George Brandis seems to have a problem with privacy, namely how our generation uses it. Perhaps if he did his research instead of making generalisations, he’d see we’re trying to safeguard it.
George Brandis thinks that “young people” (meaning my generation) don’t care as much about privacy as, say, people from his generation. He says that we are the “Facebook generation” and our concept of privacy is “entirely different”.
“Let the civil liberties point of view be heard, let legitimate privacy concerns always be had regard to,” he said, seemingly foreshadowing Theresa May’s speech, implying that if human rights get in the way of security, then we’ll just get rid of them.
“But I think where the community is at, at the moment, is to prioritise their concern about giving law enforcement and intelligence agencies the tools they need to thwart terrorism.”
What he’s saying is that he’d like there to be a “back door” into any private messaging service (like WhatsApp, Viber, or Messenger) and social media platform. He doesn’t understand that’s what he’s asking for, but it is. The danger of a back door to any piece of software isn’t just the potential for abuse by people who are working within the company or law enforcement, it’s creating a structural and strategic weakness for hackers to exploit. And on the tail of the Wanna Cry hack, you’d think people would want to avoid that.
“Nobody compels you to go on Facebook and share everything,” Green Senator Scott Ludlam said.
By trying to dig into our private lives, you are the ones making online security less secure. I don’t know how else to explain this. Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand the strategic value of the back door concept. The San Bernardino terrorism case is a prime example of this whole argument. What’s frustrating here, however, is Brandis’ blatant assumption that my generation doesn’t really care about privacy.
And to that, I hide my response. It’s private.
People from older generations seem to fundamentally misunderstand how young people view privacy. It’s just as important as it always was. We just have the ability to share much, much more than older generations ever did. If those technologies were around when Brandis was a teenager, guaranteed he would have shared the same information.
If anything, my generation is guilty of a naivety which is only now sort of being withered away. We learned how to share, publicly, our successes, failures, and everything in between. What we weren’t taught is the fact that those details could be stolen and used for nefarious purposes. For things like data mining, which is totally legal. Or for fraud, which isn’t.
Me sharing a photo of my birthday lunch on Facebook doesn’t mean I don’t care about privacy, it means I want my private circle to see the photo. If companies – all run by Brandis’ generation – didn’t keep changing privacy rules and exploiting our information, there wouldn’t be a problem. But there is. And it’s not because we’re sharing, it’s because they’re taking.
We expect encrypted and safe messenger services to keep nude photos secret, but hackers find a way in. That’s not because we don’t care about the privacy of those pictures, Mr Brandis, it’s because people are violating our privacy.
Our generation is the one fighting tooth and nail to keep net neutrality. We care about that. We just care in a different way than older generations. They are the ones fighting to eliminate it, to make sure that online privacy is diluted.
Don’t put your details online, George. Don’t send nude photos. That’s your choice. But don’t you dare tell me that we don’t care about our privacy just because of what we do choose to share. We are closer and more connected than ever, and that openness is part of the reason why. People from across the globe can share their secrets and experiences and find likeminded souls and finally feel like they aren’t alone.
To simply state that we don’t care is well and truly foolish, or to quote Scott Ludlam, my favourite Australian senator, “just so much bullshit”. In fact, sometimes I think the Asgardia people have got the right idea. The only way we’ll feel safe from the probing hands of hackers and governments alike to store all our data in space, “beyond all Earthly laws”.
I’m applying for citizenship now. Maybe you should too.