Information Systems: 'Personal privacy in a public world'

Inspired by Rafat Ali's post today, 'ID and id,' I also took a personal look back in tech history.
Written by Donna Bogatin, Contributor on

Inspired by Rafat Ali’s post today, “ID and id,” I also took a personal look back in tech history.

Ali: In honor of me being the Time “Person of The Year”, here’s how it all started for me...this was Sep 7, 1999, and only about 25 days since I had landed in U.S... Bloomington, Indiana, to be exact… I searched online in the computer lab at school, and found the weblog community was small, but growing (the shortform “blog” still hadn’t come into existence).

I got hooked, so much so that I wrote a long proposal for a research paper on weblogs...

My U.S. academic tech history dates a bit farther back than Ali’s. Pursuing my M.B.A. at New York University, in the 1980’s, I submitted for my Management Information Systems course:

Personal Privacy in a Public World

Readers of this Digital Markets blog know that maintaining personal privacy in a tech-centric world is a keen interest of mine. It is not a new found interest.

I wrote:

The New York State Identification and Intelligence System (NYSIIS) became the nation’s first state-wide criminal justice information system in 1965. The original director of the NYSIIS felt that “as we walk on the moon and reach for the stars in outer space, we see the wave of the future for tranquility on earth in the NYSIIS story.”

The implementation of the unitary data bank was viewed by others involved with the criminal justice system, however, as an increase in government power and as a possible infringement on personal privacy. The administration of justice has always entailed the juxtaposition of societal needs with individual rights. The introduction of computer technology into the judicial process further sharpens this dichotomy.

Moreover, the need for information systems for criminal justice purposes versus the fear of privacy invasion reflects the larger societal dilemma faced by a democracy in an age of ever increasing automation.

The concluding paragraph of my 15 page paper:

In the words of one advocate of “the private self in a public world”: A criminal record system “out of control” that in effect convicts by arrest and incarcerates without benefit of trial hundreds of thousands in “record prisons” plainly needs correcting.

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