Wednesday, 8 January 2014

The blurred lines of privacy

I'm curious of what the opinion of my readers about how much privacy they believe they have online.  Privacy is a tricky subject because it feels like its a fundamental right for everyone to have in a free society, yet we seem to be giving it up as fast as it is possible for us to do.  With everybody's lives being lived more in the public sphere of the internet, its harder and harder to have parts of your life that are kept private.  Our online behavior now defines people, if people can have access these actions, our personality can be at least partially figured out.
I find that people from older generations are much more concerned about having "private" information being made public on the internet.  My mother for example is paranoid about having even a photo of her being posted on Facebook.  She is probably not impressed with me mentioning her in this blog.  Whereas I have everything from relationship and career status up for the world to see.  I wonder if people are truly stressing out about the reality of the lack of online privacy, or are people just slowly getting used to it?
I believe that the sooner we accept that all of our online interactions are public, the easier it will be to accept the inevitable of the future.  I have mentally conceded that everything I do online is probably recorded somewhere in some NSA database.  I think its a helpful exercise to remember that the internet is not a place you can lurk around safely with anonymity.  Having all your activity public is not necessarily a bad thing, it just means there will no longer be secrets.  You can no longer have a secret online underground life, and that's probably a good thing.  If a suspicious spouse or employer wants to find out what your up to, it's not going to be hard for them to do.  People will just have to be more honest about themselves.  I think we are entering a strange future where privacy may be a rare thing to encounter.  With our smartphones GPS tracking our locations now, who knows the kind of intimate details that will be recorded about us in say ten years.  Google glass is just the beginning.

Obviously since we are doing legally confidential things such as banking online, we require a certain amount of discretion.  But as far as I can tell, online banking is quite a secure way to manage money.  That sort of private information is perhaps easier to uncover now, but this also means its a two way street.  It will be easier to track down those who perpetrate these crimes.   

Now, I'm not at all a fan of government using this technology to crack down on it's citizens for victim-less crimes, such as drug use.  But the reality is again, no privacy is a double edged sword.  The citizens will be able to crack down on its government for its much more heinous crimes.  As was demonstrated by Edward Snowden and Wikileaks.

Its a controversial issue, as I can see positive and negatives on both sides.  I guess we’ll have to wait see how miserable our public online lives are in ten years.

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