Friday assorted links


#1. You can have my rights to sell my privacy when you pry them from my cold dead hands.

They sell our privacy now. They are just charging extra for an unverifiable pinky swear not to do it anymore.

Yeah, cause the government is gonna try super duper hard to figure out how to spy on you when you pay an extra $348 a year to make it harder for the government to spy on you. You're just raising your hand and saying "look at me!"

1. No. AT&T paying customers for their data.


Offering a discount in exchange for an opt-in is not "charging you not to spy on you".

It's ... well, offering a discount in exchanger for targeted ads.

I understand why the author wants to claim that paying someone for their information is equivalent to charging them to maintain their privacy, but that claim is incorrect. The notion of privacy means that your information belongs to you. If that information belongs to you, then you should have the right to share it in exchange for compensation. Prohibiting you from sharing your information wouldn't be privacy; that would be censorship.

Charging you for privacy would be where you were charged a fee just to be given a choice, now or in the future, about whether or not you wanted to share your information. For example, if AT&T offered a discount now in exchange for being able to unilaterally change its privacy policy in the future with or without informing you, then that might constitute "charging you for privacy" since you wouldn't know what information AT&T might or might not be able to collect and share about you in the future. There is a difference between being charged for a choice and choosing to be charged.

Yeah, like how you pay the post office an extra fee not to open your mail and sell access to the contents to the highest bidder after they send a copy to the FBI. Oh wait, that's illegal because the postal service existed when the 4th Amendment was written.

How about I just stop broadcasting my internet traffic in the clear? I'm sure AT&T will still have enough cash left to run FUD campaigns about how anyone who does that is probably a fat slob virgin who wants to touch their children.

1) I would rather think about it as ATT buying your data instead of you buying your privacy. At least ATT is being open and honest about it, as opposed to Google, Facebook, etc. who give you a "service" in exchange for your data. An explicit cash exchange is definitely preferable.

Although I do agree with Schneier's concern that commmoditizing privacy is distasteful, and may lead to only the rich having privacy, the fact is that the rich have much more privacy than the rest of us do already. And the sqeamishness of making it a commercial transaction is similar to other ick-factor commercial restrictions like those on organ donation.

How do you know AT&T is being honest? People willing to pay for privacy are the ones most worth spying on. This is a way to get such people to self-identify themselves. It saves AT&T the work of figuring out which data is the most valuable.

"People willing to pay for privacy are the ones most worth spying on."

Is this really true? The people most worth spying on, for AT&T are big spenders in things where ads work well: Alcohol, clothing, cars, etc. That doesn't strike me as a set of people really concerned about their online privacy.

For that matter, the set of people really concerned about their online privacy strikes me as small and shrinking. Security may be a growing concern, but not privacy.

Which is to say, this isn't the NSA we're talking about here. The people who want privacy are the people who don't want to see dating site banners show up on a computer they share with their wife. They're not unusually valuable ad targets for AT&T.

Who says it's not the NSA?

The NSA can get your data no matter what AT&T does. Paying AT&T doesn't change that. AT&T also sells your data to marketers, and says they will stop doing so, if you pay them more than the marketers.

You should be using 100% onion routing over a TLS tunnel, so deep packet inspection won't help ATT spy on customers. This also isn't anything new, I still have a lifetime boycott against them for charging not to list numbers back when people had phones.

#5 - My grandfather wore boxers with two side pockets as did all the people of his age. Then he draped a dhoti (a 6 yds long white cloth that was tied around the waist). Future = Indian grandfather of 1970s.

Yes, India has always had underwear with pockets. 2 reasons : 1) helped avoid pickpockets ; 2) the dhoti doesn't have pockets and often the upper garment could be a banian (vest) without pockets or even bare (in hot summers) , so the only pockets are on the underwear.Ina village at a shop even today one can see poorer people reaching into the pockets of their underwear to fish out the money for buying something.

Of course trust the West to believe something new has been invented and outsourced to India.

And 50 years from now when it is discovered that toilet paper is less hygienic than using water ,expect an article about it being discovered in the west.

Even without the historic predecessors, isn't his company about the most vulnerable thing imaginable: he has one product (okay two, boxers and briefs), which has one distinctive feature, which unless he's been able to somehow patent or trademark it, can be copied and mass produced probably within weeks by any number of competitors.

He might have an advantage in low overhead cost (although lack of ability to exploit economies of scale might negate that). So he might be able to run this as a small business indefinitely but it would appear to be a career with limited upside and constant vulnerability to competition.


If they start showing wives ads related to the stuff their husbands searched for in incognito mode, I predict a backlash. Otherwise, no one will care.


Don't worry, markets clearly work. A classic Coaseian solution. The denizens of this blog should be happy to pay up.

Presumably just as much as the non-libertarian readers are happy to have the NSA spy on them.

I saw the Peter Chang article when it came out. Fascinating, his life story is even more interesting than I realized.

Amazing story about Peter Chang. I like this guy.

It speaks much of America that we don't disparage actors, fortune tellers, foot doctors and chefs.

6. This story shows that one thing the PRC and USA have in common is that policemen and bureaucrats can be bribed.

It's Iron Chef meets 24.

Heh. I amuse myself.

#5 Genetic factors underlying economic growth? How dare you suggest unequal outcomes among human groups might have a biological basis!

I for one welcome the inevitable Brazilification of America. Instead of being a single white face among a homogenized blank sea, my children and grandchildren will be members of an elite upper crust that is revered and worshipped by the brown helot masses. I just pray the helots never gain access to our nuclear launch codes.

The article says Thiel is taking daily human growth hormone (HGH) supplements. Right there, that tells me he has fallen for the anti-aging quackery line peddled by the A4M. That's not an unreasonable result for someone with plenty of money looking for an anti-aging solution and no knowledge of human physiology or biochemistry. He was a ripe sucker for them. He'd probably also be interested in therapies that preserve telomere length, which is slightly less implausible than HGH. But only slightly.

There are reasonable approaches to anti-aging that might work, such as modulators of GTPCH1 activity, but I doubt he even knows what GTPCH1 is or why you would want to modulate it. There's even an existing blood-pressure drug that's been around for so long it's now a generic mostly coming from India which may be the key to avoiding the diseases of aging such as atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer's Disease, because it strongly up-regulates the activity of GTPCH1. I'd be surprised if he knows anything about that drug.


What is it?

Losartan, which I can't take because I have low blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, the first line therapy is usually the ACE inhibitors, which block the synthesis of angiotensin II from the parent compound angiotensin I. Angiotensin II causes blood vessels to constrict, so an ACE inhibitor blocks synthesis of the blood-constricting signal.

The second line therapy is often an angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB) like losartan. It blocks the receptor site for angiotensin II. Its ability to up-regulate GTPCH1 seems to be unrelated to its ability to block the receptor for angiotensin II.

An ideal anti-aging drug would up-regulate GTPCH1 without doing anything else. The regulatory mechanisms for GTPCH1 are very complex and poorly understood. It's regulated at the transcriptional, translational, and post-translational levels. It's not possible to say at this time which level (or levels) needs to be throttled to retard the effects of aging without unwanted side effects.

I'd be surprised if you knew anything about Peter Thiel.

All I know in the context of anti-aging is that he takes HGH. This is rank quackery. It tells me quite a lot about his knowledge of the subject.

If all I knew about someone was that they regularly receive Dianetics auditing, you might think I know very little about the person from that one data point. I would disagree.

#5 Its all relative. Underwear with pockets is like wearing shorts without underwear, the trousers is just like an overcoat.

Bad place to put mobile phone there. Might further decrease the fertility rate.

So, Tyler, how hard core were you as an original fan of Peter Chang's? I heard about China Star from you, although that was well after Chang had blown the place, with the remnant of his immediate successors there now at China 88 on 50, and plenty good last time I was in there for Sichuan chicken on the bone, as good as ever. It is well known that you were a big fan of China Star even after his departure, to the point that fellow faculty members at Mason joked about it.

So, the question is how early you caught on. Were you the original fan? Or did you hear about him from others when he was "Mr. Liu" in the kitchen hiding from both the Chinese embassy and the US immigration authorities (with regard to whom it is unclear what his official status is, even now)?

#1. Going to the grocery store and swiping your loyalty card in exchange for discounts is exactly the same as this: giving up your privacy in exchange for discounts == paying extra for privacy. The only difference is opt-in vs opt-out, and I see plenty of people opting in every time I'm in line at CVS.

#1: There are many services which will sell you access to proxy servers to which you can establish an encrypted connection for like $5 or $10 a month, with exactly the same assurance they won't look at your data (or let someone else look at it) that AT&T does, although I personally trust them more because AT&T for sure cooperates to some degree with various copyright organizations, whereas these services do not. Hell, proxy server operators typically promise not only not to perform packet inspection, but to not keep user data logs. Obviously your ISP can still see that you're opening a VPN connection, but they can't perform deep packet inspection if it's properly implemented.

4. So he gets right one investment in 25 and he's a genius?

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