Getting to Know You: The Shifting Concept of Privacy

The recent revelations (and consequent outrage) around the “news” that the U.S National Security Agency (NSA) has been gathering intelligence on our use of electronic communications has brought the whole concept of “privacy” into sharp relief.

In the age of ubiquitous, “always on” connection, is there truly still such a thing as privacy? Does our desire for state of the art communications technology and our willingness to trade personal data for it rightly negate any notions of privacy? Or, when it comes to our digitally mediated social interactions, is there a distinction to be made between private information made public and that which we make public but NOT “widely available”?

You’ll find advocates on either side of these debates – a fact that goes along way to remind us just how complex and diverse we humans are.


Image courtesy of Narrato

For those of you who do wish to “put it all out there” there’s been a plethora of platforms to help do just that: diaries, blogs (be that full-fledged or “micro”), and now apps.

The latest one to catch my eye is an interesting combination of these. Narrato enables the user to update statuses, voice thoughts and feelings, and take the odd “selfie” photo, on the go.

Why have an active opinion about personal data?

The NSA furor should make us all strive to have an active opinion about what we want to happen to our personal data – and ultimately to ourselves. But why should we?

This campaign by Febelfin, the umbrella association for the Belgian financial sector, perfectly illustrates what can happen when people don’t care either way. They have been on a mission to get the public to be more vigilant about what they do with their personal information. Watch to see how a “clairvoyant” seemed to know all about these individuals.

When we fail to grasp a sense of the cumulative picture that can be built from all of the information out there about us, we can end up overlooking quite logical and precise reasons for why so much is known about us, and put it down to the realm of “magic” and coincidence.

privit: take your privacy back

Before the Edward Snowden leaks began to appear, I teamed up with Dave Ryan to help bring privacy back to the Internet. We were both really concerned that online privacy was being eroded and that the tradeoff for this was justified as “free” or “cheap” services (you don’t pay to use Facebook but you do relinquish some of your privacy). And as we feel very strongly that privacy is a right, privit was born.

privit is a secure messaging application that allows users to communicate privately and securely through a system similar to what financial institutions have been using for years. When you send a message, photo, contact, etc., to another privit user, no one else can see it. This ensures that your personal data isn’t turned into a product that can be sold.

Projects like ours represent a change in the market. As users are becoming more aware and concerned about their privacy, there comes an understanding that “free” does not necessarily mean “free.”

What are your thoughts on privacy in our immensely connected digital world?

Carlos Chaves, Digital Consultant, is a keen KPI analyst focusing on insights that help optimize theperformance of various projects and campaigns. Before joining ZN, he founded OnTouch [embed, not in text: www.ontouch.es], an award-winning company specializing in out-of-home advertising audience analysis and measurement. Carlos has eight years of experience in the industry, which has put to the test his master’s degree in Advertising as well as background in economics and creative literature. He has worked with marketing and communication departments across the EU, such as McCann-Erickson and SC Johnson. Chocolate makes Carloshappy and it gives him a fantastic excuse to do more outdoor sports.

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