Ramblings on having privacy in public spaces

Friday, September 14, 2007

What data about you does to you

  • Personal information becomes the puppeteer's strings

When personal data about you is available, inclusive of information such as what you are feeling, what affects your moods, how you like your coffee, while it may offer you personal services, will all allow someone to understand how to influence you, how to sell a product to you, when, and in what fashion. Well one can argue that any communication aims at manipulation. But here the communication can be so personal that it does not allow you to think for yourself, and rather thinks for you.

  • Prejudices
Remember the story of how a well-dressed guy didn't get into an elite restaurant cause he wore shabby shoes? Well if any information about you can be dropped at the hat, then automated systems may decide to not give you that second chance which you probably deserved.

  • Forgetting to Forget
Since all memories of past and present just become data, one realises that memories change. Its like how you actually don't remember your childhood, but you begin to reconstruct your childhood memories when you grow up as you hear stories from your parents, relatives, see pictures, videos etc. One of the most beautiful things about the human mind, is its ability to keep somethings forgotten for a time being.

  • What you get is what you see; what you don't see wont hurt
This applies to systems that collect information about you tacitly, without your knowledge. For instance, when you are discussing something personal you pause to hear if someone is around, or look around for a surveillance camera. If eavesdropping devices were made invisible to the human eye, we would all be less cautious, and less paranoid. But at the same time, we would become the fish in the fish bowl, that amuses another.

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