This Dopey, Decade-Old Tech Privacy Video Actually Got A Lot Of Things Right
MIT Technology Review reports that sometime in the mid-2000s, the ACLU produced a video PSA about technology’s threat to personal privacy called “Ordering a pizza in 2015.” It bubbled back up on social media this week, and I was curious to see how its predictions held up (2015 isn’t that far off, after all).
At first glance, the video seems laughable. A man calls his favorite pizza place to place an order, and he’s soon roped into a 1984-esque dystopia (with Windows 95-esque graphics) in which everything from his voting and employment history to his health records and library activity are “wired in” to a sinister uber-database, which the pizza place uses to bully him into ordering food he doesn’t want (because it’s better for his health) for an inflated price (delivery costs $20 extra because the customer lives in a high-crime area, according to the pizza place’s records). Uh, I used GrubHub last week and nothing remotely like this happened to me. Ha ha, ACLU #fail! …Right?
Not necessarily, says Lorrie Faith Cranor, a tech privacy expert at Carnegie Mellon University’s CyLab Usable Privacy and Security Laboratory. “It is actually not all that farfetched,” she told me via email. “I’ve shown this video many times in my classes and it is always a good way to start a discussion.”