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Scott McNealy’s latest privacy top-ten

May 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Scott McNealy, the co-founder and long time boss of Sun Microsystems, was famous for his “top ten” riffs on tech trends. Today he’s recreated it on Twitter (follow @scottmcnealy), reprising his famous remark in 1999: “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.”

Here’s a compilation of the tweets (followed by a quick analysis relating it to Sony’s Stringer on security):

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Top 10 signs you no longer have privacy and should get over it:
10. The guy behind the McDonalds counter greets you with, “Would you like a salad to help you with your constipation?”
9. A Google search on “white only clubs” has just one result: TaylorMade.
8. Your soon to be ex-spouse produces your iPhone GPS database in settlement hearings.
7. The TSA stops molesting and radiating your 82 year old mom because she is clearly not going to hijack that plane.
6. 20 neighbors show up at same Groupon inspired Spearmint Rhino happy hour in Vegas.
5. IRS starts auditing folks who don’t pay income taxes, not the folks who pay the most.
4. Local police become largest purchaser of camera equipped UAV’s.
3. Your parents require your Facebook, laptop, and phone passwords and actually review your online activity regularly. And you are 40.
2. The UPS driver delivers your small package to your door and, with a smile and wink, asks if you would like batteries with that.
1. Twitter starts suggesting Tweets for you, and they are perfect and better than your own.

* * *

As in 1999, McNealy is right on fact, wrong on what to do about it (as critics argued at the time). Not ensuring some protections is irrational. But whether he’s right or not is beside the point. It is refreshing when a top executive calls it as he sees it — and a bit silly when people quibble with the wording rather than the larger point itself.

Here, I’m thinking of Sony’s boss, Howard Stringer, who recently described the PlayStation Network hack is words that was sure to eviscerate him among tech journos. “Nobody’s system is 100 percent secure,” he said in a conference call. “This is a hiccup in the road to a network future.” (in Bloomberg’s piece). “It’s not a brave new world; it’s a bad new world,” he said (in the WSJ piece).

Stringer has been pounced on by some in the press. He shouldn’t be. Though the point he raises we’ve known for a long time, it is still quite right.

Categories: privacy, security