Posted by: zyxo | June 27, 2008

End of privacy

Interesting discussion on LinkedIn about our e-information and the corresponding privacy concerns.
Are we loosing our privacy ?

First a bit of history.

i)For ages people lived in small tribes, villages. Privacy ? zero, nada, rien, absolutely none. The only people with privacy where the ones that were expelled from their community or who chose themselves to live totally isolated. Later on we also had some farmers who lived with their familly somewhat isolated from the rest.
ii) then came the large cities, where people could – paradoxically – hide in the crowds. The bigger the city, the fewer people you know and hence the more privacy.
iii) and then came the google age where you can find anything on anyone on the www. Back to zero privacy ? Only people who choose to live “isolated”, i.e. keep away from the internet can keep everything private.

Interesting in the discussion is the remark of Hugo Vázquez Caramés who defines as privacy a state of equilibrium between the amount others know of you and the amount you know of the others. “The “problem” of privacy, exists when someone has more knowledge than others.”

I should add my own opinion. Your privacy level does not merely depend on how much they know about you, but on two factors:

  1. how much information they have about you
  2. the privacy level of that information : zero if you don’t mind, a lot if you do not want somebody to know it

And indeed, you could add a third factor : the privacy level of the other one versus you, which can indeed be a diminishing factor.

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