Privacy is so 20th century
October 6th, 2007

Technological changes have increasingly outpaced privacy policies and thinking, Michael Geist writes. Geist describes a Canadian privacy conference, where smartmob technologies, security priorities, and privacy collided.

The theme of this year’s conference, held in Montreal, Canada, was “Terra Incognita,” a reference to the unknown lands that typify the fear of the unknown in a world of rapidly changing technologies that challenge the core principles of privacy protection.

Yet despite a dizzying array of panels on new technologies such as ubiquitous computing, radio frequency identification devices (RFID), and nanotechnology, it was a reference by United States Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff to a simple fingerprint that struck the strongest chord.

Geist’s BBC article quietly adds this important historical observation:

Part of the unease arises from the growing realisation that the legal foundation of privacy law is being rendered increasingly irrelevant.

Privacy and data protection laws have long relied on the twin pillars of notice and consent whereby consumers are notified of, and consent to, the collection, use, and disclosure of their personal information.

Critics argue that both notice and consent are today little more than legal fictions, as consumers ignore overly complex notices and shrinking technology makes it virtually impossible to obtain informed consumer consent.
(emphasis added)

(via Nicholas Carr)

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