Can we still get some privacy in 2008?

December 29th, 2007

2007 was the year in which it became obvious that our perceived privacy is actually non-existent.

I’m not affected by any of the above yet, as

  • I don’t live in the USA
  • I don’t live in England
  • CZ is not my insurance company
  • I don’t do Facebook
  • I have never liked the idea of adding my contacts to online webmail address books

I realise it’s only a matter of time before everyone will be affected. I’m on Linked In, I use gmail accounts occasionally, sometimes I make use of my credit card, I appear to have friends who tick “yes” and hand over their passwords to companies who want to send spam (“your friends will love this information as much as you do”) to their entire MSN contact list. Any company that has my details legitimately could make the error of misplacing a couple of CDs or have their database hacked, and if biometrics are hot in the USA now, no doubt it will happen on this side of the water soon enough too.

Instead of people with identities and privacy, we’ve become a global mix of consumers and potential terrorists. We’re trading our privacy for a false sense of security, and sell out our friends to advertisers.

Is it reversible? Could it be if we all wanted it to be?

Sometimes I wonder how many people are really aware of the fact that their privacy doesn’t actually exist. I’m amazed at comments by people on various forums who like all those new “features”. Just because they want this one feature in their app, they seem to be blind to the fact that it just is not as good if you were *not* planning on sharing your private data.

So, in order to safeguard myself from privacy leaks in online social networks, should I delete my LinkedIn account? And will I have to stop using MSN too?
And if I do, and get all my contacts to switch to Jabber (yeah right), will Jabber too become a privacy threat?

What I’d like for 2008:

  • to be able to contact my friends, family and clients when I want to, and send them the information I want to send them. Entirely by myself, at the time chosen by me.
  • people to wake up to the fact that even if all our irises, finger prints and DNA would be scanned and filed in a database, this would not stop any terrorists.
  • Oh, and world peace of course, but hey, I’m not that dillusional.

Good posts on other websites on more or less the same subject:

Also, I’m reminded of this song by Anti-Flag, which ends with the proclamation “I’m a human being”. I think we need to wake up to that fact, and refuse to be treated as numbered potential terrorists.

Last but not least I have a request to anyone who has my email address: please stop sending me requests to join Facebook, MySpace or Hyves. I’m not interested. If you plan on giving your MSN password to anyone, please delete me from your contact list first. And if you feel compelled to type my email address on *any* site that wants your friends to be as happy as you are with their services: DON’T! Please.

6 Responses to “Can we still get some privacy in 2008?”

  1. So you don’t want me to add you to my Linked-In network then 😉

  2. SebZar says:

    "And if I do, and get all my contacts to switch to Jabber (yeah right), will Jabber too become a privacy threat?"

    The answer to this is no. And why this is, is well documented in the XMPP protocols. You really should get your contacts to use Jabber, Google-talk or any other Jabber based IM service. With Jabber we all can find out what happens with our data, because the protocols are open. With msn, yahoo, icq, aim, etc. nobody knows what happens with the data they send.

    At least because of the publicity we all know now that your msn messages get filtered and occasionally will be sendt through some cia computers for further investigation. But we never could have found out about that by taking a look at the msn protocols, because microsoft doesn’t want us to see the code.

  3. Els says:

    @Andrew: of course you can!
    I just can’t guarantee I won’t delete my profile at any point in the near or not so near future 🙂

  4. Els says:

    @SebZar: if Google Talk is Jabber based, it doesn’t seem to help much – it’s all the contacts in your Google Talk list that received links to your shared items from Google Reader, see the second link in the above post.

  5. Andrew says:

    Looks like your privacy at Linked-In is secure – I can’t find your profile!