back to article Scott McNealy: Your data is safer with marketers than governments

You're better off with your data in the hands of a marketer than a government, says former Sun Microsystems supremo Scott McNealy, because you can change who you buy from, but you can't easily switch countries. “A long time ago someone said: 'You have no privacy – get over it',” McNealy said. That “someone” was McNealy himself …

  1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    If the USA screws with my data, I cannot leave.”

    Sure you can. Maintain a few passports. 70% of the USA population have at least one grandparent which is an immigrant enabling them to get another passport. This percentage is lower in Europe, but still quite significant.

    Granted, you will have Fuhrer Wannabies like Teresa May chastize you in front of her party conference quoting literally word for word one of Hitler's most antisemitic quotes. Just ignore her and keep your options open.

    And if worst comes to worst, you can BUY cittizenship. It may not be cheap, but is doable. In the specific case of Mr McNealy in about 15 minutes to transfer some pocket change to Grand Kayman.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      In fact, it is now more difficult to leave the grasp of Google+Apple+Microsoft than to leave a country.

      Option A: Try getting any work done without touching any one of these or communicating with a customer which is using them.

      Option B: Try finding your granddad's (Irish in McNealy's case) birth certificate and apply for a Eu passport.

      Which one is easier?

    2. NoneSuch Silver badge

      My data... best when it's under my control. No marketers, no government and not held in some data center.

      If I choose to give info over to a private business, that's between me and them, with no third party snoopers in the mix. That info should be restricted to travel anywhere else and be deleted after a fixed period of time.

  2. ecofeco Silver badge

    Oh FFS

    Ah, I noticed I've used this title before.

    Well, it's certainly appropriate.

  3. 2460 Something

    No conflict of interest to see here, move along folks, whilst your moving past why don't you just fill in your personal information on this simple form. No conflict of interest to see here, move along folks.

    Lovely individual.

  4. Halfmad

    No it's bloody not.

    The government (and people usually throw the NHS into that) self report to the ICO far, far more than any private companies do. That's a fact.

    Just because they aren't reporting themselves doesn't mean breaches don't happen, they are merely more worried about bad PR than public employees, many of whom would report to the ICO even if their bosses told them not to (sorry MPs!).

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: No it's bloody not.

      That is on this side of the pond. Scott is on the other where things are a bit different.

  5. Bogle
    Black Helicopters

    Be afraid, be very afraid

    "The only time people should be worried about privacy is when government does more than protection of their lives and liberties."

    Actually, I'm *very* concerned about how the government attempts to protect my life and liberty. For example, britain-attempts-brand-journalists-spies

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    malware alert

    “governments get scope creep and do more than protecting your liberties and rights. They do education. Health care. Loans.

    “he only time people should be worried about privacy is when government does more than protection of their lives and liberties."

    Sounds like McNealy has a bad infection of the Ayn Rand malware.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      "Sounds like McNealy has a bad infection of the Ayn Rand malware."

      Nothing that a full wipe and re-install cannot cure.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is this like saying are safer in a tank full of hungry sharks than in a room full of hungry lions.

    1. LaeMing

      Re: Is this like saying

      Your hens are safer with a hungry dog than with a hungry wolf.

  8. wolfetone Silver badge

    Mr.McNealy was never a TalkTalk customer it seems.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Nor a 3 customer as they are now contacting more people who were hit by their data theft discovered in November. "Your name, address, date of birth were found in the hackers possession, but don't worry about your details being used by anyone. You can check for that by providing your details to this credit tracking company, they will keep them nice and secure as well."

  9. Tom 38 Silver badge

    What if you do want to buy pantihose

    What about when your secret hearts desire is to buy all the pantyhose in all the colours and run around the house with them wrapped around your face, but you don't want anyone else to know this?

    I'm, er, obviously asking on behalf of a friend..

    PS: Pantihose? Pantyhose surely?

    1. LaeMing

      Re: What if you do want to buy pantihose

      I always used to phrase conversations with classes of 8-12year-olds concerning data security in terms of the purchase of donald-duck or disney-princess-of-the-week underpants, and who you might or might not want knowing about it.

      (No, data security and privacy isn't in any primary-school curriculum I know of, but it damned well should be! Meanwhile the state government is stripping down the teaching of how our voting systems ork because 'common' people growing up knowing how preferential polling works is damned inconvenient when trying to keep them voting for only the two major groups of idiots).

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Well, McNealy is right about market discipline

    Its a lot easier for Google or Facebook to piss off their users and get dramatic losses in traffic and revenues than it is to close down the NSA or GCHQ--no matter what crap the spooks are up to. However, his contention that we should only worry about government-sponsored invasion of our privacy is self-serving at best.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well, McNealy is right about market discipline

      And while we're on the subject of non-government data gathering and invasion of privacy, a Canadian vibrator manufacturer is caught gathering data on its customers...

      1. P. Lee

        Re: Well, McNealy is right about market discipline

        >a Canadian vibrator manufacturer is caught gathering data on its customers...

        Oh, I'm sorry, did you think your <insert cloud-connected device here> was cloud-connected for your benefit?

        Whenever someone says "cloud" it reminds me of Melbourne Metro's Myki "ticket" system. It isn't a ticket system, its a way of getting people to provide interest-free loans to the company. It also does a bit of ticketing on the side.

  11. theblackhand

    "You're better off with your data in the hands of a marketer than a government"

    While he is correct, my concerns about the government using data are based on the abuses that marketers already carry out.

    How about if there was an option C where marketers and government didn't collect unnecessary data in the first place. Or exchange it between different parts of the organisations to create something even worse...

    1. Bogle

      Re: "You're better off with your data in the hands of a marketer than a government"

      Sir Tim (Berners-Lee, not Rice) recently pointed me to Solid: (no, not really *personally*)

      This kind of thing, if implemented in enough projects, could be your option C.

  12. a_yank_lurker

    Clueless Wonder

    With competence like that it's no wonder Sun got slurped up by Leisure Suit Larry. The issue is not who has the data but how much data they have. The more data the government or a company has the more harm they can do to people whether intentional or not. Slurp's Bloat 10 ads are showing the risk of a company having to much information and misusing it.

    Willie Sutton (US bank robber) was once asked why he robbed banks and he replied "That's were the money is." Anyone with extensive customer/citizen data is a target and the more you have the juicier the target.

  13. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Why business will not be required to keep customer data secret

    Has someone anonymously posted a comment on the net that is not whole hearted praise for your work? Did they imply you did something illegal? No need to spend time and effort working out who they are. Just put the URL and a small quote from the offending comment in out web site:, fill in your credit card number and we will send you the name, address and bank details of the offensive toe rag.

    Why not sign up for our automated service? Any mention of your name in a negative context will trigger an automated alert to the NSA, DHS, or ATF. Put the video of the resultant swatting on youtube for an immediate chilling effect. At we have the data to keep voters in their place. Let's change the law so we can put this data to good use.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Your data is not safe with marketers

    But I agree, it's less safe with governments. In the USA we've had huge breaches at OPM for example, and state/local government systems are a grab bag.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meme generator ??!!!

    Sweet, f&^#king Jesus! Our planet is slowly dying and they're wasting time, money and human brains with this ? A meme generator !?

  16. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    "There is no privacy - get over it"

    Says a man whose business depends on convincing people this has already happened.

    He may not have a PPE from Oxford but this guy is another fully paid up data fetishist.

  17. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Dear Scott McNealy,

    Blow it out your ass. I don't want your marketing team to bug me nor do I want my government to watch me. My business isn't yours and as long I don't do something illegal, it isn't the business of government. I will also add that malvertising is rampant. Can you guarantee me that my data that you hold won't get into the hands of malvertisers or miscreants? Can you? Our government can't so why the hell should I trust you.

    Besides, if the crap that hits my spam bucket is any indication, you marketing mouseketeers haven't a clue about what I buy even with the data you hold.

    Sincerely and with all due lack of respect, I remain looking for my future ex-pat life,(and yes, they are out there).


  18. dador

    Scott! Scott! Scott! Scott! Scott! Scott!

    If there's one tech giant who reminds me of Donald Trump, it's Scott McNealy.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      "If there's one tech giant who reminds me of Donald Trump, it's Scott McNealy."

      McNealy in 2020.


      Why vote for the lesser evil?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thanks Grandpa Simpson ...

    .... ZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzz......

  20. Potemkine Silver badge

    Go to hell

    "I am not afraid of business. But I am afraid of a bureaucrat who can impact my tax rates or health benefits or what school my kid can go to.”"

    It must be hard to live in a country where all these decisions regarding taxes, heath cares or education are not democratically taken. Living in such a dictatorship must be indeed scary.

    Anyway, I don't trust businesses either: their finality is to make money, not to act in the people's interest.

  21. Jim 68

    "...Wait until we see puck."

    Most Sun engineers in the '80s and '90s regarded Scooter primarily as a source of entertainment.

  22. Stevie


    Your data would be safer printed out, rolled up and stuffed into your neighbour's privet hedge than in the hands of either the government or marketers.

    And only an American could come up with the line "you can't change countries".

    Although that could be true in England soon, I guess.

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