Case Study 6: The Transparent Society
Sacrificing anonymity may be the next generation’s price for keeping precious liberty, as prior generations paid in blood. HAL NORBY
You’re wondering why I’ve called you here. The reason is simple. To answer all your questions. I mean—all. This is the greatest news of our time. As of today, whatever you want to know, provided it’s in the data-net, you can know. In other words, there are no more secrets.
THE SHOCKWAVE RIDER, 1974
Read David Brin’s The Transparent Society. This article is the first chapter from Brin’s book of the same name. In it he takes a contrarian view of the relationship between privacy and freedom. This is a controversial opinion, which Brin himself admits,
“After all these pages playing the contrarian, I actually retain a fair amount of pragmatic skepicism aimed in all directions. Until I see that it really works as advertised, I’d be happy to have transparency move ahead in baby steps.
“But I am sure of one thing. People of bad intent will be far more free to do harm in a world of secrets, masks, and shrouds than in a realm where the light is growing all around, bit by bit.”
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