[Privacy] has to be institutional; it also has to do with social conventions that we adopt. The reason there isn’t a technological solution is that the ability to infer information from partial information is extremely powerful — you can take information which appears to be anonymous and (extrapolate identity). It has to be a set of conventions that we adopt, either a legal framework or social conventions.
Technology is racing ahead so quickly and we are so eager to embrace it with our mobiles and everything else that we don’t fully appreciate the side effects. When we put photos on the web and other people tag them, we create (problems) for people who just happen to be in the image. They get caught… we learned this with Street View.
There are a lot of things that we do everyday that we think are innocent… but there are cascades of things that happen. I don’t think we’ve figured out what the right intuitive set of social conventions should be in order to protect privacy. We’re going to have to learn by making mistakes.
This can’t be just a national issue because the internet is everywhere. The consequence of that is it causes us to confront head-on this problem of global issues, of frameworks, legal frameworks, social conventions and the like.
* Vinton Cerf, “Internet inventor Vint Cerf: No technological cure for privacy ills”