Digital Privacy: A Catch 22

Mobility, convenience, accessibility and real-time access all have a price.

So I have been thinking for a while about digital privacy and how it permeates our everyday lives.  I attended a Social Media and Response Management Incident Event recently and it brought back the thoughts of why I am sure it can be a catch-22 or even as far as to say, an Oxymoron.

Can our digital content ever be considered “private”?  Once we upload, click on the link, login to our email, retweet, re-link, like, …etc. we essentially leave our footprint in the mud and then track it down the digital (or virtual) road.

Our purveyors of cloud storage have service level agreements that tell us what they will provide in exchange for what our rights are as consumers of their service.  Does anyone read it?  I can safely say that I have, however, most people never read past the first 2 sentences and click "I Agree" just to get to the next screen.  When something happens either by a tragic incident gone viral, lawsuit, or other, we as internet users, feel violated and unprotected.

For both businesses and consumers, the idea of digitally storing everything from your financials, client data and documents to photos, videos and personal effects is extremely appealing, convenient, and reasonably affordable.  The accessibility to this is unparalleled today with the array of options we have available.  When we stop to think about where it goes, how it is handled, backed up and whether there is encryption, well that might be too much.  We all just want it to work and be available.  Mostly, that is what people strive for. 

The advent of email, blogs, text, IM, social media, and other emerging technologies as well as unprecedented globalization has created a cross-cultural and digital privacy conundrum.   It started with user preference and basic activity tracking and graduated into behavioral profiling and location geo-tracking.  Cloud computing and social networking & media contribute to most of the data security and privacy issues we see today but many others exist on smaller scales.

Digital privacy in technology, business and all areas of our lives should be a priority.  We need to restructure how we currently think.  Ask yourselves these questions:

  1. Would it be ok for an intruder to come into your home because you left your doors unlocked? 
  2. Would you leave your financial statements in your garbage without shredding them? 
  3. Would you let your child get into the car without his or her seatbelt?

I am guessing the answer to your questions is no, to all of them.  The reason is because you protect what you love, care about and work hard for.  Why shouldn’t you think the same way regarding your digital data?

It’s a catch-22 because we have become so reliant on the internet and digital medium to function that we forget to hold ourselves and those providing the tools accountable for keeping our valuable data and information safe and private.  Some simple ideas:

  1. Be selective and safeguard what you and your children put out on the internet
  2. Choose your vendors wisely and know what they offer as far as data security, encryption and redundancy
  3. Read the fine print regarding privacy policies and whether they sell your data/information gathered

What say you?

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