Elon University

A vision for the future

This is one of nearly a thousand foresight statements shared by people from around the world. To return to the Voices of the People home page or to refine your search, click here.

Name: Stephan J. Engberg

Bio: Online Security Designer

Area of Expertise: Entrepreneur/Business Leader

Topic: Privacy

Headline: Privacy, ID and Empowered Citizens

Nutshell: We will have both highly integrated services with information at your fingertips AND stronger privacy than ever - the parallel to environment pollution will make us find the catalysts which only require strict attention to design, as all rules in the digital world are man-made.


All fundamental society mechanisms are dependent on individual sovereignty.

Democracy without strong and willful citizens deteriorates into a technocracy or other kind of regime. Market processes where customers don’t pull innovation and allocating through the digital value chains deteriorate into some kind of planned or cartel economy.

Yet as of today we do the exact opposite – "transparency" is about weakening, not empowering, people as it is about systems spying on people instead of making systems transparent.

As security and systems weaken we will learn to make use of better and more thought-through designs to solve the trade-offs that only exist in our perception of situations.

We will learn that central systems can only be protected from the edge. We will learn that large economic systems can only be innovative if controlled by the end of the value chains.

We will learn that the ONLY purpose of a national ID is to establish the ability of citizens to create derived mutually trustworthy ID which are characterized by the fact that they are accountable but NOT making citizens transparent.

We will learn that there is zero security in surveillance and only value destruction, as it drives interdependence and accumulating of risks, and learn that we should instead focus on fault tolerance from a multi-stakeholder approach.

Empowering citizens is ensuring the citizen has the power to say NO – to even post-transaction to stop a commercial or government relation without risks of repercussions – ONLY restricted to the assurances of accountability.

We will learn to separate legitimate security where surveillance is not possible and non-legitimate surveillance where security is not possible.

And we will learn that privacy has very little to with data protection – as then it is already to late.

Date Submitted: August 6, 2007