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Cover image for Which Do You Value More, Your Time or Your Privacy?

Which Do You Value More, Your Time or Your Privacy?

joshhadik profile image Josh Hadik ・2 min read

Privacy advocates and anti-big-tech individuals seem to be very outspoken about the dangers of technology and centralized information, but you never hear much from the other side. The way I see it there are two groups of people. 1) Those who value privacy over time and 2) Those who value time over privacy. Let’s take a closer look at the two.

Team Privacy

As a member of team privacy, you value your privacy.

You would rather spend a little extra time doing something yourself than giving up your personal information to let technology do it for you.

You tend to distrust big business and prefer to use products and apps built by smaller companies you trust.

Team Time

As a member of team time, you value your time.

You don’t mind giving up a chunk of your personal info in exchange for the convenience technology brings and the time it can save you.

You tend to use products and apps built by bigger tech companies because they're easier to get started with and they seamlessly integrate your information across your devices and accounts.

Which are you?

Feel free to defend your side if you want, just keep it friendly!

Are you on #teamprivacy or #teamtime?

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Josh Hadik

@joshhadik

My day job is designing and developing websites, but in my off time, I like to build all kinds of things, including Ruby gems, iPhone apps, and Alexa skills.

Discussion

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I'll kick things off.

I’m on #teamtime all the way.

I use Google not in spite of the fact it collects my information, but because it collects it. I like that when I buy plane tickets to LA and then search ‘California’ in Google it's smart enough to display my flight information right there in the search results. Oh, and targeted ads? I’m all for those. The way I see it, if I have to spend 15 seconds watching an ad before a YouTube video, I’d rather be introduced to some cool new developer tool than watch a commercial about a mattress.

But I do understand the ramifications. I understand how frail technology can be and how easily vulnerabilities pop up. I understand how much data is hacked and how much information is shared without my knowledge. And above all else, I understand the dangers of allowing big tech to get a little bit too big.

I just don’t think that the solution to these problems is to throw away our Echo’s, stop using our smartphones, or delete our social media accounts. I don't think we can stop innovation and I think we as developers, and as a society in general, need to find ways to put laws and practices in place to protect user's data and to limit corporations power without all the fear-mongering that goes on surrounding new technology.

 

I'll dare to disagree.

I’m on #teamprivacy all the way.

I still use Gmail out of laziness, in spite of the fact it collects my information, but because it collects so much of it, I might be more inclined to stop. I don't like that when I buy plane tickets to LA and then search ‘California’ in Google it displays my flight information right there in the search results - I'd never think of googling my own tickets, for Gods sake. Oh, and targeted ads? I’m all against those. The way I see it, I don't spend even 15 seconds watching an ad before a YouTube video because I use an ad blocker, but that poor person targeted by high profit loans, for-profit schools, and other nasty businesses probably doesn't.

You see, I do understand the ramifications. I understand how frail technology can be and how easily vulnerabilities pop up. I understand how much data is hacked and how much information is shared without my knowledge. And above all else, I understand the dangers of allowing big tech to get way too big.

I don’t think that the solution to these problems is to throw away our Echo’s, stop using our smartphones, or delete our social media accounts - there's no reason to buy an Echo in the first place, Apple seems ok-ish on privacy side, and not all social media is as evil as Facebook. I don't think violating privacy is innovation and I think we as developers, and as a society in general, need to find ways to put laws and practices in place to protect user's data and to limit corporations power without all the justifiable fear-mongering that goes on surrounding "new technology".

PS. I used your post as a template to comment on the same topics that you had in mind. It wasn't meant to attack/shame/whatever you by any means!

 

I like what you did there!

But yeah, I totally see your point of view on this.

My perspective is that almost every innovation throughout history had a positive and a negative side. It increased efficiency or time, while also decreasing privacy or the power of the people.

The wheel made it faster and easier than ever to travel places, and it gave tyrants a new way to transport weapons, armies, and slaves. The car made it even faster and even easier to travel, but it gave governments and spies the ability to stalk, track, and find people more easily. Cameras allowed us to capture spectacular moments and create brilliant shows and movies, but it also gave companies and criminals the ability to capture our most intimate moments if they so desired.

Smartphones were a big one.

They gave us the ability to talk with people on demand, get directions wherever we're going with ease, search the web to our hearts content, pay for meals and items without worrying about wallets and credit cards, listen to music anywhere and everywhere, order food on a whim, and so much more.

They also came with a huge downside. They gave hackers, corporations, and governments the ability to track the location of the people like never before. Archives of our most personal and intimate conversations are now stored on databases across the world. Our photos, search history, credit cards, addresses are all more vulnerable than ever.

But we never could have gotten the upsides of the smartphone without finding a way to deal with and minimize the downsides.

Same thing goes with something like Alexa.

You gain the ability to purchase products, turn on and off lights, have all your questions answered, play music, order food, talk with friends, and more, all with the sound of your voice. You also put your personal conversations at risk to be recorded and spied on by Amazon, the government, or hackers around the world. It's not much different than the smartphone, it's just the next step.

And in my opinion the solution is to find ways to minimize the downside while maintaining as much of the upside as possible.

That being said, I respect your point of view, and I'm definitely open to the idea that I might have it all wrong!

My perspective is that almost every innovation throughout history had a positive and a negative side. It increased efficiency or time, while also decreasing privacy or the power of the people.

The wheel made it faster and easier than ever to travel places, and it gave tyrants a new way to transport weapons, armies, and slaves. The car made it even faster and even easier to travel, but it gave governments and spies the ability to stalk, track, and find people more easily. Cameras allowed us to capture spectacular moments and create brilliant shows and movies, but it also gave companies and criminals the ability to capture our most intimate moments if they so desired.

I don't think that innovations themselves decrease privacy, it's what people do with those innovations. What most people miss is that you don't have to give up your privacy to be able to enjoy the benefits of innovations and new technologies.

You don't need to violate privacy to create a good search engine and/or display relevant ads (DuckDuckGo). You don't need to violate privacy to create a good smartphone (Apple outside of Russia and China). You don't need to violate privacy to create a good home assistant (home-assistant.io/). You don't need to violate privacy to create a good browser (Firefox). The list could go on and on.

 

I think a missing element from the discussion is about trust. If I thought I could trust companies with my personal data, then I wouldn't mind sharing some of it. In the end I'm less concerned about the services they provide back to me using my data. I'm more concerned about my personal data seeping out into the hands of would-be attackers (phishing, identity theft, etc) or unsolicited profiteers. It wouldn't be hard to imagine the ease with which an executive decides to disclose your personal data for a little extra profit before the next board meeting. In fact, you don't have to imagine it since it has already happened. A recent example being FB "private" message sharing.

If I believed that I was providing my personal data to one specific service as "payment" or "training" for services rendered, that might be something I could find acceptable. But (even ignoring the risk of data breaches) that isn't what actually happens. And whoever else gets my data did not get my active consent. And rather than providing a service back to me, they may rather use that info only to their benefit or even to my detriment.

So to me it isn't as much about privacy as it is about failure to build appropriate safeguards around consent to my personal data. Most of the controls you are given is "consent theater" because the TOS/EULA lets the company do anything they want regardless of your settings.

The time savings argument is also quite suspect here. For all the time I saved because I saw more-relevant ads (which I still didn't click on), what does my FB feed really do for me? Isn't it mostly distractions that I could live without? Full disclosure: I don't have a FB account. But I can't seem to stop people from showing me the funny meme pics from theirs.

 

Trust is huge... and Facebook is failing on all fronts!

Like you said, I think big tech companies definitely need to give people more control over what data is collected. I think some sort of detailed 'information profile' page would be ideal, somewhere you can go to check boxes for exactly what information the company can collect, and see exactly why they want to collect it, how they plan on using it, and in what ways it benefits you the user to give it up.

As far as the time savings argument goes, I would say social media is low on the scale of services that actually save you time. Amazon, Google, Uber, and Apple all have services and products that very clearly save you time, Facebook is a bit more of a gray area. The only real place I think Facebook speeds up my day to day life is the 'Login with Facebook' button which saves me time when signing up for new accounts, but of course Google has their own (probably more trustworthy) alternative to this. To your point about targeted ads, I guess it's not really about "saving time", but just "wasting it in a slightly more productive way."

 

#teamtime

Time is precious to me. Life is so short and I would rather spend it doing the things I want to do rather than wasting time on mundane day-to-day tasks. Privacy is not something I tend to worry about. If someone wants to look at my browser history or recent purchases, I could care less. When it comes to things like identity and financial information, I am very cautious with those kinds of details, but everything else 🤷

 

This is exactly how I feel. I'd rather spend all my time doing just the stuff I find value in and let technology take care of the rest, if that means giving up a little privacy here and there so be it

 

Hmmm, I wanted to say #teammiddle and go on about how I know that even giving up a little privacy can mean any sort of privacy protection can be in vain, but I want to be convenient and conscientious...

But I have way too many Echos in my tiny city apartment to pretend I care more about my privacy than not. Being able to ask about the weather is so nice. I did get a firewall for all my smart stuff to hide behind so I am at least somewhat protected from outside entities, but I am totally willing to tell Amazon whatever it wants so it can do more things for me. I just need to get it to know what I mean when I say "Alexa, what types are good against Poison?" because except for Psychic, I can't remember. Fairy type ruined any memory of Pokemon type multipliers for me.

Meanwhile, Google knows all about me because of my Android phone and Gmail, and Microsoft knows all about me because I use their launcher and integrate it with all their services. Really, it's all those ingegrated APIs that will get me some day. My scale tells my weight to IFTTT, which tells it to MyFitnessPal, which tells it to LoseIt, but also goes ahead and tells it to my health plan so I can get deductible credits for regularly weighing myself. My phone has every account I've ever had, basically, to give me the most integrations I can think of.

So long as I'm getting a benefit from the company I'm giving it to, I'm cool with spending my privacy on my time. Once companies start giving it to third parties, then that's when I get pissed. #teamtime

 

So long as I'm getting a benefit from the company I'm giving it to, I'm cool with spending my privacy on my time. Once companies start giving it to third parties, then that's when I get pissed.

This pretty much sums up my entire point of view on the debate.

 

I disagree with the presented choice between privacy and time. I feel like people on #teamtime really hand wave on how much time they save. Here's a breakdown of the time I lose to my privacy measures:

1) I use ddg over google search, and the results are generally pretty good. Every now and then (not more than a couple times a month) I re-search a query on google if I get bad results. So that's maybe 30 seconds a month.

2) I use Firefox over Chrome. Firefox is fast these days, this costs me no time.

3) I pay for a VPN. Took me 20 mins to buy and set it up on my devices, one time cost. Really easy to turn on and off as needed, now my ISPs can't spy on me.

4) I still have a couple active gmail accounts, but I'm using protonmail for more sensitive information. This also was a one time setup of like 5 minutes.

5) I don't use Facebook. If anything, this saves me time.

I'm not perfect and unfortunately have an Android at the moment because I think Apple is over priced. But at some point I might spend a couple hours (one time cost) to lock it down, or maybe buy the Librem phone when it hits the market.

So please, someone from #teamtime, can you give me some concrete examples of time you save?