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Have We Lost Our Privacy To the Internet? 222

Posted by samzenpus
from the tell-us-everything dept.
An anonymous reader writes "An article in the Guardian, penned by Joss Wright and Tom Chatfield, discusses whether we — as in Internet users in general — are, or indeed are not, giving away way too much information about ourselves to large Corporations that profit handsomely from mining the info. The article talks about how contemporary internet companies — perhaps predictably — are run with a 'privacy is dead' motto. It considers what implications having all your private data out on the internet — where it can be seen, searched, shared, retransmitted, perhaps archived forever without your consent — has for the 'future of our society' (by which the authors presumably mean the society of the UK). The (rather long) article ends by mentioning that Gmail scans your email, that Facebook apps frequently send your private data right to the app developer, that iPhones are known to log your geographic location, and that some smartphone apps read your address book and messages, then dial home to transmit this info to the company that developed the app."
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Have We Lost Our Privacy To the Internet?

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  • I believe so. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GmExtremacy (2579091) on Sunday March 04, 2012 @06:52PM (#39242433)

    Many people just don't seem to care about privacy any more. And indeed, with people accepting the Patriot Act (in the US) and adopting the "nothing to hide, nothing to fear" mentality, I think things will only get worse.

    Some places are installing cameras everywhere in public places due to a criminal paranoia. Even if you don't technically have privacy in most public places, the cameras just make this even worse. They're not comparable at all to normal humans spotting you because these cameras are everywhere at once and can (and do) record everything they see (unlike a human's faulty memory, the cameras won't forget anything).

    Then there's the whole problem of people willingly giving up all of their information to websites like Facebook. I personally have no doubt that there will come a time when privacy violations and spying are seen as normal and acceptable. In fact, that might already be largely true.

  • by PessimysticRaven (1864010) on Sunday March 04, 2012 @06:59PM (#39242479)

    I take serious issue with anything that implies a person's problem is because of "The Internet." Like the poster above (and many more to come, I bet), people simply don't care anymore. If the Internet can be held responsible for anything, anymore, it's enabling people that are so desperate for attention, they need to inform others of every minutiae of their life.

    Or I could have simply interpreted the title incorrectly; it is a silly thing.

  • by Apothem (1921856) on Sunday March 04, 2012 @07:09PM (#39242537)
    I don't think it'd bother us as much if we knew EXACTLY what data they were collecting. Perhaps a policy of some kind when a company is collecting information, they would have to show a sample of what the collected information would look like and how it would be protected. If you think about it, if there is physical proof that your information isn't as identifiable as everyone may think it is, it would probably put a lot of fear at ease. Especially if one knew that the stuff that would make anon data identifiable was missing as a whole.
  • Re:I believe so. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 04, 2012 @07:14PM (#39242565)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Window_tax

    The window tax was a property tax based on the number of windows in a house. It was a significant social, cultural, and architectural force in England, France and Scotland during the 18th and 19th centuries. To avoid the tax some houses from the period can be seen to have bricked-up window-spaces (ready to be glazed at a later date), as a result of the tax.

    At that time, many people in Britain opposed income tax, on principle, because they believed that the disclosure of personal income represented an unacceptable governmental intrusion into private matters, and a potential threat to personal liberty.

    The bigger the house, the more windows it was likely to have, and the more tax the occupants would pay. Nevertheless, the tax was unpopular, because it was seen by some as a tax on "light and air".

  • Re:I live in the EU (Score:4, Interesting)

    by x1r8a3k (1170111) on Sunday March 04, 2012 @07:14PM (#39242569)
    Do you really think that its not happening wherever you are too? Like Google, Facebook, etc. Europe isn't spying on you just as much as Google, Facebook, etc. in the US is?

    As much as you like to poke fun at us Americans(often rightfully so), we're all in this together.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 04, 2012 @07:20PM (#39242621)

    You have plenty to hide. You just don't know who it needs to be hidden from yet.

  • Profit (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jazari (2006634) on Sunday March 04, 2012 @07:21PM (#39242627)
    While the corporations that use our data have profited much, so have users. I certainly have profited *hugely* from Google's free search engine, free email, free Docs service, free apps on iPhone and Android, etc. I guess some people also consider that they've profited from whatever benefits Facebook and Twitter offer as well.

    The real problem is that the information that these companies accumulate can be captured by the government, and that the logs may go back years (or forever)...
  • Re:I believe so. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jhoegl (638955) on Sunday March 04, 2012 @07:23PM (#39242647)
    Except, this isnt the government, it is the "private sector". You might find this a quandary, but consider that a company has your data and you must pay them to keep it away from the free press. Sure, it might be extortion now... but wouldnt that be blocking "free trade"?
    You see... when corporations own the government, there is no stopping them to endeavor to make you their slave.
    Even monetary systems can be manipulated into slavery. For example, Communism. But instead of the government controlling everything, companies do.
    And well... since companies are people... it turns into the one thing everyone has hated and feared since the 1920s.
  • Straw man (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mauriceh (3721) <maurice@@@harddata...com> on Sunday March 04, 2012 @07:24PM (#39242659) Homepage

    Are we so stupid that we do not see Microsoft and Apple spread rubbish like this to attack Google?
    They like the old order where they were kings.

    If you are concerned and worried about your privacy, start at home with your government.

  • by WiiVault (1039946) on Sunday March 04, 2012 @07:51PM (#39242833)
    With the continued backlog of potentially negative data soon to be facing young-adults as they leave childhood and enter the job market, I expect Facebook will bring about an era where name changes upon adulthood become common place. Of course some people will go ahead and be stupid with their new identities too as many do now. But what other option will today's kids have to remove affiliations from their latest Beiber hate rant of drunken high school tweet?
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Sunday March 04, 2012 @08:15PM (#39242967)

    Your approach is way too randian.

    For example - I recently sent a URL to a friend with gmail address.
    I noticed from the logs that google spidered that website within minutes of me sending that email. Not much of a surprise that google would do it (although a bit chilling to see it in practice), but the problem with your approach is that not only do I need to know that Google will suck up everything I send to someone at a gmail address I also need to know what every other email host will do with email sent to their systems. That's not practical - especially when google does things like offer free email services for personal domains, then I have to do something like dig through MX records to find out who the real host is for every single person I ever send an email too and then figure out what their policies are and if they have changed since the last time I sent an email. That is beyond "not practical" and is now firmly in the territory of ridiculous.

    The only alternative then is to live in a bubble of isolation, refusing to interact with anyone using modern means for fear of disclosing information to the wrong people.

  • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Sunday March 04, 2012 @08:43PM (#39243129) Journal

    Your approach is way too randian

    No, it's not randian, but instead, it's the most practical way to live one's own life in the world we are living in

    It's the you-are-responsible-for-your-own-wellbeing way of living

    In this world where everything could be archived somewhere, if you reveal things about yourselves, like the water that has splashed out of a cup, there's no way to get the genie back into the bottle

    For example - I recently sent a URL to a friend with gmail address.

    I noticed from the logs that google spidered that website within minutes of me sending that email. Not much of a surprise that google would do it (although a bit chilling to see it in practice), but the problem with your approach is that not only do I need to know that Google will suck up everything I send to someone at a gmail address I also need to know what every other email host will do with email sent to their systems

    This world we live in is indeed very different from the world our forefathers lived

    And the way we live in this world should also be very different from the way our forefathers lived in their world

    We must change faster than the pace the world is changing, or we will be consumed by it all

    That's not practical - especially when google does things like offer free email services for personal domains, then I have to do something like dig through MX records to find out who the real host is for every single person I ever send an email too and then figure out what their policies are and if they have changed since the last time I sent an email. That is beyond "not practical" and is now firmly in the territory of ridiculous

    If you think that it's ridiculous, think of the world our offspring will inhibit

    Their every-day-lives will be recoded somewhere

    Their presence in every place will be noted, what they said and do will be archived, everything including their shoe-size will be known to people who wants to know

  • by godel_56 (1287256) on Sunday March 04, 2012 @09:39PM (#39243519)

    As someone else said, your relatives/friends could mindlessly give away your information on Facebook or something such as that. Even just a name may be enough for someone to learn something revealing about you with a quick search

    When you do not reveal everything to your friends, colleagues, and even to your own family members, how much do you think they can reveal to the world about you?

    After all, the word "Privacy" came from "Private", and the most "Private" thing there is yourself - yes, your very own self

    I saw someone on TV on the weekend quoting figures that 30% of US companies said they would not hire a job applicant if they saw a picture of them holding a glass of wine on a social media web site. So all it takes is some dickhead labelling a picture of you at a party on THEIR Facebook page, and they may have damaged your reputation for years.

    No action from you required

  • Re:I believe so. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 05, 2012 @01:06AM (#39244501)

    Companies do it because it works. Re-marketing. It's very successful. You go to a website looking for something. They tag you. Then you see their ads all over reminding you of what and where you were thinking of buying something. Conversion rates for re-marketing are much higher than you might think.

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