May 26, 2017

The "erosion of privacy is a cancer of digital life"

Your Data Is Way More Exposed Than You Realize WSJ

To get a handle on your online privacy, first understand how much of your data is already out there, and how it can be weaponized.

Privacy wasn’t a concern for her until it was too late.....She suspected her ex of stalking her online, and posting her information to fuel harassment. “It is psychological torture,” she told me.....Her nightmare, which is ongoing, might not resemble your life or mine. But it’s a stark reminder that erosion of privacy is a cancer of digital life. And while we might not talk about privacy as often as the latest cool app, it’s only getting worse.

I hear this all the time: “I have nothing to hide.” The truth is, pretty much everybody does something online they have reason to keep private. You can’t see the future. The woman I spoke to said she never planned on getting into what she described as a terrible relationship.
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I have a theory: People would care a lot more about privacy if they realized how exposed they already are. So I invited a half-dozen volunteers I hadn’t met before into my lab to see how much extremely personal information I could find about each of them in under an hour.  I managed to shock every person. It wasn’t even very hard.
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Level one was calling up what’s out there and totally public. Lots of people have googled themselves, but fewer are familiar with “people search engines” like FamilyTreeNow.com and Spokeo, which pull together and cross-reference public data, such as property records and court reports, into one place. Anyone can use them to look for birth dates, current and former addresses, phone numbers, gobs of relatives—even ex-lovers and roommates.
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Level two in my privacy test was looking at data we willingly give to companies like Google. My volunteers brought their laptops and logged in. What we found provoked their most uncomfortable reactions.

Why privacy is so important

From  The Unwanted Gaze: The Destruction of Privacy in America by Jeffrey Rosen, a legal scholar

“Privacy protects us from being misdefined and judged out of context in a world of short attention spans, a world in which information can easily be confused with knowledge. True knowledge of another person is the culmination of a slow process of mutual revelation. It requires the gradual setting aside of social masks, the incremental building of trust, which leads to the exchange of personal disclosures. It cannot be rushed...In a world of short attention spans, privacy is necessary to protect citizens from the misjudgments that can result from the exposure of too much information as well as too little information. Filtered or unfiltered, information taken out of context is no substitute for the genuine knowledge that can only emerge slowly over time...

“Privacy is necessary for the formation of intimate relationships, allowing us to reveal parts of ourselves to friends, family members, and lovers that we withhold from the rest of the world. It is, therefore, a precondition for friendship, individuality, and even love. In The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera describes how the police destroyed an important figure of the Prague Spring by recording his conversations with a friend and then broadcasting them as a radio serial. Reflecting on his novel in an essay on privacy, Kundera writes, “Instantly Prochazka was discredited: because in private, a person says all sorts of things, slurs friends, uses coarse language, acts silly, tells dirty jokes, repeats himself, makes a companion laugh by shocking him with outrageous talk, floats heretical ideas he'd never admit in public, and so forth.”

“We are trained in this country to think of all concealment as a form of hypocrisy. But we are beginning to learn how much may be lost in a culture of transparency: the capacity for creativity and eccentricity, for the development of self and soul, for understanding, friendship, and even love. There are dangers to pathological lying, but there are also dangers to pathological truth-telling. Privacy is a form of opacity, and opacity has its values. We need more shades and more blinds and more virtual curtains. Someday, perhaps, we will look back with nostalgia on a society that still believed opacity was possible and was shocked to discover what happens when it is not.”

Google Is About To Start Tracking Your Offline Behavior, Too

It’s no secret that Google already monitors its users’ online shopping activity, but now it will follow them out of their homes and keep a close eye on every interaction they make. The tech giant announced a new system to track users’ in-store credit card purchases Tuesday in a statement published on the company’s official blog.

Top 9 Reasons to Stop Using Facebook... Now.

1. Facebooks creates false endorsements for products from you to your friends - and they never reveal this to you.....
3. They read your private messages and the contents of the links you send privately.....
4. They’ve introduced features that turn your phone’s mic on without telling you....
7.They’ve used snitching campaigns to trick people’s friends into revealing information about them that they chose to keep private.....
8.They use the vast amount of data they have on you, from your likes, things you read, things you type but don’t post, to make highly accurate models about who you are – even if you make it a point of keeping these things secret. There are statistical techniques, which have been used in marketing for decades, that find correlating patterns between someone’s behavior and their attributes. Even if you never posted anything, they can easily work out your age, gender, sexual orientation and political views. When you post, they work out much more. Then they reveal it to banks, insurance companies, governments, and of course, advertisers.
9. Facebook is demanding to track what you buy, and your financial information like bank account and credit card numbers. You’ve already agreed to it in the new Terms Of Service. It’s already started sharing data with Mastercard..
Posted by Jill Fallon at May 26, 2017 5:21 PM | Permalink