It is a rare individual who has managed to keep at least some of their personal information from being stored in a Federal government database. With this forum, hopefully we can help each other better safeguard the public’s personal information.
Does privacy matter anymore?
March 15, 2010 at 6:06 pm #95193
Does privacy matter to the American public anymore? I don’t mean the standard security related privacy like social secuity numbers and credit card numbers. Do people care that we know that they are standing on the corner of 1st and Main, or that they shopped at Macy’s last night? A quote by a Facebook founder got me thinking.
“People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people–and that social norm is just something that has evolved over time.” –Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook
Is there still a need to hide what we once thought was our private lives, or has the value of information about us increased so that we need privacy advocates?
March 15, 2010 at 7:23 pm #95211
Privacy still matters, but what its meaning is changing. Some things, like where we are (as broadcast by services/sites like 4square) have transitioned from public to private, but others, like medical history, previous credit card purchases, and to some extent, search histories, have not.
It may not be far off in the future, though, when a health care company can request your search history as part of its screening process for “pre-existing conditions,” or other risk factors that may determine coverage eligibility, as well as cost of care. Without privacy advocates, I’d wager that day will approach much more quickly.
March 15, 2010 at 7:46 pm #95209
We’ve had so much talk about privacy being the next most valuable thing to currency, where who you are will matter more than what you do. I can see a time where your medical evaluation information, if good, would be a valuable commodity to someone rich enough to take over your identity because of their “pre-existing condition”. Or perhaps I read too many sci-fi books. Nevertheless, it seems to me that personal identity only matters if it has some value to it, like selling your records (credit score, health data, etc.). What if hospitals treated the patient and not the bill? If health care was free, whould there be a need to be someone else? Then, stealing or knowing someone else’s identity would be useless and even harmful. My point is, as long as there is money, there will be a need to have identities to keep secret and private. As long as who you are has a worth, privacy will remain.
As for the rest of it that has no commercial value assigned to it (yet), such as where you are right now, people don’t seem to care. But when a commercial vendor can work out advertizing on the billboard right beside you, or bring you a product where ever you are, location based privacy seems meaningless. Social privacy is the same way, unless someone can figure out how to make money on who you know. One day, my reply to you here might spark a commercial venture to sell us something, perhaps on what we said or that we wrote under a particular subject or discussion on privacy.
Until then, I have to agree with you. The days of privacy advocates still exists, and will for a little while longer.
March 15, 2010 at 7:55 pm #95207
The bigger issue will be assumptions people make of us based on information that was once private, and is now public. There is an argument to be made that in such an inter-connected world, judging a book by its cover is increasingly the norm.
Take Google Street View, as an example, and the images of a guy climbing over a fence, or someone supposedly walking out of a strip club. It is a snapshot, out of context, but an assumption will be made none-the-less, and that assumption may prove incorrect and have consequences for the individual. And the individual has no real way of correcting the assumption.
March 15, 2010 at 8:33 pm #95205
You should read “The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture” by John Battelle. He makes a prediction, at the end of the book, about search on mobile devices and the ability to send targeted as, or location-based advertising so if you’re walking past Starbucks, The Gap or wherever, you’ll get a notice about a discount, a coupon or something else of interest.
We haven’t even touched on the subject of privacy as it relates to national security, special ops or the military. And that may bring in the issue of tiered-privacy; some citizens or workers, like undercover workers, are afforded more privacy than others.
It is a complicated issue, to say the least, and unless there is no such thing as undercover operations, national security issues and the like, privacy will still exist. You can even stretch it so far as to say that until we are all living in the open land, meaning we have torn down houses, office buildings and any other type of “obstruction,” there is still privacy.
March 15, 2010 at 8:38 pm #95203
Agreed. Just as from the articel today…
“As a social good, I think privacy is greatly overrated because privacy basically means concealment. People conceal things in order to fool other people about them. They want to appear healthier than they are, smarter, more honest and so forth.” –Richard Posner, Federal Judge
Until the walls come down, and there is nothing to hide, we’ll have jobs in the industry.
March 16, 2010 at 4:00 pm #95201
I agree that more people are open about things they weren’t before (example – color of bras on facebook), but as I read the quote from Richard Posner, I thought about the things people hide and why. Yes, people will hide certain things, because if they don’t they whole lives can be turned upside down. The only way for people to be completly honest is to make sure the things which are hidden are not used against them. A very small example of this is Car insurance using credit scores for prices of the insurance. I will use myself as an example – I went through a very bad divorce about 8 years ago. I went from a two income family to a one income family, and for a few months my credit went out the window. I am not a bad person, and have a great job, but because I went through a bed time, many ins places want to give people like me higher rates, even though I am a lower risk. I know this is such a small example, but there are huge examples of hidden information which cannot be known by others without it being used against them. So, yes privacy should be something controlled, until examples like this are not tolerated.
March 16, 2010 at 5:15 pm #95199
Great article/blog on the subject:
“People have always worried about other people knowing too much about what they’re up to. It’s a healthy concern to harbor. It’s clear now, though, that tracking everyone’s every move isn’t technically all that difficult (or at least it won’t be much longer).” – Brian Wynne Williams
March 22, 2010 at 4:28 pm #95197
Good point. People forget that some information is hidden because of assumptions made about that information, like credit reports, medical claims or even a speeding ticket. Such information means you’re “tainted,” or a risk even if circumstances are beyond your control. A divorce, getting laid off, being hit by a hit-and-run driver, tainted prescription drugs, etc. There’s a lot more to privacy than simply information being public v. private; it’s what people assume/deduce/infer from that information. Be interesting to see how that changes as more people get comfortable sharing otherwise intimate details with the public.
March 22, 2010 at 5:32 pm #95195
Another good article —
“I’m not blaming people whose Social Security numbers are lifted from Facebook via criminal cryptologists. That is, by definition, a crime. I’m only suggesting that we offer information online by choice, not by fiat. Occasionally Facebook screws up. But mostly, we sacrifice our privacy online for the human instinct to share and feel connected. If you want somebody to blame, look in the mirror.” – Derek Thompson
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