Ed Felten is asking a very interesting question. With all of the data and privacy leaks over the last few years, it still seems like most people aren't that concerned. Certainly, those whose data has been included in one or more sets of leaked data (which must include nearly everyone by now) may be slightly inconvenienced, but is it enough to take notice? He asks what will it take to create an "Exxon Valdez" moment for privacy, where just about everyone suddenly starts paying attention. He asked that question on a recent panel, and someone responded that a large scale identity theft effort that impacted thousands would do the trick, but others disagree. Of course, another issue is whether or not this is even the right question. The Valdez incident may have captured public attention for a little while, and caused some changes in processes, but did it actually set in place large scale changes? And, with privacy, it seems that an increasing number of people are simply resigned to accepting Scott McNealy's position that you have zero privacy, and everyone should just "get over it." Alternatively, there are those who support the David Brin sousveillance view of the world, where you admit there's no privacy, but make sure that's true for those who have access to your private data as well (which, in theory, helps keep them more honest, since any violation of your privacy can then become known). So, perhaps the real question is whether or not there really will be a defining moment in privacy violations, or if people will gradually just become resigned to the fact that they have little to no privacy any more.
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