Privacy, Poverty and Perspective

The largest encampment of homeless people in the United States is in the Silicon Valley.  Given the level of homeless in the area, perhaps that shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.

The proximity of that homeless camp to Sand Hill Road, and to the Google’s of the Silicon Valley tells a story that can get lost in statistics.  But let’s look at some anyway.

Here are some stats and illustrative graphs about who does and does not have Internet access in the United States.  Note the relationship among income, education and Internet access.

Here’s a view of the picture in New York. 

Here’s some information about poverty in the United States; specifically about Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP).  The article notes that:

In 2013, the average participation rate for SNAP was 19.4 percent of the U.S. population, serving 47.7 million individuals each month

But, about half of Americans will rely on SNAP at some point between the ages of twenty and sixty-five.

These are all U.S. stats.  We (a lot of us anyway) have it pretty good.

My point:

As I’ve watched the discussion on Twitter about privacy in general and the NSA thing in particular, at some point I came to the conclusion that a lot of it is self indulgent.  I’m reminded of pictures of Occupy Wall Street activists and the iPhones.

Certainly privacy is an important issue. but is it the issue?  What percentage of the U.S. population has the time, money and energy necessary for privacy to become a first order priority? 

What would Maslow say?

Let’s see if we can channel 5% of the outrage energy into something more concretely beneficial to people who need help.

If that doesn’t work for you, and you want to be all outraged about stuff, and you just can’t let the whole privacy go for a minute, go here to EPIC’s website.  Take note of the special privacy concerns of the poor.  As EPIC says:

Poor people have less of everything–less autonomy, less social mobility, and less privacy. State interests in fraud prevention and the structure of privacy law itself have worked to the disadvantage of the poor.

Maybe you can help address those issues.

Two last points.

First, although we’re having our Thanksgiving holiday here in the United States tomorrow this is not intended to be a special holiday Big Data and the Law post.  But Happy Holidays if you are having a holiday.  Have a good day if you’re not. 

Finally, the purpose of Big Data and the Law is, of course,  Shameless Self Promotion.  However, the secondary purpose of Big Data and the Law to be a platform for venting.

This is venting.

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