Debating Europe has been putting the issue of digital piracy under the magnifying glass recently (see here, here and here, for example) and all sorts of related issues have come up from that discussion. Specifically, the issue of privacy and personal data was raised by a number of commenters and interviewees; when we interviewed Swedish Pirate Party MEP Christian Engström, for example, he argued that privacy and piracy are really two sides of the same coin:
The internet allows people to connect to each other – and there are a million ways you can do it. If you shut down file-sharing websites, then people can start sending music as email attachments to each other. If you want to monitor that, you will have to monitor people’s email. That would be an absolute infringement of people’s right to privacy.
Other people we interviewed, including representatives of artists and publishers, have argued that digital piracy is destroying people’s livelihoods and that the right to privacy has to be balanced against the right to earn a living. Alison, one of our commenters, made the point that:
The fears expressed are about people’s online privacy being lost. But by removing the stigma attached to stealing an artist’s work online, you are forcing artists to find other ways to make an income other than just producing good art.
But what does privacy look like in a world where information can be harvested, copied to millions of people and transmitted from one side of the planet to the other in the click of a button? How safe is your personal data in Europe (or anywhere)? We have some interesting interviews lined up with politicians and experts on the theme of data privacy, so we thought this might be a good topic of debate. What do YOU think about privacy in the internet age?
With high-profile databases being hacked (including, recently, Sony’s Playstation Network and Valve’s Steam service), and with so much sensitive information being put online every day, are we being too trusting with our information online? Or should we accept that loss of privacy is just one of the risks of living in a wired world? Let us know your thoughts in the form below, and we’ll take your comments to policy-makers and data privacy experts for their reactions.