digital padlock with data protection 3D rendering, a Swedish privacy-based social network, asked Earth911’s Mitch Ratcliffe to discuss the history of privacy. A tech journalist and startup veteran for the past 30 years, he sees vital connections between the evolving definition of privacy and the potential to bring a circular economy to reality using more data collected by the digital environment.

Recounting his early involvement in internet communities — starting with The WELL (Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link) and serving on the founding board of directors of, one of the first platform marketplaces to broker human relationships, and later involvement in gig economy companies — Ratcliffe outlines the history of privacy and the coming confrontation over surveillance by governments and corporations, as well as tracking of individuals by their friends and families.

Sustainability will depend on data sharing for improved management of resources, which requires a new relationship between people. And organizations will be required to ensure that decisions and results will be based on complete information shared selectively and with well-defined conditions. Today’s one-click software licensing has cost most consumers their data and any control over the company providing the services they use.

What will the future of privacy look like? It’s impossible to predict with confidence, but Ratcliffe explains why the road to sustainability will pass through the same decision points as privacy and the future of work.

Catch more conversations with Mitch on Earth911’s Sustainability In Your Ear podcast.

By Earth911

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