The curse of transparency
It’s a double-edged sword
We all wanted more disclosure and transparency. We rejoiced in 2023, when pay transparency laws in California and New York spawned a trend to publicly post salary levels in recruitment ads.
And open data was the cool thing. What’s the point of having all that information on city and government databases – like the value of houses on your street – if it’s hidden from the very people who can make the most use of it? Transparency leads to the democratization of information, and puts the power of data in our own hands.
Be careful what you wish for.
That was supposed to be one of the great features of blockchains – it’s all transparent and immutable. But that also means there’s nowhere to hide private data. From criminals, bad actors, or disaffected employees, spouses, exes. And more. Companies, with good intentions, like banks, insurance companies, colleges. And the authorities. You trust them with your data, right?
When smart systems like GPT can develop a complete profile of you, and lay bare your income, asset value, achievements and relationships, habits and routines, in seconds, transparency becomes all too personal. Subscriptions to privacy services are too costly for most of us. And they can’t erase the past. Now we’re beginning to regret all those times we clicked ‘I accept’ on the terms and conditions of every app and network service we’ve ever used.
But the benefits of open access for all outweigh the risk for the individual, surely? Think of all the innovative business ideas that have been spawned off the back of the free exchange of information. And what about all the great deals you’ve been able to source from aggregating websites? Comparative pricing is the best tool ever.
Not so fast. Once the transparency genie is out of the bottle, you can’t put it back in!
Links to related stories
- Almost Half of All US Job Postings Include Salary Information Now – Bloomberg, 14 March 2023
- Can We Trust Anything When We Have Access to Everything? – Medium, 15 February 2023
- The data game: what Amazon knows about you and how to stop it – The Guardian, 27 February 2022
- Mindbullet: Open data brings freedom but transparency breeds fear (Dateline: 1 November 2020)
- Mindbullet: Big data is a double-edged sword for big business (Dateline: 29 May 2022)
Warning: Hazardous thinking at work
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