This morning, in her column for tomorrow (that still confuses me; I don’t think any other major columnist in the country writes columns that appear online so long before they do in print), Peggy Noonan was waxing deeply concerned about my privacy, or her privacy, or someone’s (I didn’t read the whole thing; in any case, if it’s someone else’s, it is by definition none of mine, right?):
What is privacy? Why should we want to hold onto it? Why is it important, necessary, precious?
Is it just some prissy relic of the pretechnological past?
We talk about this now because of Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency revelations, and new fears that we are operating, all of us, within what has become or is becoming a massive surveillance state. They log your calls here, they can listen in, they can read your emails. They keep the data in mammoth machines that contain a huge collection of information about you and yours. This of course is in pursuit of a laudable goal, security in the age of terror.
Is it excessive? It certainly appears to be. Does that matter? Yes. Among other reasons: The end of the expectation that citizens’ communications are and will remain private will probably change us as a people, and a country. ..
Later in the day, I got this email from some honcho at AT&T, addressed to me as the holder of a certain numbered account (and the number is none a yer damn’ bidness!):
Dear Valued Customer,
The first program will make reports available to businesses. These reports will contain anonymous information about groups of customers, such as how they collectively use our products and services. The second program will use local geography as a factor in delivering online and mobile ads to the people who might find them most useful.
As always, we follow important principles to keep your trust:
- We are committed to protecting your privacy.
- We provide you with privacy choices.
- We will not sell information that identifies you to anyone, for any purpose. Period.
- We are committed to listening and keeping you informed about how we protect your privacy.
Robert W. Quinn Jr.
Senior Vice President – Federal Regulatory & Chief Privacy Officer
Whenever I see anything like that — something that intones, “We know your privacy is important…” — I’m like yes, I suppose so, if you say so, and don’t read further, and move on.
But I appreciated his caring so much. I wondered whether his concern had anything to do with the Snowden stuff. Don’t know. Don’t care.
And it strikes me as extremely ironic that this guy probably gets paid more money than I’ve ever been paid to do anything to worry more about my privacy than I do. I’m more concerned about the fact that today, for some reason, I keep getting myself into sentences that don’t have an elegant way out of them, such as the preceding one, and to a lesser extent this one…
Oh, wait, you know what’s really weird? That AT&T notice came through my ADCO email, not my personal email. I have an AT&T account at home, not through ADCO. Oh, well…