How Does Society Change as Privacy Evaporates?

2013-05-17 20:41:31 by chort

I was listening to the Risky Business podcast episode on analyzing DPRK agricultural production from public satellite data. This got me musing; if anyone can learn so much about one of the most secretive areas of the world using public data, what does that say about how much could be learned in open societies?

For instance, what about the raise of UAVs ("drones") and other remote-controlled devices? It's no longer a far-fetched concern, since a man refused to stop flying his drone over a Seattle yard. Then there's the recent FBI investigation of emails between Gen. Patraeus and his mistress. It seems unlikely that any charges will ever be filed, but the private details of several people were exposed for all to see. More recently we had the revelation that supposedly privacy-conscious Snapchat actually doesn't delete your photos.

What I'm getting at is this: Much like the character Neo in The Matrix, many people actually live two lives. People have a public life, where they go to work, attend social functions, and mostly behave without controversy, and then there's the private life where people engaged in edgier behavior. What happens when more of that fringe behavior comes to light? Will people in general act closer to social norms at all times, or will social norms relax as people realize there are lot more others like them than they thought?

Sort of an uncomfortable thing to ponder, isn't it?

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