Privacy is becoming fashionable - Yippee!
Last month, a woman in Austria sued her parents for posting pictures of her on Facebook throughout her childhood without her consent. Claire Landsbaum writes about it in a September 14, 2016, article on NYMag.com.
Shannon Rupp sees this as one of many signs that the age of publicity may be ending. In an October 10, 2016, post on Alter.Net, Rupp claims that the “late-stage millennials,” a fourth generation now in their late-teens and early-twenties, are rebelling against the TMI society. According to Rupp, the tendency to overshare sprung from the confessional syndicated talk shows of the 1970s-80s, which lead in a straight line to Facebook.
Young people come to believe 'fame is lame'
Kim Kardashian may be thinking she’s a little too famous after being robbed recently in Paris. In an October 4, 2016, post on the Privacy Perspectives blog of the International Association of Privacy Professionals, Jedidiah Bracy points out that Kardashian’s life is so public, she tweeted a picture of her bodyguard just before the robbery. Maybe that’s a person you wouldn’t want the general public to be able to identify, Kim.
Despite the irony of celebrities courting their own fame and then needing to be protected from it, Bracy notes that public figures have a greater need to protect their privacy than us non-celebrities. Rupp concurs, pointing out the cruelty of paparazzi stalking the children of celebrities. When recognized in public, some famous people believe they’re treated like “people in star suits,” as Linda Ronstadt described it. With the rise of social media and video sharing, anyone can be famous, at least for a day or two. Yet few online “celebrities” make much money for their work – or any at all, for that matter.
Once “celebrity” is no longer exclusive and doesn’t pay, are the benefits worth the costs? After all, the only things you’re giving up in exchange are your dignity and privacy. Is it any wonder young people are shying away from sharing?
A proposal to broaden ‘personal information’ riles advertisers
You can imagine how the adtech industry responded to the Federal Communications Commission’s plan to add more categories to the regulatory agency’s definition of “sensitive information.” The FCC proposes that ISPs be required to prompt their customers to opt in to collecting and retaining of personal information beyond what they need to conduct business with you, and also to sharing their personal information with third parties.
The Association of National Advertisers claims the requirement will irritate people by asking them to opt in or opt out multiple times through the day. What the advertisers fail to mention is the simple solution of offering an option to “opt out of all” or to “opt in to all.” In any event, I’ll choose over-notification to no notification at all.
As the Drum’s Laurie Fulton writes in an October 11, 2016, article, the FCC proposes expanding “sensitive information.” The plan broadens the explicit opt-in requirement to include “geo-location information, children’s information, health information, financial information, social security numbers, web browsing history, app usage history, and the content of communications such as the text of emails.” For other identifiable information, customers will have to opt out of sharing by ISPs. The proposal by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler will be presented to the full FCC at a meeting on October 27, 2016.
A great resource for locking down your privacy
So long as general sharing of everything web services and advertisers know about us is the default, we are responsible for protecting our own privacy. In an August 1, 2016, post on Decentralize Today, a person who goes by the moniker Rusty Nailer compiled all the privacy tools you’ll ever need – unless your name is Edward Snowden.
(Speaking of Mr. Snowden, Nailer includes this quote by the infamous information leaker: “Arguing that you don’t care about privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.”)
As for the list, I would almost say it includes too many privacy tools because you might be tempted to use more than you need. Topping the compendium are virtual private network services, which I’ve never considered necessary for everyday use – until I saw them at the top of this list. Considering the amount of snooping going on, an always-on VPN service may be worth the price; free versions cap transfer speeds and data use.
Nailer recommends using either Firefox or the Tor browser, HTTPS Everywhere for encryption, and the open-source uBlock Origin for ad blocking rather than AdBlock Plus because of the latter’s “acceptable ads” policy.
I was struck by Nailer’s last recommendation: Don’t use Windows 10, and if you do use Windows 10, prevent the OS from leaking personal information to Microsoft and others via one of three different services he recommends. None of the three links was trustworthy, however, and other sources I’ve read strongly warn against using these services (the How-To Geek explains why this is a bad idea). The best way to prevent Windows 10 from tracking you is to sign into a local account, as described on Microsoft Answers.
Right now, the FCC’s new rules requiring customers opt in to sharing apply only to ISPs. Once the regulations are extended to Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and other web services that collect and capitalize on their customers’ personal information, we’ll really be able to opt out of sharing.