GROWING PRIVACY CONCERNS FOR WEB USERS – Any web activity you engage in is recorded in one form or another. The data collected on your searches and general use is utilized in a number of ways; most notably for advertising purpose so that corporations such as Facebook and Google are able to deliver highly relevant advertising messages in order to induce users to take action.
It is a known fact that hardly any user reads through or is able to comprehend fully the myriad of information contained within a websites ‘terms and conditions’. The complexities are even more mind-boggling when large corporations employ their teams of lawyers to construct their terms and conditions.
To the layman the legal jargon is simply too much to absorb and therefore often results in the user clicking ‘agree’ without ever fully reading or understanding what they are agreeing to.
There’s a new movie due to be release in the U.S this month titled “Terms and Conditions May Apply” which looks at the ever increasing risks web users expose themselves to when agreeing and signing up for services such as Facebook and the ever growing array from Google.
There have been two profound statements from Facebook and Google over the issue of user privacy. The first came from Mark Zuckerberg, creator and CEO of Facebook, who once said at the age of 19 that; “web users are ‘dumb f***s’ for trusting me with their information.”
The second statement, and most recent one, came from Eric Schmidt, CEO Google, who in a televised interview stated; “If you have something you don’t want some to know maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”
As someone who has reported to have spent millions on his own privacy issues Eric Schmidt has recently been embarrassed by the international press over his so-called ‘open marriage’ and in the wake his string of affairs.
During the making of the documentary movie “Terms and Conditions May Apply” its creator Cullen Hoback camped outside Zuckerberg’s home in order to question him about his views on user privacy.
It was clear that Mark Zuckerberg didn’t want to be quoted on film and asked for the recording to stop. After repeated attempts Mark Zuckerberg suggested that the film makers contacted Facebook’s Public Relations Department for a quote.
The question on most people’s minds is ‘Is privacy dead?’ due to the vast array of digitalized data being stored on our every move online.
With the recent revelations that the U.S National Security Agency (NSA) had initiated a spying program, code-name PRISM, which was being used to spy on its own citizens as well as citizens in other countries, the question arose as to where the NSA was acquiring its data.
It wasn’t long before suspicions arose that the likes of Google and Facebook were supplying data on our activities which allows the NSA to track our online habits for any suspicious activity.
The event took on an interesting twist as Edward Snowden, an NSA data analyst, fled to Hong Kong and exposed the NSA for spying on its own citizens. Currently Edward Snowden is applying for asylum in Russia in order to evade extradition to the U.S where he is wanted for the crime of treason.
There are, according to privacy experts, certain types of data that Government agencies around the world want to analyze. For instance if I type in the following phrase; “I want to bomb the Whitehouse”, this is certainly going to raise a red flag and some analyst somewhere will be assigned to examining the text in order to determine whether a real threat exists. Of course once such examination is completed they will close the file and train their dogs on another possible threat, as I am simply using this as an example and have no intention of engaging in any such activity.
It’s very scary that we now have to examine our own online use more carefully if we want to avoid any possible intervention by the authorities but what does this say about freedom of speech or freedom of expression?
The truth is that 9/11 gave the U.S and other countries almost unlimited powers to change the laws so that they could spy on us. They openly played upon our fears that there was a terrorist waiting around every corner and in every public building just pausing to strike.
This continuous stream of media had the desired affect of making us fearful and therefore under the guise of National Security more and more data is being collected; in order to stamp out, as our governments tell us, any possible terrorist threat. It’s a shame that with all their resources the U.S authorities were not able to stop the Boston Marathon Bombers.
Internet Giants Continue to Deny Supplying Data to PRISM but Yahoo was Forced by Secret Court to Join
Can it get any worse? Yes is the obvious answer as new technologies become available that make us even more ‘sociable’ online. One such device is Google Glass where many privacy advocates feel shouldn’t even be allowed to be manufactured.
The device is able to record the users every movements, through video, images and voice data and therefore anyone wearing such a device would automatically infringe someone’s privacy as it will no doubt record your whereabouts and even your private conversations.
Does Google or Facebook care about your privacy? It is naïve to even contemplate such a notion that they are concerned for both companies are in a race to collate as much personal data about you as they can.
Data is extremely valuable and in fact some experts suggested that if Google Glass ever became widely used it could be worth trillions of dollars in advertising revenue annually as it will be able to scan your movements and perceptions and deliver advertising that this highly relevant to the moment.
It is scary and I for one will be extremely angry at anyone who approaches me wearing Google Glass and I will demand to see if they have recorded any images, video or voice data of my activities.
As an ardent user of the web, due to writing content, I am constantly aware of the actions I take and how I use the services of Facebook and Google. Whilst I have personal accounts with both I use them primarily for business but as I see from the activities of my friends it is almost as if they are oblivious to the personal data they are supplying when chatting with friends and family.
The debate over online privacy will continue to rage and the movie “Terms and Conditions May Apply” provides some insightful information on how your data is collected and ultimately used.
You can view the trailer of the movie in the lead video above.
Do you think privacy is dead on the web? Please leave your comments below.