Elon University

The 2006 Survey: Scenario Four – Transparency builds a better world at the expense of privacy

Responses in reaction to the following provocative future scenario were assembled from a select group of internet stakeholders in the 2006 Pew Internet & American Life/Elon University Predictions Survey. The survey allowed respondents to select from the choices “agree” or “disagree” or to leave the scenario unanswered. Respondents were encouraged to provide a written elaboration to explain their answers; they did not always do so, but those who did provided richly detailed predictive material. Some respondents chose to identify themselves with each answer; many did not. We share some – not all – of the responses here. Workplaces of respondents whose reactions are shared below are attributed here only for the purpose of indicating a level of internet expertise; the statements reflect personal viewpoints and do not represent their companies’, universities’, or government agencies’ policies or positions. Some answers have been edited to share more respondents’ replies. This is a selection of the many carefully considered responses to the following scenario.

internet artAs sensing, storage, and communication technologies get cheaper and better, individuals’ public and private lives will become increasingly “transparent” globally. Everything will be more visible to everyone, with good and bad results. Looking at the big picture – at all of the lives affected on the planet in every way possible – this will make the world a better place by the year 2020. The benefits will outweigh the costs.

Compiled reactions from the 742 respondents:
46% agreed
49% disagreed
5% did not respond

Below are select responses from survey participants who agreed to be identified with their statements. To read reactions from anonymous participants responding to this question, please click here.

Imagine a scenario where everything about you is presented in stats – a) 55% probability of Mr. X being bald by 30 years, b) 40% probability of Type II Diabetes by 40 years, c) 80% probability of being suicidal. Would you want designed babies? (Wonder if you shall be able to relate to them like your parents to you!) Would you want the System to know everything you’ve done since the day you were born? Would you like to be File AK-IND-79? Would you want to be in the “Minority Report” world? – Alik Khanna, Smart Analyst Inc. (business employing financial analysts in India); internet user since 1996Privacy will become a luxury, not a right. It will be “transparent” who the “have nots” are. – Kerri Karvetski, freelance writer and advocacy specialist

We are headed towards control by those who control the technology. We are headed towards losing autonomy and privacy. These trends will be justified by appeals to our fears. – Benjamin Ben-Baruch, senior market intelligence consultant and applied sociologist, Aquent, General Motors, Eastern Michigan University; internet user since 1980

I agree, but the black market of hacker services to erase or change some personal information, will be an option too. – Mario Rios, TDCLA (Tecnologías del Conocimiento, an e-learning group), Chile; internet user since 1997

The global statement that “everything will be more visible to everyone” is extreme. But the value of the system knowing your preferences and activities will definitely moderate people’s interest in keeping everything private and will incent users to want the system to store and act on private information. The issue will be much more about controlling the use of private information and learning a new set of rules for respecting individual interests in such an integrated environment. – Stewart Alsop, investor and analyst; former editor of InfoWorld and Fortune columnist; internet user since 1994

The benefits are enormous in enabling communication across an inter-connected planet. The potential problems this may give rise to in areas such as privacy do need to be addressed carefully though, and the benefits will only be as great as our governments and societal attitudes allow. If we do not learn to behave more compassionately and sensibly as global citizens, no amount of connectivity will make up for this (although it may help to bring it about). – Ian Peter, internet pioneer, helped develop the internet in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region in the 1980s; maintains a project on the future of the internet – the Internet Mark II Project; internet user since 1986

Privacy has been asserted as a right within the modern western paradigm that has come to dominate our perceptions of what “ought” to be. In fact, privacy is not a right but a state of engagement with the world. Technologies that interlink people (whether they be telephones, ships, or computing and the Internet) bring people into proximity and thus into a realm of less privacy. – Matthew Allen, associate professor of internet studies at Curtin University, Australia; president of the Association of Internet Researchers; internet user since 1992

Transparency does indeed build a better world. However, the statement needs to be qualified, since the same technology allows the dissemination of propaganda on a vast scale. Society needs to understand that successful communities are based on trust – trust in leadership, trust in information, trust in neighbours. Technology must be developed to reinforce that trust. – Adrian Schofield, head of research for ForgeAhead (focused on ICT research and consulting in Africa), South Africa; a leader in the World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA); internet user since 1994

I generally agree. However, privacy remains important, so I tend to think that we will find ways to limit the invasion of it. Data mining techniques and other kinds of analysis will make the globe more similar to a small town than it is now, in much the same way that the deployment of the Internet has pushed the development of McLuhan’s global village. One characteristic of a small town is that “everybody knows everybody’s business”, which is to say that gossip and other activities betray confidences and otherwise invade the privacy of the people in the town. That will be one side of the gobal village. – Fred Baker, CISCO Fellow, CISCO Systems, Internet Society (ISOC) chairman of the board; Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF); internet user since 1987

Yes there will be greater transparency in some areas (especially in the short to medium term). However technologies to create privacy/observation will also be developed as a response. The world will not necessarily be a better place – in place of secrecy there will be massive information pollution. That is finding relevant and correct information will be difficult due to the large amount of irrelevant and incorrect information around. – Bruce Edmonds, Centre for Policy Modelling, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK; internet user since 1992

What do you mean better? The marginalized will be even more marginal and those people with genetic “defects” will not have health care available unless rich. Conformity will be de rigeur because any deviation will be noted in the nets, even non-participation will be something that will be data-mineable. – Alec MacLeod, associate professor, California Institute of Integral Studies; internet user since 1989

The collection of information does not automatically translate to a loss of personal privacy. I don’t believe the perceived erosion of privacy is a data collection issue. I think it’s more of a reflection of the general erosion of trust in public and business institutions, and the fact that legal guidelines are often years behind the abilities of current technologies. The primary threat to privacy is not due to technological advances, its more attributable to the erosion of ethical principals. Yes, technology might allow me to read someone else’s mail. However, I don’t do that because I know it’s not right. – Robert Lunn, Focalpoint Analytics; worked as a senior research analyst on the 2004 Digital Future Report: Surveying the Digital Future, produced by the USC Annenberg School Center for the Digital Future

The costs unseen will outweigh the benefits perceived. Included in those unseen costs are an emphasis on “sameness” for fear of being perceived as different; fueled by increasing government intrusion into private lives. – Michael Castengera, teacher and consultant, Grady College of Journalism/ University of Georgia; Media Strategies and Tactics Inc., a media consulting firm; internet user since 1992

Transparency is likely to good for the society only if the ability to peruse the collected information is evenly distributed. Given that data mining is likely to remain relatively expensive, increasing transparency is likely to shift power even more towards those that have more power already now. A crucial aspect would be to empower people to control and “correct” any information collected about them. This is currently a pressing problem in the US, and a potential problem also in the EU. – Pekka Nikander, Ericcson Research, Helsinki Institute for Information Technology; past member of the Internet Architecture Board; internet user since 1987

I agree that “public and private lives will become increasingly “transparent” globally,” but I disagree that the benefits will outweigh the costs. Once lost, personal privacy is difficult to reclaim. – Scott Hollenbeck, director of technology, VeriSign (provider of global infrastructure services for telecommunication, content, Internet, and Ecommerce services); active director in IETF; internet user since 1988

I disagree only because the statement is worded with such certainty. I think this issue is very much up in the air. I don’t subscribe to very much technological determinacy – what humans do with the tools they find themselves using will matter. And unpredictable events will matter. If the Chinese model of censorship at the level of the router proves viable and is adopted worldwide, then the asymmetry of transparency will greatly favor centralized state powers. Will they use it in democratic ways? – Howard Rheingold, internet sociologist and author; one of the first writers to illuminate the ideals and foibles of virtual communities; internet user since 1990

It’s often said that the desire for privacy is a mile wide … and an inch deep. Everyone wants it, but few are willing to give-up anything – e.g. access to credit, credit cards, etc. – to get it. We lost our “privacy” as soon as government and company agents learned how to keep citizen and personnel records. What’s important is to make sure that the government and corporate leaders have no more privacy than private citizens and employees! People don’t want to a phone’s caller-id to give their identity to anyone they’re calling. But they want to see who’s calling them on their bedroom phone. They can’t have it both ways. We lost our privacy to computers, the first time the neighborhood gossip got online. A case can be made for the proposition that, increasing lack of privacy has BENEFITTED diversity and tolerance. After all, when you know that 20% (or 80%!) of the others in your community are doing something, it becomes more acceptable. – Jim Warren, internet pioneer (founding editor of Dr. Dobb’s Journal), technology-policy advocate and activist, futurist; internet user since 1970

Things have never been private, anyway. The most important thing about transparency is it shows how transparent people have already been, all along, to the institutions that mean to control them. – Douglas Rushkoff, author of many books about net culture, teacher, New York University; internet user since 1985

The cost of unlimited transparency will not simply be privacy; it will be autonomy, freedom, and individuality. The personal lives of prisoners are transparent. So, too, is the world of the Borg. – Marc Rotenberg, executive director Electronic Privacy Information Center; internet user since 1978

It is hard to say, tremendous amounts of pure trash flow within the net and other communications systems. On the other hand it allows people to verify information much quicker than anytime in human history. In a very complex, ever changing world the individual will have a much harder time creating a world view and be ever so more jealous of keeping it once created. All information will be filtered to support the world-view armor and thus, even though the information is out there – it will not be accessed. Overflow of information creates anxiety not knowledge. Fear and ignorance are the cornerstones of hatred; ignorance can be overcome by information technologies but not the fear, and the rapidly changing world will exacerbate the fear. – Amos Davidowitz, director of education, training and special programs for Institute of World Affairs, Association for Progressive Education; internet user since 1994

The truth(s) shall set you free? – Tunji Lardner, CEO for the West African NGO network: wangonet.org; agendaconsulting.biz; has held various consultancies for the World Bank and United Nations as well as being a resource person and consultant to the UNDP African Internet Initiative; internet user since 1988

The trick is not to do anything you’d be ashamed of. – Bob Metcalfe, Ethernet inventor, founder of 3Com Corporation, former CEO of InfoWorld, now a venture capitalist and partner in Polaris Venture Partners; internet user since 1970

I might be more sanguine about a transparent society if the current U.S. political climate were less threatening. – Reva Basch, consultant for Aubergine Information Systems (online research expert); internet user since 1973

I am convinced that as transparency becomes increasingly visible as an issue to the general public, solutions will be developed to handle the problems it causes while at the same time maintaining as much as possible of the information infrastructure. This relies on a number of technologies such as identity, web of trust, etc. that we have a crucial need to create very soon. – Robin Berjon, W3C and Expway; internet user since 1996

Transparency and privacy aren’t antithetical. We’re perfectly capable of formulating widely honored social contracts that prohibit pointing telescopes through your neighbours’ windows. We can likewise have social contracts about sniffing your neighbours’ network traffic. – Cory Doctorow, self-employed journalist, blogger, co-editor of Boing Boing; born in Canada and now lives in London; EFF Fellow; internet user since 1987

I think that privacy will remain important to people all over the world, but they will have many more choices as to what they are public about. Information will be more readily available, but as those windows into personal information are opened, new gates and barriers will be designed. So while a lot will be more visible to everyone, it won’t be “everything.” – Michael Gorrell, senior VP and CIO for EBSCO; internet user since 1994

My largest issue with this prediction is that it smacks of the phrase “Those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear.” We wear clothes for a reason; there are some things we shouldn’t know about each other and which for our own mental health should remain private. Unless one’s intent is to be an all-knowledgeable god, having access to the “what” doesn’t necessarily give you access to the “why.” The fallacy is that by using your network to find out what I’ve bought that you automatically think you know WHY I bought it. For example, was he just buying fertilizer for my farm, or was he building a weapon? – William Kearns, assistant professor at the University of South Florida; internet user since 1992

While there may be more transparency, it is not clear that this will always be a better world because of it. The world will be better but there needs to be continual protection and advocacy of privacy. – Jim Archuleta, senior manager, government solutions, Ciena Corporation; internet user since 1989

It’s hard to know whether my response is “Agree” or “Disagree.” I think there will be higher degrees of transparency, but this will arise from a change in social norms and ultimately come from voluntary compliance with the new social norms. Look at taking cell phone calls. A decade ago, no one would have interrupted a personal conversation to answer a ringing desk telephone. Today, however, people provide lots of transparency into their lives by answering their cell phones anywhere and everywhere. It’s being done so often that it’s becoming culturally acceptable. And, even if you don’t answer your phone, it’s still OK to SMS someone even while your attention was assumed to be elsewhere. IM “away” messages and more … all make me believe that people will continue to surrender certain parts of their privacy for what they perceive to be benefits of interaction. However, I’m a staunch believer that we need to retain the “off” button. People should be able to opt out of transparency, and I believe they will do so increasingly as a form of vacation or holiday or de-compression. Some new name will attach to this phenomenon. (“Turning-off”?) – Glenn Ricart, executive director, Price Waterhouse Coopers Advanced Research; member of the board of trustees of the Internet Society; internet user since 1968

People will have less privacy, but may re-gain anonymity through the sheer volume of data. There will be conflicts with people/groups who wish to use knowledge to control and people who wish to expand their capacity to choose. – Willis Marti, associate director for networking, Texas A&M University; internet user since 1983

I agree only if a new radical democratic politics emerges which removes the risks of such transparency, such as not being disadvantaged because of sexual preferences. – Mark Poster, professor of film and media studies, University of California-Irvine; studies the ways social communications have changed through the introduction of new technologies; internet user since 1983

We can devise a world that allows privacy, while also allowing transparency. That is a better solution than driving “states” to establish shadow worlds in which they monitor, and investigate… thus, something like public WHOIS data for those who register and use top level domains for web sites provides transparency to other Internet users. Hiding the information about who has registered a domain name only makes it critical for law enforcement to have powers to investigate who that is. Making the data public, but limiting its use can achieve the goal of transparency. Many users don’t realize that their cell phone providers “know” where they are. They might choose to turn off their cell phone if they knew that. My personal perspective is that I want the choice. And I want it to be informed choice. So, we have some work to do to understand privacy in an always-on, always-connected world – and to devise informed choices. – Marilyn Cade, CEO and principal, ICT Strategies, MCADE, LLC; also with Information Technology Association of America (business alliance); internet user since 1986

Governments can already do it. Wider transparency will serve as a check on governments and on business. – John S. Quarterman, president InternetPerils Inc.; publisher of the first “maps” of the internet; internet user since 1974

Technology will only make the world a better place if it can also allow us to solve the more important problems of overpopulation, imbalanced distribution of resources and global warming. – Cliff Figallo, online communities architect, SociAlchemy; internet user since 1985

Restate: Transparency builds a much worse world, at the expense of privacy and security. The benefits will not, or hardly, outweigh the costs. The situation will be dramatically worse in societies (countries or not) in which democratic governance is weak. – Alejandro Pisanty, CIO for UNAM (National University of Mexico); vice chairman of the board for ICANN; member of United Nations’ Working Group for Internet Governance; active in ISOC; internet user since 1977

The “little village” notion of privacy is attractive, but unproven. While I’m quite comfortable with it, I’m not sure that the world will be interconnected enough in the next 13 years to make this happen effectively and positively. – Ross Rader, director of research and innovation, Tucows Inc; internet user since 1991

The phenomenon of social computing tears down geopolitical boundaries and this helps open up dialogue between nations and religions. Racism in the U.S. is greatly reduced as individuals find common bonds, but a new rift becomes unavoidable from an economic lens, as the retirement of the baby boomers has exhausted the nation’s resources. – Peter Kim, senior analyst, marketing strategy and technology team, Forrester Research; internet user since 1993

Of course, there will be winners and losers. Information about individuals may threaten some individual liberties. – Rashid Bashshur, director of telemedicine, University of Michigan; internet user since 1980

A revolution will occur pushing this type of knowledge of an individual out for a number of years. As a result, it may happen, but it is unlikely that it will happen before 2020. – Mike McCarty, chief network officer, Johns Hopkins; internet user since 1992

Answer is almost a test of optimism versus pessimism. Individualized GPS means that we will be less likely to die lost in a frozen tundra – however we will not be able to “get lost” for awhile either. Fudging or embellishing our past will become more difficult as video and digital records are available to show actual events, not transmitted stored memory with negative or positive enhancements that are common to the human psyche. – Ed Lyell, pioneer in issues regarding internet and education, professor at Adams State College; internet user since 1965

Yes, just as many people (myself included) have no interest whatsoever in reading the “blogs” of other persons, almost all of whom lead very dull lives, so, too, will a high degree of “transparency” about who’s doing what with whom will soon tire most people. Until just a few weeks ago, practically no school or university in Brazil ran censoring software on the institutions’ main server, the belief being that if adolescents have free access to pornographic sites, they quickly discover just how dull that type of content can be, and they, of their own volition, soon stop visiting such sites. Prohibiting access to pornographic sites only stimulates surreptitious procurement of them. Unfortunately, legislation requiring such censoring in educational institutions has just been introduced into the Brazilian Congress, and may even stand a chance of being approved, which would reduce transparency and augment negative behavior patterns. – Fredric M. Litto, professor, University of Sao Paulo; president, ABED-Brazilian Association for Distance Education; internet user since 1993

The average person’s life will become an open book to governmental agencies, financial service companies, etc. But the rich and powerful will always find ways to be less transparent. For instance, lobbyists now have to register every six months. It’s done on paper and it takes about nine months for anyone to be able to find out what someone is lobbying for. That could be changed by having lobbyists register every three months and do it electronically and publish the results immediately on a system similar to Edgar. Wanta bet that happens by 2020? – Joe Bishop, VP business development, Marratech AB; internet user since 1994

I think the cost to privacy to be greater than we expect. – Robin Gross, executive director, IP Justice, civil liberties organization that promotes balanced intellectual property law and defends consumer rights to use digital media worldwide; internet user since 1988

The analog here is credit information. People give up some personal privacy for the convenience of more convenient or automated transactions. – Robert Kraut, Human Computer Interaction Institute, Carnegie Mellon University

Between “Agree” and “Disagree” I’ll pick “Agree,” but I think it’s more accurate to say it COULD make the world a better place overall. The difference between the Open Society and the Police State is political, not technological. – Seth Finkelstein, anti-censorship activist and programmer, author of the Infothought blog and an EFF Pioneer award winner

Privacy is a thing of the past. Technologically it is obsolete. However, there will be social norms and legal barriers that will dampen out the worst excesses. – Hal Varian, professor at University of California-Berkeley; Google; internet user since 1986

The world is not average, and the benefits and costs will not be evenly distributed. – Esther Dyson editor Release 1.0, investor and adviser to start-ups, and member of many boards, including Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Global Business Network; former chair of ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) board; internet user since 1985

I am sympathetic to this view, and note that David Brin articulated it best in his book, “the Transparent Society.” Portions of it will come to pass, but the description you offer is a utopian overstatement. It underestimates the intrinsic flaws in the technology, and the capacity of clever people to subvert the system for selfish ends. The sensor society will be a mixed bag of real benefits and real cost in terms of lost freedoms. That said, we must press for transparency at every opportunity. The only way to control Big Brother is for all the little brothers to watch back. The most we can hope is that we will be able to find a reasonable balance between privacy and the need to know. – Paul Saffo, forecaster and strategist, director, Institute for the Future; serves on many boards, including the Long Now Foundation; Internet user since 1978

Giving all people access to information and a context to understand it will lead to an advancement in our civilization. – Tiffany Shlain, filmmaker and founder and ambassador of the Webby Awards; internet user since 1987

This is an illusion typical for Stalinist totalitarians and their contemporary followers from post-democratic Bush-era USA. Bush administration is known for their Orwellian dreams of total surveillance, tortures and concentration camps to keep people in detention without any form of judicial trial, but for people such ideas give no advantages over privacy, truth and democracy. – Wladyslaw Majewski, OSI CompuTrain SA, ISOC Polska; internet user since 1989

Without transparency there can be no “level playing field”; competitive and open environments build economies and communities. This, in turn, enables everyone to have a fair chance to succeed and prosper. – Chris Sorek, senior vice president of public communications, SAP (provider of client/server enterprise application software); formerly with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Geneva, where he directed global communications activities; internet user since 1980

Privacy is already highly compromised, and in the name of the “greater good” no doubt will continue to be so. How we manage our privacy and rights to redress misuse and error in data collected/filed/ misused/abused etc., is a critical issue to be continually monitored and redressed locally and globally a set of digital “human rights” will need to be formed perhaps. That said, I do prescribe to the school of thought that says if I don’t want something I do/say to become public then I really shouldn’t do it. – Cheryl Langdon-Orr, independent internet business operator and director for ISOC-Australia; internet user since 1977

Disagree. Privacy will be seen more and more as a basic human right and there will be growing pressure to define this in an international instrument or convention and to have states enforce it through national legislation and regulation. – Robert Shaw, internet strategy and policy advisor, International Telecommunication Union (ITU); internet user since 1987

It is true that lives will likely become more “transparent.” Primary amongst the pros is the fact that corruption and corrupt practices (be it at the governmental or corporate level) could be severely affected by more transparent lives. What does concern me though is the expense of privacy – it may take a bit of the fun out of life. – Rajnesh D. Singh, PATARA Communications & Electronics Ltd., Avon Group, GNR Consulting, ISOC Pacific Islands; internet user since 1993

It will NOT be a better world. It will be an Orwellian world! The benefits most certainly will not outweigh the costs. – Sharon Lane, president, WebPageDesign; internet user since 1990

The global village metaphor holds here. In villages everybody knows everybody else’s business. The security lies mainly in that, in a village, you know who’s trying to find out about you. Governments and privacy advocates need to work to ensure mutual transparency. – John Browning, co-founder of First Tuesday, a global network dedicated to entrepreneurs; former writer for The Economist and other top publications; internet user since 1989

In agreeing, I am optimistic about the ability of the public to maintain control of the information that is generated, despite the current trend in secretive government information control. If the public has control, the benefits will outweigh the costs. If powerful groups have control and use of the information, it will further greed, discrimination, and infringement of privacy. – Christopher Johnson, co-founder and CEO for ifPeople, Inspiring Futures; internet user since 1995

This one is hard to disagree with – there can be many advantages to having this transparency for many individuals. And in many ways, this is happening, certainly on the Internet and the Web, but even at brick and mortar stores. Time is certainly something that people value (and often lack), and transparency can save time, but most people are unwilling to give up privacy to save time, and I expect legislation to be enacted to further define and protect our privacy should we desire it. – Philip Joung, Spirent Communications (wireless positioning products); internet user since 1989

This is clearly a trend. But there are checks and balances built into our societies that will mitigate more extreme forms of transparency; I believe these will cause the net result to be positive in most cases, the majority of the time. – Peter Roll, retired chief system administrator; internet user since 1981

I think we’ll have not so much transparency (though it would be desirable) as wrenching and scandalous revelations. Look at the NSA wiretapping scandal that broke in December 2005. Echelon was publicly revealed as far back as 1998 (perhaps even earlier), and the New York Times knew of George W. Bush’s secret orders in late 2004, but there was no transparency and very little public debate. But truth will out, and modern electronic media allow it to spread faster and be harder to suppress once the spark flies. The cycle of secrecy and scandal could prove very disruptive. – Andy Oram, writer and editor for O’Reilly Media; internet user since 1983

I’m not sure I actually agree, but feel that we are facing a tidal wave of new thought on this issue. That is, people who are now, and will be coming into their maturity in the next 15 years live in a very different technological environment, and the old meanings of such concepts as privacy are rapidly changing. Younger people seem to be less concerned with keeping private things private! – Martin Kwapinski, senior content manager, FirstGov.gov, the U.S. Government’s Official Web Portal; internet user since 1997

This is a difficult one to call, but on the balance, such transparency would have net positive effects if they were reciprocal. Recent events seem to indicate that reciprocal transparency is hardly an obvious future. – Alex Halavais, assistant professor, State University of New York-Buffalo; internet user since 1984

Privacy is a chimera, and has been for some time. The major problem isn’t just sensing, storage, and communication technology, but rather faulty software and operating systems, a “trusting” Internet, the susceptibility of innocent users to social engineering, and at its core “bad guys” who exploit known weaknesses for thrill or profit. – Joel Hartman, CIO, University of Central Florida; internet user since 1970

I generally agree, but legislation will be needed (and is probably inevitable) to curb abuses. The incentives for abuse are simply too great. – Thomas Narten, IBM open-internet standards development; Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) liaison to ICANN; internet user since 1983

It will be a tradeoff between benefits and loss of privacy/freedom. – Terry Irving, producer, CNN; internet user since 1979

Disagree. The less one is powerful, the more transparent their lives. The powerful will remain much less transparent. – Barry Wellman, researcher on virtual communities and workplaces; professor and director of NetLab at University of Toronto; internet user since 1976

Those who choose to retain a large degree of privacy will do so only at loss of connectivity with the community. Opt-in choices will be ubiquitous. – Charles Hendricksen, research collaboration architect for Cedar Collaboration; internet user since 1968

What will happen is that those who can afford to so do will create “managed lives” to convey the impressions that they wish to. This is true now for a thin elite, but it will diffuse. – David Elesh, associate professor of sociology at Temple University; internet user since 1983

I suspect that this “transparency” will result in loss of liberty and privacy for individuals, but will not give the individual human any more information about nor control over the consolidation of power in non-governmental hands, such as multinational corporations. This will partially be a result of misinterpretation (by governments already beholden to these powers’ and their interests) of the power of free markets to maximize all possible goods (including social and cultural). This outlook: Ignores the reality of collusion, market manipulation, and other limitations; Overlooks the power money holds over politics (bribery, lobbying); Forgets our historical lessons about relying on the “invisible hand of the market,” and the strengths of putting other values before money in market management. – Michael Cannella, IT manager, Volunteers of America – Michigan; member CPSR

Privacy becomes commodified, so yes maybe more transparency, but not overall transparency. – Hernando Rojas, a native of Colombia, a professor in the department of life sciences communication at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, consultant for the United Nations Development Program

What leads me not to agree with this statement is the fact that I do not believe that everything and everyone will be under the surveillant eye, but there will be gaps. Those people who are kept (or manage to place themselves) in the hidden corners that the panoptical eye cannot reach will have great advantages over the majority living ‘transparent’ lives (independently of them having chosen to do so or not). – Suely Fragoso, professor, Unisinos, Brazil; internet user since 1994

This is difficult but I think that overall transparency is a positive. It will be interesting to see if the line of what is public or private gets redrawn (or retrenched). Blogs are probably the greatest example – tell some 15 years ago that they would write their diary in public every day and they’d laugh. Well, guess what happened! – Andy Williamson, managing director for Wairua Consulting Limited, New Zealand; a member of the NZ government’s Digital Strategy Advisory Group; internet user since 1990

The most striking thing will be the change in our perception of what is private, or an infringement of that privacy. – Florian Schlichting, Ph.D. candidate and researcher, University College, London

Privacy should remain a critical value and a right, and while there are benefits that come with increased transparency, they do not outweigh the costs. – Lisa Kamm, has worked in information architecture since 1995 at organizations including IBM, Agency.com and the ACLU; internet user since 1987

While I do believe that more will be known about individuals, it will only be divulged and used by a “trusted” authority who will use the information gained for the benefit of those affected. People will voluntarily consent to allowing certain information (probably in conjunction with the service they subscribe to) regarding their likes and dislikes, preferences, etc., to be gathered, but as I said, only within the bounds predefined by them and held in trust by an entity renowned for trust. In so doing, they should expect to benefit from better rates for insurance, healthcare, buying leverage, etc. – Don Heath, board member, iPool, Brilliant Cities Inc., Diversified Software, Alcatel, Foretec; internet user since 1988

Automatic and compulsory transparency holds more dangers than benefits, because of essentially uncontrollable possibilities of criminal, terroristic, and governmental misuse. – Gisela Redeker, professor, University of Groningen, Netherlands; internet user since 1981

Better for control junkies? What about respect for individualism? – Mike Gill, electronics engineer, National Library of Medicine; internet user since 1988

Eliminating privacy changes human culture in such extreme ways that 1) 2020 is much too early for such a change to be in effect 2) we have no idea whether this will be better or worse. Part of the issue here is that technology changes much faster than culture does. Culture requires generations to pass because it needs new members to grow up with new assumptions. This is the essence of the clash between culture and technology. – Karen Coyle, information professional and librarian; internet user since 1983

Strong disagree. – Leigh Estabrook, professor, University of Illinois; internet user since 1978

The open conversation on the Internet is a good thing. But the individual should have more control over the amount of personal information that is disclosed. – W. Reid Cornwell, director of The Center for Internet Research; internet user since 1974

There will, however, be a similar rise in the ability to carefully protect certain aspects of your own information. Cryptography will become a huge business. – Tama Leaver, lecturer in digital communication, University of Western Australia

There are few technologies out there not willing to be exploited for commercial means – and if even ethical companies draw boundaries for privacy, there will be plenty of companies unconcerned about such scruples. – Jon Bonné, MSNBC.com columnist; internet user since 1994

I fully agree on this issue. Transparency is essential to rich and poor alike to avoid conflict. – Prof. Lutfor Rahman, executive director of Association for Advancement of Information Technology and vice-chancellor of Pundra University of Science and Technology, Bangladesh; internet user since 1996

No, we will definitely find new ways to create opacity into the system. Certainly, a few people will have lots of information about us, but it certainly won’t make “everyone visible to everyone.” – Randy Kluver, executive director, Singapore Internet Research Centre; internet user since 1989

Privacy is too fundamental a right to give up easily for the sake of transparency. – B. van den Berg, faculty of philosophy at Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; internet user since 1993

“Transparency” cuts both ways. While I think it is very good that political and other public domains are becoming more transparent, protecting privacy of an individual should be made a priority in the context of a new technology-enabled “transparency.” – Mirko Petric, University of Zadar, Croatia; internet user since 1996

As long as market forces are not given free rein, the benefits should outweigh the costs. – Ben Detenber, associate professor, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Only if the private information that is collected actually become freely available. That means that corporations and governments would have to be willing to release the information they collect. I have my doubts that this will happen by 2020 as both corporations and governments view secretly held personal information as more valuable than completely free personal information. Corporations derive marketing and sales information from our personal data and governments feel safer when their citizens do not know how much information is being collected about them. – Scott Moore, online community manager, Helen and Charles Schwab Foundation; internet user since 1991

Loss of privacy is not better. I don’t need my own software in the network that bad. Total connectivity is very very bad for liberty. – Edward Lee Lamoureux, associate professor, Bradley University

First – 14 years to make the world a better place is not a lot. Second: transparency is one thing; information overload is another. Third: people will learn how to treat the net and protect what they feel is important private information. So-called dysfunctions to a lot of software is exactly this kind of resistance: by not using the shared calendar you easily avoid to be supervised by others. – Torill Mortensen, associate professor, Volda University College, Norway; internet user since 1991

I believe that, increasingly, we will have the options on transparency. Most of the time, we opt for the “providing more information”. But, sometimes not. – Jim Jansen, assistant professor, Penn State University; internet user since 1993

I think that our online identities will grow to become an even more important part of our lives. A “vanity search” will become absolutely necessary for anyone in a position of power. This development opens a plethora of opportunities for spin doctors and the like. – Charlie Breindahl, external lecturer, University of Copenhagen, IT University of Copenhagen; internet user since 1996

Again, it is too easy to cook it down to better or worse. If the changes come as described here, some will win and some will lose. A total accounting is next to impossible. – Rich Ling, senior researcher and sociologist, Telenor Research Institute, Oslo, Norway; internet user since 1984

People will continue to resist the erosion of privacy online. Corporations will be forced to conform to consumer demands in this area. – Simon Woodside, CEO, Semacode Corporation, based in Ontario, Canada; internet user since 1992

Transparency requires the concomitant skills and knowledge in terms of how to interpret and interact with the information that transparency creates. There is a crisis of learning at present, and if that is not addressed transparency will still remain a tool or surveillance for most. – Jason Nolan, associate professor, Ryerson University, Canada; internet user since 1987

This is a hard call but I wouldn’t bet on the benefits outweighing the costs. Information is power and power tends to concentrate – where one is in the food chain in 2020 will likely determine one’s perspective on whether benefits really outweigh costs. – Nan Dawkins, co-founders of RedBoots Consulting; internet user since 1997

Governmental and corporate interests benefit most from “transparency” at the expense of individual privacy and the liberties that are integrated with those privacies. More transparency isn’t always better – but a greater ability of individuals to exert control over the degree of self-transparency is better. The tradeoffs – e.g., ongoing abuse of degrees of anonymity to take advantage of others – will continue as it does now. – Patrick B. O’Sullivan, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, Illinois State University; internet user since 1987

I only hope that the “transparency” will not be an instrument of control by governments, politicians and big businesses. – Lilia Efimova, researcher, Telematica Instituut, Netherlands; internet user since 1993

Privacy will be more selective (area specific) and become a lifestyle choice. Most people will not care and simply accept having every aspect of their lives open and catered to capital. – Ted M. Coopman, activist, social science researcher, instructor at the University of Washington, Seattle, member of AoIR board of directors

Not everything will be transparent to everyone. In fact, while lots more true and previously hidden info will be out there, there will also be a lot of mistaken info as well. I can’t say we’ll be that much better off because of it. A little, yes, but not enough to agree strongly. – Danny Sullivan, editor-in-chief, SearchEngineWatch.com; internet user since 1994

I agree with the prediction that public and private life will be more transparent, with privacy a purchasable commodity. I’m not convinced that the benefits for the majority of people will outweigh the costs. – Elizabeth Spiegel, consultant and publisher, Australian Tax Office

There are things that should be left unsaid or unknown. People will lose their individuality if there are no mysteries left about us. – Richard Yee, competitive intelligence analyst, AT&T; internet user since 1995

I don’t think we could assume that more information is better and it will make the world a better place. Could have the opposite impact. – Jean Lubbert, manager of marketing research, Guaranty Bank; internet user since 1995

Hard to agree or disagree with this one without spending hours in thought. I’m leaning towards disagree as I think in the end we will be more annoyed by the privacy intrusions than we will feel benefited by the streamlining of services associated with complete transparency. I don’t really understand the “big picture” mentioned in the prediction and wonder how complete transparency alone can make the world a better place. – Janine van der Kooy, information management/librarian; internet user since 1997

I think the premise of transparency is true but I’m not sure that will make the world a better place. One of my fears is the devolution of unique cultures. Cultures are built by limiting communication with other cultures. As communication becomes more and more global we see many cultures begin to fade away. – Carter Headrick, director of grassroots and field operations for Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids; internet user since 1993

I would have marked agree if the date were 2040. But I don’t think that will happen in less than 14 years. – Stan Felder, president and CEO, Vibrance Associates, LLC; internet user since 1985

This is a very “American” way of looking at things because as a culture we value transparency more than many others. Transparency will increase but governments in some countries will continue to (successfully) prevent complete transparency, sometimes with the support of their people, and sometimes without it. – Michael S. Cann Jr., CEO of Affinio Corporation; internet user since 1992

For the past century or more technology has continued to “shrink” our world; however, the global “village” is still much larger than that small town where everyone knows you … and you have to care what they think! – Brent Crossland, policy analyst; internet user since 1992

People’s personal and professional lives are already FAR more transparent than most realize. Increasingly, technologies are being used to link disparate pieces of personal data into powerful profiles. In the short term the costs may out weigh the benefits; in the long term the benefits should outweigh the costs. – Kathleen Pierz, managing partner, The Pierz Group (consultants in directory assistance/enquiry); internet user since 1985

Weather benefits outweigh the costs is going to depend on how much people value privacy in the future. If attitudes change and people become more accepting of a less private world, then clearly benefits will outweigh costs. – Heath Gibson, competitive intelligence manager, BigPond, Australia; internet user since 1994

This is a typical instance of cybertarianism – when cyberspace utopics meets libertarianism. Transparency matters as a means of revealing centers of power. Not ordinary people. – Toby Miller, professor, University of California-Riverside; internet user since 1990

Privacy is undermined (in the U.S.) on two fronts: from the government in the guise of Homeland Security; and from commercial interests in order to aggregate and exploit marketing information. The majority of advances in transparency will benefit large players who know how to use technology to their advantage, less so the average citizen who can barely configure his computer. – Steffan Heuer, U.S. correspondent, brand eins Wirtschaftsmagazin; internet user since 1994

Transparency has the ability to bring us much closer to a better world. However, it unlikely that privacy would suffer as much as outlined in the scenario above. In many ways, privacy will be the “new currency” in 2020. “I will trade pieces of my private life for something of value.” – Howard Finberg, director of interactive media, The Poynter Institute; internet user since 1991

Much of what we do today in our online and even offline worlds is not private, even when it is perceived to be private. Data is there, however it takes an extra step to be tracked or recorded. The realization that there is no privacy will happen. Tools to track and report activities will aslo advance and become more persistent. – Enid Burns, editor at ClickZ.com; internet user since 1994

Individuals inherently desire a zone of privacy and will be resistant to technologies that create total transparency in personal areas. – Mitchell Kam, Willamette University, Oregon; internet user since 1979

At some point many will retreat or refuse further intrusions into their personal lives. – Todd Costigan, National Association of Realtors; internet user since, 1985

This is the big question. Who, after all, guards the guards? Whilst we generally agree that the ability to have all required data at easy reach would assist in any form of business dealings, it does also open the path to data abuse. Data security will be a major issue as will be identity fraud. An overload of data does not mean that things will be more visible. They may be less so due to the shear amount of data available. the average citizen will have little choice but to accept what corporations and governments enforce. Privacy at least allowed you to choose not to partake in issues that may be forced upon you. We predict a continued erosion of democracy per se and the establishment of a newly tiered society that is made of technos and non-technos. – Robert Eller, Concept Omega, Media & Verteiler, Celler Blitz; internet user since 1997

Without attacking the burgeoning information crime problem, the aggregation of information may result in large systemic costs. For example, mass vulnerability of social security numbers may force us to create an entirely new structure of identification for purposes of government benefits. – Andrea Matwyshyn, executive director, Center for Information Research, assistant professor of law, University of Florida; internet user since 1992

A balance must be struck. I admire the goals of organizations like the EFF. We must gain more control over who has access to our personal information and what can be done with it. We need to shift much more aggressively to an “opt-in” society than one where every individual is forced to know who/what/where/when and how to opt out. However, in many types of exchanges (e.g. commercial transactions, juvenile chat rooms) you should not be able to act anonymously. In order for the benefits of global inter-connectivity to reach their true potential, we must be able to verify the true identity of the sender. – Kerry Kelley, VP product marketing, SnapNames.com; internet user since 1986

Transparency makes the world a better place for marketing and banking professionals, as well as government bodies. For the common people, it provides at best a good way to be securely identified for transactions and such. – Nicolas Ritoux, freelance technology reporter for La Presse, Montréal and other media outlets; internet user since 1995

Yes, yes. We have romanticized our history. Many of the worst excesses of our past have come because the truth was hidden from us, shrouded by a smokescreen of religious and political cant. – Barry K. Chudakov, principal, The Chudakov Company; internet user since 1989

I agree. The good will result in untold changes for the better in health care, longevity, happiness in life, and a general sense of fulfillment. – Jeffrey Branzburg, educational consultant; internet user since 1997

Transparency will have a greater effect on governments and businesses than it will upon individuals. – Sean Mead, consultant for Interbrand Analytics, Design Forum, Mead Mead & Clark and other companies; internet user since 1989

Privacy is important to people. There is a reaction building to misuse of personal data which, when transferred to the web, may enhance some shopping experiences but which creates vulnerabilities that we are only now just beginning to understand. People are beginning to demand web privacy and will make web use decisions that reward those companies and services that can guarantee it. And as the myspace.com crowd gets burned, one by one, they will come to understand and demand on line privacy and security as well. – Ralph Blanchard, investor, information services entrepreneur; internet user since 1994

The benefits outweigh the costs, but this is tempered by education and money. Smart people will be able to obscure or control their personal information well enough to protect themselves, but the poor and undereducated will be open books, ripe for exploitation. – David Kluskiewicz, a senior account executive at First Experience, a marketing communications company

I agree this is a trend, but I already see people (even young people) who work at being off-grid and are proud of it. Ability to be and stay mostly off-grid will be as valued, even elite, as New England folks with a tan in January. Living in places where satellites can’t photo your house will be treasured. – Susan Wilhite, design anthropologist, Habitat for Humanity; internet user since 1993

I disagree because I think we’re already there. When you have a satellite picture of your backyard and your entire neighborhood’s backyards on the internet, you have lost all your privacy. It’s a fallacy to think that we have any privacy at all, right now. – Judi Laing, Southern California Public Radio; internet user since 1995

I agree that transparency can foster honesty, which theoretically makes the world a better place. However, how do we authenticate the information to make sure it’s honest in the first place? – Brian T. Nakamoto, Everyone.net (a leading provider of outsourced email solutions for individuals and companies around the world); internet user since 1990

The social contract is continuously re-negotiated and re-interpreted as circumstances change and new technologies arise. I do believe there will be a privacy-efficiency trade in the predicted direction. It will be the people and not the corporations that determine the extents of the trades, and it will not be solely based on the economic criteria presumed under the “cost/benefit” rubric. – Ellen K. Sullivan, former diplomat, policy fellow, George Mason University School of Public Policy; internet user since 1988

Access to information can help us build understanding and new knowledge. Fairness will be more possible, and entities that have been unfair in the past will know their behavior is public. – Janet Salmons, Vision2Lead Inc. (consultants on organizational leadership and development and virtual learning); internet user since 1985

Hogwash. Transparency is the buzzword of the day, but it only works for governments intruding upon individual freedoms and not an individual seeking government transparency. Privacy of the individual is paramount and is why laws were passed many years ago to protect the individual against the very abuses that are occurring today. “Freedom of Information Act,” “Patriot Act,” these type of Acts rip apart transparency. Getting critical government information in 2020 will be more difficult than it is now. – Ted Summerfield, president, Punzhu.com

Strongly agree, also because people will find ways to deal with the “transparency.” Companies that go too far in harming privacy will be punished by consumers. – Olav Anders Øvrebø, freelance journalist based in Oslo, Norway; internet user since 1995

I agree that the world might be a better place, but privacy is not that hard to protect. Private lives can be kept private with some simple precautions. – Mark Crowley, The Customer Respect Group; internet user since 1995

The future is unsure on the balance of the bad and good. Privacy had been repeatedly infringed even when we were at the beginning of the internet era. – Yiu Chan, internet user since 1995

I agree with the statement but I’m not sure this will make the world a better place. It will make knowledge more accessible and more networked, for better or worse. – Jonathan Sills, SVP (strategy & corporate development), Provide Commerce, Liberty Media; internet user since 1993

The benefits may initially outweigh the cost but history has taught us there is always a group or an individual with their own agenda who will attempt or succeed, in manipulating the transparency for their own ends at the expense of “the masses.” – J. Fox, a respondent who preferred to keep the rest of his/her identity private

The debate between transparency and privacy will shape the future of communications, as organised groups will fight against giving up private privacy. On the other hand, networked world will increasingly put pressure on worldwide organisations, whether state, NGOs, companies. – Sylvain Grande, internet user since 1995

There will be clashes of sensibilities as we already witness with global access to every story or point of view as it happens. This will not change. A cost: A new sensibility of tolerance may emerge that homogenizes individual choices and responsibilities, as information is no longer a practical means of achieving competitive advantage over another. A benefit for some; a cost for others: Most individuals will remain anonymous by virtue of the plain-ness of their lives. In this sense, the ego-drive of the individual may push many more toward a supernatural domain for expressing their individualness. A benefit: The mass of humanity will still look to the “performers and portrayers” who embrace the cost of having every movement being documented, tracked and paid attention to. A benefit: If the cost also includes that all individual human ego must be subordinated to the mass sense of equality, then any temporary benefit will be outweighed by the loss of the adaptability embodied in billions of individual egos trying out ideas. – Jeff Hammond, VP, Rhea and Kaiser; internet user since 1992

There will be a spectrum of openness to secrecy with the bulge being on the open side due to voluntary changes by the orgs. and individuals but also because of spies, paparazzi, journalists, and hobbyist using the web to assemble mosaics of public info. I think certain groups that have maintained secrecy to guard their power (shamans, governments that are autocratic or kleptocratic, criminals) will continue to do so. There may be double bookkeeping of sorts: a private face and record, and a supposedly open and transparent spin for public scrutiny. – Steve Cisler, former senior library scientist for Apple, founder of the Association for Community Networking, now working on public-access projects in Guatemala, Ecuador and Uganda; internet user since 1989

Your public and private life is too valuable to corporate retailers for complete transparency. – Nicco Mele, internet strategist, political web architecture expert

Again, this is entirely likely but I do see it as a negative result even if there are tremendous benefits to the transparency (as I can see there might be). – Jill O’Neill, director of planning & communication, National Federation of Abstracting and Information Services; internet user since 1986

The only expectation I have about the effects of technology on privacy is that they will be unexpected. Through history, technological change has affected our privacy: we have more privacy now then we did in the largely agrarian societies with limited transport options of 200 years ago. Modern technology makes our lives more “transparent” in some ways, yet it is also easier to ensure privacy too. E-mail and mobile phones make having an affair much simpler! – Henry Potts, professor, University College, London; internet user since 1990

The benefits to improving the distribution of goods and services and managing environmental changes/stresses outweigh the downside. – John Pearson, a respondent who chose not to reveal any other personal information

Remove the word “transparent” and I might have agreed; however, because the word is usually used in the context of government, it is a somewhat disingenuous construction. Granted, at the moment I am unable to come up with a better word for it – Asimov’s “goldfish bowl” comes close – but human beings need some measure of opacity in their lives and affairs if they are to be such. – Roger Scimé, self-employed web designer; internet user since 1994

I like being a Delta. I wouldn’t want to be an Alpha or a Beta. They have too much responsibility. – Walt Dickie, VP and CTO, C&R Research; internet user since 1992

Even with much more information being in digital form, there will still be significant levels of privacy. Laws determine privacy, not technology. – Rob Atkinson, director, Technology and New Economy Project, Progressive Policy Institute (a think tank); previously project director at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment; internet user since 1993

Human nature has always had a negative side when it comes to managing confidential information. What is paramount is the role of privacy in an ever-transparent world that can misuse confidential information. Once cant wait for safeguards to evolve. They are the first step. – Syamant Sandhir, leader in experience design and implementation, Futurescape; internet user since 1995

The general populace will have the experience noted above, but there are always ways to commit subterfuge for those who are so motivated. We will get lulled into a sense of false security & transparency, allowing the unethical to operate even more quietly than they do now; corporations will be the biggest offenders/danger. – Denzil Meyers, founder and president, Widgetwonder (internal branding consultants and facilitators of corporate storytelling), Applied Improvisation Network; internet user since 1993

The loss of individual privacy will be controlled by the companies and governments that can afford to utilize the massive resources to manipulate the information. This won’t be used to benefit the individual. Transparency isn’t going to be two-way; individuals will not have access to information about governments or large companies in the same way. – Michelle Catlett, instructional technologist, Edubuilder, Apria Healthcare, Laureate Education; internet user since 1992

Our ideas of privacy co-evolved with the gesellschaft environment. New concepts of privacy are already arising. – Mary Ann Allison, chairman and chief cybernetics officer, The Allison Group, LLC; futurist; internet user since 1981

Information about all of us as individuals and as consumers will be more easily accessible, but the possible resulting “transparency” will be limited. Those organizations and people that have the most to lose from open information will continue to find ways to obscure data that would be detrimental to them if released … This will place a great deal of responsibility on those organizations in our society that are charged with providing a watchdog role on powerful institutions and organizations. I am not sure that we as a society will place enough value on this watchdog role to underwrite the costs to continue to pursue lengthy investigations and legal action. It is incumbent on those of us in education and public life to continue to place a value on this watchdog and investigative role of journalism, and to continue to push for increased accountability structures, understanding that these must be continually updated so as to keep pace with the changes that technology allows. – Lynn Schofield Clark, director of Teens and the New Media @ Home Project, University of Colorado; internet user since 1991

With such widespread transparency not only will privacy be sacrificed, but competitive edge will be dulled, especially for small- to medium-sized business. Only big business will have the capacity and resources to leverage transparency. And, the keepers of the network will be the ultimate winners. – Daniel D. Wang, principal, Roadmap Associates (coaching and advisory company); internet user since 1995

Transparency should not be seen as another word for “invasion of privacy.” If a system is truly transparent, it is transparent to all observers. The worst invasions of privacy are unilateral and – even worse – cannot be independently confirmed. The future of intrusive informatic systems will allow participants in private corporate internets access to all sorts of wonders, but their lives will be wide open to paying vendors. Most people will choose this lifestyle, and will continue to choose this lifestyle so long as the tradeoff between “smart suggestions” and “intrusiveness” breaks in their favor. Most people will not care to look back through the glass so long as their luxuries and entertainments continue to flow in ever-improving streams. Meanwhile, on the Open Source side of the culture, two-way transparency will change expectations of privacy and public life. Some aspects of life will become more guarded, and laws will require that specific permission be granted before certain types of information can be added to the data stream (think HIPAA). Most Americans, however, will trade waivers of those privacy rights for “better” products and free access to media. And while Open Source culture will be a minority culture, it will include a vibrant mediascape. Because of its innovative and creative power, the two-way transparency of the Open Source networks will continue to influence the larger culture, even as expressed in the proprietary nets. – Daniel Conover, new-media developer, Evening Post Publishing; internet user since 1994

Those with the most power in business and government will also be “beyond sensing” – they will pay major dollars to protect their privacy from the public eye. Others will not have this privilege. – Peter Samis, program manager, interactive educational technologies; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; internet user since 1990

I agree with the scenario but, no benefits should or could ever outweigh Individual rights, ever. – Gordon MacDiarmid, Lobo Internet Services; internet user since 1988

Agree – with reservations. The possibility for abuse is incredible, and even well-meaning governments and private security systems will not be able to provide 100% security for our personal information. – Bobbi Foutch-Reynolds, VP marketing, Interact Communications; internet user since 1994

I agree, but only partly. Some services may benefit from this transparency, for instance medical records that are kept on the Internet and available for all doctors, so your treatment can be improved. On the other hand, I don’t think it is wise to put so much private information on the Internet since others may misuse such information. – Jascha de Nooijer, Universiteit Maastricht, Netherlands; internet user since 1995

Transparency also creates a homogeneity among people, cultures, etc. Think France and why they want to keep their country French. Transparency also leads to more people acting alike out of fear of being different. They may make the world safer but may not make it a better place. After all sometimes it’s the rub that sparks imagination, curiosity, etc. – Chris Miller, a respondent who chose to keep the rest of his personal information private

When we are exposed as all-too-human by increased surveillance of our private lives, we will lose a great deal of our personal dignity and respect for ourselves and others. – Martin F. Murphy, IT consultant, City of New York; internet user since 1993

Strongly disagree. The growth of information capture will be a leading force behind the commercialization of the Internet. This will hold little benefit to the average user. – Rick Gentry, acquisition coordinator, Greenpeace; internet user since 1995

We will continue to have very mixed opinions about the effects of transparency and the loss of privacy, just as we do today. These mixed opinions are likely to intensify, meaning that there will be passionate extremes on both sides of the issue. – Gary Chapman, director, The 21st Century Project, LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas – Austin, internet user since 1982

Transparency can build a better world but won’t by 2020 if the transparency is only of the individual. Such transparency must include governments and corporations in order for individuals to trust more/be willing to allow or participate in a more transparent world. – James Conser, professor emeritus, Youngstown State University; internet user since 1985

The privacy is a very ingrained right in the developed societies. For that reason I believe that the citizens that live in developed societies avoided to lose their privacy. In Europe are discussing standards it has more than enough retention data in telecommunications, so much phone as by e-mail, that are rejected from numerous civic forums or the standards that they were tried to implant in United States and that the many citizen’s associations have been rejected. I believe that it is necessary to look for an intermediate point in the balance. –Sabino M. Rodriguez, MC&S Services; internet user since 1994

It’s too easy to find ways around behaving like a decent adult. Nothing about the Internet, transparency or voyerism into other peoples’ lives will change this basic human fact. Witnessing “goodness” may ratchet up an encounter or two, but these influences will remain in the minority. – Elle Tracy, president and e-strategies consultant, The Results Group; internet user since 1993

If this happens, it will not – clearly – be a better world. It will be interesting to see how the European model of mainly government having access to your private data versus the American model of corporations more freely owning it plays out (with China being the wild card). – Cary Curphy, operations research analyst, U.S. Army; internet user since 1989

Intimacy will become ever more precious. – Dan McCarthy, managing director, Neuberger Berman Inc. (equity funds); internet user since 1994

I am not convinced that giving up the personal right to privacy is a price worth paying for the development of networked technology. I think people will gradually become more aware of the gradual erosion of their privacy and this could eventually provoke a backlash against this trend. – Brian Power, NHS hospital in the United Kingdom; internet user since 1994

Concern over the privacy of personal information will be one of the strongest incentives for Internet users to move into online Gated-Communities with strong privacy protection rules. Most U.S. voters/citizens are uncomfortable with personal information being collected about them – by government or by marketers – without their knowledge or permission. The U.S. is unique is having an environment that implies personal information should be freely available to marketers and 3rd parties for whatever purpose they decide to use it. European and most other market economies have much stronger controls over the collection, use and transfer of personal information… and the U.S. will increasingly move toward EU-style privacy protection, rather than the other way around. It will only take a few major incidents of theft of personal records and graphic stories about identity-theft before voter outrage will compel Congress to pass strong privacy protection measures, over the strong objections of the U.S. business community. – Michael Conlin, former legislator, currently an entrepreneur; internet user since 1990

Transparency of each individual allows people to self-evaluate, and transparency of a corporation, a nation, and of the public as a whole allows people to better participate democratically. Transparency of both public and private lives, of common citizens and social figures, will have the greatest impact politically across the globe. It will encourage democracy. – Clement Chau, research assistant and program coordinator, Tufts University-Developmental Technologies Research Group; internet user since 1995

I think that this prediction will come true, but I disagree that the benefits will outweigh the costs. We will be convinced that the loss of privacy and the increased transparency of our personal information will be a good thing, but will be a result of our perspectives being “rewired” by technology, which has resulted in our placing less value on human dignity, individual rights and privacy. – Robert Rehn, internet user since 1986

I worry about a system with too much public-domain info about individuals. It will limit the type of people who enter politics to those who grew up in convents and abbeys. – James Schultz, principal, Pretty Good Consulting; Institute for Work and the Economy (a consortium studying challenges posed by new immigrants in the labor market); former executive at Walgreen’s; internet user since 1995

Except is cases of national security, privacy issues should always have the highest priority. I do believe sensing capabilities will improve and if a person is not careful it will become easier for their private information to be snapped up by criminals on the web. – Doug Olenick, computer technology editor, TWICE (This Week In Consumer Electronics) Magazine; internet user since 1996

Transparency” to the levels described is only a good thing if your ideal society is Huxley’s “Brave New World.” – Alix L. Paultre, executive editor, Hearst Business Media, Smartalix.com, Zep Tepi Publishing; internet user since 1996

How does one define “better”? If we mean that everyone gets fed – then maybe. If we mean “quality of life” then I doubt it. Contemplatives, saints, shaman, holy men, and other types of spiritual people need privacy. A complete lack of privacy will render the world without a conscience. – Timbre’ Wolf, songwriter and member of PG5YP (People’s Glorious Five-Year Plan – a band in Oklahoma); internet user since 1994

I moderately agree, but there are a number of social and psychological issues related to such pan-transparency, which might leave us worse in a number of unforeseeable respects. Besides, the bad guys always found a way to avoid exposure, so they probably still will. -Mikkel Holm Sørensen, software and intelligence manager, Actics Ltd. (ethical management systems); internet user since 1997

The more information is linked, the easier it becomes for individuals as long as that information is not compromised or incorrect. We’ve seen this with credit reports and need to make sure we build in the necessary safeguards. On the positive side, if a system could uniquely identify me anywhere I go, I wouldn’t have to carry cash, driver’s license, passport, etc. The system would need to use two-factor authentication to avoid cases where someone may use the technology to debit my account without my approval, but if done correctly it could greatly simplify our lives. – Rangi Keen, software engineer, Centric Software, internet user since 1989

Although the information on everyone will conceivably be available to everyone, there will need to be some conscious reason for searching this out – bad or good. – Jeff Corman, government policy analyst, Industry Canada, Government of Canada; internet user since 1995

Again, I’m wondering about political factors or consumer pushback. At some point, there may actually be a massive consumer opt-out of these transparency schemes. The best target audiences will not be available, i.e. their private info will be at least partially hidden, thus making it less valuable. – Gary Arlen, president, Arlen Communications Inc., The Alwyn Group LLC; internet user since 1982

There is a problem with this formulation: what do you mean by “transparency”? What is the “everything” that will be visible? Because if it is my personal data then it is not a better world. The benefits from collaborative, networked societies are only visible if we do have the moral grounds to achieve that visibility and yet respect privacy and individuality. In the utopia this question suggests, that world seems to be a data-hive world of collective consciousness, which is ineffective and immoral. Let us decide what is transparent and how we shall show and perceive: it should not be a matter of transparency vs. opaqueness, but a matter of degrees of clarity, of understanding the uncertain clarity of a networked world. – Miguel Sicart Vila, junior research associate, Information Ethics Group, Oxford University; internet user since 1997

Transparency, as a requisite for accountability, is not the necessary result of “visibility on public electronic spaces.” While the effects may indeed have a wide reach, this is not going to change the balance between positive and negative aspects. More transparency requires cultural, ethical and behavioral changes far beyond the use and abuse of ICT. – Michel Menou, professor and information-science researcher; born in France, he has worked in nearly 80 nations; internet user since 1992

But I say this only because there are bad-guys out there ready to exploit these vulnerabilities. There may be a giant technical step backwards caused by privacy concerns. – Gwynne Kostin, director of Web communications, U.S. Homeland Security; internet user since 1993

Benefits of privacy loss will not outweigh the costs. Privacy loss will drive some people away from using technology, but new privacy-protection technologies will develop and make the creators wealthy. – Mark O. Lambert, former utilities commissioner, State of Iowa; consultant; futurist; internet user since 1989

Here I think that our political and social institutions have lagged and often failed in keeping pace with technical advances. Given the vast disparities in resources, abuses of power coupled with unprecedented capacity to harm, I am greatly troubled by the intrusions into privacy by governmental and commercial interests with limited agendas to serve public goods. – Joe Schmitz, assistant professor, Western Illinois University; internet user since 1985

Perhaps the greatest opportunity to be had from the advancement of the “Global Network” is the opportunity for individuals to become true “citizens of the world.” Communication has always been the greatest threat to ethnic and cultural bias. The opportunity for individuals to communicate reasonably freely with others outside of their culture and national community should provide a better understanding of previously foreign cultures, which may help to overcome the biases of uncertainty. – Al Amersdorfer, president and CEO, Automotive Internet Technologies; internet user since 1985

One still has the ability to manage ones use of these communication tools. If the technologies provide true transparency the costs will be minimal. True transparency assumes Governments/Criminal action or in-action are also transparent to all. – J. Aimone, director of network development, HTC; internet user since 2000

But I could easily see it going the other way. The biggest gain could be in productivity; the greatest nightmares seem to be in all that will transpire around lack of privacy. – David Irons, VP, co-founder, AScribe Newswire; internet user since 1993

This is troubling, but inevitable. Transparency is good and necessary to a great number of new tech developments, but it always comes at a price. We will need to more carefully define privacy issues and work to ensure that personal rights are not sacrificed to a phantom good of total transparency. – Suzanne Stefanac, author and interactive media strategist, dispatchesfromblogistan.com; internet user since 1989