began to flex their wings.' -



Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.






Current News

Solowheel Xtreme Heinlein Tumblebug Video
'The cadets 'stood to horse' alongside their poised tumblebugs...'

Algorithm Predicts Marriage Success (HAL 9000 Will See You Now)
'I can tell from your voice harmonics, Dave, that you're badly upset....'

Denmark Island Earth (Verdenskortet ala Ringworld)
'They wanted to keep something of what they were losing...'

Humai Startup To Implant Your Brain In Robot Body
'The astounded onlookers saw a human brain snugly encased in a transparent skull-shaped receptacle.'

Blue Origin Reusable Rocket's Vertical Landing
We're getting there, one launch at a time.

X125 Snake-Arm Inspection Robot Video
'... long, flexible, glittering tentacles...'

Super-Thin Smart Glazing Displays
'...a wide sheet of clear material suddenly flared with light and swirling color.'

Have Scientists Found A Parallel Universe Leaking Into Ours
'Ellis had found a weak point, a shimmer, at which another continuum completely had been visible.'

Active Wellness Smart Car Seat
'Maybe the car was right...'

Tech Tats Prototype Sfnal Devices
'...Permanently fixed in the centre of his forehead.'

ANNABELL AI Can Learn English From Scratch
'...Could understand not only classic programming but also Loglan and English..."

Tesla Suit Gives Haptic Hugs
'Then a pressure on the lips...'

Surgically Implantable Artificial Kidney Starts Testing
'George Walt... proved the workability of wholly mechanical organs...'

Self-Filling Water Bottle Is Beetle-Based
'That moisture trickles down...'

Senate Passes Space Mining Legislation
'The law of filing on newly discovered asteroids was definite...'

Microsoft's Surface Book Is Part Clipboard
'Floyd sometimes wondered if the Newspad, and the fantastic technology behind it, was the last word in man's quest for perfect communications...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise | - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.