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Here are five privacy fantasies for 2014 that we can make happen – if we can find some pixie dust

future_fantasy_city-wideBy Simon Davies

If we all work together we can make the unimaginable come true. Here are five dream scenarios for 2014 that we know we can make possible. We just need some pixie dust and a genie.

nsa_eye The NSA sees the light

They’ll suddenly get it. One morning NSA Director, General Keith Alexander, will wake up and ponder over his breakfast that maybe the agency should be transparent. Even more inspiring, it should act within the law. Alexander goes in early to the office and convenes an executive meeting in which he breaks the news that NSA will become a beacon of accountability and due process. No more speculative technologies like universal metadata; no more subversion and circumvention. A new era for national security is born and public trust is restored. He then tells the NSA’s overseas partner agencies that they’d better “shape up” or there’ll be no more funding.

 

Google repents

OYW6The inspiring move by the NSA has a huge influence on Google, which until now has been breaking every privacy law that it can find. Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt hasn’t slept for a week, anxious that maybe the advertising giant has been doing evil. He doesn’t like it. Google’s secret plan to buy all the world’s robotics companies and take over the streets of Washington in a sort of mass Robo Cop scenario is discarded. Schmidt himself takes a fifty percent pay cut, donating the savings to privacy groups across the world and apologises from the bottom of his heart for the Safari Bug, the WiFi scandal and every other transgression. It is a long apology.

 

Jerry Springer is re-born

is-that-an-emmy-the-jerry-springer-show-34299912-1067-1600The famous “kick and tell” TV host from another generation launches spectacularly onto network broadcasting with a new show in which guests are encouraged not to talk about how they had an affair with their daughter’s boyfriend and then sired a baby who grew up to be a drug dealer in Chicago. The audience shows its utter disapproval when the hapless guy with a singlet tells them he has three wives, all of who are illegal immigrants who he has sold to banana plantation owners. Meanwhile, experts are routinely brought on stage to explain why privacy is important and revealing too much is not only unethical from a broadcasting perspective, but is also injurious to personal well-being.

Europe gets religion

Europe_flagsUntil now European governments have played every dirty trick in the book to destroy any hope of data protection reform. They undermined the Parliament, played ruthless legal tactics, stalled and obfuscated, supported hostile corporate lobbyists and even forgot to appoint a new data protection supremo. Now, in what is widely seen as a miraculous conversion, governments are coming together to uphold the framework of fundamental rights for which Europe is famous. Led by the United Kingdom, governments are falling over themselves to back the right to be forgotten, the right of anonymity and meaningful safeguards for online privacy.

 

03_mark_zuckerberg_artworkFacebook repents

In a remarkable turn of events, Mark Zuckerberg calls a press conference in which he explains that Facebook has decided that privacy is, after all, important. The company decides to revamp its privacy dashboard, the use of which currently requires an engineering doctorate. The new dashboard has a simple switch that offers “total privacy” and “really good privacy”, the default of which is the former. If users want their data to be ruthlessly exploited they are required to go into a separate dashboard which requires a doctorate in engineering, and work their way through 72,000 permutations in order to switch on information sharing.