Online Privacy is a Corporate Invention!

Originially published here:

There is nothing private about the way we use the Internet. The act of posting something online without encryption is no different from shouting it on a crowded square. The concept of online privacy is purely a corporate invention, a way of normalizing the current practices, and is no way related to the concept of privacy, the act or ability of individuals or groups to express themselves and information about themselves selectively.

When we connect to the Internet, we connect to a vast network of devices that take our data and routes it as we wish, with no guarantees to privacy or secrecy. Social networking websites, and on a wider scale, all data-mining corporations, operate on a higher level of abstraction, providing us with the service of transporting our personal information and sharing it with others in the manner we wish, with a promise of secrecy as holders of this information. In fact, most of the services these corporations provide cannot function without this weird notion of virtual privacy, they need to be a third party that unnecessarily has access to said information.

The invention of online privacy, a pact of secrecy between the network and the user, facilitates these services, but as the corporation doesn’t only see the one user and their interactions, but the interactions of all of its users, it gains an interesting quality. This data becomes “mine-able” and suddenly gains great value. We trade the exclusive use of our data in this sense to these networks in exchange for the promise of secrecy.

This exclusivity satisfies one of the necessary conditions for this data to become a commodity for the corporation, a valuable raw material in a way. If it didn’t exist, then the value of this data is reduced to an ever decreasing function of storage plus bandwidth costs. This virtual “privacy” becomes a really important concept for the corporation to protect, as it becomes a business interest. The otherwise innocuous act of copying data becomes “stealing” because even though it’s “our data” only they have an exclusive right to use it.

When Facebook bought Whatsapp with 16 billion of its shares, we were angry, they bought 16 billion worth of our data with 16 billion more. Let’s stop defending online privacy and start advocating actual privacy practices on the Internet. The Internet is a public network and should always remain as such, if you want to transport information on that network privately, then you should use encryption, the network would provide you with secrecy only out of moral obligation, and anyone with in an interest in your data can only be stopped by encryption.

In conclusion, we can have privacy and use the internet, by using the proper kinds of encryption and not using data mining websites owned by corporations. We can develop and explore new paradigms in social networking, such as decentralization, that allow us to do what we do now but without having to sacrifice our privacy. Sure we might miss the targeted ads, and, well, the socially targeted ads… actually we probably won’t miss a thing.

Jordanian Parliament Debates Censoring YouTube Video

A local video production by ShooFeeTV brought out the ire of many parliamentarians in Jordan. The video heavily criticizes the performance of the Parliament in the recent years in a  National-Geographic-esque mockumentary. MP Rula Alhroub, a former actress and media personality, heavily criticized the video, and demanded that the Parliament must contact YouTube to remove the video, because allowing such videos would make the parliament lost it’s prestige and lessen it’s social standing.

On the other hand, MP Dr. Mustafa Alhamarneh gave a rare ferocious defense of freedom of speech, saying that creatives have a right to produce content and express themselves freely. He reminded MP Alhroub that her request would be considered media censorship and that we should help and support creative youth rather than oppress and censor them. To my personal surprise, the parliament ended up taking MP Dr. Alhamarneh’s suggestion and decided against asking YouTube to stop broadcasting the video.

Kudos to Dr. Alhamarneh for being a champion of free speech, I feel much better knowing someone like him is under the dome. Here is a link to the video:

Fix Your Internet Connection with Third Party DNS Servers

Changing your DNS server settings can be a quick and easy fix to lots of common Internet connection problems, especially if your ISP is unreliable or if your country likes to censor stuff. Here’s a quick and easy guide on how to do that. Living in Jordan, I face lots of problems with Jordanian ISPs. They are becoming way more unreliable than they usually are. For some reason, random websites suddenly become unavailable, and they become a bit slower to load. I have no clue if this has any relation to the proposed censorship laws in Jordan, and there’s no way I can confirm that, but most of the times it seems that they fail to serve random websites.

Also, they’ve been notoriously susceptible to hacking. One random ISP I will not name was famously hacked recently and kept serving Russian malware websites at random. Thankfully, there’s a fix, that can make your Internet experience more secure, and more reliable, and best of all, faster, and all you need to do is to start using an alternative DNS service than the one provided by the ISP.

There are two major services, the one I use is Google Public DNS which is very reliable, and incredibly easy to use. You just need to switch your DNS servers to, and If this looks like Chinese to you, just go to their website and follow their easy instructions.

How To Set Up Google Public DNS Server
How To Set Up Google Public DNS Server

There’s also Open DNS which is also pretty popular, but you need to create an account. Here’s a hint to Open DNS, what you need if you’re a home user is what they call “Premium DNS”, which despite the name is meant to be  free. They also give Enterprise and Parental Control options, if you need those.

EDIT: jockerspalette says

Btw .. OpenDNS can be used without creating an account by simply using or just like Google DNS servers, and if you need a family-safe internet you can use or, if you need their “premium” features, then you have to create an OpenDNS account.

PRO-TIP: If your router supports it, try to set the DNS on a router level, so that everybody who uses the router can benefit from it.

In summary, I recommend that every person stop using their ISP’s DNS servers, they tend to be unreliable, and gives your ISP way too much control over what they think you can see or cannot see.