Do the ends justify the means?
Publishing data brings many benefits, and it is easy to justify using personal information in specific cases. At the same time, individuals have a legitimate expectation of privacy. A system of judging each case individually on its merits is a sure way to slide into unfettered exposure. Guidelines are needed, and we are still a long way from formulating them.
Scott McNealy, the former CEO of Sun Microsystems, said in 1999: You have zero privacy anyway get over it. It has become clear over the ensuing decade that most people are not prepared to accept his dictate. The old adage that knowledge is power holds true, and depriving someone of their privacy disempowers them, both personally and economically. While much of the economy is driven by information, including most marketing activity, there has to be a balance for the economy to prosper. People whose privacy is violated lose trust in systems, further degrading the systems performance.
Graham Titterington is a principal analyst at Ovum.
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