If you share something with more than 5 people, you should not consider it private anymore. This is Entropy’s Law of Privacy, known as gossip.
Here is how it works. Researcher and social psychologist, Dr. Cazzell (Stanford, Queensland, BYU, Yale), excellently described this in her Behavioral Economics article with the Game of Clue. Here is how it works:
When you reveal your card, that Professor Plum did not commit the murder, then the other person also learns that information. This seems obvious, but when you contrast that with physical things, it is oddly different. If I give you money, a cake, a car, or anything else, then I lose it and you gain it. This is not true with information, both people gain knowledge win+win — at no loss. Think how silly it would be if your brain forgot the card if you revealed it to someone else.
This is deeply profound.
It means that if you share information, it can never be taken back.
In this way, even if you use the best tools for privacy, any of your friends might gossip about it. So be careful.
So What Can We Do?
We can make mass surveillance and surveillance capitalism be prohibitively expensive. How? By forcing companies to run energy sucking time hogs if they try accessing our data.
This process is called “Proof of Work”, and it throws a wrench into the surveillance works. Here is a 1 minute animated cartoon explainer:
It is very similar to how Bitcoin has to waste energy to mine internet money, except this would cause tech monopolies to burn real money to mine your data and they’d become environmentally harmful corporations — polluting their reputation, to dig a pun.
Data Privacy = Going Green
This means it becomes safer to share data with our various friend groups, even if it is more than 5 people. Why? Because the information is no longer “free game” for companies and governments to mass collect in bulk. If they want to peek on your cards to see if you are holding Professor Plum or not, they’ll have to bake you a plum pie first.
Before, they could peek on your cards and not lose anything. Now, they lose pie. Who in their right mind would ever want to lose out on cake!?
You might ask, just how much pie? Well, Facebook processes 10K+ posts per second. It would take them 1+ hour to decrypt each second worth of data. That is a lot of cake. But for your friends, it only takes half a second — not hours. So you can share as much data, pie, cake, baking, whatever as you want, without worry!
This is an experiment, an economic game, that disincentivizes companies and governments from violating our privacy. We’re turning economics on its head, and using the power of the planet and environmentalism to stop companies in their tracks.
Quite literally, grinding surveillance to a halt.
It should be noted, that this doesn’t necessarily stop targeted surveillance. It just makes mass surveillance impractical, and thus the ability for companies to profit from surveillance capitalism.
If the government gets hold of the raw, un-mined data, and they have gotten reports by people that it contains suspicious or nefarious data, then it would only take them a half second to “mine” it as well.
In order to stop targeted attacks, you would need to become a secret agent yourself, as we call it! It is actually quite easy to switch to “Secret Agent” mode, where your data can only be decrypted by those you manually share it with.
Although note, the same original warning applies, if you share it with more than 5 people, you should not consider that data private anymore. So it is often more useful to default to “Party Mode”, playing games with Professor Plum — you may not know everyone at the party, but you know it is private enough that you can have some fun.
On that, having fun means being safe and respectful to your friends, family, and others. If you do anything illegal, even if you think you are a secret agent, you will be found out. Your highschool snitch will rat you out to the police. So don’t do anything illegal. The government doesn’t need hacking skills to crack your data, they’ll just steal your laptop and decrypt your data that way.
So let’s all have fun, keep privacy for what it is meant for, and not ruin the party for anyone else. That is what you need to know, but I bet you already knew it!