Ori Inbar (@comogard) tweeted an offer to join the discussion on the Outernet Guidelines Initative.  One particular point of their discussion piqued my interest and that’s the subject of privacy issues within the AR web (Outernet, ARNet, Digital Sea, etc., etc., ad infinity.)

John then hosted three panels, one at his office and two at the Web2Open (part of Web2.0) in New York City.  The focus was on how Augmented Reality would intersect with the Semantic Web.  John and Jack talked a lot about OGI (the Outernet Guidelines Initiative) and how things like AR would affect privacy issues (when image recognition comes into full fruition, is it okay for a stranger to map your face and locate your personal data?) business, (who has the air rights to the Outernet?) and how we think (if when I see you I can track your picture and know your details in the moment, do I even need to remember your name?)

The questions asked are important ones and they are absolutely right that we should be addressing them now before the potential use-cases of an Outernet become a legal squabble.  Who owns data is a tricky subject.  It will become more confusing when cameras and pachube items are harvesting information without anyone to decide if its acceptable. 

I believe we should have the following three rules about information harvesting:

1) Generalized information not tied to an individual is free to use.

2) Use of information tied to an individual must be opt-in.

3) Access to one’s own personal information is free. 

A simple rule-set to guide the use of information would help the creation of the Outernet.  Below are some use-cases of following the three rules of information and not following them. 


Ten Use-Cases for Following the 3 Rules

1) Rapid way to find lost children or lost dogs.  (no lost cats, when they leave it’s on purpose)

2) Worried parents can find out exactly where their teenagers went last night.

3) Teen-age girls can find out exactly what fashions are hawt.

4) Instant price comparision when shopping and would tell you where to find and if it was worth the gas to drive there.

5) Check if your favorite restaurant is busy. 

6) Business owners could figure out what everyone wanted and could carry less inventory which means less waste for society. 

7) Business owners could learn if people were happy with their experience in their stores. 

8 ) Shoppers know which stores have their particular item in stock. 

9) Drivers know the route to work with the least amount of traffic.

10) Grocery lists could be converted into maps to show you the fastest route through the grocery store.


Ten Use-Cases of Not Following the 3 Rules

1) Lift personal information and passwords when using kiosks (ATMs and credit cards).

2) Corporations can track individual tastes and spending habits to maximize profit on you, because they would know what you were willing to pay.

3) Government used data to decide if you might be about to perform a crime based on your facial expression (i.e. Minority Report or the TV series Lie To Me).

4) Estranged parents using the information trail to find the best place to snatch their children.

5) Churches checking up on their members to make sure they are not “sinning”.

6) Employers checking up on their employees to make sure they aren’t violating contracts.

7) Used to cheat in card games because “tells” could be identified by programs.

8 ) Stalk someone, and send them messages saying “I know you were <insert location>”. 

9) Health insurance keeping tabs on people for bad habits (smoking, eating fast food, etc) and increasing rates when found doing too many “bad” things.

10) Employers checking facial expressions for happiness quotient during customer interactions.  (ie – smiling)


Thomas K. Carpenter

Thomas K. Carpenter is a full time contemporary fantasy author with over 50 independently published titles. His bestselling, multi-series universe, The Hundred Halls, has over 25 books and counting. His stories focus on fantastic families, magical academies, and epic adventures.

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