02-08-2016 by 

The other night I got into a discussion with a friend about personal privacy. He said: “Most people would find me very boring, why should I care if they look at my stuff online?” Or otherwise put — if you’ve got nothing to hide, why should privacy concern you? Apart from the temptation to ask for all of his Internet account passwords and history so I could publish them online (my usual response), it inspired me to write this blog post to address the fundamental question — why does privacy matter?


I should start by saying that I love the modern era and all that technology does for us. I use a mobile phone, I bank online, I have an online presence, I use cloud technologies to store data, and I collaborate with colleagues across the globe in ways not possible a decade ago. However, my exposure to these priviliges has given me a keen awareness of the risks they present. I understand that when I get something for free, there is a price to pay, and part of that price is handing over my personal information. What we should all be asking ourselves is, “Is the trade off for my personal information worth it?”


Data is now bigger, social, global and mobile: People have never been so interconnected. Social orthadoxy drives a desire for other people to know what we're doing, saying, and thinking, which is why we voluntarily publish information about ourselves online. We put our innermost thoughts and communications in electronic records, we stamp these with our location, and we carry all this data in our pockets. Our evolution has developed into a race where we connect everything and gather data from it. This may bring new insights and advantages, but the greater the aggregation of big data the more the potential risks grow.


Connection makes separation harder to achieve: I welcome people finding me on LinkedIn, but I don’t want them to be able to reach me at home and intrude on my private life. Many people now use the same devices for work and home purposes, and everyday systems now track and monitor our movements, payments, and preferences on a global scale. We are connected in our activities and we leave digital footprints wherever we go. Privacy is a very personal matter for every individual, so it’s essential that we remain knowledgeable of how data collection works in today’s connected world.


Access is easier, data footprints are permanent: We should be allowed to move on from the mistakes of our past. This can be difficult when our data footprint online is permanent. Without carefully policed retention periods, these permanent, digital records can ruin lives, and the mistakes of the past can come back to haunt us. These mistakes can easily be shared and found by employers, friends, and family. I’m not necessarily arguing the case for a “right to be forgotten,” but more of a “right to rehabilitate.”

28-08-2016 14:42
In general, concentration of a lot of data in the hands of a small group of people or one entity is dangerous on so many levels - no matter if it is a state or a private corporation.
18-08-2016 17:27
This is so true and important. I've had my privacy violated and it is a sickening, horrifying feeling.
18-08-2016 04:43
I believe what you say is true, privacy is immensely important. However that is a luxury that is hard to say we have because we don't know if what we post online or our other details are private. Heck this comment is tracked and so is my address. Just because the government says that it will keep our details to itself and leave no one else to exploit it doesn't mean that it's impossible for a hacker to get it. Without my knowledge someone would know where I live, where my family and friends live and their livelihood would be in danger. Privacy is important and safeguarding it should be a priority.