With the adoption of social media tools like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and Flickr at an all-time high, access to the details of people’s personal lives has become greater than ever before. While most users agree that the benefits outweigh the risks, a new book suggests that we should take a second look at our second lives.
Lessons From the Identity Trail: Anonymity, Privacy and Identity in a Networked Society, a new book edited by Dr. Ian Kerr, Valerie Steeves and Carole Lucock is based on the findings of a multi-million dollar, multi-year and mutli-disciplinary Canadian study into personal privacy in an increasingly networked society.
Dr. Kerr and his co-authors delve into how the face of privacy and anonymity has changed through technology while the academic, legal and policy frameworks have lagged behind.
Touching as it does on a wide variety of topics including surveillance, genetics, privacy, anonymity, copyright, identity, national security and biometrics, Lessons From the Identity Trail leaves very few stones unturned as it strives to create an accurate description of the world that we now inhabit thanks to rapidly evolving technology.
For the average Canadian, the book and its conclusions should serve as a wake-up call. While many who use social networking tools like Facebook think of their online activities as mostly private, the truth is more and more of these personally identifiable photos, comments and other digital footprints are being found by organizations and people who aren’t part of one’s inner circle. Even material that has been specifically flagged by users as ‘private’ is being accessed through clever hacks. Recently, a judge in Ontario ruled that no Facebook profiles are private, regardless of their owners’ settings.
Dr. Kerr notes that “Taking responsibility for our online actions on line may be just one way we relinquish privacy”.