From time to time over the last several years, ideas have come to mind for blog posts on privacy, freedom, and security, particularly on the Internet. I have therefore been meaning for a while to start a blog on these topics. Recent events have finally given this project impetus enough to commence. The name Panprivicon is a play on Bentham's panopticon and concisely expresses my desire to live in a world where each of us has some measure of control over who knows what about us.
There are at least two overlapping approaches to strengthening individual privacy:
Individuals keeping particular infomation about themselves secret or in limited distribution in the first place. This is a critical starting point, but it:
- (a) is incompatible with a large number of uses of information that are valuable to individuals, to groups, and to society at large; and
- (b) fails completely for the affected individuals when there's a breach.
Institutional protections, including at least internal controls within organisations, reputational or market mechanisms, and legal protections more broadly. These don't replace individuals keeping particular information secret in the first place, but do extend some privacy to worthwhile activities involving the controlled sharing of personal information.
These two areas are the focus of almost all of my paid work, of a significant fraction of my unpaid work, and will likely form the bulk of the contents of this blog.