Privacy vs. Transparency
There is a tendency to blame today’s technology for the foibles of society. Marshall McCluhan once said that the medium is the message, as he chronicled the transformational power of television in his sixties books and essays. At the time, the medium of television itself was not the problem. Nor was the TV programming of the day, as more and more controversial subjects found eager audiences on the air waves back then. But just as media influences society, habit tends to shape that same society and its media. The conservative view is usually restraint or, in some cultures, prevention from or blocking of access to information or media. This blog won’t try to reconcile these differences in values, culture, or politics. It will, however, try to suggest  reducing the blame for bad media, bad ideas, or bad behavior on the media itself.
Facebook’s recent photo tagging policy is a classic example. While facial recognition provides Facebook the means to exploit user’s uploaded pictures for a variety of “good” and, potentially, “bad” purposes, there are other implications of this capability that are yet to be discussed in various media forums thus far. For instance, the gap between privacy and license has yet to be discussed, especially in most Western countries where individual freedom is important. If we can use cameras at large gatherings to identify criminals or suspected terrorists, is this good or bad? If we use facial recognition to validate a legitimate user – like we do with fingerprint or other bio-identity protection – is that good or bad?
Obviously, Facebook will use facial recognition to its own advantage, but that doesn’t mean that Facebook users must post their pictures or not opt-out of the feature. Maybe the problem is that users are more confused, or blinded, by the technology or its capability than they are from their own motives, interests, values, or plain stupidity. I suggest a “look before you post” policy might be a good idea, especially if you believe that it is bad.

Comments?

2 Comments


  1. Unfortunately the erosion of privacy began with the advent of PC’s. The government added to the erosion with the fallout from 911. With government cameras in every public arena, individuals with digital cameras and cell phones, and a lack of awareness of individuals privacy is a concept of the past. Social engineering, such as erroneous filled request for personal information and sites such as Facebook exacerbate the privacy erosion. Even on-line subscriptions and pay services over the internet, such as news feeds and on-line game memberships put user information in jeopardy. It is also unfortunate that bill payment is migrating to the Cloud which is a rift for future hacktivism. Five years from now people will look back on today and lament about how secure privacy was just five years ago….


  2. The privacy policy should provide an unobstructed view of where the information will be stored, highlight availability zones, data centers, and mention protocols that will determine access to your cloud servers. A thorough analysis of information data flow would help identify vulnerabilities and loopholes (if any).

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