Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Online, you have no privacy

It's hard to emphasize how little privacy - effectively, none - we have online in this digital age.  The risks to our personal, confidential information are enormous.  For most of us, they don't amount to more than the danger of credit card fraud, or something like that;  but for others, particularly those active in any sphere of public debate or opinion-forming, they may be targeted by those opposed to their positions.  Such targeting may even become physical, rather than merely electronic.  (Consider, for example, the union activists who blockaded [on private property] the families of politicians with whose policies they disagreed.  The activists could find out, through simple online research, who to target and where they would be found.)

Four recent articles highlight the danger to our privacy.  I highly recommend that you at least skim through all four, and read them in more detail if you have time to do so.

  1. Ring Doorbell App Packed with Third-Party Trackers - how Ring (and its parent company, Amazon.com) share your details with those who are willing to pay for them.
  2. Grindr and OKCupid Sell Your Data, but Twitter’s MoPub Is the Real Problem - how Twitter's software tools allow apps like these to collect and sell your data.
  3. The Rise of Smart Camera Networks, And Why We Should Ban Them - how police and security companies are co-opting private security cameras into an all-pervasive "Big Brother" spying network.
  4. Leaked Documents Expose the Secretive Market for Your Web Browsing Data - a major anti-virus app is harvesting almost every detail of your browsing activity, and selling it to third parties.

If you're not worried by this utter destruction of your online privacy, I submit you have no idea of the security risks involved.  In the USA, we probably don't have to worry about a government-imposed "social credit score" or all-pervasive state surveillance of our activities.  Private companies are doing it already - and making a profit from it.  We're just the meat in the sausage they're selling.

I, for one, find that insulting as well as worrying. How on earth did our society get to a point where we're willing to tolerate such intrusions into our privacy? And how on earth do companies get away with it, without being boycotted and/or sued until they bleed by the consumers they're exploiting?



Cederq said...

Free, or nearly free is the hook. The allure of someone's fifteen minutes of fame is another hook. Attention is the glue that holds it all together.

Old NFO said...

Meh, the only real option is to totally disconnect from all networks. Anyone that thinks they have privacy in ANY electronic fashion is fooling themselves. I'm on enough lists already... LOL

Sam L. said...

As I've said before, elsewhere, Siri and Alexa are Stasi agents that YOU are paying the salary for. (Feel free to use this.)

Dave said...

The revelation about Avast is extraordinarily disheartening.

Will said...

" And how on earth do companies get away with it, without being boycotted and/or sued until they bleed by the consumers they're exploiting?"

This is because these tech companies are extraordinary profitable, and so have very deep pockets to fight the public's outrage. High tech and drug companies, both groups make lots of money, and have no morals worth discussing.