What's the Latest Development?

Google's new privacy policy has gone into effect, consolidating user information from across all its platforms. The creation of its massive personal data bank has many asking if privacy is a thing of the past. Joss Wright, who studies privacy technology at Oxford University, says companies like Google must be transparent about their privacy policies because much of their business depends on customer goodwill. That may be true, says Tom Chatfield, a writer and commentator on digital culture, but companies like Google prefer to apologize after the fact rather than ask permission. 

What's the Big Idea?

The worry is that individuals are no longer able to shape who has control over personal information nor the companies who collect that information. Scholars propose legal recourse for those who have been wronged by a company's data collection policy but the reality, says Wright, is that the legal process favors companies with the financial means to fight endless legal battles. Chatfield recognizes the seeming inability of well-meaning people, like the Green party, to effectuate political change. Reflecting on the Arab Spring, he proposes direct democratic action. 

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