“Privacy is one of the biggest problems in this new electronic age. At the heart of the Internet culture is a force that wants to find out everything about you. And once it has found out everything about you and two hundred million others, that’s a very valuable asset, and people will be tempted to trade and do commerce with that asset. This wasn’t the information that people were thinking of when they called this the information age.”
When Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel, made this pronouncement in Esquire Magazine, the year was 2000. Now almost a decade-and-a-half later, we can fully appreciate his prescience. Much has changed since the days of the dot-com bubble, and most of it has centered on the aggregation and monetization of personal information. Data breaches, surveillance scandals, and social media oversharing all seem to feed directly into Grove’s vision of the future.
Grove is no dystopian, though, and within almost every problem is an opportunity for growth and insight. We can play a big part in realizing the opportunity.
Our Privacy Opportunity
Fortunately, the scope and depth of media coverage of technology and data privacy issues has also changed since 2000. Almost every major publication features stories on privacy and technology now, and some have reporters dedicated to covering the beat. (A Google search for privacy news gives you a pretty good idea of how hot the topic is today.)
And shouldn’t it be? Just as we would participate in discussions on immigration, war, racism, and social inequality, we should be engaged in privacy issues. Information is power, and we can play a greater role in our future when we synthesize information from privacy advocates, non-profit organizations, government entities, academics and the media. Deep reporting helps us cultivate our personal and social responsibility. It encourages curiosity about data privacy and security issues, develops greater awareness, hones our critical thinking to help us S.E.E. clearly, and enables us to practice discernment.
This isn’t necessarily easy. It can be daunting at times to find good signals among the noise, but there are reliable, insightful minds out there.
Suggestions on Who to Follow in Technology and Privacy
People often ask me who I follow in the space of tech, privacy, and data security. To that end, I’ve put together a short list of those I respect who routinely take a fresh look at tech culture and innovation, policy and the intersection of technology and privacy. Here are some great places to start:
Kashmir Hill is a Senior Editor at Fusion, and formerly a Senior Online Editor at Forbes. According to her bio: “Technology and privacy do not always play nice together. When there are scuffles, I write about them.” Follow Kashmir on Twitter here.
Tony Romm is a Technology Reporter at Politico.
He has previously worked as a tech and general assignment blogger at The Hill, and his writing has appeared in publications such as The Washington Post, Slate and Stateline.org. You can also follow him on Twitter.
Sydney Brownstone is a Staff Writer at Fast Company covering environment, health, and data. She’s written for the Village Voice, Mother Jones, Brooklyn Magazine, The L Magazine, and has contributed to NPR, and can also be followed on Twitter.
David Meyer is a Senior Writer at Gigaom covering Europe and issues relating to privacy and security. He has been a technology journalist since 2006 and has written for publications such as the BBC, The Guardian and ZDNet. He is also on Twitter.
Kim Zetter is a Senior Staff Writer at Wired covering cybercrime, privacy and security. She is author of the book – Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World’s First Digital Weapon. You can follow Kim on Twitter here.
Glenn Greenwald is a journalist for The Intercept, constitutional lawyer, and author of four New York Times best-selling books on politics and law. His most recent book, No Place to Hide, is about the U.S. surveillance state and his experiences reporting on the Snowden documents around the world. You can reach him on Twitter here.
Laura Poitras is an American documentary film director and producer residing in Berlin. Her work most relevant to information security and privacy is Citizenfour, which deals specifically with Edward Snowden and the NSA spying scandal.
These journalists are on top of the privacy problem – engaging us with their reporting so that we can make more mindful privacy choices.