Here are some additional thoughts concerning privacy, you can read the first part “What happened to privacy?” and you can check the blog from Elias Bizannes that inspired my own blogs “Define Privacy – what does it mean to you?”
Part of the discussion concerning privacy is not so much what privacy is but, how is it achieved. Before the advent of the electronic age and before the Internet, penetrating the privacy of something or someone required a great deal of effort. Before, to do this, you had go to where the information was.
Back then, you had to be fairly motivated to want to go to where the repository of information was physically located. There was a geographical separation between you and the information you wanted. Once you arrived where the information was, you had to be willing to spend hours, days and even months wading through mounds of documents to get what you wanted.
A great deal of the privacy that we enjoyed was achieved by the sheer physical and mental effort it took to get to the relevant data. What the electronic age has done is to take all that away. There is no longer effort or sacrifice needed to get the information you are looking for.
Parallel to privacy concerns, another thing that is of concern is the veracity of the information you are acquiring or divulging. With the deluge of easy information has come the deluge of false information and outright dis-information. Where before, the repository of information in physical form, whether implicitly or explicitly, gave a measure of weight as to the veracity of the data, today that is being lost by leaps and bounds.
So the questions become, how do we protect ourselves and those whom we care about from invasion of privacy and false information? In an environment where information no longer has a physical shape or a geographical location, in an environment where the information may be completely false, how do we protect ourselves?
One of the things that we are going to have to review and revise is our attitude towards information. Because of how information was gathered and divulged in the past, we have tended to give it a lot of credibility. Consider the newspaper and newscasts of old; whatever Walter Cronkite said was the truth, whatever the New York Times said, was the truth.
We need to develop what I call a “healthy skepticism” towards information today. We need to develop and internalize some level of skepticism about how the information was gathered, by whom it was gathered and how it is being vetted or confirmed. Doing that will go a long way to curb the explosion of “trash” information that is floating all over cyberspace.