Updated privacy policies are all the hype. Makes sense, since Cambridge Analytics used Facebook data to help Trump get elected. The horror!
As societal trust crumbles it becomes difficult to trust strangers. Unfortunate fact about internet life is that it comes with a truckload of mingling strangers. These strangers of course have vested interest in earning your trust, but the nature of anarcho-tyrannical modernity is such that they can’t help but betray your trust.
The coup-complete solution to this problem is to acknowledge that, the moment you hand over your data to a company, your data is in the hands of that company and they may use that data for evil intentions. If you party in someone else’s garden, you play by the rules of that garden’s owner. Don’t trust the company, don’t share your data. As simple as that.
The coup-incomplete solution is to give the impression you’re solving the problem without solving the problem. Say you’re really sorry and it will never happen again.
How to assure people it will never happen again?
By publishing monstrous documents detailing every possible situation with every possible piece of data. No one reads them, no one fully understands them, but you show everyone you’re taking this very seriously!
Paraphrasing burn the bureaucracy:
The purpose of bureaucracy is not efficiency, it is compensating a lack of trust. Compare the 1787 American constitution (8000 words) with the 2010 Affordable Care Act (360.000 words). Lifelong friends need only a few words to understand one another. Lifelong strangers demand a multi-thousand word contract be set-up so they can’t be screwed over.
The irony is of course that people will be screwed over despite multi-thousand word contracts. It is a Jimian truth that if a company very loudly shouts that your data is safe with them, it is obvious that your data is totally not safe with them. Considering that all companies are shouting very loudly that your data is safe with them, this does not bode well for the future.
In practice, whatever problems the byzantine policies and laws solve in terms of public anxiety, they create in terms of shifting the focus from Getting Things Done to Please Don’t Sue Me. I’ll wait for the moment where I request to see my medical file but the doctor refuses because doing so would be against privacy laws.