Emory econ prof Paul H. Rubin takes to the Wall Street Journal to challenge ten fallacies about Web privacy. The basic idea: Privacy trades off with information. Information greases the market. Privacy adds friction to the economy, preventing producers and consumers from getting what they want as cheaply and efficiently as possible.

Rubin’s best example: Google. Think of all the “free” stuff Google does for you: Blogger, Calendar, YouTube… oh yeah, and that search thingy. Google wouldn’t be able to pay people to design and manage those wonderful services if it weren’t able to glean oodles of info about who and where we are and what we are searching for. That info helps Google make better products and charge more money for its for-pay services. If we all surfed the Web in complete anonymity, Google would need an entirely different business model.

Rubin also makes the argument that less privacy means less risk of fraud and identity theft. If all an online shop knows about you is your password and your credit card number, stealing your info and buying a fur coat and two tickets to Geneva is easy. If an online shop knows you don’t usually spend more than a couple hundred bucks online a month, never buy fur, and place almost all of your online orders from an IP located in Colman, South Dakota, those fur and flight purchases logged from a server in Boca Raton may well send up red flags that save your credit rating.

Give Rubin’s article a read, see if you find any fallacies in his fallacy-busting.

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