“The Strange Return Of Gyges’ Ring”

"The Strange Return of Gyges' Ring" in Lessons From The Identity Trail: Anonymity, Privacy and Identity in a Networked Society (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009)

Book II of Plato’s Republic tells the story of a Lydian shepherd who stumbles upon the ancient Ring of Gyges that has the power to make him invisible. In the story, the shepherd uses the ring to gain secret access to the castle where he kills the king and overthrows the kingdom. Plato uses this story to pose the classic philosophical question: why be moral if one can act with impunity? 

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My Appearance Before The ETHI

On June 12th, I was called to appear before the Standing Committee on Ethics, Accountability & Privacy in a hearing on privacy and social media. I told the Committee that ‘big data’ is the ‘new sugar’ and that we stand at the precipice of what one might call the ‘late onset diabetes’ of the information age.

I made a number of recommendations and will submit a detailed brief to the Committee later this summer.

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Privacy, Identity And Anonymity

'Privacy, Identity and Anonymity' in International Handbook of Surveillance Studies, eds. Kristie Ball, Kevin Haggerty and David Lyon (London: Routledge) forthcoming 2011 [co-authored in equal proportion with Jennifer Barrigar].

'This chapter was written in collaboration with one of my favourite readers and writers, Jennifer Barrigar.  Together, we consider the complex interrelationship between privacy, identity and anonymity in an increasingly networked society through an exploration of the evolution of network technologies and its consequent shifts in social and technological architectures.   The rise of ubiquitous computing from CCTV cameras and handheld devices to digital rights management systems (DRM) and radio frequency identification (RFID) tags has precipitated a shift in the network architecture from one in which anonymity was the default to one in which nearly every online transaction is subject to monitoring and the possibility of identity authentication. We argue that this invariably affects the relationship between privacy, identity and anonymity

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The Devil Is In The Defaults

If Facebook were truly committed to protecting privacy, it would start with the assumption that people want less access to their information, not more

A couple of weeks ago, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg celebrated his 26th birthday. Well, sort of. While he did indeed turn 26, it is reported that he was forced to cancel his Caribbean celebration to lead a series of emergency meetings on one of his least favourite topics: privacy.

These meetings resulted in significant alterations to the website's platform and user interface and a major media event that took place on Wednesday. Although numerous trusted media outlets, privacy advocates and politicians around the globe reported this event as "a privacy U-turn" (The Sun in Britain), an "about face" change (Economist), "a major step forward for privacy" (American Civil Liberties Association) and a "significant first step that Facebook deserves credit for," (Senator Charles Schumer), I am not so sure.

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