Google's chief internet evangelist, Vint Cerf, suggests that privacy is a fairly new development that may not be sustainable. "Privacy may actually be an anomaly," Cerf said at an FTC event yesterday while taking questions. Elaborating, he explained that privacy wasn't even guaranteed a few decades ago: he used to live in a small town without home phones where the postmaster saw who everyone was getting mail from. "In a town of 3,000 people there is no privacy. Everybody knows what everybody is doing."
Rather than privacy being an inherent part of society that's been stripped away by new technology, Cerf says that technology actually created it in the first place. "It’s the industrial revolution and the growth of urban concentrations that led to a sense of anonymity," Cerf said. Cerf warned that he was simplifying his views — "I don't want you to go away thinking I am that shallow about it" — but overall, he believes "it will be increasingly difficult for us to achieve privacy."