Let me provide you with a bit of background for that conclusion. First of all, from Al Giordano:
The democratization of public or semi-public exhibitionism has thrown traditional concerns about “personal privacy” out the window. Who needs the CIA anymore when everybody is out there blurting the kinds of secrets it used to take surveillance to discover? Privacy didn’t disappear because Big Brother took it away. We gave it away! Freely! It fell aside to a greater impulse: the need to expose ourselves in public, to have an audience, and to keep it.Seriously, how often do you read something on your facebook timeline or twitter feed and cringe in reaction at TMI (too much information)!!!!!! We're living in an era when exhibitionism has taken precedence over privacy. The therapist in me is extremely curious about the roots of all that. But whatever the source, the reality is that we're all desperate these days to be heard.
The tool that is facilitating that exhibitionism is the internet - in all its various forms. And behind the scenes there are critical questions remaining about how it will be used. On that front, Dan Conover has written the best article I've seen yet. He starts out by saying that individual pieces of data are not the concern.
Collecting information is easy, traditional, and essentially inconsequential. Connecting information, however, is the radical act that will either empower or destroy us...If we really want to have a conversation about what privacy means in the 21st century, here's what we should be talking about:
The NSA's email metadata campaign is designed to efficiently collect and then discard information. Not because the NSA is a civic-minded agency that wants to protect our theoretical privacy, but because your personal email isn't the target of the fucking machine. Your mundane metadata is the shit that NSA machine operators have to shovel in order to find covert organizations.
Google knows where you are, what you search for, what you bought. It knows what porn you stream, what political rhetoric you consume, and -- through G+ -- it can compare that knowledge to your social graph. Facebook is doing the same thing, in increasingly annoying ways. Target uses informatics and inference, based on massive data sets compiled from your shopping and mine, to spot women who've just learned that they're pregnant, and to send those women special offers and coupons for expectant mothers...
Today we're worried about an NSA program that looks big and scary, but really isn't . But the day is coming when corporate control over our information will produce a civil liberties crisis that will make our NSA worries look quaint by comparison That day will come because that day must come, because in the same way that atomic fission was neither good nor bad, smart, unregulated, authoritative networks are neither good nor bad.
The problem with humans isn't that we're inheriently good or bad, it's that eventually some greedy asshole turns everything we learn into a weapon...
I am convinced that connected information is ultimately going to be a boon to humanity, and that it's entirely within our power to write rules for the collection, use and control of the "public" information we all contribute to the commons. But to prevent that power from turning on us, we simply must start a conversation that relates to the actual threats, conveyed in the context of their actual potential for abuse.That's what a conversation about privacy looks like in the 21st century. The new exhibitionism we have embraced on the internet just might be approaching the crossroads of a decision about whether it becomes a "boon to humanity" or a weapon. Engage that one!