Recent kerfuffles on the online privacy scene owing to a change in Google’s “privacy” policies reminded me of several such that have surfaced over the past few months. One has to do with a utility embedded in many smart phones that allows your carrier to track your usage of the various services to which you are subscribed.
This utility is Carrier IQ, and is but the latest poster child for privacy issues (or demon, depending on your perspective) that has raised the ire of many in the online world.
As I do not own a cell phone, I’m immune to such concerns, except for my ongoing interest in how technology impacts society. My comments, therefore, are philosophical and conceptual in nature, unhindered by any to-me specifics.
Basically, my position is this: If anyone thinks that their connectivity to the Giant Electronic Collective Consciousness is going unobserved, unrecorded, unanalyzed, and—ultimately—unmonetized, you’re living in a dream.
Between the flood of street-level cameras, tracking cookies in browsers, firmware embedded in applicances such as video recorders, account subscriptions, online buying locations (think, Amazon.com), credit card use, etc., etc., and highly interconnected so forth, your life is more than an open book. Someone, somewhere knows much more about you than you’d probably like. I’ve heard/read folks opine that, “If you’re doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about!”
There’s little I do that would concern me if anyone found out about it. But that’s not the point.
The point is that I don’t want my activities to be monitored—be it by government or the private sector. My life is mine. My actions are mine, except where they clearly impact other people. I don’t want suggestions for purchases, movie choices, restaurant possibilities, music options, people I should “friend”…unless I so choose. I prefer opt-in tracking, and so I spend far too much time blocking cookies and not allowing scripts, and cleaning up after such incursions where I miss them in the first place. I shouldn’t have to spend my time this way.
If I read the tea leaves correctly, this attitude is just another data point in increasing my curmudgeon coefficient. It may be a function of age, as I gather most young(er) folks don’t have such concerns. Indeed, they glory in the open-book approach to their lives.
So be it. But I still think it should be up to the individual, and not something that is foisted upon us. I appear not to be the only one: Take a look at this Wall Street Journal item, published just today, wherein is described possible business opportunities in addressing privacy issues.
Questions: Are you aware of the extent to which your daily activities are monitored, either at the workplace or in your personal life? If you are aware, do you change your behavior to accommodate such monitoring? Is this a good thing?