Together cracking privacy

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

In my previous post titled Nanodevices and the end of privacy, I argued that any laws that protects privacy will finally go to extinction, as privacy is slowly-but-certainly being eroded by technology. Jamais Cascio from worldchanging have warned about the rise of participatory panopticon:
"Soon -- probably within the next decade, certainly within the next two -- we'll be living in a world where what we see, what we hear, what we experience will be recorded wherever we go. There will be few statements or scenes that will go unnoticed, or unremembered. Our day to day lives will be archived and saved. What’s more, these archives will be available over the net for recollection, analysis, even sharing."
The rise of panopticon is not a top-down design, but "participatory" in essence, an "emergent result of myriad independent rational decisions, a bottom-up version of the constantly watched society".

My favourite example is Google Earth, which creates satellite imagery of the earth. But, there is another example that can describe participation more accurately: blogging and googling. Yes, blogging. If Bhagavad Gita said that "you are what you eat", the Web 2.0 says "you are what you post". A business week article explained how bosses are using Google to peer into places job interviews can't take them:
"Do you give good Google? It's the preoccupation du jour as Google hits become the new Q ratings for the creative class. Search engines provide endless opportunities for ego surfing, Google bombing (influencing traffic so it spikes a particular site), and Google juicing (enhancing one's "brand" in the era of micro-celebrity). Follow someone too closely and you could be accused of being a Google stalker. Follow yourself too closely: Google narcissist."

"But Googling people is also becoming a way for bosses and headhunters to do continuous and stealthy background checks on employees, no disclosure required. Google is an end run around discrimination laws, inasmuch as employers can find out all manner of information -- some of it for a nominal fee -- that is legally off limits in interviews: your age, your marital status, the value of your house (along with an aerial photograph of it), the average net worth of your neighbors, fraternity pranks, stuff you wrote in college, liens, bankruptcies, political affiliations, and the names and ages of your children."
And here's another interesting example from CNN:

"Detectives used profiles posted on the MySpace social networking Web site to identify six suspects. The victim, whose name was withheld, became acquainted with the suspects through MySpace, authorities said. She knew only their first names but their pictures were posted on MySpace. "We pulled up her friends list. It helped us identify some of the players," said [Detective] Bartley."

So, be careful with what you post on the Net ;)

And the relationship with Nanotech.....

news from IIT Bombay:
"Nanotechnology has become instrumental in sensor development.  The recently-developed “Silicon Locket” by IIT Bombay is a wearable electrocardiogram (ECG) monitoring system.  .... The locket can record, store and download ECG signals of patients onto a personal computer, transmit it to a central server and then alert a doctor via SMS (mobile) about a patient’s abnormal heart condition.  IIT Mumbai is also working on a Rs 50 crore project to improve the quality of water in our cities and villages. The project involves a network of sensors which send signals to a central server that monitors the water quality.  Nanotechnology has become a key technology in sensor development.  The small size of these sensors leads to reduced weight, low power requirements and greater sensitivity."
Faster, better, cheaper, smaller sensors will soon be available. Today, it monitors water quality and ECG signals. Tomorrow, maybe your deseases, your hormonal conditions, even your genetic codes. And tomorrow, they could be available on the net.

As privacy laws are doomed to extinction, the legal challenges here is to create laws that could ensure accountability and transparency of information collection and utilization.


Mohamad Mova Al 'Afghani

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