After watching the 2002 Spielberg hit, Minority Report (awesome film – trailer inset below), the other night, for the first time in a long time; it got me thinking about the state of privacy laws and where they are heading. During the film we see technology which identifies people through eye-scanning – not exactly a new technology but the film shows it being used frequently in a variety of locations; such as security, personalised shopping, personalised advertising etc. It’s the public uses such as when shopping and walking past a billboard which would cause nightmares for those attempting to protect privacy laws.
These applications of the technology show the computers revealing personal information such as name and purchase history to anyone in the surrounding area that is within ear shot; could this actually be a realistic interpretation for the future of privacy laws though?
We can already grab so much information from the web about so many people, especially if they are signed up to social media sites (here’s a blog post from McAfee on Facebook security in case you are a little worried about how much you are revealing). With constant changes to firms’ security policies and privacy settings though, if you want to keep your personal details and photos private whilst still connecting with friends through social media, it can be a real hassle attempting to keep up.
It is also so difficult for firms to keep their practices in line with laws across countries; attempting to make their services more user-friendly whilst allowing some users to freely socialising across the internet and others to keep themselves to themselves. It seems that the rising costs of having so many privacy laws is rather pointless when it is still so difficult to maintain privacy, so difficult to segregate people who want to stay private from those that want to stay public and when so often we hear of security breaches inside these companies which mean our information is accessed anyway.
So perhaps these privacy laws have to be stripped down a little with everyone accepting that if someone really wants to find out a few personal details about you, they will probably find a way to do it whether they can see it on Facebook or not. I think the real question probably is when will the point of allowing your full information to be publicly accessible overtake the cost of ‘trying’ to keep it hidden? When we reach this point, I think there will be some serious changes in privacy laws; and these changes may even become very beneficial to us in the way of personalisation when interacting with businesses or increasing connectivity across the globe (just like what we see in Minority Report).