I had to do a debate on internet privacy in my class today and the things some of my classmates were saying really disturbed me. Apparently, wanting privacy for privacy's sake is not a thing anymore and that's terrifying.

The actual debate was pretty boring, if only because the sides were forced by halves of the room and not by passion. But near the end we started discussing more generally, and some of the students started talking about how they don't see why anyone would want privacy when it comes to people knowing specifically your purchasing history (in reference to Target sending pregnant customers baby ads before their family even knows based on purchasing history). This was a little worrying, but I can understand their point to an extent - one student kept pointing out that this is in reference to giving people sales on things they'll probably like, and when money is tight these kinds of things can be necessary. Okay, I still disagree with the idea that I should give up my privacy so you can get a sale, but I can see why you would want that.

This led to a discussion of the case last August where a couple googling backpacks and pressure cookers in the same timespan were visited by the FBI and questioned for potential for bomb-making. In that case, it wasn't a case of the NSA or anything, but what the students were saying freaked me the hell out - multiple classmates were agreeing that they'd be willing to have an arrest on their criminal record from googling pressure cookers and backpacks that came about through the government spying on them if it meant that the government spied on everyone and therefore people actually making pressure cooker bombs would get stopped before they hurt anyone. I was flabbergasted. Their argument was that they had nothing to hide anyway and it was for the greater good of saving lives, so they'd take that hit for that case.

What the hell happened to our privacy standards in this day and age?? I was the only one arguing with this line of reasoning, and even with my arguments they could literally see no reason why someone would not want their entire lives laid open to the government or a company. They couldn't imagine a person that would want to choose what information goes out about them and to whom it's released ("If you want that you should live in the woods!" they told me). In their minds, it was incomprehensible to care that Google is mining all your information or if your academic records are open to the public ("what would they do with them? It's no harm!").

Am I an old now?