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touched on these issues before, and I discussed them
Golem article for the now sadly defunct Markup magazine
MIT published. The battle for privacy was lost the day
first Mosaic browser hit the net. The web was fielded
1. Most information one might want to declare private becomes
by multiple means. For example, you may think you
keeping a home address private but you applied for an
ham license without noticing that the FCC lets ham web sites
access to that information for their call sign databases.
that and a handy free web search map, bingo, directions
your front door. A simple name search is all one needs
if one has never used the web or gotten an email account.
2. The problem is not simply privacy but aggregation (see
illusions of aggregation. If what is said about you and
what you say is the means by which you are classified
search engine, you are the sum of the impressions
have, right, wrong, indifferent or malicious.
many cases, your governments are much more
tightly constrained over the information they collect
share. Dissemination management policies
legally instituted in all American states and
probably in Europe as well. There are also purge
statutes on the books that enforce removing information
these databases after a period of time or under
certain rules (eg, juvenile status). Law
institutions are constrained as to information
share with one another. Yes, 911 resulted in
loosening of these controls, but failure to
exposed the public to threat. Can the genie be
in the bottle? I doubt it, but by contrast,
web has none of this.
rules cuts equally.
web routes around restraints; even ones that
protect privacy, decency, and ethical use.
Web is not a democratizing institution in that
empowers without constraint. The problem is
what information is collected but the authority
abilities others have to use it without your
consent and without legal oversight.
it or not, the damage to privacy that has most
affected the most people was done by the web
those who promoted a laissez faire technology
information publication and aggregation.
Perhaps, in a broader
context, an even more important aspect is the notion of eXtreme Monitoring
The article from TBL et al in Scientific American started
with an example where medical data which, in Europe at least, would be seen as
confidential information was passed around with what at least some would view
as gay abandon.
If machine processing of semantics is implemented we,
as individuals, are highly likely to lose control of the privacy of our
personal information if we cannot know or influence directly which parts of
personal information (and its meaning) is accessible to "Big