invasion of privacy just a step away: Experts
By Venkata Vemuri
Sep 5 (IANS) Digital invasion of privacy is a step closer
to reality, thanks to an increasingly intrusive technology
that can track every single movement of ours or the words
that we whisper.
combination of information and communication technologies
and pervasive computing will soon help continuously monitor
individual activity, beyond what was feared by George Orwell
in 1984, warned social psychologist Saadi Lahlou and other
experts in a special report.
Lahlou termed "the system" - referring to the mass
of interconnected data-collection devices from mobile phones,
to internet sites, to surveillance cameras - can search, compare,
analyse, identify, reason and predict the movements, motives
and actions of individuals, he warned. Even such a transient
event as an innocuous gaze is now traceable.
several systems for tracking movement, position or activity
are combined - for example, combining GPS information with
phone signals or triangulation with wireless internet signals
- then individuals stand little chance of being able to hide
their position or actions.
are creating a system that will be aware of all that we do:
when we turn on the washing machine, what we write and to
whom, where we go and what we do there, what we buy and when
with whom and how we use it. And this virtually from cradle
to grave. The system as a whole will know more about us than
we know about ourselves," Lahlou wrote.
while many surveys show that such developments leave users
concerned about privacy, they are not taking appropriate measures
to protect themselves or their data.
explained this discrepancy by invoking what he calls the "privacy
dilemma": the fact that social interaction through new
technologies requires disclosure of personal data: information
is fed into the system precisely to get better or customised
of system designers also show that although they seem as privacy-concerned
as system users, they do not prioritise protection measures
in their products, citing reasons such as lack of moral responsibility
or the necessity to prioritise maximum efficiency of the system.
argued Lahlou, because current guidelines - which advise limitation
of data collection, protection of collected data, limitation
of use to initial purpose, right of access, etc - are negative
rather than positive, i.e specifying what designers should
not do rather than what they should, they do not help promote
respect for privacy into new technologies.
proposed a new definition of privacy as something he terms
"face-keeping": "We all have many faces (combinations
of role and status), but each one is used only in some settings,"
breach, Lahlou argued, is being presented with a 'wrong' face,
one that is not consistent with the situation (e.g. being
seen at work in a family role).
reasons Lahlou, given that continuing technological advances
will leave few with the option of withholding information
about themselves, users' privacy should be protected by employing
an approach to design in systems that helps users to wear
exactly the face they want to show in the domain at hand and
findings were featured in a special issue of Social Science
Information on cognitive technologies, published on Friday