SF Signal Mind Meld, me but no vulcans
SFSignal is running their Tuesday Mind Meld feature with the question: are we headed for a Technological Panopticon?
My response is there, along with the august company of Vernor Vinge, Charles Stross and David Brin (none of whom I believe are Vulcans either).
I’m not sure that technology alone will allow the little guy to fight back, but innovation, ingenuity and man’s sense of self-preservation will.
A panopticon is a prison where everyone can see you; in the case of privacy it’s a voluntary prison, one of choice. Given such a choice, some people in the world will not worry about it, some will believe it is inevitable; people are proving this today as the herd mentality brings acceptance of national security cards, CCTV cameras, the poorly named “Patriot Act” and other privacy intrusions. This acceptance is driven by governments who are using terrorism and 9/11 as proof that violating privacy is “for your own good”. Privacy International publishes National Privacy rankings each year on surveillance/lack of privacy by country; though they focus on the European Union, they include some of the large international countries. Almost all are “deteriorating” in privacy provided to the individual (see the 2007 ranking here).
But others will not want to give up their privacy, and will make the choice to do something about it. Participation in most parts of the panopticon is by choice; sometimes these choices are inconvenient, but they are different paths just the same. If I know that the movements are my car can be easily tracked by going on to the Toll Roads with an electronic Toll Tag, I either pay for my toll in coin or stay off of the toll roads completely. If there is a technology that I feel is impinging on my privacy, I can choose to avoid it, create/invent a way around it, or use the good ole Internet to find a like-minded individual who are already figured it out, and either adopt or modify their work.