Imagine this scenario -- it really happened. A young woman's dog poops on a subway train in South Korea and she refuses to clean it up. Someone happens to be there with a camera to post the snapshot on a popular blog. The story ends up on BoingBoing, and suddenly the whole world knows about it. This is what happens today with the power of self-publishing tools.
When people expose information about themselves and others online without thought to privacy and norms, the information we share so freely can make us less free. When in digital form, this information can be aggregated and searched, and it remains permanent.
Privacy involves accessibility, con?dentiality, and control and privacy today is clashing with free speech, particularly online. This is what Daniel J. Solove writes in his free online book, The Future of Reputation. Solove teaches at the George Washington University's Law School.
This book focuses on the free dimensions of the Internet. The future of the Internet involves not only the clash between freedom and control but also a struggle within the heart of freedom itself. The more freedom people have to spread information online, the more likely that people's private secrets will be revealed in ways that can hinder their opportunities in the future.
In many respects, the teenage Internet is taking on all the qualities of an adolescent– brash, uninhibited, unruly, fearless, experimental, and often not mindful of the consequences of its behavior. And as with a teenager, the Net's greater freedom can be both a blessing and a curse.
Solove maintains that norms - the societal rules of approval and disapproval - can and do help online only if they cut both ways. In other words, the cyberspace norm police should also hold themselves accountable.
The slogan "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" drives home the meaning of context and privacy. Consider this for a moment, it's not such a wild statement - it goes directly to a nuance Solove highlights on privacy. When an event that occurred in one context is taken out of it, its nature can be altered significantly.
We spend a lot of time in public places. Should we expect that anyone, at any time, might take a snap of us getting impatient in a long line at the cash register, or in general having a bad day? How would you feel about any of your daily activities being exposed online?
It's human nature to be curious and technologies are expanding and changing so rapidly that we are constantly in need to figure out their impact on our lives - they can alter the matrix of freedom and control in new and challenging ways.
Where do you see yourself on the privacy/freedom spectrum? Where do you put others?
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