Remember when your social security number wasn’t assigned at birth? When it wasn’t the key to your doctor’s, dentist’s, therapist’s and financial institution’s databases? Through the years, any public or private institution needing a unique personal identifier used SSN. Per the Privacy Rights Clearing House , although you may not be required to provide your SSN to your doctor, they probably will deny service to you if you don’t!
My medical records used to be between my doctor and I – now they are online (From the Guardian “In 2001, a researcher presented the governor of Massachusetts with his personal medical records ‘reidentified’ from anonymously released data.”).
Did you know a time when there weren’t cameras on every street corner and in every store, bank and business, clicking your picture and noting the time. (In the TV series Criminal Minds, the writers envisioned the scenario where the actors hacked into the city camera system to follow citizens by tracking them via the red light cameras).
What ever happened to the need for a subpoena to listen in on your phone conversation, instead of having digital analysis point out conversations using certain terrorist tagged keywords? (MSNBC reported that “The federal government is allegedly compiling a database of telephone numbers dialed by Americans, and eavesdropping on U.S. callers dialing international calls without obtaining court orders”.).
There was a time when we wanted to be listed in the phone book, so our friends and acquaintances could find us, a time when we didn’t get roto dialed by 10 marketing or pollster companies a day. ( “A cottage industry of small companies with names you’ve probably never heard of — like Acxiom or Merlin — buy and sell your personal information the way other commodities like corn or cattle futures are bartered” – per MSNBC).
What I eat and buy at the grocery used to be my own business. (Consumer Affairs reported that in 2005, CVS posted purchases made by holders of their loyalty card).
It used to be illegal for someone else to read your mail (Per the Guardian “Google automatically scans all emails to and from Gmail to target adverts”).
There was a time our home was our castle, shielded against the outside world. Now drone planes could fly over our house and listen in on our conversations.(NPR reported “US drone planes, MQ-1 Predator and the MQ-9 Reaper are remotely controlled planes that can hover in the air 24 hours at a time, collecting intelligence.”).
There was a time when someone actually had to drive by our house to see what it looked like, let alone ease drop on us (The Guardian reported “As well as systematically photographing streets and gathering 3D images of cities and towns around the world, Google’s Street View cars are fitted with antennas that scan local wifi networks and use the data for its location services”).
I mourn the loss of privacy, do you?
Do we share too much?
How valuable is our privacy? Do we have a right to it? If so, why have we and are we continuing to give it up freely and enthusiastically? Maybe, had we listened to someone who knows what they’re talking about, like someone with a cyber security degree, maybe things would be different.”
Bloggers post the most detailed accounts of their finances on their sites – what they make, what they spend, where it comes from and goes, where their banks are and what their net worth is.
|Facebook collects any and all information you enter – your friends, your children, your likes, your pictures (probably including the location information which is attached to them), your phone, address, relatives, the web pages you like and on and on.|
Google dangles free goodies and tools for your use and collects and combines the profile information they ask you to enter in order to use those ‘free’ things.
Linked In knows your professional history and education. Online job sites have databases about your salary requirements, job history and education.
|The ubiquitous cell phones we use can be tracked. Owners can snap a picture anywhere and everywhere and immediately send it worldwide or record a conversation and broadcast it.|
We feel ‘protected’ when TSA does a body scan or search or when a suspected terrorists is detained indefinitely in the US without being charged with a crime.
We leave an electronic trace every time we type out a letter, send an email or a tweet; turn on our home alarm system, check a movie out from Netflex or use our credit card for a purchase.
Our cars and phones have GPS locators in them, but it’s OK – after all – if we get in trouble we want someone to come rescue us, right? (iPhones were shown last year to be frequently reporting the user’s geographical location per the Guardian.)
We may mourn the loss of our privacy, but for the most part, we are the ones who let it slip through our fingers. We gave it away to get a bargain at the grocery store, to be able to charge our purchases, to be ‘protected’ or to participate in our online world.
How far would you be willing to go, to get it back?
As far as Gene Hackman in Enemy of the State – taking extreme measures such as living in a metal cage room so radio and electronic signals could not leak through?
Would you be willing to forgo use of convenient online products to assure your information remained private – to pay for email instead of using gmail – to avoid using Skype for your video calls (you do know they record and keep the data right?) – to direct wire to your internet instead of using wifi or hot spots – to take action against companies, laws and governments that slowly but surely are collecting our private information?
How valuable is your privacy? What will the world be like in 50 years if we stay this course?