Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Our Economic Model of Privacy Is Deeply Flawed

Will Oremus, OneZero:

The apparent disconnect between most people’s stated desire for online privacy and their incautious online behavior has become known as the privacy paradox. There are competing explanations, but most experts agree it’s hard to draw conclusions about people’s values from their real-world actions. That’s because their choices are shaped by all kinds of factors: the limited available options (how many social networks have the majority of your friends and family on them?), the circumstances under which they make decisions (who has time to read a 4,000-word privacy policy before downloading each app?), the difficulty of predicting outcomes (who knew that Yahoo Mail would get hacked when they signed up for it?), and feelings of general helplessness (why spend a ton of energy protecting your data now when so much is already out there?).

It really is bizarre that we willfully sign away our right to the privacy and security of huge amounts of deeply personal information with little thought or care — and that the discussion about how to best regulate this industry and its breaches of trust, if at all, is dominated by economic rationales instead of moral and ethical ones.