Could it be that this week’s RAE report on Privacy and Surveillance (see my last posting) is symptomatic of a wider wave of paranoia across Business and Society? A recent report in the Chicago Tribune suggests that paranoia about information theft runs deep in business thinking and is rife in Silicon Valley. And yesterday’s Washington Times reported that the US Government would be stepping up their counter-intelligence efforts following a series of damaging spy cases.
I had rather hoped that the end of the Cold War would herald the start of a new, healthier climate of openness and trust. And that the Internet would progressively erode the competitive power of proprietary IP rights, introducing a new age in which operational excellence and information sharing would become the keys to future business success. Clearly I was jumping the gun. Because events appear to reflect a different trend: one that reflects a backlash against the benefits of greater connectivity and information flows. We are becoming even more defensive about the erosion of our privacy and intellectual property rights. Obviously it will take time for us to adapt to living in an electronic goldfish bowl.
Of course, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean people aren’t out to steal your information. But I prefer to believe that future business and political success will increasingly flow from openness, collaboration and trust, rather than secrecy, suspicion and caution.