A Debate: Information v. Privacy


At Wired.com, there has been an interesting back and forth between Bruce Schneier, world-renowned security technology guru, and David Brin, physicist and award-winning science fiction author. Schneier critiques Brin’s view that "freedom is best served when all citizens have enough knowledge to hold each other reciprocally accountable" that he flushed out in his 1997 book The Transparency Society. Schneier fears openness would be a radical departure from the social contract that our present society is built upon, and that it would threaten personal privacy. Brin’s rebuttal is that Schneier is wrong about both the social contract and privacy and that ever since the Enlightenment, markets, science and democracy have "flourished in direct proportion to how much their players (consumers, scientists and voters) know, in order to make good decisions." Also, he says "whatever extent these arenas get clogged by secrecy, they fail."

Amen. When almost everything we want to know, do, buy, and connect to is at the tip of our fingertips government should fully embrace the tools of this new age. Information is the currency of democracy, and technology is enabling citizens interact with their government in new and exciting ways, enriching and strengthening democracy.