and +Jules Polonetsky
wrote a theory of creepy. Here is what I had to say about the word "creepy" in my book Public Parts
The worst definition of privacy, the one I also hear quite often at privacy conferences and in conversations, is contained in one word: “creepy.” Internet applications or ad tracking or RFID chips are called creepy. Google puts its Street View camera on a bike to take it to places cars can’t go, and that’s creepy.24 Almost every discussion of facial recognition software ends with “creepy.”25 In one of his all-too-quotable quotes, Google’s Eric Schmidt says the company’s “policy on a lot of things is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it.”26 That itself was called creepy. When I hear “creepy,” I’ve taken to stopping the conversation and asking the person who uses it to define the word, the context, and the harm. Shrugs ensue. “I don’t know. I just don’t like it. It’s . . . it’s creepy.” It is an emotional response to the unknown, to what could happen. Though we’ve seen that privacy is often about feelings and fears, emotion alone is not the proper basis for regulation of new technologies and industries and speech.