Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Free book on the Future of Reputation on the Web and the importance of Understanding Privacy

Daniel Solove has written a new book on the Internet and Privacy, it is called: "Understanding privacy" (yes, not a catchy, but indeed a very clear title). This book is not for free, but the one mentioned below is.
In this world where privacy is challenged by every imaginable company (and government), the tendency is that privacy should no longer matter for everything is out in the open anyway. However I feel that privacy is very important and needs to be safeguarded, yet at the same time I love the open and sharing principle of the current knowledge age.
To me privacy has two main faces: one the personal bio-data that is increasingly gathered everywhere and two: the increased sharing of digital content. In both cases you can buy a book about it :-) or simply discuss it.

Personal data privacy
Just recently Europe agreed that all the fingerprints, DNA and license plate numbers will be shared across all the European countries from 2011 onwards (I caught this from the Fantastic Karin Spaink - a Dutch activist that has done amazing work on both gender and privacy issues, she wrote a piece (in Dutch) on 'Oh Brave New World'). An excerpt of the European legislation concerning privacy and personal data can be read in Scribd here, you must scroll down one page, the first page is blanco.

When I went to USA last month, I also needed to give my fingerprints (all of them), the iris of my eye got recorded... and it simply does not feel right. It does not feel right because all these facts scream 'no freedom'. Just imagine Hitler would have had access to a complete personal data base? It would have been so easy to filter out all the homosexuals, the Jews, the Roma... and none of these groups would have done anything wrong... in short, I would have been deported for sure.

Well, anyway, I have ordered the above mentioned book, for I have read Daniel Solove before and I want to know more, and get a better understanding of the overall effects this shift in privacy has on this so called 'open and social age'.

Digital content privacy
The book mentioned underneath is still available for free and very relevant for the Internet age.

Digital content creation is of course really great! But what with the trail of information that is left by each and everyone of us?

Surf to The Future of Reputation by Daniel Solove published by Yale University Press in October 2007 and get into the dark side of the Web...

Although the book was written three years ago (before the big social media boom), it is increasingly valuable. Or to boldly state what Amazon wrote about the book: Teeming with chatrooms, online discussion groups, and blogs, the Internet offers previously unimagined opportunities for personal expression and communication. But there’s a dark side to the story. A trail of information fragments about us is forever preserved on the Internet, instantly available in a Google search. A permanent chronicle of our private lives—often of dubious reliability and sometimes totally false—will follow us wherever we go, accessible to friends, strangers, dates, employers, neighbors, relatives, and anyone else who cares to look. This engrossing book, brimming with amazing examples of gossip, slander, and rumor on the Internet, explores the profound implications of the online collision between free speech and privacy.

Daniel Solove, an authority on information privacy law, offers a fascinating account of how the Internet is transforming gossip, the way we shame others, and our ability to protect our own reputations. Focusing on blogs, Internet communities, cybermobs, and other current trends, he shows that, ironically, the unconstrained flow of information on the Internet may impede opportunities for self-development and freedom. Long-standing notions of privacy need review, the author contends: unless we establish a balance between privacy and free speech, we may discover that the freedom of the Internet makes us less free.

This is a great book to (re)read as some governments and schools are still not taking into account the full scope of digital content distribution and use. Privacy is no longer something we can guarantee, not for ourselves, not for our friends, not for young people. And although many of us applaud using social media to distribute content and share or discuss with others, there is always a possibility that the content that is published is used for the wrong purposes. That is okay, as long as you - as a person - knows where to put yourself and the information you share in this global knowledge world.