Posting to dpla-discussion
There are a couple of recent articles on this [that is, privacy on the internet]:
1) “As Libraries Go Digital, Sharing of Data Is at Odds With Tradition of Privacy” (Chronicle, Nov. 5, 2012) http://chronicle.com/article/As-Libraries-Go-Digital/135514/
It mentions the real difficulties for libraries, who feel they need to “keep up” with the innovations in other projects, such as Google and Amazon, but much of that necessarily means using information that traditionally has been private. One comment summed it up for many younger people, I think: “The concern in this story about privacy seems almost quaint considering that the great majority of college-age kids use social media so that the world can track what they do, where they are, what they buy, etc. I would hate to see useful services scaled back because of yesteryear’s ideas about privacy.” (Theresa Phan)
2) The Electronic Frontier Foundation just put out this guide “Who’s Tracking Your Reading Habits? An E-Book Buyer’s Guide to Privacy, 2012 Edition” https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2012/11/e-reader-privacy-chart-2012-update, with a great chart that points out what kind of anonymity you do/do not have. Although this is an excellent guide, I wish it would point out what the default settings for privacy are, since so few people change the defaults or even understand what they are.
Some people really and truly want the new “useful services” as the Chronicle commenter mentioned, and any new system should allow for that. If a system does not allow for this sharing of information, it will automatically have a limited audience. This means that there will be a potential loss of privacy–but only if someone allows it. Any system must have defaults of course, and I think the defaults should provide the most privacy possible, which is completely different from what we learn from the EFF guide. Still, the defaults must also be very clear in stating what happens with your information if you do decide to open it up, and finally, it all needs to be in the hands of the individual and therefore easy for the person to change.
Not a simple task, but I think that the public will take increasing concern over web privacy in the future.