#1 Privacy of Thoughts and Feelings

“People have a right not to share their thoughts or feelings or to have those thoughts or feeling revealed. Individuals should have the right to think whatever they like.” (Friedewald, 2013)

Our mind. How often was I looking at others imagining what are they thinking about? And how often I’m glad that my thoughts, ideas and feelings are not visible to people around. If my face does not betray me. It is a betrayal to have all the thoughts – stupid, ingenious, secret – on display, no doubts.

Few decades ago and earlier it was possible to extract someone’s thoughts without his consent only with help of drugs or torture. I would say that to do so today through technology is as wicked. Do you think it is not something to worry about? That all the technology for scanning brain activity and all the human-brain interfaces for simple handling of a PC are far from diving into our minds? Might be so, I’m not an expert, but I can imagine a way how to use current technology to estimate someone’s feelings and use it to “my advantage”.

I would say for example that in certain emotional state people are buying more, or buying without too much thinking while being excited. How to detect someone’s mood and thoughts? Well, what about Facebook? A person might put his or her thoughts into a status, a person might share it through message. Even without writing a thing, only through the interaction with the system there could be many clues about the inner feelings. Is the person scanning through funny memes as he or she is bored at work? Is the person admiring pictures of some favorite singer (and having own band trying to get some attention)? All the actions – including the unconscious click-rate or time spent reading a line of text – could be combined into a pretty impressive dataset helping to guess the state of one’s mind. And imagine you have millions of similar collections. Imagine that you have advertisers knocking on your door trying to sell their stuff. If you are Facebook, you do not need to imagine that.

To wrap it up. My main point is that our thoughts are one of the most private things we have and that current technologies are getting closer and closer to the point that they can reveal our inner activity. So be aware of it and if you want to laugh a bit watch again the movie “What Women Want” with Mel Gibson.

- Finn, R. L., Wright, D., & Friedewald, M. (2013). Seven types of privacy. In European data protection: coming of age (pp. 3-32). Springer Netherlands.

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