Get Off the Internet – My Thoughts on the US Government, Google, Facebook and Privacy
Privacy is a Myth on the Internet
Last week news broke globally that the US Government has unfettered access to most social networks and data stored by them. PRISM is a program/mandate that is supposed to protect the USA from outside threats but Germany and many other members of the EU are deeply concerned. This all began with a leaked PowerPoint outlining PRISM.
My thoughts on the US Government tapping into Facebook, Google, Email etc. I have always assumed that anything I post to the internet and any device I used to access the internet could be compromised by someone either hackers or big brother. (They could also be subpoenaed at any point and many ISP’s etc. are legally required to keep the data for years even if you delete it locally).
Obama’s own blackberry was taken from him when he first came into office. With all of their technology the US Government still couldn’t stop the wrong people from tracking the Commander in Chief – it was a security threat and it took many months before he got it back. If they can’t make it safe for him, it’s not all that safe for us.
As Canadians we can be spied on by foreign governments – this includes the US – and they can (and do) pass this data onto Canadian authorities and this really violates no privacy laws. India by the way has no such laws – and the mobile carriers can track and use the data of subscribers as they see fit, including GPS information to delivered targeted adds and offers.
We have to stop over-sharing our lives and realize that this “social exhaust” as the UN calls it – leaves a trail. One tweet, one Facebook update, the odd “like” doesn’t mean much… but add up hundreds over a lifetime and they tell a very accurate story of who we are. Even digital TV providers like Telus, Rogers or Shaw have the ability record every minute of TV we watch, what ads we skip and when we watch on TV. This says a lot about us.
American Express can tell when a couple is having marriage problems just by the shift in purchasing patterns. Credit reporting agencies are now looking into social media monitoring is a supplementary way to profile us and the risk (and profits) we represent.
I personally got “served” court documents last year at a Christmas Meetup after announcing my whereabouts on Twitter and Meetup. The gentleman had the decency to be discreet – but it could have gotten awkward. I looked at him and said “I’m surprised it took you this long!” he laughed and let me know that he missed me a few times but was following my FourSquare check-ins.
Get off the Internet
There’s this amazing thing called meeting in-person, if it’s really that top-secret then hop on a plane and meet the person if you have to – leave your phone at home and take an electronic holiday. Take a walk in the park and talk to your friend about their marital problems or that business deal that can’t be leaked until the deal is signed.
If you don’t want people to know about it. Don’t post it on the internet. Buy a paper journal, pour your heart out and then lock it in a safe if you have to.
I am a huge social media fan, I have built a career out if it. It’s for being social, building community, growing ideas into movements and sometimes even into revolutions. Just realize that this whole process is done from within a glass house and act accordingly.