Darklight Symposium: Privacy vs Publicity


I am back, back, back! from holidays and ready to post a few updates on this poor neglected site.

I attended a symposium this morning on Privacy vs Publicity in the Virtual World, which was put on by the Darklight Festival. The keynote address was given by Daniel J. Solove, of the George Washington University Law School, and the panel (chaired by digital rights expert Caroline Campbell) featured journalist Jim Carroll, Hotline.ie director Cormac Callanan, Relevant Media owner Niall Larkin and Irish blogger Damien Mulley.

The symposium was generally pretty good; although I find a common problem with these kind of events is that the information within is often pitched at quite an introductory or basic level.It has to be done that way for obvious reasons, but it can be a little disappointing when no new ground is covered.The main address was interesting and engagingly presented, but covered mostly familiar concepts and examples.

The panel discussion and Q&A threw up some newer issues for me. I have always been aware of the privacy issues that surround social networking, particularly Facebook, but was surprised to hear from one panel member that Facebook have a practice of providing personal info without subpoenas to US law enforcement.

Some other points were raised that may give you food for thought:

  • Consider what goes on behind the scenes at a social network – you may have set your profile to private, but the social network still has all your data in their database.Are they sharing that data?
  • The focus in the West tends to be on the use of personal data in marketing, but in repressive regimes breaches of online privacy have much more serious implications – see the Yahoo! China scandal.
  • As one audience member pointed out – there is much more damage done to individual personal reputations by bloggers than by governments or corporations.


  1. Niall Larkin

    Hi Jean, I think you captured the essence of the talk very nicely.

    I agree on the problems with the ‘expert’ panel and audience model. It has many inherent problems. I’d have much preferred a format following the BarCamp model myself. It really helps the interesting conversations bubble up from the group.

  2. jean

    Thanks for commenting Niall, it’s good to get your feedback on my feedback! I’ve never attended a BarCamp session, but have found the OpenSpace model to be really useful.

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