Privacy's future appears muddy at best, judging from a survey released Thursday by the Pew Research Center and Elon University's Imagining the Internet Center.More than 2,500 Internet experts and analysts were narrowly divided on whether policy makers and technology innovators would create a secure, popularly accepted and trusted privacy-rights infrastructure by 2025.
"A lot of the people on both sides of the question basically said that life in public is the new norm now," Rainie said. "Privacy is an activity to be achieved in havens or in special circumstances with lots of effort. The default condition of humans in the post-industrial world is you're in public all the time."
The main driver behind people leading more transparent lives will continue to be the same in the coming years, observed Robert Neivert, COO of Private.me. "People have begun to accept the concept that they can exchange personal information for services," he told TechNewsWorld. "In the last six or seven years, we've begun to accept that giving up your personal information is a form of currency."
Today's privacy debate will bemuse the denizens of 2025, contended Hal Varian, Google's chief economist."By 2025, the current debate about privacy will seem quaint and old-fashioned," he wrote in his survey comments. The benefits of cloud-based, personal, digital assistants will be so overwhelming that putting restrictions on these services will be out of the question. Of course, there will be people who choose not to use such services, but they will be a small minority," Varian continued. "Everyone will expect to be tracked and monitored, since the advantages, in terms of convenience, safety, and services, will be so great," he added. "There will, of course, be restrictions on how such information can be used, but continuous monitoring will be the norm."
By 2025, the tradeoff between privacy and transparency will determine a person's trustworthiness, maintained Jerry Michalski, founder of REX -- the Relationship Economy eXpedition. "By 2025, you will be considered a non-person if you do not have embarrassing photos or videos online from your misspent youth," he wrote in his comments. "People who were very parsimonious about sharing personal information will be less credible and will be trusted less," Michalski continued, "because others will not be able to see any of their indiscretions -- the things that make them human and more trustworthy."
The Internet of Things, which will allow everything from toasters to watches to spew data about their users, will exacerbate the tech assault on privacy.
"Every object will become a spy," said Privacy.me's Neivert. The level of surveillance that exists now will seem pale once everything starts communicating with the Net. "Once we start wearing the Internet and our appliances are connected to the Internet, the level of observation, data capture and surveillance is going to explode," Pew's Rainie said.
"As privacy is becoming increasingly monetized, the incentive to truly protect it is withering away, and with so much of policy run by lobbyists, privacy will be a very expensive commodity come 2025," he wrote in his survey comments. "Sure, some of us will be able to buy it, but most will not," he continued. Privacy will be a luxury, not a right -- something that the well-to-do can afford, but which most have learnt to live without."
"We'll have more awareness as a society," she said. "As a result of that, we will make more informed and better choices about the use of our data," she told TechNewsWorld. "The concept of privacy will shift and much of our lives will be exposed," added Sotto, "but we'll have a better understanding of what we want to protect, and we'll use significant constraints to make sure what we want hidden remains hidden."