Monday, May 31, 2010

What privacy is... Watch this space conference

Privacy is something that most (if not all) of us desire as it gives us our own space, and a 'place' for ourselves where we can feel comfortable and relaxed. It is where one has the ability to control who and how one gains access to information that an individual wishes to disclose.

As defined by Wikipedia privacy is the ‘ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves or information about themselves and thereby reveal themselves selectively’.

While it may appear that the issues surrounding privacy is something new due to the concerns relating to the emerging use of new technologies which includes social networking tools such as Facebook, Twitter, etc, it is actually not a new concern, rather something that has been extended through the another medium, i.e. through the use of these tools.

These tools are used as a 'medium', another method or way for us to communicate, express ourselves and interact with other people. It simply adds another dimension to issue of privacy which we would have with or without technology.

Privacy has always been a human right, in fact, it is has been defined in the UN charter of human rights as the following:
Article 12.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

These are some of the valid points raised at the Privacy Victoria conference held on the 21st May 2010 and runs true with a string of other issues which technology has been seen to create, but rather it has only offered another platform and perhaps made it easier to be breached.

Technology itself is basically a tool or an enabler and the underlying issue still lies within our social norms. As what is deemed private information will vary from culture to culture and place to place.

The issue of privacy itself is can be viewed from a variety of perspectives, including the following:
  • Safety – ensuring that you and your information is safe and secure.
  • Privacy – ensuring that you can control who sees your information and only the information you wish to be seen by someone else can be seen.
  • Civic – ensuring that you trust those who have your information will not use it for malicious or unauthorised means, i.e. it is the social norm to not abuse information take is in your control.


A very interesting note from the conference was:
  • This is relating to young people and their feelings on surveillance - While young people were concerned by being watched by surveillance and not much being during incidents, it was mainly 'who was watching and what was being done with it' that was really concerning.
  • Young people as young as 2 years old! Are already using technology, although in the first instance it’s more for solitary use and as they age, they move towards social networking uses of it.
  • An AFP (Australian Federal Police) member noted that given that say 12-13 year olds are currently giving away their personal details so readily online (e.g. name, DOB, email, etc.) is that there is an anticipation that identify theft will most likely increase in the years to come...


For more information on some of the other interesting topics and discussion areas presented at the conference (including conference presentation slides and papers) you can visit the Privacy Victoria website at: http://www.privacy.vic.gov.au/ (note conference slides and papers are due to be uploaded in the coming weeks)

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