“Every technology will alienate you from some part of your life. That’s its job. Your job is to notice.” — Michael Harris, The End of Absence: What We’ve Lost in a World of Constant Connection
An insatiable appetite for more information, images and entertainment than we could possibly ever use has its drawbacks. One of these is the blurring of ethics as we indiscriminately scoop up information. Technology will almost always zoom ahead of our regulatory systems and present sometimes irresistible new and unprecedented possibilities. Who would have dreamt of the cache of personal celebrity photos being splashed across public screens globally? Or the wholesale collection of information about our personal phone calls? The discussion following this ABC Radio programme led to an online discussion that defines the double standards that are evolving: the online standards where almost anything goes versus the terrestrial ones. “To all the blame-the-victim folks: If someone had broken into Jennifer Lawrence’s house and stolen nude Polaroids would that be her fault?” It is likely that Kirsten Dunst’s blunt response to the invasion of her privacy reflects the views of much of the population. Jules Polonetsky, CIPP/US, said, “The episode should be treated like a sex crime, a privacy invasion taken to an extreme.” The comments were generally scathing about Apple’s response. Using the analogy of an apartment with a doorman if a burglar stole a key ring, surely the doorman would get suspicious if an unknown person tried all 10 keys before gaining entry. Very much in line with the Cate and Cullen 2012 whitepaper on privacy and consent, companies cannot rely on consent but must take responsibility for robust protection. To quote Polonetsky again, “Sites allowing the sharing of these pictures can and should be taking proactive action to remove the pictures.”
The NSW government recognizes the value of tapping into the power of the crowd this week in its search for innovations to unleash the power of data. It has put out a call to all “gurus” to help unlock government data.
Meanwhile, in the private sector, a product called UnPocket gives us a new trend: stealth fashion. It’s a special fabric that shields your devices from WiFi and GPS. It will not, however, screen you from the drones that are making a commercial play with the promise of public good through their use of emergency drops in Central Queensland.
Trust matters, but innovation is essential. This friction was discussed at length in this week’s Chatham House Rules event, following which, one of the guests kindly shared this link on the topic from the World Economic Forum, which provides insights into how to balance a sustainable personal data economy whilst fostering innovation. And if all of this still doesn’t raise your interest, the Ponemon figure of a $5.6 billion hit to the health industry as a result of breaches may.
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