Life in the digital world – what do you think are the future challenges?

| February 17, 2015

What are the future challenges of living in a digital world? Malcolm Crompton wants to hear your thoughts and concerns for an upcoming forum on this topic.

This is a practical blog. I am seeking input. I will be moderator of the Plenary Panel session “Life in the digital world – Future challenges” at the Digital Enlightenment Forum on 26 March 2015 in Kilkenny, Ireland.

The input? What should we consider under such a wide ranging heading that is consistent with the objectives and values of the Digital Enlightenment Forum?

As a former Privacy Commissioner of Australia, naturally I see privacy as a major issue (so long as we can define what privacy is…). But there are also some emerging pragmatic issues that may not be seen primarily as ‘privacy’ issues, such as:

  • Digital haves and have nots
  • Impact on freedom of will, freedom to experiment and concepts of ‘forgive and forget’
  • What is acceptable and what is unacceptable hidden manipulation
  • What is acceptable and what is unacceptable discrimination commercially (note the paper on Big Data and Price Discrimination that has just been released) and by governments
  • Appropriate legal frameworks and protections, including arguments that existing law (for example anti-discrimination law) is sufficient but just needs to be properly applied

Overlaying any discussion is the argument in favour of ‘innovation’ and its encouragement or discouragement by government legislative or economic means.

And remember, DEF has a practical bent: the discussion should include solutions not just problems, ie what could DEF actually do about the issues raised?

So any thoughts on the theme of the discussion or on what you would like to see discussed and what theme emerge would be very valuable.  The thoughts above only scratch the surface and may not even be heading in the same direction. Please send suggestions as comments on this blog over the next week or two.

This blog was first published on the Digital Enlightenment Forum blog.



  1. Chong Shao

    February 18, 2015 at 3:37 am

    Hi Malcolm,I think our

    Hi Malcolm, I think our increasingly connected physical world (via the Internet of Things) will have major implications for all the issues that you outlined. The FTC recently released a report on IoT. The report is worth discussing at the forum, especially its best practice recommendations. They cover well-trodden ground: (i) data security, (ii) data minimisation and (iii) notice and choice. While these are all necessary components of a potential privacy framework, I wonder whether they are sufficient. IoT is arguably heralding a new paradigm – its uses (and abuses) are more intimate, subtle and pervasive. It adds new dimensions and exponentially greater parties (and therefore risks) to the information life cycle. Another good discussion topic therefore is what additional safeguards – personal, organisational, regulatory, societal – are needed to address risks and harms introduced by IoT.

    • Malcolm Crompton

      Malcolm Crompton

      February 19, 2015 at 10:39 am

      Thank you. Most useful

      Thank you.

      That is a most useful input.  We certainly should make sure that IoT is an aspect of the DEF discussion.