Welcome to THE BIG TECH QUESTION, a monthly feature where we ask members of the H+K Technology team to debate the latest issues in tech and beyond

This month we ask: IS PRIVACY OVERRATED? Offering a view “AGAINST” privacy is Nick Fishleigh

First, a disclaimer: This post lays out a position on privacy and is not necessarily my view….

Could it be that we would all enjoy better privacy by operating as though we have none at all?

Starting with the premise that everything we say and do is public domain is actually liberating. Not all disclosures are bad but they do all present trade offs. I like that Alexa is forever learning because it’s analysing what I say. I like that Nike knows I drag myself out jogging and suggests clashing colour combos for my runwear. Do I want to be greeted by name in a coffee shop? Not really, I find it awkward, but there’s no unsubscribe button at the till.

The key here is the difference between ‘more’ or ‘better’ privacy. Today we are headed down a road of more privacy, one where we need complex and universal systems to protect us. A world where privacy is preserved by law and by tutting loudly when it turns out that we’ve given a brand more of our data than we intended. Fine in principle but have you ever tried reading the T+Cs for something routine like signing into Facebook?

Using data wisely

Data is valuable, so we should all save it wisely. By starting with the same assumption – that unless we actively state otherwise, everything is on the record – we will all seek better privacy. We will save our data when the service on offer doesn’t match the privacy cost. Viewing data as a commodity means that it’s in our interests to understand the privacy price tag we are paying.

The pursuit of better privacy also gets us past the binary view that all data requests are bad. This idea plays incredibly well in the media but it absolves us of culpability and presents privacy as a trap that we can fall foul of. From there, it’s a passive cycle: “It doesn’t matter what I do, they’ll do what they want with my data anyway.”

Try it next time you’re asked for your data. Assume you have no privacy at all and see how it affects your decisions…

I’ll hazard that you’ll at least click on the link to the privacy statement.

Authored by: Nick Fishleigh