On Internet Privacy

The BBC has just put up an article about how the Press Complaints Commission is introducing new guidelines about what information the news media is free to lift from social media sites when writing a story about someone. Quite how much help this will be is another matter. It is all very well saying that you can’t lift an embarrassing photo from someone’s Facebook site without asking permission to use it, but in these days of ubiquitous camera phones the Internet is doubtless full of embarrassing photos of people on other people’s web sites, and offered a few bucks by a journalist they’d be happy to pass them over.

Anyway, this reminds me that in odd spare moments I have been reading my way through a book called The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet. I was recommended by danah boyd and it is fascinating reading. Some of that fascination is sheer horror at the damage the Internet can do to your life if you are unlucky enough to have a story about you go viral. Stories such as those about the “dog poop girl” from Korea or the “Star Wars boy” from Canada are really quite chilling when you realize that the same sort of thing could happen to you. But author Daniel J. Solove is also very interesting when he talks about the history of privacy and how things like the invention of the camera were, in the past, regarded with just as much technophobic horror as the Internet is today. It is all good stuff, and the book is freely available online under a Creative Commons license. You can read it here. The book is quite short, and there are chunks you can skip over because they are the usual academic thing of establishing your starting position by stating stuff that everyone knows, so reading it online is no great hardship, though I’m planning to buy a copy when I get back to the US.

One thought on “On Internet Privacy

  1. I think online privacy is becoming a bigger issue by the day. Luckily there are new applications like 2pad (www.2pad.com) that encourage private photo and media sharing. Email-based and safe. It’s a welcomed relief in the era of so much social networking.

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