[wp-hackers] Feed stats in WordPress or a plugin

Travis Snoozy ai2097 at users.sourceforge.net
Tue Sep 25 20:14:36 GMT 2007

On Tue, 25 Sep 2007 12:40:04 -0500, Otto <otto at ottodestruct.com> wrote:

> On 9/25/07, Callum Macdonald
> <lists.automattic.com at callum-macdonald.com> wrote:
> > Collecting all that data is not evil per se, the part that I
> > dislike is that you can't opt-out. If you use their services,
> > they'll track you. I can't ask them to delete my data, nor do they
> > publish a policy on when (or if ever) data will be deleted.
> Okay, I get you here, but... is there anything specifically evil that
> they could do with that data that you object to? Because this sort of
> paranoia just seems very, very theoretical to me.

As with most information-gathering on such a large scope, it's only a
matter of time. It almost always starts out innocently (we need
statistics; this helps us better serve our customers; you can't be
personally identified; etc.), then gets twisted by law enforcement, the
government[1], criminals, or (if you are lucky) academics. Just as a
hypothetical example, Google's information on me could be used by the
(US) government for profiling and generating data in the no-fly list.
The data collection itself isn't evil, but large warehouses of data
-attract- people who would do nefarious things with it.

I have a well-defined public- and private-life. I try my best not to
mix business and pleasure. Who I hang out with, my political and
religious views, hopes and wishes for myself, thoughts on humanity, and
more, are -personal- until I wish to make them otherwise. Google, being
such an omnipresent thing, can still monitor, cross-reference, and
correlate without any distinction between the two. Without taking
explicit steps on my part, it becomes impossible to separate the
private from the public interests. Now, I'm not quite scared enough of
my government that blogging out against this-or-that will get me into
any serious trouble, but in several governments it can. If I decide one
day I want to know more about how bombs work, though, I'm uncertain
whether or not that will come back to haunt me if I want to take a
plane somewhere.

Collection is not evil -- it is merely dangerous. It is the eventual
uses of that data, oftentimes uses that were not even originally
thought of[2] or thought possible[3], that turn out to be evil. Do not
underestimate the power of large volumes of data, especially data that
you cannot alter or control. It is -your- data, and nobody else's; it is
reasonable to expect that we be able to treat is as such.


[1] http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2007/06/risks_of_data_r.html
[2] http://www.cs.ubc.ca/labs/db/mining.html
[3] http://web.mit.edu/sem083/www/assignments/reidentification.html

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