Peter Thiel: Sometimes the Opposite of Transparency is Criminality
For a guy who's so well known for small-government ideas and turbo-charged Libertarian ideals, Peter Thiel doesn't seem to mind flirting with a bit of old-fashioned surveillance.
Speaking at tonight's PandoMonthly in front of our audience of 400 in San Francisco, the Facebook investor and PayPal founder discussed how we're headed towards a more transparent world.
"There are things about this that are good and bad," he said, before weighing up the challenge of respecting individual rights and liberties while still acting in the interests of the country – like, say, preventing terrorism (an issue to which as co-founder of data analysis company Palantir Technologies he pays a lot of attention).
"The opposite of transparency is not always privacy," he said. "Sometimes the opposite of transparency is criminality."
Considering Thiel's deep involvement with Facebook, that's an interesting position to take. It might explain, for instance, why the leading social network has seen fit to block all links to the Pirate Bay and TVShack.com.
On the other hand, Thiel suggested that the reason so many businesses and governments today are so flawed could be traced back to the 1980s and 90s, when the unofficial business slogan was, "Do a little bit of evil, and don't get caught" (a charge that some uncharitable critics might lobby at Facebook, given its sometimes opaque privacy controls), which resulted in business and government leaders that are "borderline sociopaths."