I’m off to Ottawa for the 2nd Annual Privacy Personas and Segmentation (PPS) Workshop which is being held in conjunction with the Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS).
The organizers selected me to give the keynote for the workshop, and I’ve produced a provocation for them. Here is the introduction:
Users are notoriously bad at safeguarding their online privacy. They do not read privacy policies, which in any case are mostly contracts of adhesion. They make over-optimistic assumptions about protections and dangers. They use weak passwords (and repeat them), accept cookies, and leave their cell phones on thus facilitating location tracking, which is vastly more destructive to privacy than almost any user grasps.  Contrary to Alan Westin’s privacy segmentation analysis , most privacy choices are not knowing and deliberate because they are not within the user’s control (e.g. surveillance in public). Other ‘choices’ happen because users believe, correctly, that they in fact have no choice if they want the services (e.g. Google, mobile telephony) that large numbers of consumers consider necessary for modern life. 
The systematic exposure of the so-called “privacy vulnerable” user  suits important public and private interests. Marketers, law enforcement, and (as a result) hardware and software designers tend towards making technology surveillance-friendly and tend towards making communications and transactions easily linkable.
If we each have only one identity capable of transacting–even if it is mediated through multiple logins–and if our access to communications resources, such as ISPs and email, requires payment or authentication, then all too quickly everything we do online is at risk of being linked to one master dossier. The growth of real-world surveillance, and the ease with which cell phone tracking and face recognition will allow linkage to virtual identities, only adds to the size of that dossier. The consequences are that one is, effectively, always being watched as one speaks or reads, buys or sells, or joins with friends, colleagues, co-religionists, fellow activists, or hobbyists. In the long term, a world of near-total surveillance and endless record-keeping is likely to be one with less liberty, less experimentation, and certainly far less joy  (except maybe for the watchers). In a country such as the US where robust data-protection law is deeply unlikely, a technological solution is required if privacy is to continue to be relevant in the era of big data; one such, perhaps the best such, technological improvement would be to create an IMA designed to give every person multiple privacy-protective transaction-empowered digital personae. Roger Clarke provides a good working definition of the “digital persona” as “a model of an individual’s public personality based on data and maintained by transactions, and intended for use as a proxy for the individual.” 
Whereas Clarke presciently saw (and critiqued) the ‘dataveillance’ project as being an effort to create a single, increasingly accurate, digital persona connected to the person, the objective here is to undermine that linkage by having multiple personae that would not be as easy to link to each other or to the person.
(Updated to correct link to workshop.)
Today’s top quote on President Obama’s tour of a federal prison:
As David Maraniss reported in his biography, Mr. Obama and his friends were so enthusiastic about their marijuana that they called their group the Choom Gang. Unlike the men he met on Thursday, however, Mr. Obama escaped that life and ultimately ended up at Harvard Law School, the Senate and now the White House.
He, too, has security around the clock. But they work for him.
Bonus quotes, not from today, in James Fallows’s Obama’s Grace, a very fine essay about President Obama’s eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney. It contains many sharp observations including this one:
Obama, certainly on purpose, “code switched” with regularity through the speech. Sometimes he spoke almost as if he were an A.M.E. preacher, and certainly as if he was so comfortable in this setting as to know its stresses and pronunciations and styles. Listen for the words “Shout Hallelujah!” about 12 minutes into the speech to hear this tone. …
In other places—including, fascinatingly, his most explicit discourse on racial justice late in the speech—Obama sounds as neutrally professional-class-white-American as he does in most speeches from the Oval Office.
It also includes this sharp aside, which is not about the President:
Political writers wonder when the Republican party will produce its next really shrewd strategist, the one who knows how to pick his battles rather than getting mired in obstructive pandering to the base. Such a figure already exists. His name is John Roberts.
Even Gonzo Lite is rare nowadays, so enjoy The Barrett Brown Review of Arts and Letters and Prison, courtesy of The Intercept.
Earlier edition at D Magazine.
On Monday, there was yet another deal. But this time it is one that pushes Greece into the abyss, even if financial markets don’t acknowledge it just yet and even if what happens next is deeply uncertain.
…Just a week ago, its voters overwhelmingly rejected a bailout offer that was less punitive than the one its leaders just accepted.
Yet the deal that Greek leaders and their creditors reached Monday morning after a brutal series of overnight talks promise to deepen political and economic strains in a country already in depression.
And this, oh yes this:
France “won” in the sense that the unraveling of the eurozone did not happen on July 13, 2015. But it came at the cost of policies that make it less likely that will be the case one, six, or 12 months from now.
If this counts as a victory for the European project, it is hard to imagine what a defeat would look like.
Why are the financial markets up on this? Gangrene is better than amputation? Why should the stock markets be happy that bond vultures were (temporarily) saved at the expense of the real economy?