Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn
dachte

Revised position on Google privacy

I have been doing some thinking about Google's name policy, and have revised my position a bit (it still might make some people angry):

My basic perspective remains the same:

  • It is unjust to demand onto people that any policies/terms they enact/use maximally benefit one's group, fit one's social norms, make anyone comfortable, etc. All one may demand is that they not be malicious (and even that has a few exceptions). One may ask or nudge or dissociate if one doesn't get the policies or terms one wants
  • Names, Privacy and gender issues are potential areas (among a great many others) where people might not get what they want in social situations, and any particular needs they have might not be met by some people/groups.
I don't think, for any person A, A is entitled to require other people to make A comfortable with the terms they use, where require includes attempts that are pushy to the same level that people should be pushy to deal with actual injustices. To require that others sign on to your cause/world-of-terms or accomodate it is (with some exceptions and considerable nuance I'm not going to plumb here right now) a mark of bad character and/or brokenness.

However, and this is where my revision is placed, Google is not a person. It is not entitled to the same notion of philosophical sanctity of perspective (freedom of conscience, etc) that a person is. A person who might hold an event where real names are required is doing fine, and anyone who demands that change is simply broken/with-bad-character. A company is not necessarily entitled to that; I am open to the perspective that we might socially hold companies to a different standard, PROVIDED that we do not let that attitude carry over into interpersonal dealings. Freedom-of-perspective must generally be respected for people (with the provison of no malice, as well as a moderate amount of nuance), meaning how people speak and think should generally not be subject to the strongest social pressures, and beyond that people should try to have a live-and-let-live attitude in accepting that terms and frameworks of thought will naturally differ a lot between people. So, a blanket willingness to be too pushy with how others define their terms or what they call people or what philosophical/political framework they use, or similar remains a mark of bad character/brokenness, but if someone is willing to limit that pushiness to corporations, it is potentially acceptable.

Other individuals may, of course, disagree on whatever topics come up.

I remain neutral on the actual topic of real names on Google and still think either allowing or disallowing pseudonyms is acceptable, but I am less grumbly at those who are willing to raise a huge fuss on the topic (provided the way they go about it is reasonable; the "check your privilege" thing still seems like a disqualification pseudoargument, and the person I criticised earlier still, IMO, merits strong criticism). Google does not have the perspective-perogative that a person would have.

Having revised this, I am unsure whether I am willing to consider extending this reasoning to government in the same way I extend to corporation, and I have certainly have not done so yet. I'll keep thinking about that. The perogatives of the state are necessarily more important than those of any business, and the state also has other means by which it acts as an expression of the needs and perspectives of a society; it also has a kind of static neutrality to excessively specific demands of people. The state may not have the same privilege of conscience that people have, but it also may have what amounts, for purposes of resistance to pressures of perspective, to a similar privilege. For example, I don't believe we should feel sympathy for those who make demands of the state to respect their particular culturally-inspired desires (e.g. wearing a burkha in a photo-id); they may request it (and ideally their request would be refused or at least be treated identically to people who just, out of a personal quirk, decide they don't want their photo taken; religious perspective merits no privilege over personal/secular perspective), but demanding it would be a mark of bad character/brokenness.

Tags: philosophy
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