Participatory sensing opens the door to entirely new forms of granular and pervasive data collection. The risks of this sort of data collection are not always self-evident. Even if we give people options for managing their data, they may not understand the benefits of doing so. Data literacy must be acquired over time through many avenues. Public discussion and debate about participatory sensing will be critical to educating participants about the risks and possibilities of sensing data.
Because time is such a critical factor, application interfaces should encourage participants to engage with the data from the point of collection through analysis, long-term retention, or deletion. Systems should enable continued engagement to allow participants to change their data practices as their context changes. The crux of engaging individuals with decisions about their data is refusing to put that data in a black box. Instead, analyzing, learning from the data, and making ongoing choices about the data become the goals of sensing.
Two from 1999:
Deployment of ubiquitous computing technology will increase rapidly over the next decade, reaching epic proportions and raising challenges in dealing with a deluge of sensor data and real-time context/metadata.
Thad Starner has suggested that a possible solution to these privacy problems is to make information collection systems wearable. If the user carries all of his computer and context tools on his person, he alone has the ability to decide who gets access to this information and who does not.
And where are we now?
The number one privacy risk associated with suspicionless Customs searches of laptops is the fact that Customs officers will view innocent people's personal information.
Poor folk love their cellphones!
There are great benefits to connectedness, but we haven't wrapped our minds around the costs.
Decius, in August 2008:
Don't worry about privacy ... privacy is dead ... there's no privacy ... just more databases ... No consequences, no whammies, money. Money for me ... Money for me, databases for you.
Noam Cohen's friend, in February 2009:
Privacy is serious. It is serious the moment the data gets collected, not the moment it is released.
Steve Bellovin et al:
Architecture matters a lot, and in subtle ways.
Decius, in March 2009:
What you tell Google you've told the government.
Things are going to be awful for everyday people.