Saturday, December 26, 2009

Privacy Vs. Security

How specific players of social freedom are not prepared for changes. According to Oxford English Dictionary, Privacy: The state or condition of being alone, undisturbed, or free from public attention, as a matter of choice or right; seclusion; freedom from interference or intrusion. Same source for Security: The condition of being protected from or not exposed to danger; safety. Something interesting is about to occur. The technology to observe, identify and report is about to hit devices that fit in your pocket. This technology used to take fairly large computers or satellite links of uber government security. But now with GPS triangulation in an "Eye-Fi" SD card, GPS, and a robust internet connected operating system in iPhones and Android based phones to name just the top two players, things are about to change radically. The Social applications abound, from Foursquare, to Brightkite, to Panoramio, and the list goes on.. Amazon, Google can identify products, buildings, and logos. Some say Google Goggles mobile app could "though switched off" can recognize faces. And of course iPhoto and Picassa already do this on your desktop or via the web I would hypothesize that 25 years ago Privacy and Security ran in a simple parallel. As you became more private, you were more secure. Hiding away from the unconnected masses was a sure way to prevent you from getting diseases ie the plague as Newton did, or not get financially washed out as my grand parents hid money in mattresses. Further from people or intrusion the further you were from danger. People with great walls were thought of as secure. But things change. We are all very connected, via water systems, electricity grids, financial markets, food distribution systems, global transportation, and communication systems. These communication systems include the wireless phone, the internet, social network services. So I would hypothesize that the equation is now not of two parallel lines but the lines cross and as they do they are inverse. That the more private you try to become, the less secure you are. The more unconnected you are the more insecure literally you are. But not to waste too much time here, to support this thesis I will mention a few important points that will lead us to an important conclusion. Knowing where my spouse is decreases their privacy. But I would argue increases their security. Knowing who they know and sharing in conversations I was not present for does not decrease their security. It does decrease privacy. No question, but knowing exactly how, when, or where to interrupt them in case of an emergency would increase their security. How to find them if we could not "Ping" them increases their security. Knowing what they last ate via a Yelp post, or where they lasted danced all helps to add to security but no privacy. And here is where the sociologist must step in. Who will fight that less privacy is less security? Interestingly it will be the female digerati who will argue that letting the universe know where they are is a danger. At first blush at this it would seem that announcing to the world where you are would be an invitation to every possible stalker in the vicinity. But is it? Do stalkers really need that information to stalk you? We the "non-stalking" 99.995% of the male population would rather follow Karem or Stephen Colbert on twitter than Girl33 ? Yet it begs another question. Digital Breadcrumbs. Would it not make it just easier to stalk? Well look at brightkite, the majority of public posts are done by men. Generally, women do not publicly post. I am not suggesting that women or for that matter men post GPS tagged photos in the nude in their bathroom. I am saying that women take precautions in public, because sadly they must. But despite all those precautions for the last 25 years still a stalker can follow a woman for one week and learn much more in that week than they could ever learn from random thoughts about restaurants, clubs, politics or books in libraries twitted or foursquared about. Yet, few women post these thoughts online in location based situations publicly. So who will lead the way for women to be strong and unafraid? It appears I don't have that answer. Women in the 21st century still feel objectified by the world. Yet most men or citizens of the 21st century are soo covered by masses of lifestream data, and mass media data smog that only the truly crazed have time to track down someone via random posts. Yet, still I listened to a Podcast about the insecurity of men letting their women be free to post who, where, and what they are doing. And the sole woman agreed that she must be fearful of letting people know where she is... Equation of Privacy vs Security surely is not a straight line. If you are alone and post who and where you are it may not be safe as if you have many friends you are out with and you post who and where you are. But as I learned in going out in the world as a woman for a gender class, and in virtual worlds as a female, women do not yet feel empowered to use the technology to make a stand or use the dynamics of attraction to generate forces that exist intrinsically in the biology of humans. Instead they are still objectified victims of technological forces that appear to them as threats to their security rather than tools for their empowerment.


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