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Part I: Life in the Digital Age: Why We ... > The Quest for Privacy in the Informa...

Chapter 1. The Quest for Privacy in the Information Age

Anyone with an inkling of the world probably thinks that there is no such thing as privacy anymore. The growth of the Information Age and Internet has brought increased attention to privacy issues. On any given day, you will see at least one news story about privacy, or lack thereof. “You have zero privacy anyway.” The CEO of Sun Microsystems, Scott McNealy, said this. It just about sums up the way the world is heading when it comes to privacy. Are we doomed to be open books for those wishing to know about our lives? There must be some reason that every futuristic movie shows individual privacy as an antiquated concept. Every person's life is encoded in a chip, a card, or a thumbprint that gives a semi-sentient machine complete access to his life and background. Is this where we are headed as a culture? Is there anything we can do about it? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

The steady progression of technology has had mostly beneficial results on our daily lives. Can you imagine not being able to look up information on the Internet about any subject with a couple clicks of the mouse? Instant access to information and communications is probably one of the greatest benefits of the Internet and all the peripheral technologies it has spawned. Having to perform research using the local library card catalogs and encyclopedias is almost a thing of the past. If you need to find out about a new product or that company you want to invest in, it's a matter of spending a few minutes to find what you need online. (You probably have to wade through some useless items first, but nothing is perfect!) Communication from companies to consumers and consumers to consumers has never been greater. To contact someone, you probably have several ways to track him down if he is wired. First, you try the cell phone, then maybe the pager, and after that, maybe a wireless device such as a Palm or RIM Blackberry device. And let's not forget about the online, instant gratification communication methods: Instant Messenger, ICQ, and so on. Communicating has never been easier. You can track people down with a number of ways that have almost become a virtual leash around our necks. (Sometimes you just don't want to be found!)


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