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A world with no privacy is fighting for privacy

The upcoming IEEE FDC Future Tech Forum will discuss Digital Privacy. Don’t miss is! Image credit: FDC

If you follow my blog you are well aware of my thoughts on privacy. With the expansion of the cyberspace and our continuous presence in it we have lost a good portion of our privacy. For some people the cyberspace (read social media) is a stage where they can play their life, sharing it with people they know as well as ones they don’t.

For others it is a theatre where they go to see what is going on, but there is so much going on that we have to choose, based on our interest, on our context and these choices are noted, recorded and analysed to the point that “we are what we search“. We are “profiled” by ecommerce, by entertainment, by travel, by readings… you name it.
I personally counted over hundred streams of data that I am knowingly share with the cyberspace (and I suspect many more unknowingly).  As I pointed out in a post some time ago Amazon still has, and uses, photos that I used to store on their cloud and that I later deleted!

The pandemic has increased the number of information / data that are shared with the cyberspace, but not by much! What has increased is our perception of this sharing, particularly with the recent discussions on the Green Pass, a European born certificate that indicates (through a QR code pointing to a shared data base accessible by a specific app) if you are “unlikely” to be infectious (because you have been vaccinated, you have a recent negative test, you have been infected and recovered).

Some people are objecting to this “seal” on the individual, opening the doors to restaurants, cinemas, transportation and more. The objections are of different types and play on different levels, none of which makes lot of sense to me.

We live in a Society and we are bound by the rule of a written, sometimes unwritten, social contract. If I harm you I go to jail, if I insult you there may not be a written rule forbidding it but there is an unwritten social rule that will ostracise me from your context. We are forced by law not to overspeed, we get a ticket if we get caught and there are plenty of speed trap to check what we are doing, yet it seems that this is acceptable. If there is a crime the police access speed traps camera and look at who was driving at a certain time. This is privacy invasion, and yet it seems we are fine with it (with the possible exception of the criminal but we don’t care, do we?).

Why should I object to something that is ensuring I, and you, are not posing a risk to others, be it over speeding near a kindergarten or eating when Covid-19 positive at a restaurant?

The whole story of privacy is complex since it goes across a fuzzy area between the private and the social space, both important.

As part of the Future Tech Forum, FDC has organised on August 25th a virtual Digital Privacy Roundtable, you can register here.  It is a topic that spans across technology, society and individual values. Something you don’t want to miss.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the New Initiative Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He is a member of the IEEE in 2050 Ad Hoc Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.