Privacy is (almost) dead

Some of us can still remember the days before the internet. Privacy was mostly about not giving out your phone number and making sure you kept your front door locked (half kidding).

Now, almost every part of our lives is online. We communicate with friends and family using messaging apps, we keep our professional contacts online through linkedin, we share our personal lives through facebook, twitter and instagram. And don’t get me started with email. Talk about a dumpster fire. Thank god we have Google to help us make sense of all that junk that comes our way.

And as much as we don’t want to accept it, ALL of this is tracked. All of it.

We see glimpses of this when we are searching for products or services online. After some searching, we notice an ad from a site we just visited. This is called ad retargeting which is “…online advertising that is targeted to consumers based on their previous internet actions.” ¹

Then you hear about big tech companies like Yahoo that reportedly “secretly monitored emails on behalf of the US government“.

These days, you can’t talk about online privacy and not talk about Eric Snowden. The documentary Citizen Four by acclaimed director Laura Poitras is a must see when it comes to online privacy. It provides a great look into the extent  of the US National Security Agency (NSA) spying scandal. If you have not seen it, I highly recommend you do.


Speaking of the NSA, they can’t seem to stay out of the news these days. I recently came across an article written by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) titled “Into The Abyss: The NSA’S Global Internet Surveillance“that explains in even more detail how vast the NSA surveillance reach is. The majority of the article is an engaging and easy to understand infographic that provides the main details of what the NSA has been up to with regards to email.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the internet has Great potential but, I feel that we are reaching a tipping point of something big in the next few years related to online privacy. Perhaps this uneasy feeling has something do with a certain someone trying to Make America Great Again?

Trump seems to be just the tyrant that Snowden expressed fear about in Citizen Four. Watch the video clip (around 35 seconds mark) in the tweet below from actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who happened to play Eric Snowden in the docu-drama Snowden (he played him very well by the way).

Sorry for the debby downer post but I just think things are gonna get worse before they get better.


Jokes aside, what do you think about online privacy? Cause for alarm, or should we just chill out?


¹ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behavioral_retargeting

 

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3 thoughts on “Privacy is (almost) dead

  1. “Dumpster fire”! This is my mess of an email account for sure!
    As for online privacy, I tend to swing from one extreme to the next as it relates directly to me. I am fairly certain that the government has no interest in me. I pay my taxes, I haven’t broken the law and I am a decent citizen. I don’t have anything to hide or have any crazy secrets. If anyone is reading my emails, oh well. On the other end of that, there are times when I send an email where I wonder if anyone else is seeing it. Is it actually private? Could it be taken out of context? Is someone going to be able to easily steal my identity?
    I think not actually knowing how serious this may be or what is actually going on is what causes the alarm. We all want privacy and we should have it.

  2. I agree with Alison’s comment. I know that there are major issues when it comes to privacy and the internet, however I don’t think about it much because I don’t really have anything to hide. I do think that it is a growing problem though, and privacy is a right that everyone should be entitled to. Like you said, things are only going to get worse which is pretty scary to think of. I almost feel helpless in this situation because what can we really do about it?

  3. I hadn’t given any real thought to Edward Snowden until this now, so thank you, Jeff, for posting this piece. I’ve heard the argument that if you’re not posting anything ‘bad,’ you don’t have anything to worry about, but the darker side of the internet includes people who can use ransomware to freeze your computer, hackers who can steal your identity and African princes who can come into your email space to ask for money. Any action that can safeguard our online lives and protect people with legitimate concerns about the over-reaching of intelligence agencies needs to be supported.

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