Online Privacy vs Freedom


In line with last year lift 09 conference about Sociogeek results (survey about level of privacy for web user), Olivier Glassey and gave speeches on privacy on the web at Lift 10.

Here are a few notes taken during theses two presentations :

Olivier Glassey (UNIL – Lausanne): social network… is it the end of privacy ?

There are a lot of false assumptions about digital natives :

  • they don’t know about privacy
  • they don’t care about privacy issues
  • they do little/nothing in order to protect their privacy

People are playing with their identities online… social networks are playgrounds and that raise questions :

-> Is my online ID for real ? What are the connections between Social network ID and my real life?
-> how to translate social relations into the management of social network « friendship »

However, « Facebook profiles reflect actual personality, not self-idealization » (Back, Stopfer et alii – Psychological science XX (X) p. 1-3)

Long term memory of privacy :
– What kind of technical tools, legal rules and social norms will allow the needed social memory AND amnesia?
« Privacy is not a fundamental right among others, it is the required condition in order to be able exercise other fundamental rights and liberties » (adapted from Antoinette Rouvroy)

Christian Heller (independent futurist) : « I think privacy is gone for good »

Often privacy is assimilated as freedom… it is a flawed idea…
A few hundred years ago, notion of privacy would be impossible to understand.
For example in a village… everybody knew each other and everyone’s private life was judged by the other (social regulation). Life of kings was of public interest (present star system?). There was no intimacy in sleeping rooms except for very wealthy families. Functional rooms (eating, sleeping, meeting) were not made for privacy…
Female privacy vs Male publicity : Women were dealing with the private sphere raising kids and men were dealing with public life.
When women claimed for public presence is was meant as more freedom, and less privacy… Privacy was assimilated to isolation
Relating to sex life, in the 19th and 20th century, privacy would be related to shame…  things that cannot be exposed or dealt with publicly.
The gay movement went against that, being isolated, and claimed for more public recognition and tolerance.

In the internet world, there is a need for self-assertion through openness. It notably creates connectiveness (Ex. connect people with same interest in fetish practices).
This openness also create a lot of knowledge. (Ex. health problematics).
However, information about me can be used to have power over me (related to old village and social regulation… see above… with what I know about you, I have power to control or threat you…). Consequently, it is important to have data protection, control over my own data so no one can use them against me.
Real democracy would be when everyone can see everyone else… (no privacy…)

>> Follow up by reading the article in L’Hebdo about dealing with identity on the web


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