(and neither is security)

We're all more than well acquainted with Social Media, Digital Natives, and our good friends at the National Security Agency, so it shouldn't come as any surprise when I say people care (a lot) about their privacy.

However, popular media will still sell us the belief that privacy is essentially dead and there's no getting it back. Caring about privacy is for grown-ups who can't get with the times or (cyber)criminals who have something to hide, clearly. Too often will you meet someone making a fuss about this insignificant and outdated concept known as privacy, which as we all know isn't a constitutionally protected right anywhere and wasn't an important factor in any landmark supreme court decisions, ever.

Why does such a discrepancy exist around this issue? One reason is the approaches many take towards proper encryption and respectful business practices concerning privacy and security. For instance, AT&T is essentially holding the privacy of its Kansas City fiber users ransom at the fair cost of $30/month, collecting metadata on users not willing to foot the bill. Naturally, this has outraged many of us, but the vast majority of internet users have no knowledge or care for the goings on in a city they will probably never visit.

On a slightly lighter note, we're seeing companies such as Facebook helping tor users visit their website, or Google rolling out encryption for their email services. The irony being that these are some of the biggest data sources for the NSA, as well as the biggest perpetrators of corporate surveillance, data aggregation and demographic-based content targeting. Yet we have to applaud their efforts making a completely fucked system just a little brighter, if only because of the utter neglect they've given the privacy and security of their users until now.

And given the complete lack of viable alternatives, what are we to do?

The solution is not to laud new services and software for their implementations of end-to-end encryption or respect for user privacy (though publicity won't hurt in the least), but to question existing systems who don't follow suit. We should be demanding that social media, search engines, and internet service providers obey their users' wishes, rather than continuously abuse their near-monopoly status while the most proactive of us run from one service to another as the panoptocracy steadily evolves.

So, privacy is not a virtue. It's a responsibility.