Michael J. Casey is the chairman of CoinDesk’s advisory board and a senior advisor for blockchain research at MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative.
The following article originally appeared in CoinDesk Weekly, a custom-curated newsletter delivered every Sunday exclusively to our subscribers.
“Privacy is dead. Get over it.”
We hear that refrain a lot. So often, in fact, that it has (almost) become accepted wisdom for how the digital age must evolve. Sure, there’s concern about the relentless accumulation of data about our online lives. There are even some legislative efforts to hold it back, most notably in Europe.
But there’s an all-too common perception that such efforts are doomed, that the encroachment into our private lives can’t or shouldn’t be impeded. It’s a view that’s either framed by a glass-half-full position that the benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution outweigh the costs of lost privacy, or by its glass-half-empty alternative: that the data machines of our global economy can’t be stopped whether we’d like them to or not.
Yet the irony is that the torrent of information delivered by these machines frequently includes new items that make you stop and question this pervading fatalism. They remind us that lives are at stake, that we must take concrete measures to protect the private realm.
This Twitter post by Quartz reporter Mary Hui was one such item:
There is usually never a line at the train ticketing machines. Judging from an overheard convo, it appears that people are reluctant to use their rechargeable Octopus cards for fear of leaving a paper trail of them having been present at the protest. pic.twitter.com/s1rsgSnCqL
— Mary Hui (@maryhui) June 12, 2019