If "Privacy is Dead" why can I still find a pulse and feel its warmth. #mdfp



This post puts into words the fundamental shift that I have had difficulty in explaining for a while.  I believed that the prime privacy issues were erosion and  fear but now I think it is an adjustment to a new paradigm of what public means.  Public tends to mean information is available and current (news) or available but inaccessible (marriage record). The majority of us understand public in its “current public” form as it is about here and now (broadcast TV, radio, daily newspapers). This view of public was friendly as it naturally leads to a softening or erosion over time until forgiven and forgotten. With the advent of the Internet public now carries the same meanings but we have added a third dimension; always there, no control, no hiding, permanent and always accessible. 


How can privacy die?

Privacy is closer to gravity and electrons, in the mind of the public, than to bricks and trees, so how can it die?  Privacy is a concept, something you explain but cannot touch and to every person the idea can be explained from their own personal perspective. Privacy is a boundary between private and public, but depends on the perspective. 



The Wikipedia article on privacy is a rounded, by dogged by trying to detail every aspect of privacy from all angles, however there are some good snippets that help.

“The boundaries and content of what is considered private differ among cultures and individuals, but share basic common themes.”

“Privacy may be voluntarily sacrificed, normally in exchange for perceived benefits and very often with specific dangers and losses, although this is a very strategic view of human relationships.”

“Many languages lack a specific word for "privacy"”


The concept of privacy is not difficult, as it is the boundary between private and public, the complexity arrives in the definition when one considers context and experience.  Our date of birth is a public record but is often used as an identifier for private services; therefore I should keep it as private as possible.

“Privacy is Dead” but that doesn’t mean that it no longer exists as I can feel its warmth and pulse. Privacy will always exist whilst there is law to protect the boundary between public and private. 


Redefining Public

Public meant everyone and still does. Public means TV, radio, Broadcast, newspapers and the internet.  However, conceptually public meant here today, gone tomorrow.  Yesterday’s news is now old and is therefore not new and has less value.  You throw away yesterdays newspapers.  If you want last weeks news your can go to the library, if desperate there are specialists who will search microfiche for really old materials.  The idea of public was acceptable as you could eventually hide and be forgotten.  I am coming to the opinion that the issue is not about erosion of the boundaries or what is acceptable but our definition of Public.

My business policy lecturers back in 1992, George Luffman and Stuart Sanderson had their phrase “so what”.  It was a rhetorical question to ask whenever you though you had unearthed something new from analysis, as a method to expose if there is any value in the revelation.   The definition of Public needs updating – so what?

The obvious “so what” is that the Internet brings longevity and ease of access. There is now no hiding and it is this fundamental shift is that redefines Public which I believe is the conceptual problem we are struggling with.  Public, as a phrase, is evolving into three distinct concepts: permanent (internet public) temporary (news, broadcast) and available (certificates)


Why is Public important to Digital Footprints

Privacy, and the erosion thereof, easily sparks debate.  Big Brother ideals spread fear, but we are will to leave our digital data with everyone.  Understanding longevity of Public may could change a persons view of privacy.