Okay, so it is now official that the infrastructure for a police state is already there. The infinite possibilities of mass espionage are laid out. Time to move on and think how we want this to shape our future privacy.
Perhaps it is a new kind of ninja skill to move over the net unseen. Alert. Always on the lookout for ripples in the digital waters. Unless we jam the entire grid there will be those who stand outside the law. By that fact, they will be able to tune in to any conversation you’ve had in the past ten years, and will have in the near future. Let’s, for the sake of this argument, forget about them.
To prevent wild growth of espionage activities by different parties, I could imagine that it would have to become basically illegal to access privacy information of any innocent civilian. Breaching that code -also if done under the authority of a state- could result in penalties, ranging from fines to prison time. Victims could be compensated.
It might also be smart to give criminals a (temporary) loss of privacy. After getting out of jail, I could imagine a trial period in which samples are taken from the contacts these people are maintaining. It could be a way to prevent them from falling back into harmful lifestyles. This subject is tricky, because when is something a crime? The Egyptian government, for example, has recently prohibited demonstrations. Conspiracy against the state is seen as something very severe, while it is sometimes the only way to induce positive change.
Or what to think of the option for augmented privacy for people on delicate positions? It could be accompanied by higher penalties for breach. It might be quite functional in times of difficult governmental decisions. But how do you sell that to the mob? Could mankind find an agreement on this? Augmented privacy could also be a reward for those who have prevented a cyber attack on a big institution, or whoever has helped arrest an anonymous hacker.
The market of privacy protection will probably grow soon. This could make the rich become more powerful, and the poor weaker. Would it even be ethical to allow for such a development? It already is like that in many ways, of course, but didn’t the internet finally add a tiny bit of equality to civilization? Should we give it away as easily as this?
All people are private, but some are more private than others?