The Future of Privacy: Only the Rich Will Have It

Coverage Type: op-ed
Good Harbor Security Risk Management, 2020 K St, NW , Washington, DC, 20006 , United States

[Commentary] One surprise from the widespread use of information technology has been the enormous value created out of just data. Information about what individuals do has created corporations worth billions of dollars.

While storage of vast amounts of data has led to hugely valuable benefits from analysis and correlation, it also has led to a significant erosion, if not almost complete destruction, of any meaningful concept of privacy.

Barring some civilization-threatening disaster, the next 25 years of cyberspace will see a growing gush of data, an increasingly rapid spreading of interconnected devices into every aspect of our lives, in our cars, throughout our homes, and indeed, into our bodies. If, however, the use of robotics and the deterioration of the environment develop as now expected, there could be an increase in societal dislocations and discontent from unemployment and climate-related disasters. That very discontent would increase the desire of government security entities to want more data for more control.

Privacy advocacy groups will probably be overwhelmed by corporate interests, the security industrial complex, and by a public that perceives benefits from the, frequently free, data-yielding devices and applications.

Privacy may then be a commodity that only the wealthy can acquire, but only briefly and in special sanctuaries while taking expensive off-the-grid vacations in locations without surveillance cameras or the tracking devices we call mobile phones.

[Clarke is chairman and chief executive of Good Harbor Security Risk Management, a provider of cybersecurity services and former White House adviser for the past three presidents on matters including cybersecurity and counterterrorism]



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