May 13, 2020

I’m a huge privacy advocate, but extremist positions help no one

Ben Lovejoy, writing for 9to5Mac:

We need a sense of perspective here. No, crises don’t justify invasion of privacy. No, we shouldn’t give powers to a government for use during an emergency if we wouldn’t want them to be able to use those powers in normal times. No, we shouldn’t be tracking anyone’s location.

But we also shouldn’t be crying wolf over an API that poses no threat to anyone’s privacy — and we shouldn’t be stopping a retailer taking a simple, sensible step to make sure people aren’t feverish before letting them mix with staff and other customers.

Taking an extremist position not only makes it harder to implement completely sensible and innocuous responses to the pandemic, but also makes it harder for us to be taken seriously when making legitimate privacy-protection arguments.