Somebody’s Watching You … The Loss of Privacy During the Digital Ages

Privacy Graphic for Talascend IT Blog I would consider myself to be somewhat of an IT junkie. Nonetheless, I still miss the good ole simple, non-techie days. Days when we reconnected with people by bumping into them at actual department stores or ran into them at Blockbuster while picking up a movie to rent on a Friday evening. Days when the library was our primary tool of research and a simple Dewey Decimal System’s 3×5 cards allowed us to find our favorite book. Heck, I even miss the days when listening to my favorite music on a turntable was an explicit hobby and being able to record my favorite song by pressing the “record” button on my cassette player was completely revolutionary.

Oh, those were the days of pre-internet and instantaneous access to communication and the world at large. Unfortunately, our kids will never know what it’s like to pass an actual note (on paper) to a friend in class and unless you dropped your awesome paper pass on the floor where another kid could grab it, it was truly considered a “private” conversation.

Then came the mid-90s. A decade in which the internet was made public and our private lives as we knew it (or didn’t) was about to change. Change seems to be such an understatement. I still find myself amazed that in 18 years, technology as we know it has revolutionized the entire depth of our society. I think this is what makes me so intrigued about technology. We are now officially in an age where employers ask candidates for usernames and passwords to their social media accounts, parents put GPS tracking devices in their children’s backpacks and spouses put key logging devices on computers. In 18 short years, it would seem that the premise of privacy has been completely washed away in a tidal wave of technology.

That simple note once passed during class asking if you wanted to meet at the swings after school has now turned into a text, an e-mail, a tweet or maybe even a status update on Facebook or a snapchat.  The problem is … and most people don’t realize including our children … this new note is NOT private.  If something happens, it’s all retrievable by either a snooping parent, a friend or in the case of a legal situation, the police.  That note that you used to be able to shred, flush or burn is now a traceable piece of a history that will be a picture of your entire life from the time of your first text to the time of your last.

Some believe the nature of the internet is to provide us the ability to have 2 lives. We can now live vicariously through our virtual selves online, as well as having a flesh and blood life in which we exist in.  People rightly or wrongly embrace their digital presence and put themselves out for the world to see (or maybe for the interested people to see even deeper with a little digging). 

Society is slowly realizing the privatization of oneself is gone due to the digital days in which we live and they are trying to do something about it. Do you know what holiday is celebrated on January 28th? An international holiday called, Data Privacy Day. This newly recognized holiday was passed by the Senate and House of Representatives in 2009 and is now celebrated annually to raise awareness to children, teens, adults and companies alike on the vulnerability of personal data and the risks one takes by sharing their personal information publically. Who would have thought after 18 years, we now have a holiday dedicated to technology safety and privacy. Spearheading this initiative is a non-profit organization by the name of National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), who works with government agencies, as well as all the major technology companies to pass along the message of personal data safeguards and online privacy safety.

What I find simply amusing now is that Apple, who recently claims the title of being the Most Valuable Company in History, still cannot prevent that jealous partner from snooping on their devices.  Apple, who handles over 2 BILLION texts a day, still cannot prevent hackers or even the regular “joes” from unlocking their iPhone and putting on all sorts of unapproved software.  Interestingly enough, what Apple has done is stopped the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), police force and all government agencies from being able to see our iMessages. The encryption and technology used within this platform subverts all of the privacy act laws and technology we don’t even know about.  That iPhone you have in your hand right now is a better messaging device to send uninterceptable, untraceable messages than any military device in history.

Or maybe they just want us to think that? What are your thoughts?

Josh Kaplan writes on a variety of subjects including IT Staffing and IT Healthcare Staffing.

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