See Inside September 2008

How Loss of Privacy May Mean Loss of Security

Many issues posing as questions of privacy can turn out to be matters of security, health policy, insurance or self-presentation. It is useful to clarify those issues before focusing on privacy itself

More In This Article

Privacy is a public Rorschach test: say the word aloud, and you can start any number of passionate discussions. One person worries about governmental abuse of power; another blushes about his drug use and sexual history; a third vents outrage about how corporations collect private data to target their ads or how insurance companies dig through personal medical records to deny coverage to certain people. Some fear a world of pervasive commercialization, in which data are used to sort everyone into one or another “market segment”—the better to cater to people’s deepest desires or to exploit their most frivolous whims. Others fret over state intrusion and social strictures.

Such fears are typically presented as trade-offs: privacy versus effective medical care, privacy versus free (advertising-driven) content, privacy versus security. Those debates are all well worn, but they are now returning to the fore in a way they did not when specialists, insiders and die-hard privacy advocates were the only ones paying attention.

This is only a preview. Get the rest of this article now!

Select an option below:

Customer Sign In

*You must have purchased this issue or have a qualifying subscription to access this content

It has been identified that the institution you are trying to access this article from has institutional site license access to Scientific American on
Click here to access this article in its entirety through site license access.

Rights & Permissions
Share this Article:


You must sign in or register as a member to submit a comment.
Scientific American Holiday Sale

Scientific American Mind Digital

Get 6 bi-monthly digital issues
+ 1yr of archive access for just $9.99

Hurry this offer ends soon! >


Email this Article


Next Article