Sharing is caring. Or is it? Your privacy is at stake

Sharing is caring. Or is it? Your privacy is at stake

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It's not paranoia if they actually are watching youToday I stumbled across two ‘interesting’ posts relating to how you can be profiled by your Internet activity. How your ‘privacy’ can be both singled out or amalgamated and reported on. And the truth is, you are probably broadcasting more about your life than you probably realise.

It’s not paranoia if they really ARE watching you

Here’s a `feature’ of Android devices that you probably weren’t aware of – during the initial setup you are asked if Google can send your location information back to Google HQ. Google uses that information to give you useful information such as traffic information, weather, and websites / business near to you that you might find useful. So, for example, if someone asks you “Where we you at 7pm on Friday 13th December 2013” you can go to Google Location History and see a breakdown of where you were. This doesn’t affect me much as I don’t have any Android devices. Is that data able to be used as evidence against you or, more hopefully, to protect you? It is now common knowledge that the American intelligence agencies have been collecting internet-based data of their citizens, and most likely the same can be said of most governments. It’s easy to see that Google records information about your searches. Have you noticed that web ads contain products or companies that you searched for recently? That’s a lot of information that can be used to build up a profile of you, your interests, your habits, your lifestyle – everything that fingerprints who you are. There is no such thing as privacy on the Internet.

If you’re not paying for it, YOU are the product

Facebook ‘Data Science’ published a blog post today titled Coordinated Migration. The contents of the article make for fascinating reading – fascinating in the macabre, dark, foreboding sense. The post documents, in a general way, the methods use to provide analysis of Big Data to spot trends. From the blog “the worldwide flows of human beings are highly complex and notoriously difficult to measure” but then goes on to document how they’re doing it. Pretty maps, lovely tables, beautifully reasoned approach. However, it highlights again that the reason Facebook is free is because the information you give them is valuable, sale-able. Yes, the data presented in this article is amalgamated, and consolidated to show trends and cycles. But you cannot consolidate unless you have single data points to base it all on. And each one of those data points is a person, connected to a family, in a relationship with someone, attending a school or a workplace. Take a look at your Facebook profile – the photos you post, the people you tag, the status updates and websites you link – more whorls and lines in your online fingerprint.

I’m not saying we should all go `Off Grid’. I am saying that we should value our online privacy a little more, and guard it with more than just a blind trust in the organisations and sites we access.

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