When Privacy Goes Poof! Why It's Gone and Never Coming Back

Presented at DEF CON 25 (2017), July 29, 2017, noon (45 minutes)

"Get over it!" as Scott McNeeley said - unhelpfully. Only if we understand why it is gone and not coming back do we have a shot at rethinking what privacy means in a new context. Thieme goes deep and wide as he rethinks the place of privacy in the new social/cultural context and challenges contemporary discussions to stop using 20th century frames. Pictures don't fit those frames, including pictures of "ourselves." We have always known we were cells in a body, but we emphasized "cell-ness". Now we have to emphasize "body-ness" and see ourselves differently. What we see depends on the level of abstraction at which we look. The boundaries we imagine around identities, psyches, private internal spaces," are violated in both directions, going in and going out, by data that, when aggregated, constitutes "us". We are known by others more deeply in recombination from metadata than we know ourselves. We are not who we think we are. To understand privacy - even what we mean by "individuals" who want it - requires a contrary opinion. Privacy is honored in lip service, but not in the marketplace, where it is violated every day. To confront the challenges of technological change, we have to know what is happening to "us" so we can re-imagine what we mean by privacy, security, and identity. We can't say what we can't think. We need new language to grasp our own new "human nature" that has been reconstituted from elements like orange juice. The weakest link in discussions of privacy is the definition of privacy, and the definition of privacy is not what we think. Buddhists call enlightenment a "nightmare in daylight", yet it is enlightenment still, and that kind of clarity is the goal of this presentation.


  • Richard Thieme / neuralcowboy as Richard Thieme a.k.a. neuralcowboy
    Richard Thieme is an author and professional speaker focused on the challenges posed by new technologies and the future, how to redesign ourselves to meet these challenges, and creativity in response to radical change. His column, "Islands in the Clickstream," was distributed to subscribers in sixty countries before collection as a book in 2004. When a friend at the National Security Agency said after they worked together on ethics and intelligence issues, "The only way you can tell the truth is through fiction," he returned to writing short stories, 19 of which are collected in "Mind Games". His latest work is the stunning novel "FOAM", published by Exurban Press September 2015. He is also co-author of the critically extolled "UFOs and Government: A Historical Inquiry", a 5-year research project using material exclusively from government documents and other primary sources, now in 65 university libraries His work has been taught at universities in Europe, Australia, Canada, and the United States, and he has guest lectured at numerous universities, including Purdue University (CERIAS), the Technology, Literacy and Culture Distinguished Speakers Series of the University of Texas, the "Design Matters" lecture series at the University of Calgary, and as a Distinguished Lecturer in Telecommunications Systems at Murray State University. He addressed the reinvention of "Europe" as a "cognitive artifact" for curators and artists at Museum Sztuki in Lodz, Poland, keynoted CONFidence in Krakow 2015, and keynoted "The Real Truth: A World's Fair" at Raven Row Gallery, London, He recently keynoted Code Blue in Tokyo. He loved Tokyo. He has spoken for the National Security Agency, the FBI, the Secret Service, the US Department of the Treasury, and Los Alamos National Labs and has keynoted "hacker",security, and technology conferences around the world. He spoke at DC 24 in 2016 for the 21st year. Twitter and skype: neuralcowboy Linked In and FB: Richard Thieme Website: www.thiemeworks.com