Pew: Experts Cynical About Future of Online Privacy

Will a strong system for protecting the privacy rights of computer and device users be in place 10 years from now? A sampling of technology experts says probably not. In a new survey by the Pew Research Center, more than half the 2,511 people polled said there will not be a EUsecure, popularly accepted, and trusted privacy-rights infrastructureEU established by 2025.

According to "The Future of Privacy" survey, 55 percent of those polled disagreed that the coming decade would lead to some type of system allowing companies to innovate and make money while also letting people choose how they want their information to be shared.

An anonymous executive at an Internet top-level domain name operator said, EUBig data equals big business. Those special interests will continue to block any effective public policy work to ensure security, liberty, and privacy online.EU

The survey reflects increasing concern about how Web usersEU information is being used by the sites they visit. At least one respondent predicted that current ideas regarding peopleEUs information will change dramatically over the next decade.

"SocietyEUs definitions of EUprivacyEU and EUfreedomEU will have changed so much by 2025 that todayEUs meanings will no longer apply," said respondent Nick Arnett, a business intelligence expert.

We Want Access

One reason for the pessimism among respondents boils down to human nature: The only inducement most people require to give up their personal information is convenience.

"Lack of concern about privacy stems from complacency because most peopleEUs life experiences teach them that revealing their private information allows commercial (and public) organizations to make their lives easier (by targeting their needs), whereas the detrimental cases tend to be very serious but relatively rare," said Bob Briscoe, chief researcher in networking and infrastructure for British Telecom.

We reached out to Rick Holland, principal analyst, Security & Risk Management at Forrester Research Inc., who...

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