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Thursday, October 13 • 10:30am - 10:40am
Lightning Talk - Taking Back Privacy to Gain Control

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The word ‘privacy’ has become an increasingly prevalent and polarizing term and it is a problem. 

Asking someone to define ‘privacy’ is like asking them for their definition of God. The question is intensely personal, colored by distinct experiences and backgrounds. After talking to hundreds of people and spending a career thinking about it, it’s possible we’ve been contemplating the wrong question.

The word privacy itself has obscured the issue because the “battle over privacy” isn’t really about privacy at all — it’s about control. Thinking about it in more specific examples, when someone decides to do naked yoga with the curtains closed (or open, as it were), they’re really saying: “I choose to let you see me or not…but either way it’s my choice.” 

Privacy becomes a hot button topic when information or our actions are recorded without our consent or knowledge. We’re outraged that the NSA engaged in domestic surveillance and creeped out that companies are profiling us at such a detailed level that they can predict intimate events like pregnancy. 

However, as participating members of our modern, tech-enabled society, this is the trade-off we make. We’re not just giving up privacy for convenience; we’re surrendering control, and we do it because we don’t believe we have a viable alternative. 

This is not how the real world works.

At home, we can decide when to turn off the lights and close the blinds. We control who, how and what about ourselves is shared. This is our right — our choice — and it’s a decision that will differ from person to person because everyone has a varying degree of comfort when it comes to sharing pieces of his or her personal life. That’s the definition of control.

Which leads back to the problem: talking about privacy in the first place. Not only does it fail to address the real issue (control), it fails to include everyone in the conversation. Let’s be honest, some people simply don’t mind doing yoga naked with the curtains open. They aren’t as concerned about their privacy as others might be, but that doesn’t mean they don’t like having the freedom to choose when and how wide to open their windows. Steve Shillingford, CEO of Anonyome Labs wants to open the door to this problem and discuss. He believes individuals should be able to control their identities and personal information — plain and simple. 

Recent data from Pew (January 2016) suggests that while Americans aren’t necessarily opposed to sharing their information, they are frustrated and concerned by the lack of control they have regarding how, when and with whom that information is shared. In fact, 93% of surveyed adults said that being in control of who could access their information was important to them, and 90% said that control over what information was collected was important. So why are we talking about privacy at all?

avatar for Steve Shillingford

Steve Shillingford

Anonyome Labs
Steve Shillingford, current Founder and CEO of Anonyome Labs, has more than 20 years of experience driving growth and revenue at industry-leading technology companies. Shillingford has served as an Advisor at Signal Peak Ventures since 2013, and also serves on the boards of E8 Security... Read More →

Thursday October 13, 2016 10:30am - 10:40am EDT
Room C