Privacy is dead

I read a thought provoking book a couple of weeks ago – Citizenville.

There was a chapter on privacy.  There were some intriguing lines:

  • “Privacy is dead”
  • “Worrying about privacy at this point is like worrying about how to stop a tsunami.  You can’t do it.  You can only prepare as best you can for the consequences”
  • “My privacy policy is “Don’t do bad things”

We talk a lot about the transparency of government.  Our Open Government Strategy will push the boundaries of what this means.  But the broader social conversation about privacy and transparency is not just about government.  The authors, Gavin Newsom and Lisa Dickey, go on to write:

“Another benefit is that ending privacy means ending the anonymity that has spread hostility and hatred like a contagion throughout the Web.  Wherever there’s an opportunity for people to post comments anonymously, the discourse invariably sinks to the lowest common denominator of name-calling, insults, and flame wars. People become their worst selves. Civility falls by the wayside.  When that layer of privacy is eliminated and people are forced to stand publicly behind what they say, civility returns.”

We can only hope. Increasingly I am witnessing people hold each other to account for their words on social media and in the media.  That is the power of connecting people who care and who want to make a difference.

“We can’t fix government until we fix citizenship”.  Jennifer Pahlka speaks about government as a platform in this TED talk – not in a technical sense but as a platform for people to help themselves and to help others.

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