Privacy In a Connected World

E-mails being spied on, Facebook being used to spy on workers, Phorm being used to track our internet surfing habits.

The technologies that are supposed to liberate us are being used ever increasingly to provide a shackle and excuse to watch what we are doing in our private lives.

In the UK we’ve been surrounded by CCTV for years and it was a bit of a culture shock on my recent soiree to Lille to see hardly any CCTV cameras at all. It made me feel happy that I wasn’t being watched, but it also terrified me that should I be the victim of an assault, there’d be no video evidence to prove that the attack happened to help catch the offender.

So do I sacrifice the fact that I won’t feel as safe for a freedom to roam uninhibited? I don’t know. I see the drawbacks and advantages of having and not having the monitoring system in place.

Does the same apply online?

I’m not sure it does. But, I see that the equivalent of getting mugged on the street could be a phishing scam where I accidentally pass on my bank details to a cyber-criminal, and that I’d like to know who did it and to get my money and details back – if everything was tracked that could be possible.

But I don’t want that – I don’t want every website I read to end up on a database somewhere that is then used to assign me a character profile or send me appropriate advertising.

I don’t think e-mails should be traceable – what is said in a private conversation, be it online or offline, should stay just that – private. I don’t want MI5 or the Government or my nextdoor neighbour to be privvy to conversations between freinds or colleagues. I have nothing to hide, but it’s a civil liberty to be able to keep a space for yourself which is only for you.

We are at a stage in technology where we post everything we do online – images, videos, hell even blogs contain innermost thoughts, and these are (privacy settings aside) open to anyone to see. It’s very much like the swinging sixties and sexual liberation. It’s never been so easy to go about doing something, so you over indulge for a while until it all comes crashing down.

I believe this is where we are at the moment – social media is currently London in 1966 where everything is going great, it’s all very exciting and we don’t know what the future holds. What we need to be aware of is that just a few years down the line there were strikes and the country almost came to a stand still. This is what, in the back of our minds, we need to be preparing for even though the party is just getting started.

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