Vint Cerf: "Privacy May Actually Be an Anomaly"

Vint Cerf, Google's chief internet evangelist, is famous for having some, um, strong views. He's just unleashed a cracker, though: he thinks that "privacy may actually be an anomaly."

Speaking at an FTC event, Cerf was attempting to explain that privacy is a fairly new—and perhaps unsustainable—development. "In a town of 3,000 people there is no privacy," he explained. "Everybody knows what everybody is doing. It's the industrial revolution and the growth of urban concentrations that led to a sense of anonymity."

He did, admittedly, concede that he was simplifying, but added that "it will be increasingly difficult for us to achieve privacy. The technology that we use today has far outraced our social intuition... [There's a] need to develop social conventions that are more respectful of people's privacy."

In other words, according to Cerf, industry gave us anonymity and with it privacy, but then the relentless progress of technical innovation stole it away again. All in, we only had it for a few decades, so why bitch and gripe about losing it anyway? What do you think? [FTC via Verge]

Image by Joi under Creative Commons license