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Fred Lane riveted delegates at the Privacy XChange Forum with an overview of American Privacy.

The Vermont author, attorney and computer forensics expert’s discussion spanned from James Otis Jr., an inspiration for the American Revolution, to the Kodak camera in 1888, to the appearance of the first Webcam in 1991.

Lane found a common theme across the years: many of our privacy concerns aren’t new—and often our problems are self-created.

The key takeaway: Privacy has evolved from a protected right to a traded commodity.

Here are a few highlights:

  • Surveillance concerns aren’t new. They date back to 1888, when “Kodak fiends” took unwanted pictures of bathers with a new, easy-to-use Kodak camera.
  • Postcards were the first voluntary breaking-down of privacy, the Twitter of their age.
  • Phone use has gone full circle. When the telephone was first invented, users hopped on to a party line. In the 1920s, we moved away from the party line. And in the 1970s, we developed the phone booth for private conversations. Now, we speak openly on our cell phones while shopping.
  • The first Webcam was developed to monitor a coffee pot so graduate students wouldn’t walk down several flights of stairs to find no coffee.
  • The rise of the selfie: Now users take pictures of themselves and post to social networks.

Next up: a panel on Privacy by Design, a way to embed privacy practices into your business.

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