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Privacy

The Privacy Paradox 146

Posted by kdawson
from the don't-ask-and-we-won't-care dept.
Dekortage writes "The NYTimes has a piece up about the paradox of privacy: 'Normally sane people have inconsistent and contradictory impulses and opinions when it comes to their safeguarding their own private information.' More specifically, it's all how you ask: if you don't talk about privacy, people won't worry about it. In one survey, 'When the issue of confidentiality was raised, participants clammed up. For example, 25 percent of the students who were given a strong assurance of confidentiality admitted to having copied someone else's homework. Among those given no assurance of confidentiality, more than half admitted to it.'"
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The Privacy Paradox

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  • Hmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by neokushan (932374) on Friday July 04, 2008 @09:36AM (#24058089)

    From that little extract in the summary about students, is that proof of people not caring about privacy unless someone mentions it, or proof that students these days are a bit thick and don't really think ahead or about what they're saying?

    (NOTE: I'm actually a student myself and I'm inclined to believe the latter).

    • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 04, 2008 @09:54AM (#24058221)

      It's proof that people are more cautious when someone makes an effort to appear harmless. There's a gamut of normal behavior, and telling people that you're not going to stab them in the back with the information you're requesting isn't in that gamut. This study says nothing about privacy.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Syrente (990349)
        Indeed, if they had to go out of their way to assure students it was confidential then it would give the students the opportunity to wonder why they'd need to assure them... was it a survey by their school for instance?

        Besides, I can't think of any students who don't clam up when the thought of potentially getting into trouble is raised. It's like handing a kid an armed bomb and swearing you won't detonate it, if you ask me... would you blame them being nervous?
        • Verb-Space (Score:5, Interesting)

          by TaoPhoenix (980487) * <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Friday July 04, 2008 @10:30AM (#24058513) Journal

          There was a study or two a little while ago that mentioned that the mind has trouble with negative constructions over time.

          "Your data is safe with me. That's right, I am not going to *broadcast your data all over the internet where all the world can see it, reverse engineer your life, and tag it in the southeastern dialect of Klingon attached to a mashup of Steve Ballmer and Jack Thompson. Nosirree, I promise to take good care of you and not *rip your life to shreds and offer your data as bait to the CIA, or Viacom."

          The mind melts and forgets it is in "reversal mode", and becomes exhausted from the scare words.

          • by zappepcs (820751)

            I'm sure that has the effect that you describe, but there is something else that most people suffer from: Mind over matter syndrome. If you don't have a mind, it doesn't matter. Seriously, when something is too complex for people to think about, they tend to not do so. Computer and ID security are complex things in this world, and most people don't want to live in a life where they can NOT trust anyone.

            The simple truth is you can NOT trust anyone when it comes to safeguarding your personal information. The

          • Re: Verb-Space (Score:5, Insightful)

            by foniksonik (573572) on Friday July 04, 2008 @10:59AM (#24058851) Homepage Journal

            This is why using the word NOT is counter-productive. When communicating anything you should use the positive form of what ever declaration you are trying to say. Especially with children and young adults. It's also important when thinking to yourself.

            Instead of saying "Don't run" you need to say "Stop. Please walk slowly" Since what they hear in the first case may be "Blah't RUN!"

            or

            instead of "Don't play around with knives"

            say: "Playing with knives is dangerous and you will get in trouble"

            cause all they'll hear is a suggestion to "Play around with knives"

            • You're absolutely right about this. It's the "don't think of an elephant" argument (which I learned about from a book of the same name by cognitive linguist George Lakoff).

              Negative constructions reinforce the positive mental frame that contains them. When Nixon said "I am not a crook", he guaranteed that everyone would think of him as a crook. Saying "we will not violate your privacy" makes people think that you might violate their privacy.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by tyrione (134248)

              This is why using the word NOT is counter-productive. When communicating anything you should use the positive form of what ever declaration you are trying to say. Especially with children and young adults. It's also important when thinking to yourself.

              Instead of saying "Don't run" you need to say "Stop. Please walk slowly" Since what they hear in the first case may be "Blah't RUN!"

              or

              instead of "Don't play around with knives"

              say: "Playing with knives is dangerous and you will get in trouble"

              cause all they'll hear is a suggestion to "Play around with knives"

              Because let's face it, young children and young adults are the same, right? Or the simple fact that we treat young adults as children and children as infants we produce drones too afraid to learn a language and its useage for positive, negative and neutral connotations.

              We program them to think as inferior, flawed creatures. It's really only until one has been shown it's not the language we need to police in order to predict more "suitable" outcomes, it's a greater exposure to human actions, at the earliest

              • Hmmm no. The answer to your question is that young adults like children are poor listeners and additionally are typically selective listeners. Like yourself, they only hear what they want to hear or at least the part that best suits whatever conclusions they had already jumped to.

                Sooo if you want to communicate clearly with young adults you have to keep things very focused and without room for misinterpretation. Using the positive form also forces you to be even more precise, so its really a good method in

            • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

              by Anonymous Coward

              what was that that mother always used to say?

              Don't put salt in your eye.
              Don't put salt in your eye.
              Salt in your eye.
              Put Salt in your eye.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by QuoteMstr (55051)

              It's also important in user interface design. One of my pet peeves is seeing something like:

              [X] Disable the foo button

              Why the hell not just invert the sense of the checkbox?

              [ ] Enable the foo button

              • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

                by Hal_Porter (817932)

                It's also important in user interface design. One of my pet peeves is seeing something like:

                [X] Disable the foo button

                Why the hell not just invert the sense of the checkbox?

                [ ] Enable the foo button

                Ok, you win. How about we add another checkbox to disable negative sense [gotdotnet.com] checkboxes

                [ ] Don't use negative sense checkboxes in Advanced Options.

                When you clicked it it would look like this

                [ ] Use negative sense checkboxes in Advanced Options.

                All the other ones would toggle their checkedness and lose the Don't's and Disables in their captions.

          • There was a study or two a little while ago that mentioned that the mind has trouble with negative constructions over time.

            "Your data is safe with me. That's right, I am not going to *broadcast your data all over the internet where all the world can see it, reverse engineer your life, and tag it in the southeastern dialect of Klingon attached to a mashup of Steve Ballmer and Jack Thompson. Nosirree, I promise to take good care of you and not *rip your life to shreds and offer your data as bait to the CIA, or Viacom."

            The mind melts and forgets it is in "reversal mode", and becomes exhausted from the scare words.

            It might also be that the person wasn't aware that someone could do all that with your data, until you said it.

        • by rtb61 (674572)
          More specifically by emphasising privacy and confidentiality you are implying that the information will be recorded over the long term and used. When it is just given as an arbitrary question, people feel they can simply deny the truthfulness of the response and, claim they were just joking as the survey was of no great import as implied by the questioning method.

          For a more realistic response, don't just ask about cheating generically but about specific recent events and requesting details where the respo

      • by mcrbids (148650)

        I think you're getting close.

        The point is that people talk about what's on their mind. (If it wasn't, how could they possibly talk about it?) If you go to somebody and say "I'm not going to NNN you if you talk to me" then there's the clear understanding that you are, in fact, thinking about NNN me. Which introduces a greater likelyhood that you WOULD NNN me, since if you weren't thinking about it at all, you simply wouldn't.

        On the other hand, if I come up to you to talk to you, and you ask "Are you going to

        • You are exactly right. And this brings up an awkward situation: I'm gay, and sometimes after talking with someone extensively online, the person finds it necessary to tell me about his girlfriend a lot and tell me that if we meet it's not a date and he doesn't want to have sex with me, and then I have to reassure him about it. So then I feel like we're both engaging in this form of lying, because we're both thinking about the topic of sex with each other. But I guess since they initially brought it up, they
          • Don't kid yourself.
            It is very common to set boundaries within a relationship. If I have a friend who eats meat, and I'm vegetarian, and I tell them this to avoid possible future embarrassment (e.g. them inviting me over and serving me roast lamb) - by your logic this makes me carnivorous, which I am not. Consider someone telling you about his girlfriend a compliment, because it means that they are prepared to continue the friendship despite the sexual differences, and they wish to avoid any embarrassment i
          • by mcrbids (148650)

            So, if you're out with a member of the opposite sex, same situation otherwise, what happens then?

            When a chick (I'm presuming you are male, this is /. afterall) says to you that she's just "not interested" in that kind of a relationship, do you feel awkward? Is she engaging in a form of lying? If she's a lesbian, does the fact that she brought it up that make her "straight"?

            Sex isn't always comfortable. I'm happily married to a awesome woman, but in my job, I spend 80% of my time dealing with successful, mid

    • by Swizec (978239)
      Why wouldn't a student admit to having copied homework? These days it's so obviously known that people copy each other's work it's becoming a bit ridiculous. Hell, I'm a student and we have a public board set up for the whole college where most of what goes on is "helping" each other with homework ... the professors know about this, some even partake in the discussions, but we don't know who they are and neither do they so it might just be that people copy homework from their professors.
    • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Zemran (3101) on Friday July 04, 2008 @10:36AM (#24058583) Homepage Journal

      (NOTE: I'm actually a student myself and I'm inclined to believe the latter).
      I am a teacher and I am certain of the latter...

    • Quite.

      The survey simply proves that, people who copy others' homework, find it difficult to follow a chain of logic. I'm fairly sure we all knew that before the survey.

      To summarise: "Stupid is as stupid does"

    • by Shark (78448)

      I think that has a lot to do with the perceived triviality of the question. I'm not sure how many would have, for example, admitted to wearing their mother's underwear (completely wacky example) without assurance of privacy.

      Which brings the other point that stuff that people actually care to keep private is not *common* or trivial.

      It might be more accurate to see how many would actually list *which* homework they copied without assurance of privacy.

    • by SL Baur (19540)

      or proof that students these days are a bit thick and don't really think ahead or about what they're saying?

      I'm inclined to believe that. I'm happy to tell people about the only test I ever cheated on.

      It was a 9th grade Algebra I test and there was substitute teacher that day giving us the test. The girl sitting in front of me passed me a sheet of paper and whispered "can you write the answers down?" She was cute, and I knew even then that it might be decades before I "discovered" women, so I did it - hey, she was cute.

      Between periods, I was talking to my best friend and he quickly convinced me to give him the

  • by iamacat (583406) on Friday July 04, 2008 @09:38AM (#24058103)

    Talk to people about dieting or brushing teeth and they might do it in immediate future. Privacy is a chore that can cause quite a bit of inconvenience. Damage from it being breeched only happens rarely and takes a lot of time to manifest itself.

    • by Klaus_1250 (987230) on Friday July 04, 2008 @11:08AM (#24058901)

      Privacy is not a chore. Privacy is property. Protecting said property is a chore, you need to actively protect it. In a perfect world, people would respect your property (privacy) and leave it alone. In the real world, that doesn't happen of course. People aren't as moral as they always claim to be.

      • by iamacat (583406)

        Surely this is even more of a stretch than intellectual property? People are not depriving me of anything per se if they violate my privacy. It's only if they use the information obtained to affect my credit history, my job or my relationships that the breach becomes something I have to care about. Most privacy breeches are benign - even the case of a peeping tom that takes no action besides secretly watching - hence lack of public interest in enduring inconvenience for the sake of privacy.

  • this means that if your conscience compels you to mention confidentiality, you're probably up to no good, so i should watch out. of course, this doesn't help against those with no conscience.

  • Trust me (Score:5, Insightful)

    by joss (1346) on Friday July 04, 2008 @09:43AM (#24058145) Homepage

    There's no paradox at all. If you ask a girl out on a date she might say yes. Promising that you are not going to cut her up into little pieces and eat her raw over the next 2 weeks does not improve your chances. People are rightly suspicious when they hear someone state explicitly that they are not planning on doing something evil. Economists are always coming out with nonsense like this.

    • by jamesh (87723)

      Oh how I wish I had some spare mod points for you. Where is the "+2 - Insightful and very Funny" option.

    • Re:Trust me (Score:4, Funny)

      by trolltalk.com (1108067) on Friday July 04, 2008 @10:04AM (#24058293) Homepage Journal

      People are rightly suspicious when they hear someone state explicitly that they are not planning on doing something evil.

      So it was a really dumb idea for a certain company to make their motto "do no evil" ...

      It also begs the question* about doctors and "first, do no harm."

      *(no, I'm not interested in little grammar hitlers starting a war over "begs the question". Put it in an ask slashdot - or better yet, get a life.)

      • Re:Trust me (Score:4, Funny)

        by Swizec (978239) on Friday July 04, 2008 @10:10AM (#24058349) Homepage

        *(no, I'm not interested in little grammar hitlers starting a war over "begs the question". Put it in an ask slashdot - or better yet, get a life.)

        What about the big grammar hitlers, can they help you out?

      • "do no evil" ...

        No, if Google's motto had been, "We swear we won't do anything evil," it would be suspicious. "Do no evil" is an imperative, and suggests a code to follow, not a statement of something they are promising or not promising to do.

    • There's no paradox at all. If you ask a girl out on a date she might say yes. Promising that you are not going to cut her up into little pieces and eat her raw over the next 2 weeks does not improve your chances. People are rightly suspicious when they hear someone state explicitly that they are not planning on doing something evil. Economists are always coming out with nonsense like this.

      It's still important research, and I think it's counter-intuitive that the more you talk about safegurading people's data the more nervous they get about revealing it. When we try to recruit people for observational medical studies we send the potential particpants ever increasing details of the safeguards we are going to use to protect their data. At the same time particpation rates are dropping, and a natural response has been to try and make people feel even more secure about our use of their data. M

    • Our chances with the girl may not improve, but adding a little suspicion to the courtship makes us ravenous killer types quite excited!
    • by Snocone (158524)

      Yep; just as whenever somebody says "Trust me!" or "This is the truth!" or "I'm not lying!" you know beyond any reasonable doubt that they are indeed attempting to deceive you.

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      If you ask a girl out on a date she might say yes. Promising that you are not going to cut her up into little pieces and eat her raw over the next 2 weeks does not improve your chances

      No, but promising that you are going to cut her up into little pieces and eat her raw over the next 2 weeks doesn't help either.

      It makes you wonder how anyone ever gets a date at all.

    • "I'm from the Government and I'm here to help you."
      "The check is in the mail."
      "No, that dress does not make you look fat."

      I'm sure the "there will be absolutely no repercussions" assurances garnered about the same level of trust in these students as the statements above do in adults.
    • Re:Trust me (Score:5, Funny)

      by Firehed (942385) on Friday July 04, 2008 @01:15PM (#24060069) Homepage

      If you ask a girl out on a date she might say yes.

      You seem to have forgotten to which website you're posting.

    • There's no paradox at all.... People are rightly suspicious when they hear someone state explicitly that they are not planning on doing something evil.

      I guess it depends on what you consider the word "paradox" to mean. The idea that telling someone you won't do something evil will convince them that you're planning something evil sounds a bit paradoxical to me. How do you, then, convince someone with words that your intentions are good?

      Of course, here comes everyone out of the woodwork to tell me that I'm wrong about what a paradox is. I know, it's almost as much fun as arguing about whether something is "ironic".

  • Surely if you've done nothing wrong, then you've got nothing to hide.
    • Surely if you've done nothing wrong, then you've got nothing to hide.

      Why, Even If You Have Nothing To Hide [findlaw.com] Government Surveillance Threatens Your Freedom: The Case Against Expanding Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Powers.

      Falcon

    • I get the joke, but:

      One of the best short answers to this idea came from Bruce Schneier, who suggested thinking about whether you changed at all when you moved out of your parents's house into the dorms, and whether your behavior changed again when you went back home to visit.

  • Most people don't remember to be paranoid. Give them a reminder that they should be , and *BAMMO* they shut up. Cops have known about this forever.
    • Re:Paranoia (Score:5, Interesting)

      by arth1 (260657) on Friday July 04, 2008 @11:56AM (#24059361) Homepage Journal

      I think we're pre-programmed to trust and assist everyone in our tribe by default, and distrust anyone not of our tribe. The problem is that this doesn't work well anymore, since we don't know everyone in our tribe. It's likely quite useful when you hunt wildebeest, but not as useful when you work for a hospital, protecting patient records.

      Most of us don't think of trust at all, but assign perceived trustworthiness automatically, and only by being reminded of trust do we pay it any thought.

      Social engineering takes advantage of this. You get the victim to draw the conclusion (without being told -- it has to be subconscious) that you belong to the same work tribe as them, and thus trust becomes implicit.

      Some warning signs that you may be subjected to social engineering:
      - The person starts using your first name without you having ever met.
      - The person refers to an authority figure in a jocular/friendly way, in order to make you draw the conclusion that the authority figure knows and trusts this person.
      - They will try to appeal to your vanity. E.g. they may imply that they called YOU because you're so friendly and helpful. Ask yourself whether, if it really was this urgent, they would be calling you instead of those whose job it is to deal with this sort of situation. If you believe for one second that it's because of your demeanor, you're not only stupid but vain too.
      - They mention a common foe. "You know how accounting is..." Yeah, everyone knows that accounting are bastards to anyone not in accounting, in every company in every country. That doesn't lend credence to you being on the same side.
      - They mention an interest of yours. "I had planned to take my son fishing this weekend, but I guess I'll be working, trying to fix this". Why would they tell that to a stranger? (Especially if you have a sticker saying "BITE MY BASS" on your car.)
      - If face to face, the person smiles a lot. Nothing disarms suspicion as easily as a smile.

      And yeah, cops learn this, and with time become pretty good at it too.

      My main advice is to never trust a person who smiles. Ever. That invariably means they want something. Yes, this includes loved ones too; what they want might be something you're willing to give, but they're still unconsciously trying to lower your defense by smiling. A smile is always a mechanism to disarm the one who sees it.

      • Re:Paranoia (Score:4, Funny)

        by Xtravar (725372) on Friday July 04, 2008 @12:29PM (#24059659) Homepage Journal

        You must be really fun to hang out with.

  • ... so the correlationisnotcausation tag is misleading. I assume they ran an experiment and randomly assigned half the students to the "mention confidentiality" treatment, half to the control. So there's no way (except an extraordinary fluke) for anything but the treatment to explain the big difference in honesty.

    • by fintux (798480) on Friday July 04, 2008 @10:44AM (#24058697)
      Exactly! People here on slashdot seem to have the habit that if they see anything related to a study, they always use the "correlationisnotcausation" tag. Yes, it is good to remember that they are not synonymous things, but in a controlled environment, it quite often is the case. Otherwise, there would be no point in doing any studies about anything.
      • We try to promote skepticism and it's a good thing that we do. Teaching people to question the things that they are told is good. However, there is a relatively small minority of Slashdot readers who have missed the point.

        Scientific skepticism is about making sure you understand the details of how a conclusion was reached. You look for holes in the method. You look for faulty assumptions. What scientific skepticism is not is the practice of simply not believing anything at all.
  • We all cherish our privacy. Then we go and divulge everything about ourselves on Facebook, sprinkle our Social Security number like pixie dust across the Web and happily load up on tracking devices like GPS navigators and cellphones.

    I do have a Facebook page, I do submit my social security card on-line, and I do use a GPS navigator and cell phone. I have a good idea who gets each of those items of data and why, and I have a good idea of the risks and implications.

    I'm sorry the researchers don't understand

    • by CaseyB (1105)

      Who gets data resulting from your use of a GPS navigator?

    • Who do they resell their data to?

      What has access to their system? Is every single tech person they employ trustworthy?

      Is their security good enough?

      Who is middle man to your TCP transmitions?

      Do you trust your ISP?

      Do you login outside your PC? Can you trust those computers?

      Who else has access to your PC? Who can hack your PC?

      • Re:silly (Score:4, Insightful)

        by speedtux (1307149) on Friday July 04, 2008 @10:39AM (#24058623)

        Who do they resell their data to?

        I don't know and it doesn't affect my privacy.

        What has access to their system? Is every single tech person they employ trustworthy?

        I don't know and it doesn't affect my privacy.

        Is their security good enough?

        Yes, in the sense that even no security on their end would be "good enough".

        Who is middle man to your TCP transmitions?

        I assume my ISP and maybe the NSA.

        Do you trust your ISP?

        No.

        Do you login outside your PC? Can you trust those computers?

        I don't have to trust them. When I do use another computer, I use an OTP.

        Who else has access to your PC? Who can hack your PC?

        Doesn't matter; they can't do anything with it.

        Basically, you're asking all the wrong questions. If you have to rely on your ISP to be trustworthy or your computer not getting stolen, you have already lost.

  • by Catalina588 (1151475) on Friday July 04, 2008 @10:10AM (#24058353)
    Rule #1 -- everything you do on the Internet is discoverable.

    Most people forget that rule most of the time, to their eventual detriment. On July 3rd, a judge ordered Google to hand over log records containing user-identifiable data on every YouTube video ever downloaded. Did you ever think your YouTube habits would become publicly available? Read Rule #1 above. 'Nuf said.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by russotto (537200)

      Rule #1 -- everything you do on the Internet is discoverable.

      Not quite everything. For instance, any YouTube videos that I watched at work (assuming from the moment that I regularly clear cookies) could have been watched by anyone else at the same office; no one has the data to distinguish them, as the office router doesn't keep NAT logs and YouTube sees only the one address. Anything done on a sanitized account used on an open wireless access point is going to be extremely hard to tie to you, particularl

  • Surprising? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Friday July 04, 2008 @10:13AM (#24058371) Homepage

    Is anyone terribly surprised? How we answer questions depends on how the question is asked. Specifically, we try to read social cues as to how the information will be received. Ask someone a personal question in a context that makes them think their answer will garner praise, and they'll answer much more readily than in a situation where it's implied the answer will lead people to condemn them.

    I remember in college a bunch of people were taking purity tests, and one girl took the test and scored on the relatively pure end of the spectrum, and seemed proud of that. When everyone was much more impressed with people who scored incredibly impure, she took the test again and managed to get a much different score.

  • by at_slashdot (674436) on Friday July 04, 2008 @10:14AM (#24058381)

    If not given the assurance people think only about the bad outcome caused by their confession, when given the assurance they actually compound two fears, the fear of bad outcome and the fear of having the promise broken.

  • Telephone privacy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by VincenzoRomano (881055) on Friday July 04, 2008 @10:17AM (#24058401) Homepage Journal
    At least in Italy, for the sake of privacy, you cannot know from your telco the exact phone numbers that have been dialed from YOUR own phone.
    • At least in Italy, for the sake of privacy, you cannot know from your telco the exact phone numbers that have been dialed from YOUR own phone.

      In the US we, at least I did, got a list of phone number dialed when I got the bill.

      Falcon

  • by houghi (78078) on Friday July 04, 2008 @10:20AM (#24058431)

    Why bother if you can just copy the test itself?

  • As ever, I'd like to know the scope of the survey cause if the sample where something like 1000 students for one survey and 1000 for the other then maybe the fist 1000 copied far less than the latter.

    Statistics is just about distribution and probability not about well known facts and extrapolating conclusions from an insufficiently wide sample can lead to terribly wrong conclusions.

    • by 4D6963 (933028)

      As ever, I'd like to know the scope of the survey cause if the sample where something like 1000 students for one survey and 1000 for the other then maybe the fist 1000 copied far less than the latter.

      Statistics is just about distribution and probability not about well known facts and extrapolating conclusions from an insufficiently wide sample can lead to terribly wrong conclusions.

      The mean absolute deviation for a sample size of 1000 on a boolean question is roughly 2.5%. I don't know how many samples it would take for the mean absolute deviation to be in the vicinity of 25% but it's safe to assume that it would be such a ridiculously small sample size that it's safe to assume that this poll would be based on more than that (TFA doesn't say how many). So your point is quite moot.

      • That would be in the case of an absolutely aleatory sample which must or must not be the case.

        Statistics doesn't work as well with cultural related factors, meaning two different schools can have absolute deviation far overweight than an aleatory sample will.

        I'm not dismissing the survey, I'm just saying I tend to mistrust the ones that doesn't specify anything about the sample.

        • by 4D6963 (933028)
          Oh, true, I missed the fact that it was results from two independent and unrelated sites. Therefore we indeed do have to take TFA's conclusions with a pinch of salt. However the conclusion is intuitive enough to be assumed to be correct, if not rigorously proven.
  • by ActusReus (1162583) on Friday July 04, 2008 @10:34AM (#24058555)
    We live in a world today where pretty much anything that a government or a private entity tells you is more or less the opposite of reality.

    People are accustomed to seeing legislation such as the "Defense of Marriage Act", which attacks and limits people's right to marry... the "Patriot Act", which exploits patriotism toward ends which no patriot could support... etc. How many Congressional bills DON'T have a name that is 180-degrees opposite from the bill's contents?

    People are accustomed to private sector speech meaning its exact opposite as well. You never see a food company describe its product as "gourmet" unless it isn't. "Employee Rights" policies are generally about limiting employee rights. More relevant here, anyone who has even glanced at a "Privacy Policy" from their bank or other business institution knows that it really deals with how little privacy you have, and the hoops they make you jump through even to protect that.

    Where's the "paradox" here? We have grown accustomed to any language about our "rights" actually being a bait-and-switch. So, yes... when we hear assurances that our privacy is safeguarded, we assume that you wouldn't even have brought it up unless it wasn't.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by abirdman (557790)

      People are accustomed to private sector speech meaning its exact opposite

      You're absolutely right about this (I tried to mod you up, but my points had timed out). Watch any advertisement on TV and while the voice over is promising one thing, the 6 point type scrolling at the bottom is "clarifying" and negating the points-- or, in the words of Tom Waits, "the large print giveth, and the small print taketh away." I've noticed even my children no longer trust the words "cheap," and worse, "free," and assume an

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dodobh (65811)

      http://www.studentsfororwell.org/ [studentsfororwell.org]

      The US has always been the land of the free*.

      * Subject to terms and conditions, offer not valid where inapplicable.

  • by Cartan (452962) on Friday July 04, 2008 @10:51AM (#24058765) Homepage

    Most students probably didn't know what "confidentiality" means and played safe...

  • If you have nothing to hide, then surely you don't mind giving up your privacy to government agencies and private corporations with whom you have not trust-relationship whatsoever.
  • I wonder how much this applies to E-commerce sites in regards to the ever prominent "Conversion Rate" metric. Many conversion rate analysts will say that plastering your privacy policies, showing security badges and offering a constant affirmation of your trustworthiness is paramount to convincing people they can and should buy from you. Could this actually, in some cases, be hurting your overall goal of getting people to open up their wallets to you? Raises my eyebrow for sure.
  • and do your homework [background research] before you confide in people. Giving misleading information that is useless is always safer until you can be shown trust that people are worth entrusting.
  • This story reminds me of another paradox: the anonymous paradox, where people feel like it is more "anonymous" to order online stuff that they don't want people to know about. But actually, if you really want this hardcore XXX movie but you don't want people to know about it, you should go physically to the adult store and pay cash instead of leaving an electronic paper trail. (Same rule applies to the purchase of Celine Dion's latest album!).

    • by russotto (537200)

      This story reminds me of another paradox: the anonymous paradox, where people feel like it is more "anonymous" to order online stuff that they don't want people to know about. But actually, if you really want this hardcore XXX movie but you don't want people to know about it, you should go physically to the adult store and pay cash instead of leaving an electronic paper trail. (Same rule applies to the purchase of Celine Dion's latest album!).

      That's only irrational if you're trying to protect privacy absolu

  • Isn't it more interesting that more than half of the students copy their homework? :)

  • by Sapphon (214287) on Friday July 04, 2008 @08:30PM (#24063137) Journal

    This result (of people caring more about something once it's been mentioned) has been observed in economic experiments measuring people's willingness to accept, for example, the construction of a new dangerous waste management facility in their municipality.

    When presented with the scenario, "The Federal and Local Governments have agreed that the construction of this facility is necessary, and should be constructed here", about 50% of people voted for the plant. When the scenario was modified to, "The Federal and Local Governments have agreed that the construction of this facility is necessary, and should be constructed here. Each resident will receive 500 Francs per year as compensation.", the rate of acceptance fell to about 20%.

    Totally counter-intuitive: same scenario, better conditions, less acceptance. It wasn't a strategic decision about trying exhort more money, but rather, the fact that money was offered prompted the residents to think, "Hang on – if they're willing to compensate me for this, it MUST be dangerous. Bugger this!*"

    The same effect looks to be at work in this experiment: presented with the offer of confidentiality, the subjects are prompted to reconsider how sensitive this information actually is, and come to the conclusion that if MUST be sensitive if people feel it necessary to promise not to reveal it to anyone else.

    *I'm paraphrasing, obviously. I'm not sure even the French would give answers like that on surveys!

  • For example, 25 percent of the students who were given a strong assurance of confidentiality admitted to having copied someone else's homework. Among those given no assurance of confidentiality, more than half admitted to it.'

    All that proves is that 25% of people are dishonest and stupid.

  • I find it strange that all of this expensive research is being devoted - not to increasing peoples' privacy somehow - oh no... that would actually be a *welcome* advance! No, this work is oriented at trying to continue the wholesale destruction of privacy by reducing the perception of unprivacy in dolts like us so that privacy can be hijacked as usual.

C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas l'Informatique. -- Bosquet [on seeing the IBM 4341]

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