Notion of privacy

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.

This is not to suggest that online companies, from Facebook to Google, should not be made more accountable for what they do with user data and how they control the reams of personal information they access. Legislative efforts to demand more privacy are important and necessary. But users must also remember that anything online is discoverable, and nothing they want to keep truly private should be put online. Sometimes, the old-fashioned ways are the best.

Please read our terms of use before posting comments
TERMS OF USE: The views, opinions and comments posted are your, and are not endorsed by this website. You shall be solely responsible for the comment posted here. The website reserves the right to delete, reject, or otherwise remove any views, opinions and comments posted or part thereof. You shall ensure that the comment is not inflammatory, abusive, derogatory, defamatory &/or obscene, or contain pornographic matter and/or does not constitute hate mail, or violate privacy of any person (s) or breach confidentiality or otherwise is illegal, immoral or contrary to public policy. Nor should it contain anything infringing copyright &/or intellectual property rights of any person(s).
comments powered by Disqus