The Privacy/Information Trade-off

Don Tapscott nails it in his commentary in today’s Globe and Mail.

Everyone wants to see and not be seen.  That’s getting less possible, even for the most guarded individual.

Today’s zeitgeist is Google, and the Google Zeitgeist is transparency.  The push-back  — and every thesis has its antithesis, as all you Hegel fans out there know –  comes from both governments that want to clamp down and control information flows (See  China or India vs. RIM……or Canada vs. Everyone on the census and access to information),  and individuals who want to control who sees what about them.

On the wider implications of all this sharing of information, here’s Kevin Kelly (founder and editor of Wired Magazine) talking about where the web will take us in the next 5,000 days. Twenty minutes well spent if you haven’t already seen this superb TED talk.  Kelly walks us through the evolution of how we collect, share and use information, and how that is changing our lives and even the way we think.

The Harper view of privacy, as evidenced through the census decision, is so last century.

But there are real trade-offs between privacy and the desire for information, at both the individual and collective levels.

That’s in part what politics and the democratic process should provide – a way to strike the balance between the benefits and demerits of a Brave New[ly Transparent] World.

Spoiler alert: the balance does not get struck by decree.

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