by Furry Girl


At last month's Desiree Alliance conference, I recommended a talk called "Privacy Is Dead- Get Over It", by private investigator Steve Rambam.  He has been giving versions of this talk for years, and this latest version was given at The Next HOPE in New York City in July 2010.  It's not at all geared towards a sex worker audience, nor is it about how to avoid stalkers and other pests that sex workers face, but it's an excellent general introduction to how our "private" lives are anything but.

While Rambam's personal politics are of a conservative bent, he seems to take delight in shattering any lingering illusions of the paranoid and privacy-conscious, spelling out how our lives are all being tracked by private investigators, telecommunications companies, and non-governmental databases.  This is the talk I try to get people to watch if they're curious about the idea of personal privacy in the digital age, and they tend to come away horrified.

Unlike a lot of material out there on the privacy topic, Rambam's talk is not about how The Government spies on us, it's about how corporations spy on us- and how we, as individuals, are the ones who help them do so.  When a friend of mine got out of prison, I asked him if they had him on an ankle monitor.  He held up his smart phone and said, "No, but I got me on this!"  Personally, I pay AT&T $143 a month to track my whereabouts at all times.  This is why I hate it when silly little lefties say stuff like "Orwell was right" or "We're living in Orwellian times now".  No, no we're not.  Orwell was wrong, Ray Bradbury was right.  We The People will not be oppressed by force and coercion and frightening big brothers, we will gleefully and willingly give up any and all personal liberties in the name of gaining shiny amusements.  Oh hey, did you hear the a iPhone is coming out?  Let's go wait in line all day!

This year's talk focuses heavily on how Google catalogs everything about you in order to sell you things, and just how much data we are all hemorrhaging every time we do anything online, make a phone call, or even just carry our mobile phones around with us.  (News to me was Google's upcoming plans to be an electric utility that uses smart grid technology.  This means they'll know what you're doing with your appliances and light switches, down to when you open your refrigerator door.  I wonder if a Hitachi Magic Wand gives off some sort of unique power-draining signature in the outlet in your bedroom?  Ceiling cat is watching you masturbate!)

Jacob Appelbaum, another speaker from The Next HOPE conference who I mentioned last month, touched upon Google in a recent Rolling Stone piece: "It's not just the state.  If it wanted to, Google could overthrow any country in the world.  Google has enough dirt to destroy every marriage in America. [...] At some point people are going to realize that Google has everything on everyone.  Most of all, they can see what questions you're asking, in real time.  Quite literally, they can read your mind."

To download this 3-hour video via legal torrent firesharing, click here for the torrent for part one, and here for part two.


  1. Rambam's 2008 HOPE talk, also available via Google Video - feel the irony ! - covers many related issues. Suggest you watch that one too. Rambam's "privacy" seminar is normally 8 hours, so even wifh the 3 hours he's given by HOPE there's a lot omitted. Rambam's websitr is: (again, Google!).

    Comment by Try 2008 talk — August 23, 2010 @ 7:12 pm

  2. Too true. Though I think Bradbury AND Orwell are right; the border patrol is the example swarming around our neighborhoods, parks, etc. right now -- it's disturbing and scary (yes, color me a paranoid lefty). All civil liberties are pretty much suspended when it comes to the border patrol and they're not just at what we think of as "the border". Of course old white people with money and stupid white people without it give those things up with pride even more gleefully than they do to corporations. Because they feel safer living in a police state where people with dark skin are targeted for harassment and then some.

    Comment by Trixie — August 23, 2010 @ 9:11 pm

  3. Thank you for the torrents. They are greatly appreciated.

    Comment by Ai — August 24, 2010 @ 8:33 am

  4. "Orwell was wrong, Ray Bradbury was right." That's one of the best and succinct ways of summing up our situation I've seen. I wish I had thought of it and there is no higher praise I can give. I've been impressed with the insight and thoroughly considered arguments on this blog.
    Certainly the topics you choose are important as these things go but what is most interesting to me is your ability to see whatever issue you are discussing in so many dimensions and the penetration of your surmise. For me being interested is more pleasurable than having fun. So, yeah, thanks.

    Comment by The Professor — August 24, 2010 @ 12:23 pm

  5. Commentor 1: Why would I post the 2008 version of Rambam's talk rather than the most current one? That makes no sense. This things change and get more nutty with each passing year.

    Trixie: Yeah, border patrol stuff makes me nervous. I was on a Greyhound bus in Southern California in 2002. Some kind of immigration people pulled us over. They "randomly" selected everyone who wasn't white and pulled them off the bus for inspection of their papers. Glad that wasn't a day when people were reading me as Hispanic. (Which I've only recently discovered that I'm not. I did a DNA profile, and my maternal grandma's family isn't Hispanic, they're Native American. My Nana never knew that- she was told she was Hispanic, but that's genetically impossible. Now I can bitch at people, "Hey, *WE* walked across the Bering Strait during the last ice age! Lazy boat-riding immigrants!" Ha. Wish there was a DNA test to know for certain which tribe, rather than just guesses based on my haplogroup.)

    Ai: You're welcome.

    Professor: Thanks for the praise.

    Comment by Furry Girl — August 24, 2010 @ 8:47 pm

  6. You might enjoy this Onion article about Google then:,16891/


    Comment by Amanda — August 30, 2010 @ 4:24 am

  7. That was a really interesting watch; thanks for the link. I would be really curious to hear what he has to say about the usefulness of privacy settings. I tend to keep the privacy settings on all of the sites I'm on very high, and I'm sure that's not foolproof, but I'd still be interested to know how far from foolproof it is. It seems like a significant portion of what he's talking about is the information that we post completely publicly, which I don't have a lot of, personally.

    Comment by yb — August 30, 2010 @ 1:04 pm

  8. Going to download and checkout the torrent, thanks for providing it.

    Comment by San Diego Private Investigator — August 31, 2010 @ 2:10 pm

  9. Amanda: during Rambam's presentation, he played this awesome Onion video on Google:,14358/

    Comment by Furry Girl — September 1, 2010 @ 1:50 pm

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