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Stop Pretending to Care About Privacy

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Take a breath, Canada. Let's all just try to chill out.

Look, I know you're upset at the Conservatives' privacy bill. You know, the one that basically says police can look at everything you do online whenever they want. And I can kind of see why you're all hot and bothered -- I mean, what awful secrets are the cops (and by extension Government) really going to uncover in Joe Canadian's browser history?

But I think you're letting your emotions get in the way of logic on this one. Truth be told, I think you're being a bit hypocritical.

Because if you stopped to think for a minute, you'd realize you don't really care that much about internet privacy. In fact, you never have.

You're a web blabbermouth, an http chatterbox -- you can't wait to tell Facebook what you're up to at this very moment, who you're in a relationship with, and which bar you'll be partying at this weekend. You tweet every little thought and opinion that pops into your head -- you're putting it all out there for everyone to see.

And then you sit back and hope that a) people read it, and b) they respond.

"Yes, but the broadcasting of that information is still basically private," you say, "because it is only being sent to a curated list of friends."

Really? Judging by the way you accumulate Facebook friends and Twitter followers you're either remarkably popular (unlikely) or you've got low standards (or none at all). And when Facebook announced recently it was going to take away some of your online privacy (again), you mumbled a feeble protest and then immediately forgot about the whole thing. Privacy, after all, defeats the entire purpose of Facebook.

What about your Gmail account? You know, the one that reads your emails and translates all that supposedly private information into ads that slowly seep into your skull from the side of the screen. Doesn't seem to be bothering you that much.

And while we're at it, how about all the tabloid garbage you read on TMZ (or Huffington Post, for that matter)? So much for championing online privacy.

I'm not here to judge, though. Privacy is very important in real life, but it's not in internet life. Privacy is the opposite of the internet. The internet is the ultimate public playground, home of the biggest social gathering in history. It's one big party, and everyone's invited.

The notion of privacy goes against the very essence of the internet -- which is, in one word, connectivity. And the other great thing about it -- that it's pretty much free -- is only possible because we're willing to give up our privacy to online advertising that sifts through our status updates and instant messages to find out what we like.

No, you're not mad about the erosion of online privacy, you're just using it as an excuse to hate the government (not that I'm saying you shouldn't). Any Conservative could have become the public whipping boy -- Vic Toews was just unlucky. And sure, the #TellVicEverything campaign was clever -- he says he wants to know everything about us, so let's give it to him, literally -- but hidden in there was the fundamental fact that's actually what people do on Twitter, even when there's no Vic Toews hashtag tacked to the end of it.

You can still be a private person if you want -- nobody's snooping on you when you're at home, or tapping into your thoughts, or listening to your phone conversations. But when you go online all bets are off. There, nothing is reliably private and there's no point in trying to change that because that's what makes it fun and exciting and different in the first place.

Like I said at the beginning, take a breath. It's time to give up this bogus privacy standoff. It's time to stop pretending you care.

After all, no one likes a hypocrite.

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