An acquaintance from a younger generation said to me one day, “Don’t you know that privacy is dead?”
I was taken aback at his frank assessment, but I replied “Privacy is not dead, but it is under attack, much like many of our other values. It is like virginity. Once given away, it cannot be given back, and that is all the more reason to protect it.”
Many give their privacy away for daily trifles. Mail in rebates, product registrations, text coupons, credit requests, SMS updates, and store discount cards all require personal information such as name, address, sexual orientation, email address, and telephone number. Some may gather more comprehensive data too. In any case, this data is put away in databases, utilized for advertising, and regularly sold to different organizations.
Some content including white papers or forum posts is only provided to users who disclose their information such as their name, job title, email address, or phone number. This information is collected and given to the content creator so that they can try to sell you services.
Contests require personal information in order to qualify for the prize. Some may request the information for the stated purpose of validating contest entry requirements, but the contest monetizes the information after obtaining it.
Other services lure users into divulging information through survey games that offer to predict which superhero you are most like, which celebrity you are best matched with, or what your Martian name would be.
The fact is that we are being duped.
“See what we have here,” the bearded vendor says as he displays an arm full of jeweled necklaces. “Rarities from around the world can be yours.” As the customer looks at the beautiful gems, a street urchin lifts his wallet. “But alas,” the vendor says, “you can hardly afford wonders such as these.” In much the same way, technology has shown us incredible things and while we imagined all the fantastic things we could do, someone – governments, companies, and others – was lifting our wallet; stealing our privacy.
The funny thing is that it seems normal. We have grown comfortable in our complacency regarding privacy.
It is time to step outside of our comfort zone and take ownership of your private information. Protect your privacy by not giving out personal information unless absolutely necessary. This may mean turning down that discount or not using an application, but it is worth it in the end. Privacy does matter, but it is like your health. When you have it, you take it for granted. Only when it’s gone, do you wish you had done more to protect it.