Friday, 28 May 2010

Privacy - Facebook shows future

The recent furore in some camps over privacy issues on Facebook is unsurprising in some ways, but indicative of the future trend and key new ways that people will need to adapt in how they behave with new technology, how they select providers of services, and how they take responsibility for sharing information online. The future world will be alive with information-passing mechanisms, be they sensors, online servers, databases, or other devices. It isn't a case of trying to ban things, nor to over-regulate so that the benefits are restricted and innovation inhibited, but rather that people learn how to act and make sensible choices, just as humans have historically done in other technology areas.

Firstly, in the same way that most people have learnt what is acceptable in terms of using their mobile phone in a meeting for example, they will learn how to behave with devices that are either giving out information about them or managing information sharing on their behalf. Secondly, in the same way that many people choose suppliers of services based on reputation and sound ethical principles etc, they will learn to choose online providers with similar criteria, possibly with the help of light regulation which makes sure relevant criteria is available. Thirdly, in the same way that people are learning how to take responsibility for monitoring their offspring's use of the Internet, they will learn how to take responsibility for what information they choose to make available about themselves and to whom. They already do this in other areas (most people are pretty clear about who they would give their private bank details to and who they wouldn't) and will learn to do this more generally.

The mechanisms will be in place in the future to allow people to control the inevitable increase in information gathering, sharing and socialising. It will just take time for people to learn that they should (and how to) use them. Facebook's recent issues have simply demonstrated a very small, early step in this education process.

1 comment:

Rick said...

Managing privacy in facebook is so difficult. I have found incliq (http://incliq.com/) better in terms of its emphasis on privacy and creation of my own private network which no corporation has access to (not even incliq).