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Chris Anderson on privacy online (Video)

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Dan Biddle Dan Biddle | 12:54 UK time, Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Wired's Chris Anderson joined the Digital Revolution production at the Web at 20 launch event to share his views upon a topic central to programme three: the issues of privacy and safety that arise from our constant and seemingly open interactions with the web.

Chris Anderson on privacy and the value of trust:

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So, where do you set your privacy dial when you go online?

Transcript of Chris' speech on privacy:
In the exchange of information both explicit and implicit, everything we do on line leaves a trail, that could trail. When you shop, when you search, when you comment, when you tweet, when you blog - all that we're doing for our own reasons. And yet it's creating something of potential value to others. Not only that but it's creating something of potential misuse. 

What this requires is that we need to understand what the implications are, what the consequences are of what we do. And we're training... We have a generation - the facebook generation - whose instinct is towards openness, whose instinct is towards transparency, not out of any sort of philosophical belief that transparency is good, they're doing it for their own reasons. They're doing it to establish social ties to their friends, they're doing it to establish who they are, they're doing it as a form of identity, and on some level a form of self-promotion, to establish their rank in the social order. The consequence of that is they're also leaving a record out there which can be potentially turned into money by companies who market to them, and could potentially be used against them by those who want to do so.

Laws unfortunately are too coarse-grained to be able to prevent this. You know you can have a privacy law but the problem is that each one of us turns our own privacy dial to a different level. I choose to live in public, my wife chooses to live in private. You can google me and find out everything about me. You can't google my wife. We set that dial ourselves, and I think what we're going to have to do is train and teach a generation as to the consequences of what they do, rather than assume that governments are going to be able to protect us from that. Likewise, we won't be able to stop governments, you know, some government somewhere, hopefully not our own, from misusing this, and it'll be hard to stop companies from doing this as well. All we have is the power of our actions to rail against it; to avoid it; to leave companies that misuse our trust; to require companies and governments to be open and transparent and honest about what they're doing, so that we can weigh the consequences of what we will do.


  • Comment number 1.

    Online Freecycle Groups - privacy dial - on some, well maybe

    On reading Chris Anderson's piece and having just posted elsewhere on this subject it got me to ponder does being part of this wonderful worldwide online recycling scheme mean we are showing online how we live. It's virtual dustbin raiding after all.

    I admit to having fantasised as to the households and lifestyles of the main repeated givers and takers in the 2 Groups of which I am a longish term member! People announce they are giving away expensive items because the have new ones eg TV's, they may also disclose times/days when collecting is not convenient. I have even seen people post that they are going on holiday. Is it odd to invite perfect strangers to one's home to collect items and are we too trusting that a criminal element will not also be a member of the Group just to get this sort of information. The individual Group moderation rules also differ on how much information can be given in posted messages eg phone number may not be displayed - a hoot when people use their full names and are in the local phone directory! As far as I know there is no anecdotal element of this wonderful concept of recycling leading to unfortunate incidents, but I have not researched this. The only online problems have been with the odd phishing/spam message that's gotten past the moderators. The main frustration of users appears to be people not turning up to collect stuff when they say they will, oh and the msg boards going down.

  • Comment number 2.

    More on how our online SN presence is vulnerable to unscrupulous hacking/cracking

    Today via Twitter I received this:

    @_eljRT @davenaylor Twitter Exploit Still Works http://bit.ly/MNWvV this sucks

    The 1st article is about : Massive Twitter Cross-Site Scripting Vulnerability 25.08.09
    and how Twitter reacted here:

    Todays article Twitter Exploit Still Works 26.08.09 is an update and much clearer explanation of the problem details here:

    basically it explains how a Twitter account can be hacked and then used by external source to impersonate the account and gain access to your computer, eg log in passwords.

    I shall switch to Tweetie/Twiterific Right Now......

  • Comment number 3.

    I do not post that I am going on holiday to any social networking site. Nor do I stand on my rooftop and shout it through a loud speaker there either. The second statement sounds obvious, but @EnglishFolkFan is quite right - people freely do this on the internet. This is far from 'digital gumption', more a lack of education.

    The firms that have made the internet what it is today, allowing users to express themselves, do so in the knowledge that they will one day be able to earn from people's disclosures through trending analysis and the like. Why educate to change behaviour when it will affect your bottom line? The privacy groups stance has typically been to lobby government and corporations, where the more effective solution may be to petition the user.

    Social networking sites may feel much of this burden of responsibility as it is through their services that such information is relayed. However, with the controversy over Facebook's agreements this is unlikely to happen soon. Besides.... any blogger can simply state all of this information wherever they are! Right? Wrong. Sort of.

    This goes back to educating the user. If the user is educated, they won't publish information. If they *are* educated, they may still publish the information if they feel 'safe' in the online environment where they are sharing. This may again be argued as a failure of education. For example, a Facebook event is posted online, assuming that only friends and associated people will see it, and then the Police turn up. They saw it on Facebook as did potentially many delinquents. Now there presents a problem - too much suspicion in these social services and they become unusable; too little and disaster may ensue. The trick in online privacy is attaining the correct balance of usability and privacy where you trust the provider.

    Of course, if you have a virus on your computer, all of this may be useless advice.

  • Comment number 4.

    World's nastiest trojan fools AV software (No.1 trojan: Zeus aka Zbot, PRG)

    One of the world's nastiest password-stealing trojans evades detection by the majority PCs running anti-virus programs, according to a study that examined 10,000 machines.

    Zeus, a stealthy piece of malware that sits on a PC and waits for users to log in to bank websites, is detected just 23 per cent of time by AV programs, according to the study (PDF) released by security firm Trusteer: http://www.trusteer.com/files/Zeus_and_Antivirus.pdf
    Even AV programs with up-to-date malware signatures were unable to identify the infection a majority of the time, the authors said.
    Read more here http://scforum.info/

  • Comment number 5.


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