Do You Care About Privacy Or Just Unpleasant Surprises?

Seth Godin thinks that for all the talk about privacy, what people really object to is being “surprised.”

If your credit card company called you up and said, “we’ve been looking over your records and we see that you’ve been having an extramarital affair. We’d like to offer you a free coupon for VD testing…” you’d freak out, and for good reason.

If the local authorities start using what’s on the corner surveillance cameras to sell you a new kind of commuter token, you’d be a little annoyed at that as well.

He thinks that companies get away with invading our privacy by avoiding surprise, and we’re inclined to agree with him. After all, Facebook is still collecting data from “Beacon,” but since you can opt-out of the “news feed” surprise, people are happy.

Seth says:

This leads us to’s new Eraser service, which promises to not remember stuff about your searching. The problem they face: most people want Google and Yahoo and Amazon to remember their searches, because it leads to better results and (so far) rarely leads to surprises.

What do you think? Do people really care about privacy?

People don’t truly care about privacy [Seth Godin’s Blog] (Thanks, James!)