[ExI] orwell misses one, was: RE: encryption

spike spike66 at att.net
Fri Sep 15 16:31:38 UTC 2017



>… On Behalf Of Dave Sill
Subject: Re: [ExI] encryption


On Thu, Sep 14, 2017 at 7:48 PM, William Flynn Wallace <foozler83 at gmail.com <mailto:foozler83 at gmail.com> > wrote:

​OK, just how paranoid should I be?


>…You shouldn't be paranoid but you should be cautious and take reasonable precautions…  -Dave



On the subject of information leakage, a recent incident has my wheels spinning.


I was randomly chosen to participate in the Nielsen ratings, where the company helps advertisers figure out who is viewing what programs in order to determine the number of eyes and ears they are reaching, decide the value of all that expensive advertising.  I posted to the company rep, explained that I don’t have TV in my house.  She showed up anyway, explaining something I should have known: null data is data.  So I asked: couldn’t they just determine by asking the cable company the percentage of non-subscribers?  Answer: no, because the cable company cannot determine what percentage of non-subscribers are stealing signals.


Oh, OK.


So she gives me the pitch: you wear a receiver or carry it, then it figures out what station is playing if you are out and about, etc.  If it detects motion and doesn’t get any signal, it knows and reports that.


So I asked a few more questions, but one really surprised me.  After going thru their flip charts, she volunteered that about ¾ or more of those selected get the full in-person house-to-house pitch, then refuse to participate on grounds of privacy, etc, fear that Nielsen could read the email, figure out my political views or sit back there and watch my porno websites at the same time my do, etc.


I pointed out that the ISP already can see every site you go to, and the alphabet soup agency in the government already can read your email if they choose to do that.  What difference does it make if some company which doesn’t care what porno you view or what you write can somehow get to it?  She verified what I already thought: Nielsen doesn’t care what you are doing on your computer, your politics or what you write; their client companies already know what web ads you see and what you buy, etc.  Nielsen is all about what TV and radio ads you hear and see.  They don’t care: none of that guides their bottom line.


OK so I agreed to be in the ¼ who hear the pitch and sign on.


Then an idea occurred to me: there is major cognitive bias embedded in the data that Nielsen is collecting.  They get boring old geezers like me who write about viewing porno but seldom if ever actually do it (depending on how you classify viewing speeches by Dr. Jill Stein with the sound turned off) so we don’t care if they see.  Furthermore: most of what I write is already in the public domain.  I never post anything I would care if the whole world could see, because it already can.


The description in the above paragraph is a subset of people.  By this quarter self-selecting, it isn’t clear what it would do to the data sampling, but I would think it would mess it up somehow.  Participants are no longer randomly chosen.


Extend that notion just a bit: it becomes privacy by apathy.  Orwell kinda missed that to some extent.  Even prophets are sometimes imperfect.  Companies don’t care who we are, they only care about our money.  They don’t care what we do, only what we buy.  Nobody cares about how we vote, only who is likely to give a donation.  We are what we own.  In our capitalist world, no one cares about our personal matters, only our personal money.


Orwell missed the mark on that.







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