Privacy is a very sticky situation. We all want it, we all need it but we can’t be completely private individuals in any kind of economy. But the funny thing about economics is that it latches on to something then chooses not to let go of it. Knowledge has always been power. In the Dark Ages the church kept the power since they were of the few who could read and had access to information. Now the new church is Facebook and Twitter and Google and Amazon and all those online retailers that you love and are signed up for their newsletters. These churches have your information and are not going to give it up without a fight. Information has become a commodity that is passed, traded, and sold between companies that you might not even know about.
But why should we care? I have no issue giving my information to Amazon so that they can offer me a selection of books that I would be interested in (and would help Amazon’s bottom line). The real issue here is the minority voice. Once these companies start siding with the government to help surveil the populace, then we take issue. But many people only take issue if it directly affects them in some way. Heck, many people get spooked for a little while but then go right back to what they did before on those websites. Sure they want to protect their privacy but unless there is some direct effect that they see changing how they use the site, then most people will just shrug it off; the benefits outweigh the risks for them. Getting my books a few days earlier is worth me telling Amazon that I enjoy reading zombie novels. But it is not worth Google knowing that I am looking up communist theories since then McCarthy might come get me.
The apathy of the majority helps fuel this information economy which could eventually further depress minorities. Pretty soon Amazon might start telling the NSA who is buying those copies of The Communist Manifesto and those people might start being put on a list. Since we don’t have control of what companies do with our information after we give it to them, we all might be on some list saying we are demon worshipers since we have all bought Harry Potter books. Not until people actually begin to care about their privacy again will how we are private online change. There has to be some kind of monumental shift for people to wake up and realize that those free samples of Kellogg’s cereal you signed up for online are leading to your name showing up on those DirectTV ads.
Ultimately it is up to the user to choose how much privacy online he or she has, but how much do people care? I would say people care about their privacy a fair amount but when you make difficult privacy settings or say the lack of privacy is to safeguard the country, then people are more willing to just give up their privacy. People don’t take issue until it directly starts to hamper their daily routine.