Privacy Isn't Dead. Far From It.

Deeplinks 2024-02-14



The fact that you’re reading this means that you probably care deeply about the issue of privacy, which warms our hearts. Unfortunately, even though you care about privacy, or perhaps because you care so much about it, you may feel that there's not much you (or anyone) can really do to protect it, no matter how hard you try. Perhaps you think “privacy is dead.” 

We’ve all probably felt a little bit like you do at one time or another. At its worst, this feeling might be described as despair. Maybe it hits you because a new privacy law seems to be too little, too late. Or maybe you felt a kind of vertigo after reading a news story about a data breach or a company that was vacuuming up private data willy-nilly without consent. 

People are angry because they care about privacy, not because privacy is dead.

Even if you don’t have this feeling now, at some point you may have felt—or possibly will feel—that we’re past the point of no return when it comes to protecting our private lives from digital snooping. There are so many dangers out there—invasive governments, doorbell cameras, license plate readers, greedy data brokers, mismanaged companies that haven’t installed any security updates in a decade. The list goes on.

This feeling is sometimes called “privacy nihilism.” Those of us who care the most about privacy are probably more likely to get it, because we know how tough the fight is. 

We could go on about this feeling, because sometimes we at EFF have it, too. But the important thing to get across is that this feeling is valid, but it’s also not accurate. Here’s why.

You Aren’t Fighting for Privacy Alone

For starters, remember that none of us are fighting alone. EFF is one of dozens, if not hundreds,  of organizations that work to protect privacy.  EFF alone has over thirty-thousand dues-paying members who support that fight—not to mention hundreds of thousands of supporters subscribed to our email lists and social media feeds. Millions of people read EFF’s website each year, and tens of millions use the tools we’ve made, like Privacy Badger. Privacy is one of EFF’s biggest concerns, and as an organization we have grown by leaps and bounds over the last two decades because more and more people care. Some people say that Americans have given up on privacy. But if you look at actual facts—not just EFF membership, but survey results and votes cast on ballot initiatives—Americans overwhelmingly support new privacy protections. In general, the country has grown more concerned about how the government uses our data, and a large majority of people say that we need more data privacy protections. 

People are angry because they care about privacy, not because privacy is dead.

Some people also say that kids these days don’t care about their privacy, but the ones that we’ve met think about privacy a lot. What’s more, they are fighting as hard as anyone to stop privacy-invasive bills like the Kids Online Safety Act. In our experience, the next generation cares intensely about protecting privacy, and they’re likely to have even more tools to do so. 

Laws are Making Their Way Around the World

Strong privacy laws don’t cover every American—yet. But take a look at just one example to see how things are improving: the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA). The CCPA isn’t perfect, but it did make a difference. The CCPA granted Californians a few basic rights when it comes to their relationship with businesses, like the right to know what information companies have about you, the right to delete that information, and the right to tell companies not to sell your information. 

This wasn’t a perfect law for a few reasons. Under the CCPA, consumers have to go company-by-company to opt out in order to protect their data. At EFF, we’d like to see privacy and protection as the default until consumers opt-&l


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Jason Kelley

Date tagged:

02/14/2024, 03:26

Date published:

02/13/2024, 19:07