What an interesting time we are living in. We are up in arms when our privacy has been exposed yet we continue to spew our daily lives and the lives of our children onto various social networking sites on a regular bases. Talk about a contradiction!! Don’t get me wrong – I am all in favor of privacy otherwise I would not be such a great privacy consultant. I just don’t understand how people today are so eager to give up their privacy as long as they are the ones exposing it.
When the news broke about NSA and everyone but me seemed to be horrified, shocked and amazed that it was allowed to happen. Invasions of privacy such as this happen on a daily basis in every state and every city. Don’t believe me? Recently I wrote about Target’s new marketing algorithm that monitors your purchases by your credit card number to determine if you are expecting. Or how about the public wi-fi that recognizes your smartphone even if you do not log on? Or how about the number of times per day your image is captured on security cameras? Or even better, how about when you allow smartphone apps to use your location for “checking-in”?
Come on people – WAKE UP!!!!! Do you really think it is necessary to tell people you are at Starbucks getting your morning Joe or better yet do you think anyone really cares? Well maybe Starbucks and your stalker care. And don’t get me started on the people that post online that they are going on vacation. You might as well post a sign in your front yard stating “criminals, we are gone for the week so COME AND GET IT!!” The worst part is that the majority of people do not understand what happens to their information. Many think it is safe because their profile is “private.” WRONG!! Nothing on the Internet is private!! You are willfully disclosing your information to an organization that stores the information on its servers to do with as they see fit. Ever wonder why after you searched for something on Google you start seeing ads for the exact same thing in your email inbox?
Here is something else to consider. Almost everything we do today is stored in the memory of a hard-drive, on a server or in the cloud. In fact the Library of Congress has been archiving tweets since March 2006. But that is not all they archive. By April 2010 the Library of Congress had over 167 terabyes of web-based information. I can only imagine the amount of data they have on file today.
Let’s not forget to talk about the “cloud”. The cloud is where you store your data, music, videos and images on a server that is owned by a company. In other words, you are renting a storage unit from the local you-store-it center except this one is in cyberspace. Sounds like a great idea. You can access your data from any computer, smart phone, or tablet as long as you have Internet access. Unfortunately the cloud, like most services offered in cyberspace are not 100% secure. Don’t believe me – think about Dropbox or iCloud. Both of these experienced data security breaches in the past year or two. Another point to consider is, do you know where the cloud servers are located? You might be surprised to learn that many of these companies resell space on servers in foreign locations (China, Russia, etc). Once it is on their servers they can do with it as they see fit. Yes there are privacy laws but the vary by country, industry and are only valid if they are enforced.