Today I delivered a keynote at Defrag 2010, one of the best and most interesting conferences I am lucky enough to be able to attend (their tagline is “accelerating the a-ha moment”). I was pretty anxious about this presentation because it was in the “big room”, in front of all attendees, and they’re a smart, demanding crowd.

This year I decided to talk about privacy, and the fact that we think about it all wrong. My presentation was titled, “Privacy is a Commodity, Not a Place”. The basic premise is this: privacy laws in the U.S. are based on the 4th Amendment, which guarantees “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures”. Note the language: it’s all about physical space. The Internet has dramatically changed that, and made the physical space analogy quite inaccurate. Finally, I examined what the real value of your private data is in the real world, and who wants it most.

Here’s the deck. Let me know what you think about your privacy and what it means online:


  1. gregorylent

    i see the 4th as explicitly about emotional freedom, and all of the quoted passages are about the elements in life at the time that gave that.

    so i view your interpretation as being too surface, too facile …

    sorry i am not at defrag, couldn’t hear the speech, but the deck loses me in the last 9-10 slides.

    the fact that gossip (ok, data, info) can be commoditzed is in the nature of objectivity and individuality, the soon-to-be-realized-as banes of the western world view …

    so i imagine your presentation is the first chapter in a book, and i am curious how you will develop it further ..

    enjoy, gregory lent

  2. Michael Settle

    This presentation is a very good description of the problem.

    What is the solution?

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