Internet Privacy

There are things I don’t post on the internet, reason is they are personal and I don’t want everyone reading or seeing it; in other words it’s private!

I live in the digital, mobile, instant gratification age. I have access to the internet practically all the time. I can access banking and flights from my phone, (if it’s even worth calling it a phone any more)! My information is accessible to the institutions I deal with. I must quote my social security number to verify myself to fly, talk about my phone bill, Cable TV. Practically anything today requires me to verify who I am. And this revolves around one number that is on how many computer screens around the planet. I recently had to verify the last four of my social to a call center in India. I am not a privacy freak, but when information flies to other countries I am concerned. This is no reflection on India and call centers. It’s a concern that I have actually no idea where my information is and who has access to it. There are some bits of info I care about deeply, this is stuff that other institutions use to rate me in society, credit, driving record etc.

The recent hack of the Sony servers and down time of the PS3 network was a wake up call to Sony. It was also a wake up to consumers, who trust that institutions have a grasp on how to properly manage the information entrusted to them. Technology working properly is a wonderful playground where we get to play with information. We feel more in tune with society because we can venture through it with the web as our guide. Food trucks posting their local on Twitter give the faithful a feeling of club membership. I can check in my location on Facebook or Foursquare, letting my friends know where I am.

To interact I must give information about myself, I must provide enough of me to become a person online. Not a digital copy like in the Matrix; but a 2D version that people will recognize me from.

In this version what am I giving away in regards to privacy? In my zeal to be a part of the group am I too exposed? I don’t remember the exact wording, but Professor James Burke once said that information about people is power; but who controls it?

I have been quite free and easy when it came to information, I do have some caution and try to be safe. I see people, sometimes younger, and having grown up with the freedom of the web don’t question information; and in fact place things out there they really shouldn’t! It may haunt them in the future or not, but remember the web isn’t free, and it is controlled. It can also be manipulated, rules can be changed.

I am an optimist, I feel that we are in transition and that the people who control my info have a vested interest in keeping me happy. So that I will continue to give them my business. There is a element of risk in this, as I get older more of my information becomes part of the data held on servers around the globe. The only way to be private today is never to have had a bank account, credit card, telephone; pay your utilities without giving your social security number; you can do that but it’s a process. The only hope you have these days is to just manage your information, your privacy no longer exists.

I have no choice but to allow them to obtain my info and use it as they wish. And yet with all the risk involved I still love technology and give myself freely.

Go Figure!

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