[Dave Birch] I was preparing a presentation that included a couple of remarks about generational issues when it comes to privacy: what Bill Dutton of the Oxford Internet Institute called more “nuanced and textured” views of privacy. This led me back to an article I’d read noting teenagers generally don’t think twice about including their first names and photos on their personal online profiles, but most refrain from using full names or making their profiles fully public, which I now understand more fully after hearing listening to Bill. This and similar news reports were linked to a survey from The Pew Internet and American Life Project which found that two-thirds of teenagers using social networking have restricted access to their profiles in some fashion, such as by requiring passwords or making them available only to friends on an approved list. Social networking sites, such as MySpace and Facebook (or, indeed Linkedin) have responded by offering users more controls over how much they make public and warning them about revealing too much. So perhaps the next generation are not ignoring privacy, but dealing with it in a new way. After all, only 1 in 50 puts their mobile phone number online. Although four-fifths put their photo online and more girls than boys do so. I’m no expert (as may be evident) but they presumably don’t see their image as a private part of their identity and, also presumably, want control over it by posting an image that they choose, that is under their control.

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It’s astounding how social networking has spread amongst the group that won’t be paying our pensions in a couple of decades. I saw a good quote about this the other day. A guy said:

My college age kid sister told me that: “Out of my hundreds of friends, only ONE does not use facebook or myspace.”

She also shared her email usage:

“I only use email to get a hold of old people like you”

Gulp. I’m mired in a mental model that equates privacy with encryption, with digitally-signed e-mail and padlocked web browsing. I think I need to work harder on our evolving technology roadmap that puts Reed’s Law into a context for business planning and think again on how to make privacy part of a customer proposition to these people.

These opinions are my own (I think) and are presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]

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