Privacy: Did We Have Any in the First Place? - Slide 13

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Definition of Privacy Is in Flux

Luther Martin, Chief Security Architect, Voltage Security: "The 1890 Harvard Law Review article 'The Right to Privacy' by Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis is probably one of the most influential articles ever written on the topic of privacy law, and it certainly looks like Warren and Brandeis started thinking about the need to protect privacy because of technological innovations.

"We have this same problem today. Cell phone carriers have databases of every call that we make. E-commerce Web sites track every click we make and every page we view.

"Back in the 1880s, however, the problem was slightly different: Warren and Brandeis were particularly concerned about the loss of privacy that the new technologies for photography allowed. After all, if anyone can take a photograph without you knowing it, the possibilities for abuse of the technology are limited only by the imagination of the people who have cameras.

"From the early twenty-first century, it almost seems hard to believe that cameras could cause so much concern, but that's because we've accepted that the violation of privacy that they allow is an acceptable cost of using the technology.

"Similarly, there is definitely a loss of privacy from the widespread use of the Internet, but we'll probably accept that loss as an acceptable cost of using that technology. Privacy isn't dead because of the Internet, but that's because we'll adjust our understanding of what level of privacy is acceptable because of it."

BentleyIs privacy dead or alive? Privacy advocates say it shouldn't be and that we need to be more careful about what we share and don't share online. Mark Zuckerberg, Eric Schmidt and others in similar positions say no one wants privacy anymore. And then there are those who stand to make a buck by convincing us that privacy is teetering on the edge of extinction, but their software or their service can help us keep our privacy alive.

Our Lora Bentley decided to throw the question out there to see if anyone else had a different idea. So in a completely unscientific poll of roughly 20 folks who responded to an e-mail, Lora found six who say privacy is alive and three who think it is dead beyond any hope of revival. The more interesting responses came from those who fell somewhere in the middle. Some offer tips for consumers who want to keep their private lives private, others point to what various businesses offer to help do the same. They agree that regulation plays a part, but essentially, they say online privacy is what you make it. You have to decide what you're comfortable disclosing and then do the work required to protect the rest of it.


Related Topics : Cell Phones, GPS, Location-Based Services

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