People could share their location information on a case-by-case basis but still stay anonymous. They might choose to have a persistent anonymous ID for location-based services, so that their location history and other data can be used without connecting them to a specific person.
It's also possible that over the next five to 10 years, people's attitudes toward privacy and their data will change, and they'll be willing to share more personal information, attached to their real-world identity, in exchange for more heavily customized computing experiences.
"You don't want to punish the user who cares about privacy by saying, 'Give it up or don't participate,' " Fowler said.
For the people who don't want to share at all, one option floated at the panel was to charge for the services and jettison the ads. This kind of either/or option is popping up in the mobile-app world and with services like Pandora. Free versions come with ads, but for a price, people can upgrade to the ad-free experience.
A paid subscription option is unlikely to come to the big services people are used to getting for free, such as Facebook. Erin Egan, Facebook's chief privacy officer, said that one of the chief requests from users is that the company never charge for the service.
The lengthy privacy policies, thick with legalese, that most services use now will never go away, but better controls will probably emerge. Whatever the tools are used to protect and collect personal data in the future, it will be important for companies like Facebook and Google to educate their consumers and to provide them with options for all levels of privacy.