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« Is there a business in ID or not? | Main | The China syndrome »

Privacy invasion by design

By Dave Birch posted Feb 8 2009 at 9:14 AM

[Dave Birch] I've been reading the excellent report on Privacy by Design that was published by the Information Commissioner's Office in December. As I'm sure many of you will know, the report was written by Forum friend Toby Stevens of EPG. As therefore might be expected, it is a thorough piece of work that makes practical recommendations. As I was reading through it, I began to wonder to what extent the implicit assumptions about what is "good" or "bad" (the report is not that simplistic, by the way) are purely cultural and therefore to what extent the idea of some kind of identity infrastructure that can deliver appropriate privacy, identity, credential, reputation and other structures on an international, web-wide basis is really plausible.

In other countries and other cultures, people have very different ideas about what is acceptable or not, so they may well decide to design in not privacy but the invasion of privacy. The technology is, essentially, neutral here. But it is being deployed in vastly different ways. For example: in the UK, we are surrounded by CCTV cameras and seem to tolerate it, but get upset at the idea of advertisers spying on us (see the Phorm storm). Whereas in Japan, the idea of not only advertisers that spy on you but adverts that spy on you is advancing.

Above a flat-panel display hawking DVDs and books sits a small camera hooked up to some image processing software. When trials begin in January the camera will scan travellers to see how many of them are taking note of the panel.

[From Good Gear Guide - - News - Japanese billboards are watching back]

While Japanese experiences in face recognition are cautionary, surely it can't be long before the billboards start checking who, precisely, is looking at them.

These opinions are my own (I think) and are presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]


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