Thursday, September 10, 2015

Worried about digital privacy? You should be.

If we had to guess which modern-day oxymoron tops the "Most Oxymoronic" list, I'd say it has to be online privacy. Because, when you get right down to it, there's no such thing. The very fact that we live our lives online is, by definition, an admission that privacy as we know it no longer exists.

Within that context, the news cycle is filled with ever more scary-sounding revelations of just how vulnerable we've become, and just how far the companies that we deal with - and, to be fair, our governments - are willing to go to get their grubby paws on our personal information.

Microsoft raised all sorts of warning bells with this summer's launch of its updated Windows 10 operating system. While the fanboys were busy going gaga over the pretty-looking new features and the fact that it was free for most folks, an entirely different drama was playing out behind the scenes. Because like so many other large chunks of code that run our day-to-day lives - operating systems, application software, apps, websites and services - Windows 10 is set, by default, to monitor the minutiae of our activities and send the data back to the mother ship.

As you can imagine, when this news - which, let's be honest with each other, shouldn't really be news at all, because this is now our new normal - hit the front page, people freaked. As they should. And yesterday I chatted with Peter Henderson, a business reporter with the Canadian Press. My take: Nothing online is free. If we aren't paying with dollars, we're paying with our information. Data is the new online currency, and anyone who uses online apps and services without keeping this in mind is being unnecessarily naive.

The article was published widely, and it reinforces the need for all of us to become better stewards of our own personal information, and to become familiar with the tools of actively managing our identities when we go online. Here's the link:
Digital privacy concerns 'the new normal' as users pay with personal information

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