At the Interdisciplinary Center for Technology Analysis and Forecasting, where I work, we have recently started a project called PRACTIS. This project, funded by the EU, derived from an opportunity I spotted in a call for proposals to do some interesting research about privacy. I’m not really an expert on privacy, but I am an expert on technology and society. It was clear right away that views about privacy are dependent on context, that is, they vary across time and space. How do they change, though? What is the nature of the relationship between technology and privacy?
This is not to say that technology impacts deterministically on privacy. My view of technology and society is one whereby the two are constantly interacting and shaping one another in ways that we cannot know in advance. So while there are those who see technology as leading us blindly to a world where our privacy is invaded mercilessly and ceaseless, I would raise the possibility of a world in which privacy is no longer considered an important value.
Anyway, my idea here is to present various technologies that might impact on privacy in some way or another and offer a short discussion of them.