Privacy is dead. Long live privacy?
Saturday 27 October, 3.30pm until 5.00pm, Lecture Theatre 1 Battle for New Technologies

New technology seems to have changed the meaning of privacy, affording individuals the possibility of sharing details of their hitherto private lives in unprecedented ways, from personal blogs to picture sharing and even ‘social bookmarking’. For many of us, divulging intimate details of our private lives via social networking websites like MySpace and Facebook has become the norm. But information and communication technologies have also facilitated surveillance and data gathering by government and big businesses. While in some contexts we seem so ready to give up our privacy, in others we seem increasingly anxious to protect it. 

To what extent are new technologies responsible for the death of privacy? Are privacy concerns simply technophobic, or are we right to worry about a loss of control over personal information? Have new technologies and our enthusiastic adoption of them actually transformed our notions of public and private, and blown apart the wall dividing the two? Why do we worry about Tesco monitoring what we buy, when, according to Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy: ‘You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it’?


Jeffrey Rosen
professor of law, George Washington University; author, The Supreme Court: the personalities and rivalries that defined America
Professor Anne Anderson OBE
director, ESRC/EPSRC/DTI People @ the Centre of Communication & Information Technology Research Programme; member of RAEng working group on Dilemmas of Surveillance
Rob Killick
CEO, Clerkswell; author, The UK After The Recession
Tessa Mayes
investigative journalist; director, The Queen & Us
Tim Smart
CEO, King’s College Hospital NHS FT; former CEO, BT Global Services UK
Phil Mullan
economist and business manager; author, Creative Destruction: How to start an economic renaissance

 Produced by

Dr Shirley Dent communications specialist (currently working with the British Veterinary Association media team); editor,; author, Radical Blake
Alex Hochuli communications consultant, researcher and blogger based in São Paulo
Martyn Perks digital business consultant and writer; co-author, Big Potatoes: the London manifesto for innovation
Simon Belt IT consultant; coordinator, Manchester Salon
 Recommended readings

Dilemmas of Privacy and Surveillance: Challenges of Technological Change
There is a choice between a ‘Big Brother’ world where privacy is almost extinct and a world where the data are kept by individual organisations or services and kept secret and secure
Nigel Gilbert, et al, Royal Academy of Engineering, 28 February 2007

Myspace and control
On Myspace, interaction between users is effectively eliminating the lines between personal communication and advertising
Fred Scharmen,, 30 April 2006

Pentagon sets its sights on social networking websites
American security services fund research in to the mass harvesting of information that people post about themselves on social networks New Scientist, 8 June 2006

Who's the biggest threat to your identity? You
"If you don't accept responsibility for your own data and security, it's like pinning your personal details to a lamp post and hoping no-one will read them," says Brian Contos, chief security officer at ArcSight
Davey Winder, PC PRO, 13 May 2007

Privacy: Where is the line drawn?
Watch Claire Fox News cover the question of privacy. Does our media go too far or should celebrities recognise it as the price of fame and public interest?
Claire Fox News, 18 Doughty Street TV, 19 March 2007

recommended by spiked

Why we must stop deferring to authority
Dolan Cummings, 14 June 2007

Session partners