Getting serious in the privacy wars

A three-hour drive north of the Philippine capital Manila, local leaders have drawn a line in the sand against a swelling tide of scuttlebutt and innuendo.

They outlawed gossip.

In a world awash with fake news and online rumors, more than half a dozen neighborhoods in Binalonan have introduced an anti-gossip ordinance to put an end to too much idle chitchat. Town Mayor Ramon Guico III says the worst time is during the summer, when the scorching heat pushes people to huddle beneath the broad branches of century-old acacia trees, sipping soft drinks or munching on snacks in the shade.

“That’s how it starts,” he complains.

The chin-wagging usually revolves around who might be cheating on their spouse or running up debts. Facebook and messaging apps worsened the problem, but Mr. Guico says the really damaging stuff is gossip— the sort of thing your mother might have warned you about…

The first offense starts with a fine of 500 pesos, or around $10, followed by an embarrassing afternoon spent picking up trash.

Here is the full James Hookway piece at the WSJ.


Philippines is small time. At least in the US we still have the freedom to blackmail each other for money. Bezos and LaPierre are naive rubes for not understanding the role of blackmail in a free society and how things really work. Trump knows. That's why he is the Prez.

I heard from a friend's sister's cousin's manicurist in Manila that Mr. Guico likes hot goat sex.

This is not gossip. The Manila papers have reported eyewitness accounts and some embarrassing childhood photos of Mr, Guico had been seen.

"And thus was gossip ended," said the historian from the future.

“The law would have worked too, if it weren’t for those meddling Russians.”

Gossip is all about collusion.

Tyler, you miscategorized. Gossip is more related to libel/slander than it is to privacy. One can have a right to privacy and still be talked about by others behind their backs.

Brazil has launched a federal inveatigation on fake news.

Such is life in Bolsonaro's Brazil.

Exactly. We are winning the information wars.

" Brazil has launched a federal inveatigation on fake news. Hopefully it does not mean news the president finds uncomfortable

No, o Supremo Tribunal Federal (Brazil's equivalent to the Supreme Court) is in charge of the investigation. It is investigating criticism against the Judicial Branch and if said criticism is being motivated by an anti-Brazilian agenda.

Lots of scholarly studies on the benefits, yes the benefits, of gossip. Here's an article on research at Stanford: Here's one in The Atlantic:

Along these lines I heard that alleged Huawei 5G spying would be good in the long run as countries are less likely to go to war if they know each others actual plans.

Of course, balance of power has been America's policy for averting armageddon since the end of WWII. What's amusing about the issue with Huawei and 5G is that America uses espionage to spy on Huawei.

English common law likewise recognized the offense of "common scold." Nominally, it was meant to punish women who spread gossip, but in practice, it tended to be a way of suppressing small-time criticism of authority. My guess is that something similar is going on with the Philippine ordinance.

Does turning in your neighbor count as illegal gossip? And does the law require corroboration? If the two witnesses discuss the gossiper, is that gossip?

Robin Hanson has defended blackmail as having most of the same properties as blackmail. And indeed gossip has been prohibited in the past:

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