Is Privacy Dead? Do we care?

Wednesday 12th March 2008, 6:30 pm

Speaker: Professor Anne Anderson, University of Dundee

Venue: The Royal Scots Club Hepburn Suite, 30 Abercromby Place, Edinburgh EH3 6QE - map and direction.

This talk is free of charge and no reservation is required. Non members are most welcome. Refreshments available from 6:10 pm.


We all now have access to a range of computing and communication devices that George Orwell's Big Brother could only dream about. How should we deploy these technologies? We must recognise that access to all this wonderful new technology brings resposibilities and rights for individuals as well as organizations.

The Royal Academy of Engineering recently published a Report on Dilemmas of Privacy and Surveillance. As part of the working group I was very pleased that the policy aspects of this domain were explored. We came up with a number of important recommendations. One of these was the need to campaign for 'designing for privacy'. Car manufacturers had eventually to take some responsibility for car crime and improve car locks - IT service providers must do likewise. For example, in Japan and South Korea camera phones must make a noticeable sound when a photo is taken. This is to halt men taking covert photographs of young women and distributing them.

Privacy policies must be strengthened and the penalties for breaches must have bite. This must be combined with individuals and organisations exercising their rights and responsibilities.

If we choose we can invade one other's privacy as the new technologies make it pretty easy - but should we?

We need to raise awareness particularly among young people of the risks of online social networking such as MySpace - FaceBook etc but should we really use these to vet potential employees?

We should start the debate about the socially acceptable uses of technologies which can impact on privacy from the cameraphone to the Facebook page. We have made some progress on this with rolling back the intrusiveness of mobile phone use - in families and the public sphere - but this is much more significant as many of the harmful effects are hidden and pervasive.

Given the new technologies we can all be paparazzi and peeping Toms. How do we resist the temptation?

About the speaker


Professor Anne H. Anderson, MA, Ph.D, O.B.E
Vice Principal & Head of College of Art, Science & Engineering, University of Dundee.

Professor Anne Anderson is a psychologist interested in human communication and the impacts of new information and communication technologies. Her research has investigated how people communicate, collaborate and solve problems how IT systems do or do not replicate the advantages of face-to-face interactions. She has held many research grants on these topics funded by ESRC, EPSRC, EC and industry. As well as her own research Professor Anderson has been extensively involved in experience in research management.

Professor Anderson was a principal investigator in the Human Communication Research Centre funded from 1990-2000 by ESRC. From 1995-2000 she was director of the ESRC Cognitive Engineering programme an initiative that funded 15 projects across the UK on topics concerned with people and information technology. From 20000-2006 she was director of the People at the Centre of Information and Communication Technologies (PACCIT) programme. This is a £7 million LINK programme funded by ESRC, EPSRC and the DTI and seeks to build research collaborations between the universities and industry. In 2002 she was awarded an O.B.E for services to social science. In 2006 she was awarded the first ESRC Directorial Fellowship to synthesize the lessons learned from the PACCIT programme on encouraging university-industry research collaborations. She has also been involved in a number of policy for a concern
ed with IT and society including:
2003/4 Member of Foresight Advisory Group Cyber Trust and Crime Prevention.
2005-7 Member of Royal Academy of Engineering Working Group preparing a report on Dilemmas of Surveillance.