In the wake of the ‘Facebook data scandal‘ it seems a pertinent time to write a blog post I’ve been thinking about for a while – sharing my tips and experiences for controlling my online data and privacy.
Some people may not have thought much about this until the news broke that Facebook had shared and used people’s data in some dubious ways (shock horror!), however, many librarians and people in the information services industries have been harping on about these risks for years.
So, if you haven’t already, what are some simple things you can do to get on top of your data and maintain your privacy online?
Continuing on a similar thread from the past few posts this year – let’s chat quickly about facial recognition.
It’s pretty freaky when you upload a photo to social media and the image is automatically tagged with the people in it. Very accurately too. According to the article ‘Is Facebook’s Facial-Scanning Technology Invading Your Privacy Rights?‘ Facebook’s DeepFace recognition software has “an accuracy rate of 97.35 percent compared with 97.5 percent for humans”
I don’t ever remember being given a notification or option to ‘opt out’ of having my face recognised by this technology, and thus this is another example of our privacy potentially being invaded without us even thinking about it. Think how useful this type of information could be to an identity thief. Because you cannot change your face (unless you are willing to go super sci-fi and try out a ‘Face Off’ style scenario) this type of ‘biometric identifier’ can be used to link all sorts of information about you.
To continue with the discussion of online privacy from a post earlier this year, I wanted to briefly mention the Internet of Things (IoT).
The IoT basically just means where everyday items have internet connectivity, so they can send and receive data. So we have ‘smart watches’ and ‘smart rings‘, fridges with the internet to do grocery shopping on and so forth. You can read more about this trend on the Center for the Future of Libraries webpage.
While these advances are exciting, few people seem to stop and think about how these products can affect our privacy.
Let’s start the new year with a topic I’ve been keen to write about for a while now; online privacy.
First, online privacy matters. Yes, even if “you have nothing to hide”. Because really, you do have something to hide in a sense, otherwise you wouldn’t have curtains or wear clothes (as Christopher Soghoian discusses in the TED talk/article). Amnesty International even goes so far as to label encryption as a human rights issue to protect and promote free expression (see Electronic Frontier Foundation).
According to Collier in Vocativ, “Plenty of people across Europe and the United States agree on the importance of keeping their data private. But according to a new survey, far fewer are willing to do anything to protect it.” Another article in Vocativ explains that many Americans are willing to give up their online privacy for more convenience in their online behaviour. Though these views seem to alter by age, and type of situation. For example younger people, especially when using social media, were more willing to accept the sharing of their personal information (for example to receive personalised ads).