WIRED | Is Online Privacy a Generational Issue?

9:00 am  | Categories: Electronic Geek

“It seems like every time I talk to people about privacy, there’s a feeling that younger users of online tools simply don’t care about the issue. Often, I am asked why privacy advocates like CDT push government and industry to protect privacy more robustly- when ‘no one cares’? In short, people seem to be asserting that digital natives like myself do not value privacy online. While this point is oft repeated, I think that this argument is flawed, and does not address the subtleties of privacy in the cloud, social networks, and other new online technologies. Simply put, these technologies are giving digital natives (really, all users) greater control over their information – and we use it.”

CLOUD Take: CLOUD, Inc. agrees with Heather West, policy analyst at the Center for Democracy & Technology, and writer of this guest post at Geek Dad.  The time for greater control of our information has arrived, and the locus of that control should not be at the website but instead at the user, the individual.

“Digital immigrants tend to think about privacy as the ability to conceal information from others. Digital natives instead share information within certain contexts, and with granular privacy controls on that information. And according to a new study on behavioral advertising, it is precisely the 18-24 year old age bracket that cares most about how information is used to make decisions about them to deliver news, advertisements, or discounts. In fact, one of the survey’s authors told the New York Times that it’s likely that young adults care more about their privacy and how companies use their information than expected.

Rather than an all-or-nothing public or private paradigm, we expect to be able to choose levels of privacy and levels of exposure to the public. Most teens restrict access to their online profiles and do not think that sharing their information with a specific set of people means that the information is in the public domain. This allows them to both gain the benefits of sharing and communicating online, but also protecting their privacy and remain empowered in their choices about their own information.”

CLOUD Take: The ability to not only choose levels of privacy but to retether components of one’s profile from across data silos in multiple web sites is the goal of CLOUD’s new contextual markup language (CTML).  Current approaches to logins, like OpenID, or data portability assume that data needs to be moved.  CLOUD assumes the user simply needs to be able to manage it better, with the granular level of control Ms. West mentions here.

“These expectations of granular control over information, both in the Pew studies on privacy controls and the more recent study on tailored content and advertising, seem to reflect the expectations of the Fair Information Practices (FIPs) that form the basis of most privacy law. These FIPs, first developed in 1973, represent a simple set of ideas about how information is used.”

Data from the survey and full article (highly recommended) can be found here.