How can technologists relate to privacy?

I gave a speech in 2013 at Swinburne University, as part of a panel “Privacy Tradeoffs in the Information Age”.

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“How can technologists relate to privacy?”

“Privacy Tradeoffs in the Information Age”, Swinburne University, 29 April 2013.

Attached below is an edited version of the speech.


“Time and time again, I’ve found a shortfall in the understanding that technologists as a class have regarding data privacy. The gap is perpetuated by the popular impression that the law has not kept up with the march of technology. As a technologist, I am more optimistic. I actually find that principles-based data privacy law anticipates most of the current controversies in cyberspace … though not all.

“We need to get more sophisticated in the way we deal with privacy in the age of Big Data. We should not sugar coat privacy. We often hear that ‘Privacy Is Good For Business’ but that’s too trite. Privacy as an objective sits in a complex multidimensional requirements space. We should recognise frankly that privacy is at odds with many other requirements, like security, performance, cost, and new revenue opportunities. Engineers need to treat privacy as another source of requirements, work out where the tensions are, and resolve the conflicts. That’s what engineers do.”

Lockstep Swinburne Privacy (0 3 1 Speech)