Hugh Pickens writes "Jay Cline writes that not all privacy issues are created equal and proposes a privacy Richter scale to rank the bad things that could happen to our privacy. A privacy Richter 1 or 2 event is a temporary bad turn for you or a handful of people, but nothing systemic, posing no lasting harm to individuals or society as a whole. Examples include receiving someone else's mail, having someone expose something embarrassing about you to co-workers or friends, or losing your wallet or purse. Privacy events measuring 4 to 7 on the scale are risks that can cause real and lasting damage to a lot of people and include stolen laptops containing thousands of Social Security numbers and credit-card numbers that would allow identity thieves to make fraudulent transactions that could impact credit scores for years. Finally events topping 8 are points of no return for large numbers of people and society as a whole. DARPA's Total Information Awareness program, proposed in 2002 and defunded by Congress in 2003, would have topped the scale. 'The massive collection of data about U.S. citizens could have created a perpetual bureaucracy that put at risk our right of due process and protection against unlawful search and seizure.' So where does Google's plan to consolidate its 60 privacy policies into a single approach rank? 'The current change ranks at a 3,' writes Cline. 'Larry Page's company will weather this change. I don't see irreparable or lasting harm or loss of liberty. If you don't like Google, use Bing. Don't watch weird things on YouTube. You shouldn't be sending confidential things through Gmail in the first place.'"
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