I don’t think anyone can disagree that privacy is starting to become more and more rare. It’s an interesting evolution as we make more and more of ourselves public and freely available. There are already strong differences between generations about where the limits on privacy should be. For example, many people in my generation have no problem having their cell phone # on Facebook or their street address available on the internet. Many new services continue to break down these walls. Location based services like BrightKite post our current location to the internet and even keep a running log of where we tend to be. Profiles on social networks continue to collect more and more information about where we live, what we like/dislike, who we associate with, and where/how we work.
The trend of diminishing privacy is clear and definite. The question in my mind is how far can this be pushed before people start to push back? What are the long term ramifications of this new open lifestyle?
Some of the edge services coming out in this area include digitizing our health records. With sites like Mint.com are we really that far away from making even more of our financial and bank records public? This could have many long term ramifications if the trend continues. For example, imagine the change for potential employers. Already they can Google you and look you up on social networking sites like Facebook to get a feel for how you spend your personal life. What if they could find out your financial status and health records as well? They could determine your salary based on how desperate you are financially instead of purely on your merits and the job market. Employers could pick the healthiest employees to try to avoid the impact of major health issues on the business. This also starts to play into discrimination a bit. How do you defend against financial and/or health discrimination? Can you? Should you?
The level of privacy continues to degrade over time, but is there a point where society pushes back? Or instead, is the slow evolution completely imminent and uncontrollable? Continually dropping with each new generation…