A Small, Insufficient Step Toward Privacy
In the new age of communication and technology, new problems have arisen regarding our personal information. We have seen high profile cases of breeches in security in some of the biggest institutions that put our information, and with it our faith in these institutions, in question. Wikileaks founder and contributor Julian Assange made headlines when he first exposed America’s back-door actions involving the Afghan War and our intelligence assets which put our sources at risk.
Edward Snowden, a NSA employee, would expose the truth that the American government was spying on all of its citizens in almost dystopic, 1984-style policy. Assange would not be outdone in 2016 when he exposed the Democrat Party for the cheating, manipulative, and overall malicious party we all knew them to be. This would of course set off the Investigation into Russian hackers attempting to manipulate the election.
We know all about this kind of breeches in web-based information but we don’t realize just how far this data-mining stuff goes. When we go online, our privacy information is gobbled up by big businesses who sell it to marketing companies who sell it to retail outlets that you may have a passing interest in. Well how do they know what you’re interested in? Data-mining
Data-mining is used by Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, etc. All these companies are well-known and well-frequented by you and me. These website are free, right? NOPE. Let’s use Facebook as an example. Facebook monitors everything you post, like, share, or comment on all in an effort to tamp down who you are. They see what you are doing and sell that information to ad companies who in turn bombard you with ads on things they think you want.
All of this for about $15 a person. That’s what your privacy is worth to Mark Zuckerberg, that effete CEO of Facebook who sells all of your souls to marketing companies and censors your online voice all while standing in progressive sanctimony and even suggesting he should run for president. Yeah, that would be just great!
The FCC and the FTC are aware of this business practice but so far have done very little to diminish this practice from continuing other than making sure your information doesn’t fall into unwanted hands. I am overwhelmed by the irony of that thought process.
Nevertheless, some companies have decided to take action personally to further protect our privacy. Or are they? Google recently announced that it was no longer going to be data-mining off of its Gmail system to be used in ad buys. This does not mean that they aren’t reading your emails, they are, they are just not selling the information to others. They maintain they scan our emails to determine malware and spam, which is of course true, but it means that Google is still watching. Google also stated that this did not mean they wouldn’t data-mine off our Google searches, just our Gmail accounts.
Why are they doing this? To attract business of course. Businesses have continually turned to Gmail to be used as a network wide communications application. However, growing concern over trade secrets and other important business details falling into the hands of Google Inc. has seen companies seek other alternatives. In an effort not to lose these clients, they’ve made this small concession.
The internet is at the core of our current civilization. Were it to shut down there would anarchy in the streets. Why is it so important yet so insecure? The second you log on to anything, you are being monitored and analyzed by public and private interests. That is, in a word, creepy.
The United States Government, unlike its recent actions, has a responsibility to PROTECT our privacy not breech it. More should be done by Congress to stem the use of data-mining from our on-line presence. In a perfect world, I would say make any type of data-mining illegal, however there would be economic consequences should that happen. Facebook is only free because people are the product and that product is sold to other companies who in turn pay Facebook billions of dollars.
Congress must do something that will continue to protect the business interests of some of America’s largest corporations while at the same time protect our citizens’ right to privacy. The problems are multiple in this endeavor. First off, a lot of these companies have strong lobby presences in DC that seek to protect this cash cow. Secondly, the situation is complex and has no precedent in which to create a solution.
Lastly, but most importantly, our elected officials really do not understand how any of this works. Regardless of this, the government should act. Google has made a baby-state based on self-interest. It’s a start but long way from a permanent solution.
Editor’s note: In my humble opinion, this is one of the most (if not THE most important) issues in America today. Information is power. Information about me, is power over me. Power corrupts.
Anyone who says “What do you have to hide” (and is sincere, most are not) has led the narrowist of lives. Businessmen hide their business moves to prevent their competitors from taking advantage. A CEO with treatable cancer might hide it to keep shareholders from panicking. A person in a new social situation, may not want to room to know his expertise with the accordian or his vast experience in the martial arts, just so he can control the narrative and avoid stereotypes and biases of narrow minded people. A woman might hide a rape in her past so that other will not mention it and cause her to relive it. I might hide the fact that I have read “Mein Kampf and the Comunicst Manifesto, especially if you don’t know me well enough to know my research areas.
Lack of privacy means lack of control of our lives.