I read this article today, and to say the least, I reacted. Privacy is a term used far too loosely, and I think people might not really know what they are defining. Whatever privacy is to you, you need to consider how privacy exists in the real world.

A ghostly voice:

Consumer privacy issues are a “red herring.” — “‘You have zero privacy anyway,’ Scott McNealy told a group of reporters and analysts Monday night at an event to launch his company’s new Jini technology. Get over it.'”

That was in 1999.

Subsquently…. resultingly….. These privacy conversations kill me. If one wishes for privacy, one shouldn’t leave the house, nor ever go online.

It is completely within the best interests of a hotel to protect a guest’s privacy… we go to significant lengths to do so. To suggest otherwise is misinformed and ignorant.  It is the hallmark of our success, among other things.

This issue isn’t about a hotel’s sensitivity to privacy. The issue is our current preoccupation with the concept of privacy. No one has any idea what “privacy” means. We have relative freedom, and our lives are relatively unobstructed and we are able to do as we please. But leaving the house – you are subjected to the largest shift in communication history, coupled with modern technological achievements that have, together, completely negated the concept of privacy. It doesn’t exist anymore. In fact… younger generations shed it as a by-product of the lifestyle they seek… a reminder that, shortly, it simply isn’t going to be an issue for people that will be controlling the world soon. How can we really expect any privacy, anyway?

It’s a fun conversation about a word few people really understand…. but whether or not we need to be sensitive (hotels, in fact, are sensitive) is moot. The point is that privacy is ending, and to some extent we are willfully giving it up as a biproduct of being able to access these amazing tools of the internet age.

Think about apps…. how much did you think about all the permissions you granted those people to access your app for free? Sorry to say, that app isn’t free:  you are releasing your privacy as payment. It’s happening at an increasing rate, and it’s soon going to be an arcane conversation for future pondering. It really makes me laugh that these people are on Facebook, posting constant information, and worried about privacy. They worry some professional acquaintance will see something off color, when they have completely given their entire lives worth of information to facebook…. talk about a crisis of perception.

Hello Nero, your fiddle is lovely. I think it’s a lyre, but history is vague. Also, Rome is burning.

Facebook isn’t free. Privacy doesn’t exist there… there’s equity in your information. Why else would it be valued at 50B? So we give up privacy constantly. In exchange for ESP like connection to friends and supercomputer like access to facts and answers…. I give up much, happily.

When the concept of privacy was far more quaint.

When the concept of privacy was far more quaint.

But if I can go to a website and spend $30 and know someone’s address, info, etc… I just can’t imagine anyone really taking privacy seriously. Mcnealy was right in 1999. It’s the nature of our culture cannibalizing itself. It’s not a hotel that people have to worry about.

It’s not big brother. It’s us. We are what we fear. Big Brother is every single one of us with a camera and being in the right place at the right time. What reasonable expectation of privacy would one have when everyone is connected to a camera that immediately uploads online? Our police cameras can’t compete with the aggregate real world social net that is taking down people, and corporations, and governments and nations.

Hotels, arguably, are among the most sensitive organizations in the world when it comes to respecting all levels of it’s guest’s / patron’s privacy. It’s not our responsibility, however, to be blamed for the growing pains involved with the greatest shift in human communication’s history.  Unfortunately, until we resolve these issues…. everyone will grimly fantasize about being important enough to be stalked. It’s not that I am that cynical, it’s just that I know we may not be *that* interesting.

(But we just don't realize it yet)

It's not big brother, it's us - the sea of anonymous watchers.

Until we realize this, we impede the advancement of a more ethical, and humane, human population.  I am sorry your petty, arrogant privacies feel threatened.  I already mentioned, unfortunately, that in the grand scheme of things… none of us really matter. In light of that, let’s celebrate our connections and stop babbling about meaningless issues of ego.  Let’s advance….  see you there.  Until then, you are stuck arguing about lost concepts from vestiges past.  Evolve.

About Michael

9 Responses to “PRIVACY IS OVER. It’s a semantic issue. People really mean “civil liberties”, whether they know it or not.”

  1. Steve

    Privacy is a major concern for the ultra wealthy, the rare liar in public office (grin), and those who think they are equally as important…me, I am nobody and if you want to watch me or what I do be prepared to get some good sleep. My joy comes in what others would see as mundane; the truly great in the world (in my eyes) is in a child’s laugh. I’ve had my crazy days and cell phone cameras where not invented yet (thank god).

  2. Frederic Gonzalo

    I’m with you on this one, Michael. I read the article yesterday, and tweeted it on #smtravel to see what others would think, if there would be any reaction.

    Truth is, as you say, the concept of privacy is loose and there is no commonly agreed definition of its limits, but you are right that there are no such things as “free” apps, or “free” access to Facebook, to name only these two. When you authorize access to your profile, or hand over your email address, you are already letting go some of your privacy.

    Indeed, hotel industry works hard at maintaining privacy for its guests, and social media becomes an important platform to be wary of, but it then becomes a matter of how hotels will enforce policies that ought to be put in place, if it isn’t the case already.

    Anyway, great post. Cheers,

  3. Michael Hraba

    Thank you so much for posting that original article. It’s such a huge moment – it’s what the term “paradigm shift” is all about. Hotels are just a teeny part of this greater revolution in communication. There is an app for gmail called “rapportive” that immediately retrieves all publicly identifiable information linked to the email you are interacting with. So on the right side of my screen, I see someone’s linkedin, facebook, hi5, bebo, myspace, twitter, google profile, and more. It’s amazing to me. I find vendors using professional emails for personal twitter accounts (that may not be appropriate to have connected), or can immediately look at a professional peer’s facebook profile and get a sense of what they are like, what they have been doing, etc. It is amazing…. it’s immediate, prescient awareness about their life. It’s all public, totally transparent and available information – but the other person doesn’t even realize I am seeing it. The expectation of privacy still exists, while people are openly and haphazardly divulging *everything* – all while complaining about privacy. It’s absolutely ludicrous to me.

    Not to say I don’t have my own concept of what privacy is, and means. It’s just that the overall conversation people are having is about a privacy from 20 years ago. Frankly, I think it’s as simple as what Steve said…. privacy isn’t that necessary a concept when we are all relatively boring. I don’t have anything to hide, but it’s also a fact that no one would be interested anyway. Beyond my mundane lifestyle, everyone is far too narcissistic & focused on their *own* profiles and lives to bother me about mine. The conversation of privacy is quite obviously important to those that have dark secrets to hide. Governments, corporations, and people will need to worry about that. But not 95% of us.

    So it does become this flip big brother…. we watch each other. It’s like a giant neighborhood watch now. =)

    And thank goodness social media didn’t exist in my younger years.

  4. Steve


    I think I may go insane or start to doubt existence all together if I “neighborhood watched” you too much…

    Love the posts, don’t fear understanding or acceptance by us your followers but rather keep challenging our opinions…love it!

  5. Michael Hraba

    haha… I never really thought of the “follower” thing in that way… but it sounds culty. No kool-aid here, though. I promise. Just hugs. And maybe a Gibson.

  6. Michael Hraba


    Doubt you’ll end up back at that comment space, so I thought I would email… your comment is spot on. But that’s not privacy. That’s about equity in personal data. That’s a currency, and currency is the least private thing there is. Or one of them. =) Anyhoo… your point is spot on.

    Google Profiles have this “Data Liberation” thing where you down download any of your data into any form of file that is convenient for you. Your photos, your music… it’s amazingly forward thinking. Google calls it “Google Takeout”: https://www.google.com/takeout

    It comes from these guys: http://www.dataliberation.org/

    a team at google.

    No one else seems to do that. I think, eventually, some of these modern blue chips will become regulated like utilities, or at least the options of controlling our data about ourselves will be forced into a currency system that will have a whole bonkers series of rules that will prevent people doing what groups like Apple or Facebook are currently doing with our information.

    Still, using the word “Privacy” for these concepts that are so much more important, and complex, is a misdirection and not useful to discussion. At least that’s my two cents. Comparatively, I think you are more worth at least a nickel or dime. =)

  7. Easy Plate

    Overblown concerns about privacy seriously impact convenience and personal engagement by customer-facing employeees. Why do I always have to repeat my same order every morning at the drive-thru: medium coffee, two creams, one sugar? Yeah, it’s boring, but it’s important to me. Why not make an effort to recognize me and remember my “usual”? It doesn’t matter whether I’m local or on a business trip to Timbuktu the corporate logo should correlate with a level of service that treats me as an individual with largely habitual-based preferences that vary little. An RFID interro-Gator at the front door that reads my tag/badge and announces my arrival with a preferred greeting and preferred tastes/products, i.e. an EzPL8, does that for customers.

  8. Michael Hraba

    I know it’s a bit of an ad, but I’ll allow it. It’s a valid point…. everyone is trading privacy at their leisure, for their convenience… so they know your order, or so you can have an app, or so you can have video evidence to help you in a court case, etc. Privacy is at people’s discretion, and it can’t work like that. Privacy is so over… we’ll ditch it when it’s in our favor, but beg for it when it doesn’t satisfy us.

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