Notion of privacy
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What do David Petraeus, Nicolas Sarkozy, nine million Greeks and one billion Facebook users have in common? All of them have had their personal data compromised in one form or another in recent days. The saga of Petraeus's emails led to his resignation as CIA chief, and now a French magazine has accused the US of hacking into Sarkozy's computer via Flame, malware previously used to hobble Iran's nuclear programme. Two days ago, officials arrested a Greek man suspected of having stolen the identities of roughly two-thirds of that country's population, holding information containing identification card data, addresses, and licence plate numbers. And then there's Facebook, a consistent offender when it comes to being cavalier with user data, warning users that it would continue to be cavalier with their data.
What's interesting here is that the people who have had their online data compromised range from the average internet user to two men in positions of power, who would certainly have had sophisticated protection for their online activities. This suggests that the type of security notwithstanding, nothing on the internet should reasonably be considered "private". While the average person is unlikely to have the means for or interest in acquiring someone else's private data, much of what is on the web is, to anyone with intent and capability, an open book. Privacy online is illusory, and the notion that one is in control of one's online presence is just that — a notion.
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