Privacy: 2013 and 2014
Privacy was clearly a major topic in 2013. The ongoing conversations around the world subsequent to Snowden’s revelations have been extensive and on-going. His recent comments to England on Christmas Day and the recent interview in the Washington Post provoked a lot of commentary at the end of the year.
The Center for Internet and Society at Stanford just called 2013 “The Year of Privacy”. As the author mentioned in this column, dictionary.com named “privacy the word of the year”. In addition, Safegov.org published a column about “The Year in Privacy 2013 and the Year to Come”. The New York Times just published an editorial that is sweeping in its argument for some sort of clemency for Mr. Snowden. As the editorial states:
“It is time for the United States to offer Mr. Snowden a plea bargain or some form of clemency that would allow him to return home, face at least substantially reduced punishment in light of his role as a whistle-blower, and have the hope of a life advocating for greater privacy and far stronger oversight of the runaway intelligence community.”
“When someone reveals that government officials have routinely and deliberately broken the law, that person should not face life in prison at the hands of the same government. That’s why Rick Ledgett, who leads the N.S.A.’s task force on the Snowden leaks, recently told CBS News that he would consider amnesty if Mr. Snowden would stop any additional leaks. And it’s why President Obama should tell his aides to begin finding a way to end Mr. Snowden’s vilification and give him an incentive to return home.”
It is clear that this discussion will continue full-blown into 2014. As the Times editorial points out, two recent court decisions came down against the NSA surveillance, while a third decision upheld such activity. That is why, in a recent column, I stated that the NSA surveillance issue will end up at the Supreme Court.
So this issue of massive surveillance by the NSA will continue. In addition it has and will continue to provoke many other discussions about privacy. How much sharing should we do on social media? What are companies that capture vast amounts of information on individuals doing with this data? What are the firm and public positions about privacy of the Internet and cellular companies that we use every day? How can we live in a world of compromised privacy? What are the new laws, morals, ethics and social contracts we need to develop given that we largely live in a world of no privacy?
May we collectively address all of these issues in 2014.
[Information about my recent eBook about privacy are available here]