We don’t live in individual bubbles – we in interaction with others. Our lives and the stories we tell are about us, but also others. And because of this, we know lots of information about others. Therefore when Facebook came around and we ‘connected’ with friends we made links to others. And Facebook used those links to suggest our friends to our friends building the network. On this blog I can write stories about interactions with others. At work I can talk about team members or colleagues in other organisations passing along contact details about them too. And here’s the thing, there is information on Facebook about me that I didn’t put on it – the same on Linked In, Google, and so on.
This is how we live our lives. We are not islands as Simon and Garfunkel sang, we are human – social beings. And we can learn a lot about someone by understanding who they hang out with, where they work, the work they do, the things they write or say, the hobbies they have, and so on.
Therefore privacy in the digital space is complex. It’s not just about bits and bytes. And it can’t only be about individual consent or some individual action. That is not to say privacy is not individual, but rather individual and communal. Therefore perhaps privacy is not the best way forward because it drives us towards a legalistic and individualistic approach where we seek consent and then do whatever we want. This combined with unabated capitalism leads to exploitation.
Perhaps we need a responsible framework. A communal one, built on trust. But with teeth.
Or perhaps we need to approach it completely differently.