got privacy?  Musings on the state of Privacy in a connected world.
 
A man drives out of his own driveway and drives into a post.  This story probably wouldn't even make the local paper unless it was a slow news day, but because the man in this particular situation was Tiger Woods, this has been front page news on both sides of the Atlantic.

What reasonable expectation can celebrities have to privacy?  What right to privacy should celebrities reasonably expect, in circumstances where they are involved in minor incidents that the rest of us would not expect to of real interest.

As of this afternoon, Tiger has said that he won't be playing any more golf tournaments until 2010.  I'm sure that he doesn't need the money, but unfortunately, this is likely to fan the flames even further.

So - what expectations of privacy should anyone be able to expect in a situation like this.  Have celebrities, by their very status, given up any expectation of privacy in any circle of life?  It's interesting to ponder whether there is a sliding scale of privacy which is inversely proportional to how famous (or rich?) someone is. 

To me - that seems to be an equivalent of (Security Through Obscurity) (call it Privacy Through Obscurity) which doesn't really sit very well.  If we really want privacy to be protected we need to make sure that it is actively defended, rather than gradually eroded as someone becomes more "interesting".
 
 
Interesting article this week in the IAPPs Privacy Advisor which talks about the ethics of Googling someone, which got me to thinking.

Even a couple of years ago - before social networks really caught on - this question wouldn't really have been asked.  Unless you were a celebrity or information about you was available through other channels such as magazines - Google wouldn't have had a great deal of additional information to add.  That has certainly changed over a relatively short period of time, particularly since Social Networks like Facebook started exposing more of the data that they had collected about people outside of their own network so that search engines could see it.  Anyone who has tried to manage their Facebook privacy settings will know that these are far from being easy to use and it is easy to see how people unintentionally expose information to the world that they intended to keep just within a network of a few friends.
 
Which brings us back to the Ethics of Googling someone.  While this blog thinks that things that are posted onto the public Internet, such as this blog, are fair game for anyone to stumble upon or find, there are some types of information that people have an expectation to be kept private, which unfortunately is not always met.  And then, there are to our mind the practices that are completely unreasonable invasions of privacy. 

The worst example that I've seen of this to date (although I'm sure there are others) was brought to our attention viaTwitter (thanks @ChristianVW for the heads-up).  The City of Bozeman, Montana has decided that just doing a Google search on a potential employee is not enough.  They have been asking for usernames and passwords to prospective employee's Facebook and other social networking accounts.

The quote that I thought best summed up this sorry affair was prompted by a local radio station.  "One thing that's important for folks to understand about what we look for is none of the things that the federal constitution lists as protected things, we don't use those," said attorney Greg Sullivan.  Basically - give us access to everything and trust us to use it properly.

Sorry - that doesn't cut it with us, and I suspect with a lot of readers of this Blog feel the same way.  At a minimum, Bozeman should engage someone who actually does understand Internet and Privacy law and rethink how they run their background check process.  Beyond that - anyone who has handed over any passwords should change them immediately.

We'd be interested to hear of any other employers who are trying similar tactics.  Please comment and let us know.
 
 
Just saw an interesting statistic posted by Mal Fletcher (http://twitter.com/malfletcher) on twitter.  Apparently there is 1 CCTV camera for every 14 people in the UK (most surveilled population in the world - one of the reasons I no longer live there), but only one crime is solved for every 1,000 cameras in London. 

I'm not questioning the data, but this made me think of a few questions.  Humor me...
How many crimes could we reasonably expect a CCTV camera to help solve over its lifetime?
Is solving crimes the primary purpose of many / most / all CCTV cameras?
Are all CCTV cameras located where crimes are known to occur?
Are there some places that just never experience a crime?  If we don't put CCTV cameras there, will the crime migrate?
Are criminals clever enough to know when they are on CCTV?
Would it make things easier to RFID tag every member of the population so that we didn't have tedious facial matching to do?  [just kidding...]

These should lead us to asking the question that really matters..."what is the optimum number of CCTV cameras to achieve the right balance between crime reduction/prevention and privacy?"  I don't know that there is an answer - very much in the eye of the beholder, but extrapolation in both directions leads to craziness.  The UK is at the leading edge of CCTV deployment - if there's going to be a backlash anywhere - the UK will probably get it first.