[Dave Birch] Interviewed in New Scientist, Jacques Stern, the head of the Laboratory of Computer Science at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris (called the “high priest of French cryptography” in the article), says that “In future, people will look to cryptograpghers to protect their privacy”. I couldn’t agree more that this should be true, but it’s not clear to me at all that it is true. We’ve got to find new ways to communicate the rich and diverse world of digital identity to the public, to the public sector and to their management consultants. If we can’t, they’ll never be in a position to demand privacy or expect it to be implemented as part of the systems that they interact with.

There’s no short cut here. Understanding what the cryptography can do is difficult unless you have some richer notion of identity (and therefore privacy) than the “common sense” version (ie, that you have only one identity and use it in all circumstances). But we also, I think, need to explain to the public that they should expect, and even demand, more. We’re starting from a low base though, because the level of knowledge about privacy is very, very low:

AOL surveyed a thousand online consumers in the UK in order to get a feel for their understanding of privacy issues on the Internet and found that while 84 percent said that they would remain tight-lipped about personal details, even more ended up forking them over without any hesitation.

[From Users talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk on privacy]

As I’ve mentioned before, I hope that we can help in some way through our work on the VOME project, but I wonder if the right way forward might be to simply ignore what the public think about privacy

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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