Bob Blakely: What is Privacy?

This is the title of Bob’s talk at Digital ID World today. Now that he’s at the Burton Group, Bob can really run with his paradigm-inverting views about information systems as they really work in society.

Bob answers the question, “What is privacy?”, this way:

“The ability to lie about yourself and get away with it.”

Bob notes that this does NOT mean the right to lie about yourself and get away with it, just the ability. He places this startling definition of privacy in the context of what he calls the “Identity Oracle”, which is his name for an identity provider (“i-broker” in i-names parlance). What Bob contends is that if an individual designates an i-broker as authoritative, the i-broker should be able to protect the user’s privacy by actively giving out falsified data in response to questions that a third party (typically called the relying party) should not ask. In Bob’s model for an Identity Oracle, anyone can ask it about any identity for which the Identity Oracle may have information. The ability for the Oracle to respond with a lie is simply a very clever defense against parties asking for information who have no legitimate right to ask for it. Bob uses a great quote from Sir Winston to explain this rationale.

“In wartime, trust is so precious that she should be attended by a bodyguard of lies.”

-Winston Spencer Churchill

Talk about a head-banger. As always, I’m going to be thinking about this one for weeks.


About Drummond Reed

Internet entrepreneur in identity, personal data, and governance frameworks
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