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Comments and discussion on TBTF for 2000-07-20: Many fathers

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Deleted by topic administrator 09-27-2004 07:54 AM
Don M. Darragh
09:55 AM ET (US)
Perfect Privacy Storm/reply

Privacy Bill of Rights

It wasn't too long ago that Norman Rockwell's pictures confirmed our experiences of life in America. Images of the family physician making house calls. The local pharmacist, policeman, parish priest & neighborhood grocer cared for our wants & needs. All knew us personally. Our distinctly unique personality, needs, likes & dislikes. There was a sense of community & relationship. Familiarity. Trust. Based upon shared experience, values & human contact. And while these people often knew the most intimate details of our lives, good & bad, we knew our secrets were safe. There was an implied stewardship of sensitive information with protection for our individuality. Despite possible indiscretions, we slept safe in the knowledge our secrets would not be broadcast for all the world to know. Yes, there was gossip. Idle at best, malicious at worst. Still, only the most heinous or egregious of behavior would cause our being ostracized. Even at the height of the Industrial age, personalization was a fact of life but personalization free of the threat of privacy invasion & loss of identity. There was value attached to that personalization. Value inherent in the in the very fact of relationship. Value we gladly paid for.

With the advent of the Information Age & our increasingly rapid pace of life, reliance on technology to stay connected & our uprootedness; personalization gave way to mass marketing. The familiar, trusted icons of the past disappeared; replaced by chain stores, franchises & malls staffed with people we didn't know. And couldn't trust. As there was no relationship, value was commoditized and based upon price alone. There was neither time nor tools to teach the giant chains our individual wants & needs. High tech, however, breeds a deep longing for high touch. Low prices & location convenience were nice. But something was missing. The recognition & protection of our individuality by the very people who served our needs. So, relationships changed. Instead of open, honest discourse based upon shared experience & values, our relationships became adversarial. Based upon transactions & contracts rather than trust.

Now comes the Internet & sophisticated software tools that allow us to monitor, collect & interpret every aspect of our personal & public lives. Businesses recognize the inherent value of relationship & seize upon these tools to re-personalize their relationship with us. To make themselves friendlier. Easier to do business with. More trustworthy. Yet, as with all technology, the law of "unintended consequences" appears. What you know about me can be used against me as easily as for me. Technology removes the human interaction "clues" needed for trust. Thus, there is a greater need for protection since the only minority is the individual. And mountains of personal information about me; stored, maintained, mined & controlled by giant organizations pose a serious threat. There's my real identity and my electronic identity (e-ID). In today's world, they're virtually interchangeable (no pun intended). And while exclusive ownership of my unique real identity goes
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unquestioned, the same cannot be said for my e-ID. If you don't believe this, you have only to review the numerous horror stories regarding theft of a person's e-ID to recognize the essential truth of the matter.

Rights prevent abuse of power by the majority against the individual. Human nature being what it is, fear, greed & power conspire to misuse the very tools we seek to serve us. There is protection in the real world for a person's individuality & identity. The US Constitution's Bill of Rights. What's needed is a similar

Privacy Bill of Rights

1) Right to establish relationships. (The right to assemble, form & join cyber communities of like minded individuals)

2) Right to keep & bear "arms". (The right to defend my privacy & identity through anonymity & encryption)
3) Right to e-ID exclusive ownership & use unless expressly granted to another. (Morally & ethically only I can own & use my own identity, both real & electronic. Only I can assign that right)

4) Right to freedom from illegal search or seizure of my e-ID. (There is NO such thing as a public e-ID & the fact that companies or governments have "collected & mined" my information does NOT make it theirs)

5) Right to determine when, how & with who my e-ID is used. ("Express permission only" use is the rule, not the exception. And that permission is on a case by case basis for a designated time & purpose)

6) Right to a speedy & public trial for criminal misuse of my e-ID. (Real courts deliver speedy justice for violation of individual rights, there should be NO difference with e-ID rights)

7) Right to trial by jury for accusations of criminal use of my e-ID. (I receive presumed innocence in the real world, so should I in the electronic world)

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8) Right to free & unrestricted e-ID use not constrained by taxes, fines, fees, regulations or unusual bureaucratic encumbrances. (Freedom of movement exists in the real world, it should in the cyber world also)

9) Rights not enumerated for my e-ID are retained by me. (Rights are inherent, not granted.And always changing with the changing nature of the threat. Our founders could not have imagined the nature of threats we face against our personal liberty today. But they well understood the nature of abuse of power by the many against the individual)

10) Rights not expressly given to Federal or State government are retained by me. (Our government exists for & by the people. Not in spite of or in contravention to the people)

While organizations & governments may criticize these rights & bemoan the cost or difficulty of adhering to them, I believe a straightforward solution exists. Industry self-regulation is laudable but unlikely. A fox guarding the hen house. Government intervention is probable but most certainly onerous. Like the camel's nose in the tent, we invite government intervention at our own peril.

My suggestion? Personal responsibility. The creation of personal e-ID encrypted software. Each person may then create their electronic persona. Soon, with 3D animated face attached, (think holographic photo ID credit cards). This persona could reside on each person's PC or at a third party consolidation site & companies, organizations or governments would request permission for use. This way, we would know who wanted to collect, monitor & use our e-ID. And why.

Copyright 2000
Don M. Darragh
Keith Dawson
01:50 PM ET (US)
Use this forum to comment on or discuss TBTF for 2000-07-20: Many fathers. I've set up other forums for two of the articles in this issue. If your contribution is about "Spam fighters duke it out" or "What if smart people wrote computer viruses?" please follow the appropriate link.

- Spam fighters duke it out

- What if smart people wrote computer viruses?
Edited 07-20-2000 02:29 PM