Do you know what is privacy?
Privacy (from Latin: privatus) is the ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves, or information about themselves, and thereby express themselves selectively. The boundaries and content of what is considered private differ among cultures and individuals, but share common themes. When something is private to a person, it usually means that something is inherently special or sensitive to them.—-From Wikipedia
For me, the personal information have three different levels in terms of sensitivity. The first level is public information, which I want to and sometimes hope to share to everyone, i.e. my hobbies of studying smart gadgets and traveling. Then second level is limit-share information that I will talk to my relatives, my friends or my connections privately. The last one is secret information that I absolutely don’t want any other people knows, but for the need of special services–which I can’t make it myself, like investing in stock market–I have to share part of them with other institutions, e.g. Banks or eClound services like Apple iCloud or Dropbox. After the Snowden scandal happened, PEW Research center has conducted a survey among 607 U.S. adults, and the results showed how the American views varying between different kinds of information. Apparently, most of the concerns are coming from the second and third level information.
Would you trade off for free services?
As stated above, sometimes we have to trade off our private information with outside organizations
to achieve services that we can’t have it ourselves. In the traditional sectors, like banks, investment companies, we have got used to showing our identities to get their services. When it comes to the online services providers, we will have more concerns about them. Why? Firstly, most of them are too new, Facebook just 11 years old, Twitter just 8 years, Pinterest just 5 years. And what’s more, many of their peers launched and closed in just few years, like cons.com launched in 2006 and closed in 2007. How can we be confident that these companies will keep the private information well after their closure? Secondly, most of the online services companies rely on the revenue of advertisement, and what they could trade off for the money are absolutely our infromation. So before we make the decision of accepting the free services, we should think it carefully and decide what kind of information we would agree to use as tradeoffs. In the survey said above, there are obvious differences between social media users and non-social media users about the attitude of trading off some personal info for free services, which means that the increasing usages of social media are changing our view of privacy protecting.
Do you know you are living in a Virtual Panoption?
By making our actions and shares visible to a crowd, social media exposes us to a kind of virtual Panopticon. This is not just because our activities are monitored and recorded by the social media service for the purposes of producing market analysis or generating targeted advertising….The surveillance that directly affects us and impacts on our behaviour comes from the people with whom we share.— Tim Rayner
Tim Rayner gave a really perceptive view about the behavior of social media users. For me, the social media platforms are like public places or private parties, depending on which tool or feature I am using. For example, I won’t share my opinions, especially negative one, about my colleague via twitter, because I think he might know that immediately or in the future, no matter he has followed me or not. But the same view I would probably tell my boss via messenger. That is the Virtual Panoption effect on our social media behavior, but it’s the same in offline, right?
Love it or hate it? You still need it
Government plays a controversial role in protecting our privacy. From the Snowden scandal, we know that the biggest threaten to our privacy is coming from the countless government agencies, called Big Brother. With the need of fighting terrorism, they can gather any information they want from not only the online services providers, but also the offline businesses, like banks. In the meantime, we also need the government to step in and regulate the companies’ behaviors of abusing our personal information to make money. “The right to be forgotten” in European is a good example and attempt of ruling the Internet company, here is Google. We really hope the government can put more efforts on protecting our privacy, especially to the online companies.
The controversial view about the government is also backed up by the American survey.
- 80% of adults “agree” or “strongly agree” that Americans should be concerned about the government’s monitoring of phone calls and internet communications. Just 18% “disagree” or “strongly disagree” with that notion.
- 64% believe the government should do more to regulate advertisers, compared with 34% who think the government should not get more involved.
Do you agree or not? Please leave you comments.