Privacy / Secrecy / Anonymity / Sex

There’s a lot of twaddle dished up by governments which have been deliberately confusing their voters and citizens re the difference between privacy and secrecy.

To be honest, most private people need to keep their secrets, without being any risk at all to anyone. But let’s concede, for the purposes of tedious argument, that secrecy is a bad thing after all.

Cory Doctorow famously argued the need for and right to privacy when he said that there’s no secrecy when we go to the toilet but few, if any, would give up their privacy when going.

After a year studying the subject of surveillance at MA level I would, however, like to suggest that our governments are just as wrong when they forcibly take away even secrecy – and, by extension, anonymity – through their total surveillance strategies.

Their public faces and spokespersons always like to point out how practically all of us now share so much online that whatever our leaders might have striven to observe in the past, it now becomes utterly impossible to deliver the anonymities we once treasured – not because they refuse to sanction or allow them, but rather, simply, because we have done everything we can to give them up.


I have news for you. And yes, you would probably be wrong.

Let’s play a substitution game to prove it.

Wherever secrecy or anonymity appears above, rewrite in your head the gender-friendly words “your sex”.

Governments argue that because we have chosen so dramatically to share – many would say overshare – our daily existences, we now have little right, even moral right, to require our leaders to not take advantage of, or do the same with, what we have become. And I guess most of us see the sense of this, and find it difficult to sustain a return to other times.

But would we proclaim these positions so eagerly if we were talking about our willingness – or not – to fuck with someone? Not their heads, I hasten to add. Their beautiful bodies and beings, I mean.

Having sex is a most intimate thing: just because I have had it with you once doesn’t give me a right to do so, because. And just because I have done so a hundred times doesn’t mean I can presume tonight we can repeat.

Secrecy and anonymity are just as intimate: they are what make us more human, not less. And I would judge them – just as much as I would judge sexual activity and its corresponding right to stop whenever – as matters which we can give up any time we wish, and with whomever we consensually choose, without ever setting precedent as to what others may do to us back.

Just because a woman has been to bed with you doesn’t mean you would ever argue she is obliged to do so again.

Just because I have shared my sexual preferences online with a select few doesn’t give governments, private-sector security organisations, and others the right to truck with that information because … well … simply because they can.

And just because I have fucked a thousand people in my life doesn’t give anyone the right to fuck me back without asking.

And here I mean body and head both.


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