A Feminist Take on Information Privacy

Maria Farrell has a really interesting framing of information/device privacy:

What our smartphones and relationship abusers share is that they both exert power over us in a world shaped to tip the balance in their favour, and they both work really, really hard to obscure this fact and keep us confused and blaming ourselves. Here are some of the ways our unequal relationship with our smartphones is like an abusive relationship:

  • They isolate us from deeper, competing relationships in favour of superficial contact -- 'user engagement' -- that keeps their hold on us strong. Working with social media, they insidiously curate our social lives, manipulating us emotionally with dark patterns to keep us scrolling.

  • They tell us the onus is on us to manage their behavior. It's our job to tiptoe around them and limit their harms. Spending too much time on a literally-designed-to-be-behaviorally-addictive phone? They send company-approved messages about our online time, but ban from their stores the apps that would really cut our use. We just need to use willpower. We just need to be good enough to deserve them.

  • They betray us, leaking data / spreading secrets. What we shared privately with them is suddenly public. Sometimes this destroys lives, but hey, we only have ourselves to blame. They fight nasty and under-handed, and are so, so sorry when they get caught that we're meant to feel bad for them. But they never truly change, and each time we take them back, we grow weaker.

  • They love-bomb us when we try to break away, piling on the free data or device upgrades, making us click through page after page of dark pattern, telling us no one understands us like they do, no one else sees everything we really are, no one else will want us.

  • It's impossible to just cut them off. They've wormed themselves into every part of our lives, making life without them unimaginable. And anyway, the relationship is complicated. There is love in it, or there once was. Surely we can get back to that if we just manage them the way they want us to?

Nope. Our devices are basically gaslighting us. They tell us they work for and care about us, and if we just treat them right then we can learn to trust them. But all the evidence shows the opposite is true.

EDITED TO ADD (9/22) Cindy Cohn echoed a similar sentiment in her essay about John Barlow and his legacy.

Posted on September 20, 2019 at 9:34 AM • 37 Comments

Comments

Phill Hallam-BakerSeptember 20, 2019 11:14 AM

Its an interesting analysis that ties in with a theory I have been developing that rather than looking on bullying behaviors as only being problematic when they are motivated by racism, misogyny, etc. we should consider the bullying behavior as being the primary cause.

I am reminded of the (few) interactions I have had with Stallman. He was a classic abuser in that he forced everyone he interacted with to do so on his terms. He would be extremely unpleasant to you if you dared question his peculiar assumptions. And like Trump he could drop into a debate, throw a few punches at people or companies whose behavior he disliked and then fly off knowing that his supporters would continue harassing the target on their behalf after he had left.

Looking back at slavery, most people can see that the 'justification' for slavery given by the slave owners was merely a rationalization for protecting their economic interests (and worse). The need for slavery was the premise, not the conclusion. I think it is the same with racism. The problem of racism is not the small number of people who go round spouting pseudo-scientific rationalizations for their behavior, it is the much larger number of casual racists who act on unexamined prejudice or because they can.

Trump didn't go up to women and thrust his hands into their vaginas because that gave him a pleasurable sensation. He assaulted the women because it was unpleasant to them. He assaulted them because he is a bully and their distress gave him the only faint glimmers of feeling he ever experiences. And the people who support Trump's behavior passing it off as locker room talk are not doing it because they want to be believed but because they are bullies and they know that this behavior will upset people and making people angry and upset is what makes them feel powerful.

The big problem I have with this approach is that I have on numerous occasions seen abusers weaponize complaints procedures to use them for abuse. As with any security problem, it is one that can be easily solved if you assume that it is the only problem and the mechanism you are proposing won't be exploited for abuse.

yet another BruceSeptember 20, 2019 11:54 AM

I am a big fan of the ubiquitous car analogy in technical discussions and the sports analogy for business. I guess the abusive spouse must be the go-to analogy in political economics.

SallySeptember 20, 2019 12:29 PM

I guess if you want to feel like a "victim" of technology you are free to do so. Or, you could see it as a tool that comes with risk, just like any tool. I think she misses the point: there's an audience. And the audience may be populated, in part, by socially and financially isolated people. She also doesn't bother to mention some people use their phones to GET OUT OF abusive situations. Like strangers that want to occupy your free time under the assumption you want them to just because you're sitting alone. It's a social fluid that lets people politely escape such situations. And ALL tools go under evolution, but not by locking their first iterations away in a shed. They evolve through use and the applications and influences they're needed for.

SteveSeptember 20, 2019 1:26 PM

Sounds like Sirius/XM.

My car came with it, unbidden. I never used it, since all I listen to are podcasts and programs I've recorded off the BBC.

And after the subscription expired, they spammed me constantly, with several phone calls a week, sometimes several a day, as well as emails, and postal mail.

I've blocked them on the phone and via email but I still get postal mail just about every week.

I'm tempted to file a USPS Form 1500 on them, which classifies their mailings as "obscene" (according to the law, obscenity is in the eye of the beholder) and fines them $10,000 per mail piece.

AntistoneSeptember 20, 2019 2:26 PM

@Sally

I don't think the primary question to ask is whether we are being victimized by technology, but rather whether we are being victimized by technology COMPANIES.

Software for communicating with your friends doesn't HAVE to be optimized to hoover up all your information or manipulate you into spending as much time as possible within the software. That's a choice that the social media companies are making about how to use that technology.

I think it's important to observe that most of the control over how these technologies are used rests with the people designing and deploying them, NOT the end-users. The technology is a complex bundle of behaviors and the end-user has almost no ability to modify or disentangle them. So when you say that technology is a tool that adapts to how it is used, that primarily means it is adapting to the social media companies, NOT to their users.

ScottSeptember 20, 2019 3:04 PM

Maria,

You can do something about it: https://humanetech.com/home

Actually I'd distinguish between the smartphone (the device) and social media (the applications you put on it).

Are you considered a weirdo in this day and age if you use a smartphone without any social media apps installed on it, and conversely, are you a weirdo if you access your social media (if you have to, for work or whatever, or just to have some guilty pleasure time) from your desktop only?

ArclightSeptember 20, 2019 3:33 PM

Our hackerspace has helped a fair number of people over the years who came in and wanted help sanitizing their phone, computer, etc. after leaving a partner. These aren't strictly women leaving men either. Personal devices are, unfortunately, a perfect tool for a real-life abuser to stalk and control another person with.

QuidnamSeptember 20, 2019 3:41 PM

It seems to me there is nothing in this analysis which is necessarily gendered.

Nor do I think it is particularly "feminist" to assume that victims must always be female, and that abusive behaviors (even when completely abstracted, as they are here) are inherently male.

Stevie-OSeptember 20, 2019 3:52 PM

I find Farrell's analysis very insightful; it's very unfortunate that Sally doesn't seem to "get it".

I had a big long post, but I couldn't make it coherent, so I'll focus on this one bit:

Or, you could see it as a tool that comes with risk, just like any tool.

This is delightfully ironic, because it's exactly one of the issues that Farrell highlights: It’s our job to tiptoe around them and limit their harms.

Unlike most tools, there is no true mitigation: The only way to reduce your risk is to not have a smartphone altogether.

ScottSeptember 20, 2019 4:27 PM

@LineageOS

The /e/ ROM (terrible name for Googling, but they have to use it temporarily because of some licensing issues before they come up with something better) is a derivative of LineageOS, it currently supports the S4: https://gitlab.e.foundation/e/wiki/en/wikis/devices-list

LineageOS doesn't currently support neither the S3 nor the S4: https://wiki.lineageos.org/devices/#samsung

Some unofficial ports on XDA however, surely do.

"enabling encryption impossible"

I don't quite know on what level do you mean it. But maybe the support channel of your particularly downloaded ROM has a better answer to this question.

I wouldn't use Aptopide, it's quite shady. You can get APKs straight from the Play Store without a Google account from the Yalp and Aurora stores. Both are available on F-Droid.

Lawrence D’OliveiroSeptember 20, 2019 5:07 PM

Is there some implication that women who work at the companies that develop these products cannot also be “feminists”?

Enquiring minds would like to know.

Alyer Babtu September 20, 2019 7:36 PM

This issue might be considered as an element of public interest technology, as a theme in determining what is appropriate technology. Technology serves a real good in some areas, but in others is a tyranny and like nearly all tyranny is invited. We are partly to blame. The one constant in all our failed relationships is ourselves. Codependent no more.

TariqSeptember 20, 2019 9:31 PM

I think the analysis is great, and my only concern with it isn't that it goes too far with modelling infosec through a feminist lens, but that it doesn't go far enough.

I think the insights that Farrell brings up aren't unique to feminism — they appear in critical race theory, in disabled advocacy, in socialist critique, but basically where groups of marginalized people start interrogating and diagnosing issues related to abuse and marginalization.

Marginalized people — a group that not only includes women, but also racially marginalized groups, LGBT people, and indigenous communities — are often the first to spot patterns like erasure, gaslighting, DARVO and victim-blaming — elements we see, even here, when folks focus towards what individual actions they can take rather than structural or collective ones, and in the dismissal of these concerns because they are associated with feminism, or are "political", and even some degree of victim-blaming.

The issue that Farrell exposes isn't just, as always, merely about smartphones, either. It's more than that, more than even technology or infosec itself. Technology embeds and is embedded in relations between ourselves and each other, and the problem lies there, not merely in how we implement things technically.

I think anyone who finds this analysis insightful should also take the time to delve in the economic, social, political, and cultural factors that underpin these issues, because I feel like it's an under-explored area of inquiry that needs more attention.

Tamara BensonSeptember 20, 2019 11:28 PM

Maria Farrell: A Feminist Take on Information Security:

I have never seen such a well described aspect of my past decades on the Internet. Even before it was flooded with adverts and trolls and idiots and then became this lovely addictive nasty monster.

The Internet was initiated with nice guys and bullies, males came the earliest, but women were here.

Thank you Maria, every description you described was exactly what it's like to be abused in a very bad relationship. If the others don't understand, they haven't thought long and hard on it yet.

But I am also stunned that someone I trust and respect provided the place for you to reveal this truth. That is extraordinary in my experience.

My daughter died from these behaviors.
I have bruises and injuries.
Tamara

Clive RobinsonSeptember 21, 2019 1:32 AM

I do wish people would stop using terms like "feminism" because it actually makes things worse not better when it comes to understanding issues.

The old saying "Things are not what they seem" generally applies to most human behaviours when seen by others. For instance when someone sees one person shouting at another person, what they think is happening is based on what they think the two people are. Thus they see two men they think one thing, they see two women they thing something similar but in diferent emotive words. However when it's a man shouting at a woman they think much differently to when it's a woman shouting at a man.

But it can be more subtle than that to the point of ludicrousness.

Back in the 1980's the UK Times newspaper started publishing articles from what might be called a "feminist group" who where making lots of noise about the lack of women in computing. It was back then as it still is today an issue and nobody realy knows why.

The particular group in question when you cut of all the froth from their rhetoric boild down to "Women did not go into computing because they disliked terms like debugging"... Nearly four decades later I'm sure that quite a few reading this will be thinking this is ludicrous. It's certainly what I thought back then, when as a young engineer I was actively trying to promot to the few that were about to leave school and enter higher education that engineering was a viable career path.

What I had noted was that there were very very loosely two types of people that came by the stand "individuals" and "those in groups". Few groups irespective of if boys or girls would stop and look let alone ask questions. It was almost always individuals who stopped, and in most cases they had already decided to come to an engineering stand.

That is engineering attracted those with a certain mental outlook. Such outlooks are in part nature and in part nurture and start forming when children are very young, often you find one or both of the parents have a similar outlook, thus the old observation about "following in the footsteps" appears to have a part to play.

If you chat to teachers, many in primary schools have a fairly good idea of who will do well in STEM subjects and who will not. Likewise most teachers in high school can say of their second years who are going to do well bot just in higher education but in STEM as well.

The point is "feminism" is a view pushed onto not one that comes out of human relations.

You have a chat to a disabled person, they don't see themselves as being "disabled" or "different" or worst of all "special" they see themselves as a person like everyone else. They also know they have some differences to others, which annoyingly might need some accommodation from an environment designed for people without their differences. Unlike those without differences who define them by their diferences, they do not define themselves by their differences.

Feminism is at the end of the day defining people not as who or what they actually are, but by their differnce to other people. It's an outsider looking in view and mostly it misses what's important, as such it in effect throws a blanket over issues. So at the end of the day many people outside only see the blanket not the actual issues that remain out of sight. Thus outsiders make assumptions that are often incorrect or worse lump all issues into one based around the quaint idea of people being on different sides of a blanket. Which is just as stupid as views that give rise to the discriminatory "Beyond the pail" and "From the other side of the tracks" and many similar.

ScottSeptember 21, 2019 5:35 AM

"Back in the 1980's the UK Times newspaper started publishing articles from what might be called a "feminist group" who where making lots of noise about the lack of women in computing. It was back then as it still is today an issue and nobody realy knows why."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Hb3oe7-PJ8
Comments are disabled for this video. Harvard doesn't respect the medium they publish to. I'm sorry about that.

Anyway, what's Maria's definition of feminism? As factions of feminists can have more fierce debates between themselves than feminists and so called non-feminists debating. But I don't want to get into that again.

ScottSeptember 21, 2019 6:15 AM

To further elaborate on my above post (this one https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2019/09/a_feminist_take.html#c6798967) as no one seems to want to join me in considering the smartphone - the device - the tool and social media - the software you run on it as two, distinct entities.

I know a few females from the younger generation who do not take part in social media much if at all. It's not that they don't have smartphones, that's what they use as a communication tool with their friends and family as outside of American no one uses SMS messages, we use chat apps, but they have strong reservations about the social media aspect of it.

The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/aug/29/teens-desert-social-media

So not all hope is lost, as it comes to the next generation. Of course, you can get addicted not only to a social media device, but to a tool facilitating only one-on-one communication with your loved ones as well, but so can you to sweets, mindless TV-shows, or abusive relationships for that matter - but maybe you are less likely so? It's in the eye of the beholder, too.

"You can do something about it: https://humanetech.com/home"

Two TED Talks by Tristan Harris, former Google Design Ethicist, head of Humane Tech:

https://www.ted.com/talks/tristan_harris_how_better_tech_could_protect_us_from_distraction

https://www.ted.com/talks/tristan_harris_the_manipulative_tricks_tech_companies_use_to_capture_your_attention

Maria FarrellSeptember 21, 2019 7:25 AM

Many thanks to Bruce for linking to my piece. So many fascinating and helpful comments here (mostly!).

Tamara, I cannot tell you how sorry I am that these issues have blighted your life. Your comment moved me to tears and made me feel both unworthy to discuss this subject in the presence of one who truly knows, but also grateful beyond words that something I wrote ended up helping you to feel seen. My deepest sympathy to you for the loss of your daughter and for your own suffering.

Tariq - absolutely, and thank you for pointing out that what I think of as the 'secret super-power' of heightened awareness of unequal power relations, and the experience and intellectual/emotional means to thwart those relations, are shared by many (any?) groups of marginalized people. I know there is a lot of terrible stuff happening right now, but also such a time of change and learning from different voices. I wrote something last year about what can happen when marginalized groups reject a hierarchical framing of their relations with each other and reach across space and time in acts of solidarity. That sounds hokey, I know! but anyway; https://medium.com/s/how-to-cope-with-the-end-of-the-world/if-we-remember-how-unity-feels-we-can-save-democracy-611f8f49df02

EdwardSeptember 21, 2019 8:32 AM

Here's a different view of Gamergate by Christina Hof Sommers, the Factual Feminist:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RVlCvBd21w. Notice how balanced and nuanced her observations are.

I doubt seriously that she sees the perceptions of third wave feminism as a "superpower" probably just the opposite.

The Factual Feminist series in general is a good way to clear your head of the effects of a constant barrage of "progressive" ideation.

Reading Epictetus and other Skeptics and Stoics is useful for just about anybody who feels that words can be hurtful. They are only hurtful if you let them be.

Studying logical fallacies is also useful. The one that seems to be operating here in this discussion as is common when tech, medicine and legal oriented men apparently are feeling guilty for being men is "appeal to emotion." "Don't you feel sorry for the women who were harassed by all those horrible male gamers?"

FaustusSeptember 21, 2019 6:17 PM

Abusive relationships depend on mystification, “the process of explaining away what might otherwise be evident.”

To me it is mystification to disconnect choosing to use a smartphone, choosing to use apps and choosing to use social media from the effects of using them. It DOES make a difference whether you resist or not. You choices DO make a difference. These companies sell us like so much meat ONLY BECAUSE we allow them. And believing in our powerlessness is training us to be compliantly victimized and oppressed. Another snake oil politician is really going to save us from ourselves and our own choices? Unlikely.

I would rather take the responsibility for my own life than ask a demagogue (== any successful politician) to impose his or her choices on me. The authoritarian world people are clamoring for is going to put the flaws of this world in a very positive light.

lurkerSeptember 22, 2019 4:14 AM

@Clive "Women did not go into computing because they disliked terms like debugging"
IIRC it was a Ms Hopper who originated the term "bug"…

PatriotSeptember 22, 2019 6:23 AM

That was very interesting. I am pleased that the article had nothing to do with the current psychosis about gender--it was about people, people being manipulated.

It's an incisive critique of what is going on these days.

Clive RobinsonSeptember 22, 2019 10:41 AM

@ lurker,

IIRC it was a Ms Hopper who originated the term "bug"…

So the story goes, it was a moth that had flitted between two contacts. Why was never made clear, but as the old sayingvhas it "like a moth to a flame" and those old computers certainly were hot...

Tom HanlinSeptember 22, 2019 7:02 PM

It's possible Grace Hopper thought she coined the word "bug" in this context but, the usage actually goes back much further. See Snopes.

Alyer Babtu September 22, 2019 11:33 PM

From the Wikipedia entry for Hopper, it seems the term “bug” had been in use in more or less its current sense of an abstraction of machine glitches for some time, so it sounds like she is making a joke referring to this usage when she writes in her notes “first actual case of bug being found“ .

Six degrees of nanoseparation:

The Mathematics Genealogy Project

https://www.genealogy.math.ndsu.nodak.edu/index.php

shows Grace Hopper did her PhD in 1934 under Oystein Ore noted graph theorist, who himself studied under Thoralf Skolem noted logician. Probably a good context for someone with Hopper’s abilities and interests. Marshall Hall noted group theorist and combinatoricist did his thesis under Ore in 1936 so one might wonder if Hall and Hopper were acquainted. One of Marshal Hall’s students was Donald Knuth.

Clive RobinsonSeptember 23, 2019 1:14 AM

@ lurker, Tom Hanlin, Alyer Babtu,

According to,

http://www.anomalies-unlimited.com/Science/Grace%20Hooper.html

It's the word "debug" not "bug" she invented as a sort of joke. There is a photograph of "the bug" stuck down on a logbook page and mention of which relay it was (like Doctors, physicists and engineers in general the handwrighting is well... Let's just say "spidery" ;-)

The article also indicates that a new valve/tube computer was twenty times faster than the relay computer. Which back then was probably a usable speed up unlike todays modern computers. We could if we wanted to have the electronics on a computer chip run at a 20GHz clock speed which whilst it's not 20 times faster than the majority of modern computers would appear to be a usefull speed up...

Only it's not, it would probably be slower... The reason being the speed of light. Which gives a wavelength at 20GHz of 3e8/2e10 or 15mm in "freespace". However you have to divide that by around 2.5 for a register fetch signaling and silicon is not freespace so you are looking at a further reduction.

You are realistically looking at a practical maximum distance of 4mm diameter or a little over 12 square millimeters area. Whilst you could get a 16bit RISC core in there, you would not have any real RAM so no cache... So yes there are hard laws of physics limit's on conventional computers.

Fun fact I own an Apple ][ which uses a 6502 CPU clocked at 1MHz that I purchased at the end of the 1970's. I also have available some high end multi-core Intel chip systems with 4GByte of RAM runing Win10 that I can use that are ~6months old that inflation adjusted cost about the same as the Apple.

Using a friends high speed camera (1000fps Casio Exilim ZR200) we measured the key press to screen response time with just an editor program running. The Apple beat the Win10 systems hands down being nearly twice as fast. Whilst we are talking times in milliseconds, user wise the Apple feels very responsive whilst the Win10 systems feel like trying to push a dead snail through cold porridge/oatmeal...

I also have a 1990's 50MHz 486DX system that runs an early version of MS-DOS and the Mirror combined terminal and editor program. It to is way more responsive than the Win10 boxes... Which might account for why I also run a striped down BSD Command line OS on another box with the same hardware as the Win10 boxes and again get a noticable increased response time...

Which caused me and my friend to dig around on the Internet. We are not the only ones to notice that for the last few decades user response times have been dropping noticeably year by year...

MikeWSeptember 26, 2019 12:46 PM

I think Maria is correct, but the idea that Big Tech is fundamentally evil is too simplistic.

I will happily trade my location with Google Maps while I’m driving, to avoid traffic, and this works better the more of us that choose to make this trade.

I personally don’t have a FaceBook account, because the trade off between staying closer to my friends/family does not out-way the amount of data I’m willing to share with FaceBook.

They’re choices, others will be different than mine, and that’s perfectly ok.

It’s easy to soapbox attack this tech, but the alternative? Have some authority who decides what we should or shouldn’t do? (Because people are too stupid to look after themselves, so we should do it for them?)

I feel this is becoming the reverse of the encryption backdoor discussion: there’s tech out there that is “bad” so let’s jump on it and stop it.

BennySeptember 29, 2019 10:35 PM

@Edward

don't know why nobody said a thing about your post, maybe they are self-censoring, or maybe your post was off-topic. It was, honestly, but only in part. The relevant part is offering a counter narrative that is (unlike many out there) grounded, sensical. Camille Paglia also, although a bit too wacky, gives a critique of feminism that makes one think that not all feminists are thinly veiled sexists. Also, stoic philosophy is very good material, no surprise it is associated with "toxic masculinity" and under attack by feminism, as it teaches among other things to treat ourselves and others as the rational beings we are (instead of emotional infants).

Now, for my part, I was in an abusive relationship myself, "in a world shaped to tip the balance in their favour" (who would believe or care for a man abused by a woman). I don't blame anyone but myself for enduring it for years and years, the price to pay for ending it was huge, but it was my responsibility to do it. Same goes for phones and social networks, I don't use either and I know how difficult it is, no only deciding to do away with it but also living with that decision for years. And I hold everyone around me responsible for not taking that decision.

Clive RobinsonSeptember 30, 2019 1:54 AM

@ Benny,

@Edward's comment started being about "gamergate" that is "Red Rag to a Bull" territory for way to many people. Thus they may well not have read past the first six words of his post.

Also the Moderator has already removed some posts from this thread that were in effect devoid of content other than that which was inflamatory or injurious, and desiged to be so to reputation.

@ Edward,

If you are still reading this thread you said,

Reading Epictetus and other Skeptics and Stoics is useful for just about anybody who feels that words can be hurtful. They are only hurtful if you let them be.

Sadly that is not true any longer as the majority of people do not have "independent income". The "Court of Public Opinion" not only destroys people's reputations it also destroys their ability to find work etc. Worse that court is a ravenous beast that also attacks others, never admits mistakes, thus never apologises, never makes good on it's harms and when it's strident voices are challenged with the truth, they prevaricate, wriggle like worms when caught on that hook, make further false statments or slink away like thieves in the night.

If you think otherwise you have not studied history.

BennyOctober 1, 2019 5:24 AM

It's sad that gamergate is "red rag to a bull" territory, not because it's gamergate but because no territory should be. Self-censorship inevitably leads to censorship. And it has, elsewhere and maybe here too. That's a characteristic of censorship, you never know if it was justified because you never know what was censored. It was when Bruce introduced the moderator that I started frequenting his blog less and less, not because I needed to say something that could be censored, but because I no longer could trust I was getting a good picture of what people think about the issues commented. Luckily though, Bruce usually doesn't post about things related to things like gender, it was an ugly surprise when I read the word "feminism" in the title.

Your point about words being hurtful because they destroy their ability to find work is excellent, makes one think. But I think the problem is a failure of our institutions, not a problem with words themselves. Telling someone "you are a whore" should be socially punished, but legally protected. Also, the victim should be protected from loosing her job because her reputation was tarnished (if now everyone thinks she is a whore). Same goes for "you are a racist". What happens though is not only protecting one person and not the other (based on the insult and, sadly, also on their race, gender, etc.) from being unemployable, but also protecting one person and not the other from being hurt by the words themselves and their emotional effect. And this marks the difference in meaning with what I believe Edward was saying, if my life was ruined because of a false sexual misconduct accusation, for example, it would be my responsibility to feel or not to feel hurt by the words "perv" or "misogynist".

Clive RobinsonOctober 1, 2019 7:01 AM

@ Benny,

It's sad that gamergate is "red rag to a bull" territory, not because it's gamergate but because no territory should be. Self-censorship inevitably leads to censorship.

There is also "a time and a place" for things, that is a "social norm" or "institutional norm". Further things have relevance with respect to other things and that unless there is sufficient relevance talking about them subtracts not adds to a conversation. This is not censorship just part of the norms that make life actually liveable.

This is at the end of the day a "technical security" blog as security has moved with broading usage some "human security" has become acceptable.

But at the end of the day "Gamergate" was in reality just a "human" issue. The fact that technology was involved is no more relevant than the fact the people involved used roads and vehicles to get from place to place.

That is, important as Gamergate was, to other areas of human endevor it was in reality at best tangential to "technical security". Thus those tangential asspects can be just as easily discussed without tallking about Gamergate or those involved.

If you prefere Gametgate is just one point on a line in the spectrum of "Human Security" thus outside the very limited "security" specifics it's not relevant to this blog.

Thus if people don't engage, it does not mean by default they are "self censoring" it just means they have made a value judgment on relevance. That is they have limited resources such as their time, and it's upto them on what they use such resources for.

Anyway I don't wish to use any more of my resources on Gamergate, as it's taken up enough of them already in the past.

BennyOctober 1, 2019 1:56 PM

@Clive Robinson

Yes, most if not all of what you say is true. But you are mixing two thing, two things I mentioned in my first post. That is, maybe they are self-censoring, or maybe his post was off-topic.

Gamergate, stoics, logic, each by itself distracts from the conversation, but their common thread is important. So I said I believe it was off-topic indeed, but only in part, and added to the part I believe was on-topic. Of course, I did not receive an answer to anything I said in that regard either (I'm not demanding an answer from you, you at least answered to some of what I wrote, and at length, plus this post is probably dead by now). Now, it wasn't on-topic because it was about "technical security", it wasn't, but neither was Bruce's post. Sure, there was a technical component to it, but only in order to compare it to a non-technical thing. My motive (and Edward's, I suspect) was giving another perspective of that non-technical thing, so as to show it is not comparable. In any case, many other posts were as off the technical side of things as mine or more, and they were not ignored, I imagine it was because they align with Maria's feminist viewpoint.

"Further things have relevance with respect to other things and that unless there is sufficient relevance talking about them subtracts not adds to a conversation. This is not censorship just part of the norms that make life actually liveable."

But then, aside from the fact that feminism and privacy are the most relevant things in this conversation, when you say it is a "red rag to a bull" territory you imply it not about relevance but about not provoking the bull, aka self-censorship.

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Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.