On privacy

Yesterday I watched an interesting program on the Discovery about the future of information technology. It was interesting not because I’ve learned a lot of new stuff – I didn’t. It was interesting to see what and how mass media in general and very trustworthy channel like Discovery in particular bring down onto unsuspecting public.

The program was pretty good. It touched on the history of IT, current technologies and trends, and things that await us in the near future. It covered both the technological points (in simple terms) and sociological points (how information technology affects our lives).

One particular piece caught my attention. It was about privacy, with all those mobile phones with built-in camera, CCTV cameras in public places, rapid advances in face recognition technologies, and governments pushing the limits of trust with anti-terrorism programs. One of the interviewed guys said something along the lines of (quoting from memory):”

Basically, there are two extremes when it comes to privacy. People on one side say “forget privacy. It does not exist in The New Age”. People on the other side believe that privacy is the only ultimate thing that we must protect at all costs.

Spot on! I can’t think of the way to present it better.

The question of privacy is up to each individual person. Each one of us has to ask himself or herself how much they care about their own privacy and what are they prepared to do protect it. I thought it about it sometime ago, and I am sometimes re-evaluating my position on this. But so far I haven’t changed it at all.

I am not standing on the extreme of “there is no such thing as privacy in The New Age”, but it’s much closer to me than the other position. Of course, there are some things which aren’t meant for the public eye (or ear for that matter). Personal things. Intimate things. Not everything should be an open broadcast. But, one shouldn’t spend too much time protecting these things.

If someone really wants to find out where you live, when you go on vacation, what is your bank account or passport number, what was the name of your first teacher, or what’s your worst nightmare, there are many ways to do so. And no matter what you do, no matter how hard you try to keep that to yourself, there are always ways to find out.

Why? Because we live in a society. People interact. People know things about people. People think about people. People follow people. People rumor.

You don’t want a bad guy to know where you live? Well, too bad. Because you can hardly control that. Have any of your friends been to your apartment? Do your parents know where you live? Have you bought or rented that place with any sort of paperwork? Do you go outside of your apartment where people can meet you and follow you? Do you… You get the point.

Your bank account and passport numbers are even easier. Because they are harder to change than a rented studio. And because too many people who simply don’t care about your privacy have access to that data.

Your nightmares? Oh well, most of them come from childhood anyway. So chances are at least your parents or siblings know about them. Cause they were with you way before you started caring about your privacy and moved out to live alone in the middle of nowhere. Have you ever heard them telling stories about you to others? I think you did…

Now, you’ll lose plenty of valuable resources (such as your time) working to protect that data. And you still won’t be able to do it to a full degree. And that is not the worse thing yet. The worst thing is that you’ll miss out on so much good that it’s hard to describe it in this already way too long of a post.

Yes, believe it or not (well, I do believe it), but people around you want to do good to you. And the more they know about you, the better are their chances to do that sort of good that you care about, and to delivery that good to you.

For me that solves out the privacy issue. The more ways I have to let people know things about me, the better. If there is a new web service that builds more social interaction based on my passport number, I’ll use it. If there are more CCTV cameras in the streets that solve the traffic problem – I say install them. If I will see more pictures and videos from my friends and family because of the new wave of mobile devices – I say bring it on.

What’s your stand on privacy?

8 thoughts on “On privacy”

  1. There is a big difference in having bits of information in various places, and full set of information in one hand.

    Your theory in the last two paragraphs depends on the assumption that big brother wants to do good for you, where good means good from YOUR point of view. However, what is good for big brother does not have to be good for you.

    Information means power, and having uncontrolled power is very dangerous.

  2. Yes, we live in a society. People know some things about us, but only such kind of information, which we suppose they can get. If you really do not want them to know something important, there are a lot of opportunities to hide it.
    I think we need not blame information technology. An old Russian proverb says: “If two people know, a pig knows too.” So we should tell nobody that we really want to protect.

  3. important things that nobody should know are your bank account numbers, your social security numbers and any account numbers and credit accounts lol

    if you do you’ll be in great trouble, your personal file information can be minimized but i agree with the above comments that what is good to your point of view is not good for all

    hacking and privacy intrusion has been rooted in our society, wether we like it or not, there are all sorts of people living in this world it depends on where we draw the lines, and that includes crooks and powerful individual that think they can play god

    that just simply means no one is safe, esp with the advancement and fast innovations of technology, everything is possible, and don’t be shock or stunned if oneday you’ll see yourself in jeopardy of somebody else’s interest and insanity lol

    i agree with your mom, you don’t have to give all of yourself to be known and make a difference:)

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