Do we want privacy or anonymity?

September 29, 2007

How many times have you been on the train, tube or bus and overheard people on mobile phones or with traveling companions discussing personal sensitive information?Yesterday I was travelling back home on the train and quite inadvertently managed to gain the information to steal an identity. A person was chatting on there mobile phone discussing a DVD purchase which had not turned up. The person then proceeded to phone the on line vendor and hand over the full name, date of birth, credit card number, security code and home address to the vendor. This would have been OK if it was not for the packed train traveling from London to Oxfordshire with over a hundred people listening in.So what is privacy and are we clear what privacy actually is?

If I was to walk up to the person and ask for all of the details that had just been shared unknowingly with over a 100 people would they? Looking at Wikipedia, the opening sentence reads along the lines that privacy is an individual concept, which has no boundaries and deals with the flow of information. Which is, in my view, the norm amongst the majority of definitions. So without a clear definition on what privacy is, how can we tackle the problem. Sure the example mentioned above is a a case of poor education but with the ubiquity of technology and people not even realising that they are in ubiquity does the government, global multinationals have a duty of care to an individuals privacy.

But what is considered to be private information?Facebook, Myspace, Bebo, Linkedin, the list goes on, a social engineers golden ticket? Is the main point of concern the individual giving the information away or is it the multinationals or governments giving it away on our behalf?




2 Responses to “Do we want privacy or anonymity?”

  1. Bloxxy Says:

    I’ve come across the same scenario numerous times. People on public transport airing their private details, I find it quite ironic.

    On a journey from Winnersh Triangle, (yes there really is such a place) to London, I was sitting next to a lady who, as I casually observed was writing her resignation letter. By the time we got to London, I had found out far too much information about her, BTW she was working for one of the Big Four and was getting paid a reasonable amount and her name was Sarah, lol.

    When I got off of the train she walked passed me and I said good luck with the new job Sarah, the look on her face, priceless!

    We are all custodians of information, but it is our own private information, that, at times we are oblivious of.

  2. Bloxxy Says:

    Just to complete, we will never have total privacy nor total anonymity;
    human nature won’t allow it.

    A balance needs to be achieved where we are aware of the threats and we actively seek not allow ourselves to be compromised by them. So in this case be aware of your surroundings.

    Hide away from society and it will come and find you, thrust yourself into it and you’ll soon be hiding from it.


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