identity theft

Privacy Isn't Dead, or At Least It Shouldn't Be: A Q&A with Latanya Sweeney

Several years ago, Scott McNealy, the CEO of Sun Microsystems, famously quipped, "Privacy is dead. Get over it."

Oh privacy is definitely not dead. When people say you have to choose, it means they haven't actually thought the problem through or they aren't willing to accept the answer.

Remember, it's in [McNealy's] interest to say that, because he very much shares that attitude of the computer scientist who built the technology that's invasive; who says, "Well, you want the benefits of my technology, you'll get over privacy". It's exactly the kind of computer scientist we don't want to be graduating in the future. We want the computer scientist who will resolve these kinds of barriers in conflict, identify them and resolve them in their technology design.

Are we postponing the privacy problem, or are we confronting it?

A lot of the surveillance can be done with privacy protections. But under the current administration, those in Homeland Security call it the 'P word'. Their statement is that as long as you don't say the P word you don't have a P problem, whether you do or you don't. So the FBI gets slapped in the wrist for gathering all of this additional data, but a lot of that could have been anonymized. But right now, there is no funding or interest in using these technologies at all.