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Thoughts about Information Privacy

Who doesn’t care about information privacy? How (un)lucky are these fellows who can afford disregarding our global societal indiscretions? Nowadays, people are not considered as (totally) paranoid when it comes to questioning precisely where their legal, privacy and freedom boundaries are located. I am not an expert in the field (or better said in any of the fields) but this doesn’t prevent me from delivering a few basic ideas about the topic. I wish sincerely that the same probing behavior, in countries where human rights are supposedly well established, would not be interpreted as socially malevolant (or even criminal) acts. Besides, whenever similar presentations of ideas could not be potentially leading to very serious issues with law representatives anymore, a critical step forward will be taken.

Even though I guess such message may be lost very quickly in the tremendous hourly flow of exchanges occurring through the pipes of the web, I still feel quite confident when I realize daily that the number of related press releases is ever-growing. Fortunately this signal may not be lost for everybody and the readers to whom it has been initially addressed will become more and more conscious of what is really going on. Conscious awareness can definitely help in reaching out some advanced level of safety. The latter would not necessarily be to superpose with deployment of individual surveillance artifacts nor hijack of any existing technology. Sometimes, we should keep in mind that all technologies were likely not designed only for monitoring human activities. More particularly, I’m referring to multimedia devices and telecommunication instruments.

As a french citizen, my awareness is probably bound to the media of the country where I was born and somehow I may be influenced into presenting one of the most recent polling results that spoke to me. According to a statement of La CNIL (the administrative authority protecting privacy and personal data), 71% of the French citizens are not satisfied with the protection of their privacy in the Internet. Does that mean the remaining part consider the protection of their privacy as satisfying, or simply that some among the 29% have not figured out what is at stake? Living in a world more and more globalized implies a needed acceleration in developing our sense of responsibilities, especially when considering more seriously than ever what affects all of us. In regards to freedom restrictions, shouldn’t we feel equally indignant independent of our geographic considerations?

For how long will we let these potential threats hang over our heads? Oh .. and by the way, why does no one even dare talk about potential threats? How can a country (i.e. the sum of its inhabitants) know better than anyone else what is good or not for itself.  Among some of the strongest privileges acquired by some of us within these last centuries (or decades) resides the opportunity of suggesting instead of demanding. At least, something we can do as we are currently may consist in pointing out the facts as they just exist again and again in order to put in motion more and individual consciousnesses.

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4 comments to Thoughts about Information Privacy

  • peanuter

    You have no privacy anymore. The best example of this was at the last hope 2008 convention. Rambam (one of the speakers) went through all of the databases and all of the information he could pull on people. For a freebie you should look at http://www.phonecheck.net they let you do reverse phone number lookup, background reports, home information, tax info, possible relatives, more… for free. Our culture is insane now with facebook and myspace. No one wishes for privacy anymore. Thanks for fighting the good fight. Keep it up.

  • admin

    That’s very similar to what Lew McCreary wrote in the Harvard Business Review. The title of his article – “What was privacy?”. Most people are very ignorant of their actions with respect to privacy. I personally find friends who consolidate all of their personal information neatly on their Facebook page. Their date of birth, town where they grew up, wife’s maiden name (she’s linked on their as well), name and pictures of their kids and pets. I think that covers nearly all of the bank/credit card/utility verification type questions. And if not, a crook could simply call back and wait until they ask one that is known.

    I think maybe moving to an educational program would be a worthwhile pursuit. Demonstrate how these leaks actually persist across the Internet indefinitely. Show them what happened to the job seeker who missed the opportunity because of his drunken college pictures on MySpace, or the flame of the previous employer that was “simply venting”. What about the legislators who hastily enacted online records – the Virginia Watchdog’s been helping remind them. Maybe kids will think twice about that sexting pic to their boyfriend.

  • I would not go that far regarding privacy protection in the case of Facebook as this specific platform improved considerably how some can intervene in data (comprehended albums of pictures) they may be involved in as individuals (possibility to remove tags after being warned by the system for instance). Naturally people who signed up have still no chance for protecting their privacy from internal marketers, namely Facebook itself but at least as opposed to most of nowadays social networks, some intentions & actions for leaving freedom to users in a quite advanced way were declared and put in concrete application.

    I’m afraid that some may wish publishing information about their lives before others do it instead of them without any chance of alteration nor correction.

  • admin

    Jed Rubenfeld gives quite a treatment to the Privacy issue in the Stanford Law Review article titled “The End of Privacy”

    http://lawreview.stanford.edu/content/vol61/issue1/Rubenfeld.pdf

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