Permission, Privacy and Piracy : Where Creators and Consumers Meet

It’s amazing how situationally dependent perspectives about the internet appear to be that something as fundamental as consent (aka permission) would be controversial. Much ink has been spilled over a consumers right to privacy in the digital age and that concern now extends beyond the internet to personal privacy fears over the potential misuse of domestic drones.

The irony of course about all the hysteria being discussed about drones (military, commercial or private) is that the greater threat to personal privacy is much more local than an unmanned aircraft at 14,000 feet, or even a home built quad copter. The real threat that will bring the real world to the same persistent observation (and cataloging) of our daily lives will be Google Glass (where is the EFF when you need them?).

Google Glass is a device that records to the cloud a persistent stream of visual and audio data as the user experiences it. Anything, and everything a person would have experienced as a personal and private experience will be recorded, cataloged, geo-tagged, and stored online. Automated face recognition technology will make it less possible to be anonymous in the real world than it currently is in the online world via the use of avatars.

But what does this have to do with piracy? Specifically what does this have to do with content piracy? How are privacy and piracy related? It’s simple, both privacy and piracy revolve around how we view the importance of the individuals right to grant consent. An individual should have the right to grant the specific permissions to access information about us and how that information can be used. Agreed?

This is the same fundamental individual right that governs the protection of a creators work from illegal exploitation. Permission is the cornerstone to a civilized society. Maybe ask these women in Texas about it?

Below is a recent example of how ordinary people, who are also creators got a first hand lesson in “permissionless innovation” aka, “you will be monetized” or “all ur net proceeds now belong to us.”

When Instagram attempted to change it’s terms of service that would allow the company to monetize the work of the individual without the individuals permission, consumers went ballistic. It seems that permission is not such a difficult concept to grasp when people are personally effected. This is why privacy is a much more universal issue, because everyone is effected by it.

It is strangely ironic (or not really) that the companies who were so quick to threaten an “internet blackout” really have no such motivation in detailing how individual personal data is being collected and monetized. Even when that data is from children. So much for being open and transparent.

What’s worse is that Google has been repeatedly caught red handed violating the privacy of not just it’s users but also unsuspecting consumers. Two cases that immediately come to mind are the Safari privacy scandal and resulting settlement and the much broader real world illegal data collection scheme known as Wi-Spy.

So, just like everyone understands the basic fundamental right to privacy is built on the permissions we grant by consent to other citizens, businesses and institutions, individual creators also have the same right to grant permission to who and how their work can be exploited (yes their work, as in labor) for profit and gain.

This is even more important when those doing the profiting are corporations and businesses like Google, various advertising networks and others.

By Trichordist Editor

Trichordist Editor


  1. What really scares me about Google Glass, a friend of mine was a teacher in Texas. He also was a cross dresser, but he never cross dressed on the job or around his hometown, he went to a club in another city where no one would be offended.

    He was then fired. The reason given was administrative purposes, but a fellow teacher told him the truth, his alternate life had been exposed.

    With google glass, that kind of exposure will be more common. What happens when, say, a gay child of bigoted parents gets exposed to his parents? There have already been cases where that kind of thing happening has had tragic results. Products like Google Glass, my fear is that they will increase in frequency.

    If you are a member of a minority lifestyle that is discriminated against, it already is hard enough especially if family and/or employers are closed-minded. The more privacy erodes away, the harder it becomes for those people and the greater risk they have of being exposed to those who might do them harm if they knew.

  2. I realize Google is the enemy of the Apple camp which includes your collaborators and that’s the game as played which sadly, perspective wise, you are a part of. Same as it ever was.

    But the problems of privacy are the cloud itself and the engineering culture which creates it insisting that applications be web-enabled out of the box and on by default. Open up your copy of Excel and see if the Research pane is on by default. If so then every character you enter into a cell is querying the Bing servers to “help you” thus painting a semantic image on that server of precisely what you are working on and harvestable. Imagine the red-faces at the Pentagon and every clearance-enabled project manager who hasn’t noticed their most trusted tool is drilling right through their firewalls like a hot prick carrying secrets that they have sworn and signed to protect. I worked for QinetiQ. It was a very locked down culture. It was IT unwise and arrogant. It is not the exception.

    Until you finally step away and do the technical analysis of the web architecture and how that has resonated into the developer culture you cannot hope to change this situation. Enablers spawn cultures. The web as architected is inimical to our way of life but is animated by truck-loads of speeding money and while our greed dominates our decency that is not going to change,

    Good luck.

  3. Ironically, people who believe copyright is ‘obsolete’ are usually privacy advocates. Apparently some information should be ‘free’ and other information should be ‘shackled’. Any technological solution for protecting privacy would also prevent piracy.

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