Ramblings on having privacy in public spaces

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Yeah ok..but why is privacy so important?

Why is privacy important
Why do we have to protect it
What happens if we didnt have privacy?
Isnt privacy about the right to be let alone?
Really which one of us wants to be alone?
We constantly need to share something with others.
So isnt it ok if we didnt have too much privacy?

In my opinion when I ask myself these questions, the only thing that I can think of, is yeah, so why are we wearing clothes. We didnt wear any way back then did we? Its probably a childish way of discussing a serious issue.

Privacy is affected by five factors

  • The time zone we live in the events that are occuring
(For instance, the purdah system was introduced in the Indian subcontinent, after Indians experienced a series of invasions from foreigners to protect their women)
  • The dominant communication medium
(Right now the freeflow of personal information on public arenas such as the internet has changed the way we all understand privacy)
  • The individual personality
(Introverts tend to have larger personal spaces and hence a greater need for privacy, and probably tend to be more paranoid about their information, these are the people, who probably surf the internet anonymously)
  • The influence of culture and religion
  • Power Relationship amongst people who share personal information

Okay now why is privacy important?

Because privacy is not just about the right to be alone. When you are alone, you can think for yourself, and make your choices, and have your free thoughts. When your privacy is being invaded, we are referrng to invading your space, and thus manipulating you.

The medium invading your privacy will slowly begin to manipulate your thoughts, by understanding how you think and work . This is what traditional advertising mediums have been doing. But the problem with invasion of privacy in a ubiquitous world, is the fact that the environment will understand you better and thus be able to manipulate you so silently, that you wouldnt even realise it.

Maybe the idea does seem farfetched. But the reason why I am raising concerns about privacy is because all this is possible in a not so very far future, with simple technologies like RFID, sensors, and ofcourse, unlimited, ubiquitous computing.


Lynn V. Marentette said...

You make some good points in your posts! Issues concerning privacy and security came up during nearly every class discussion in a Ubicomp course I took earlier this year.

Most people do not realize what is happening in the "days of everyware". Some people who promote "everyware" don't always think about providing opportunities for others to opt-in or opt-out, particularly when unknowingly confronted with situations in which privacy/security might be compromised.

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