How Much Should People Worry About the Loss of Online Privacy?

Privacy in the digital age means a lot of things to a lot of people. Some people fret about the privacy controls on social networks, some worry about the companies that track their online behavior, and others are concerned about government surveillance. We asked a diverse group of panelists how much our readers should worry about the vast array of privacy threats.Our panelists are, in alphabetical order:Stewart Baker, a partner in Washington, D.C., at the law firm of Steptoe & Johnson. His book “Skating on Stilts” describes his battles with privacy advocates during his tenure at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.Danah Boyd, a senior researcher at Microsoft Corp., conducted one of the most comprehensive ethnographic studies of how teenagers shape — and are shaped by — their interactions with social networks.Jeff Jarvis, an associate professor at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, whose recent book, “Public Parts,” argues that living in public opens up unprecedented personal and professional opportunities for collaboration.Christopher Soghoian, a fellow at the Open Society Institute, created the first browser software — called TACO — that blocked online tracking.What follows are edited excerpts of the conversation.

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