Privacy is dead?

30 Nov 2021

Tags: Privacy, Tech

Privacy is dead

~ A sticker on my laptop

Yesterday I got asked “Do you think privacy is dead? Because of the sticker on your laptop, but you also have ones pro-privacy, whats up with that”

Personally I don’t think privacy is dead. Privacy is one of my driving reasons for anything I do in tech. I believe in privacy, I believe in it’s importance, the only problem?

Try safeguarding your privacy when you aren’t tech savvy. It took me 2 tries over the course of several months to understand the fediverse and federation, just as an example

So to take a look how securing your privacy would go for an average person.

Examples

Private cloud-storage?

Sure, we have Nextcloud and stuff, but try explaining your parents how to setup a Nextcloud-Instance.

Private messaging?

We have Matrix and XMPP and whatever, but you also need a server for that. There is Signal, you might add, and you are right. Signal could really be a viable solution, but let’s see where their moves of closing down part of the code brings them.

Private OS?

Wohoo, year of the Linux desktop. Since when? 2015? To be fair, Linux is can be user friendly, but requires learning a whole new way of doing things. And installing Linux? I got scared by secure boot only two years ago, and startled by it only last week. How do you expect a non tech savvy person to react to this, while he is already doing an enormous brave/new/exciting/scary thing, installing a new operating system?

Private social media?

Mastodon, but like I said earlier, it took me 2 tries over several months. And than there is the network effect with the chicken and the egg problem.

Private E-Mail?

Selfhosting, not really suitable for non-techy people. Tutanoa? ProtonMail (not even starting on vendor lock-in here)? Sure, they are easy to use, but they aren’t really good at advertising themselves, at least in my experience. I will get to that later.

Private Browsing?

You basically can’t access any website, used by the average person, without accepting to cookies, analytics, ad’s, tracking pixels, you name it. And no, having to click to 3 menus and scroll 2 pages to find the 2x2 pixels “I don’t consent”-button is not an option for the average person.

And autoblocking JS? I tried using the web like this and got tired of it. Sure I could do it, just a bit too lazy having to find out which website hosts needed JS every single time. And that is me, with a high privacy drive. For the normal person it is a bit too much, I think.

“But that’s why they have people like you, the tech savvy ones”

I mean sure. I bet every family has at least on “IT-Guy”. But honestly, if you read this, it is very likely, that you are that guy. Do you have the time, money and willpower to support your whole family in this endeavor? I succeeded to move my close family to my matrix server, but just, because they are privacy-conscious themselves. My mom tried Linux but didn’t really get it. My dad needs software only available on Windows, so switching OS is also hard. And I don’t have the money to really host and maintain proper filehosting and guaranty safety for their files.

Advertising

Like I mentioned in the E-Mail point. There are some really nice privacy focused, user friendly services, but they are bad at advertising. I never saw an add for Tutanota, or for Nextcloud, or Matrix, whatever. I only know of those services, because I am in this bubble.

Why privacy shouldn’t be dead

Privacy influences our lives, even if we don’t recognize it. Can you talk openly to your partner? Are you comfortable talking to your therapist? Is your home the one place, where you can truly be yourself? Can you do all this, without having to fear repercussions by your peers, the government or whom ever? This is privacy. Privacy is our right to be ourselves, when we are alone. Privacy provides us with the ability to express ourselves openly and privately and privacy is the barrier protecting our last stand, our own thoughts.

Conclusion

There definitely are ways to save your privacy, but most of them aren’t really feasible for the average Joe and/or otherwise not well known enough. For me? I will definitely use my powers(^^) to try and help me and other, none-techy people, sustain their privacy. But at some points there are limits, for me/the tech savvy person further down the road, than for the normal Joe, but it is still worth fighting for, even if we face those barriers and they seem huge, I am sure we can figure out a way. So no, privacy is not dead. As long as there are people fighting for it, it is not dead. And it shouldn’t be, because it plays such an immense role in our lives, even without us recognizing it.