MindBullets: Open Data Brings Freedom But Transparency Breeds Fear (1 November 2020)

I haven't published one of FutureWorld's great MindBullets in a while. I tend to only publish the ones where I'm thinking about the trends they're talking about - or they're just too good not to share. Here's a doozy.

We live in amazing times, times where technology is often changing quicker than we are - which means that as we mature alongside a platform or trend, the way we use it tends to change, the way we interpret it tends to change and our long term issues sometimes arise many years after we've become accustomed to the efficiency that technology brings.

I'll never forget a line from a Corey Doctorow talk which speaks about privacy and data. He (paraphrasing) says that the problem with the privacy actions or non-actions we're taking today, is that the consequences of such actions are so far removed from the action itself, that it becomes really hard for us to identify where we're creating future problems. You share all your drunken photos with Facebook as a kid. That only (might) hurt you 10 years later when you're on a job hunt.

There's this tussle between open data on one end and personal data privacy on the other. Who's drawing the line? Can we have both at the same time or are we doomed to swing to one end of the spectrum and just accept the consequences?



Privacy out the window as Big Data goes naked

Dateline: 1 November 2020

There has been a big push from private enterprise as well as government in the last decade to unshackle data in all its forms and make it easily accessible. Society has been persuaded that it's in our best interests if open data is the norm rather than the exception, because it's good for growth, oversight and preventing corruption and exploitation.

But there's a dark side to naked data. Some things just need privacy to develop and grow. Investors have always felt it necessary to keep things confidential when projects are at an early stage. People want to have secrets. It's just human nature.

When the printing press was invented, the aristocracy and intelligentsia of the time opposed mass publication, fearing it would erode their power. But innovation has been driven for hundreds of years by the sharing of ideas and the publishing of discoveries.

Open data evangelists are promising freedom. Freedom from elitists, freedom from domination and discrimination, freedom of choice. Transparency rules, they say. Transparency leads to the democratization of information, and puts power into the hands of ordinary individuals.

What's needed for naked data to succeed is privacy of personal data, and trusted verification of social and market data; a double-whammy that prevents fraud and identity theft and also creates granular data for market efficiencies. Can our Big Data custodians provide it?

Fear lurks in the back of everyone's mind. What if the data exposes me? I might lose the leverage I've worked so hard to acquire. Can I be protected, as well as being free?

(for the original story, links and supporting documentation, visit FutureWorld MindBullets)


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