Talking total surveillance at the Sydney Writers’ Festival

I’m speaking at this year’s Sydney Writers’ Festival in a free session on Sunday 20 May called iSpy.

Even before Google controversially demolished the privacy walls between its various products, we were already living in the total surveillance society. With every keystroke we are voluntarily telling companies, governments and heaven knows who else an awful lot about ourselves. Should we be worried about the uses to which this information could be put? Technology writer Stilgherrian discusses the implications of what we share with social media consultant Thomas Tudehope.

I daresay I’ll be covering material like that in my Sydney Morning Herald story You are what you surf, buy or tweet, and the more recent ZDNet Australia story The Facebook experiment, but the conversation will be up to you, the audience.

The theme for SWF this year is “the line between the public and the private”. As artistic director Chip Rolley says in his welcome message:

The question of the limits of what is personal is one of the hottest subjects around.

“Privacy is for paedos,” ex-News of the World journalist Paul McMullan told the UK Leveson Inquiry into the media. Now, via Facebook and Twitter, we voluntarily tell the world things we previously might not have told even our loved ones. Investigative journalists thrive on leaks and finding out what others don’t want us to know. And the state knows few boundaries (personal or political) in its need to prevent another 9/11.

(If you want a high-powered discussion of these issues, Sydney Town Hall discussion on Friday 18 May with former High Court judge Michael Kirby, former director general of MI5-turned-thriller writer Stella Rimington, former CIA interrogator Glenn Carle, media and news blogger Jeff Jarvis and investigative journalist Heather Brooke.)

iSpy is on Sunday 20 May 2012 at 2.30pm at the Bangarra Theatre, Pier 4/5, Hickson Road, Walsh Bay. It’s free, and you don’t need to book — but I’m told that it can sometimes get busy at SWF.

Before that I have speaking engagements on 27 April at DigitalMe in Perth and 11 May at the Saasu Cloud Conference 2012.

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