Privacy in Trust

by Nam Chu Hoai about 9 years ago

Privacy is one of the most important parts of trust. While there might be more trust if everyone knew everything about everyone else, that would completely compromise personal privacy. We value privacy as a fundamental right and believe that no one should have to give up any personal information against his or her will.

Interacting in the online world often leaves us questioning where our privacy went. We’ve heard stories about photographs posted on Facebook becoming advertisements across the globe. And we’ve all seen how advertisements seem to can target us a little too well, mentioning products specific to your home state, your music tastes, or your college major. Online advertisements seem to know exactly who we are. These somewhat creepy moments can make people more likely to guard their personal information.

But keeping all personal information private also has drawbacks. To hide all personal information, you would basically have to remove yourself completely from society - no bank account, no cable or Internet, no insurance. Without sharing your information, there is also no way to build trust. How can you trust someone you know nothing about?

An ideal system to build trust would respect privacy, but still provide necessary information. You don’t want people to have enough information to break into your house or to steal your identity. However, you do want to be able to research other people before you meet them and make sure they're safe and not a scam.

To find a good middle ground, it’s important to realize what kind of information is necessary to building trust. If you can verify some basic information, see a history of past actions, and know how you’re connected, you’re able to decide whether you feel safe interacting with this person. You also don’t compromise anyone’s privacy in the process.

An even better system would let you control which information people see. If you don’t worry about sharing your name, your Craigslist purchases, and how many Facebook friends you have, then you should be free to share. However, if you’d rather keep some of this information to yourself or wait until you learn more about the other person, you should also be able to keep some things hidden.

It’s important to remember that the point of a trust system is to build trust. If you keep all your information secret, other people can’t determine whether are they can trust you.

Striking a balance between privacy and trust is crucial to the success of any system and is an attainable goal with proper planning.

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