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Have We Lost Our Privacy To the Internet?

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the tell-us-everything dept.

Privacy 222

An anonymous reader writes "An article in the Guardian, penned by Joss Wright and Tom Chatfield, discusses whether we — as in Internet users in general — are, or indeed are not, giving away way too much information about ourselves to large Corporations that profit handsomely from mining the info. The article talks about how contemporary internet companies — perhaps predictably — are run with a 'privacy is dead' motto. It considers what implications having all your private data out on the internet — where it can be seen, searched, shared, retransmitted, perhaps archived forever without your consent — has for the 'future of our society' (by which the authors presumably mean the society of the UK). The (rather long) article ends by mentioning that Gmail scans your email, that Facebook apps frequently send your private data right to the app developer, that iPhones are known to log your geographic location, and that some smartphone apps read your address book and messages, then dial home to transmit this info to the company that developed the app."

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222 comments

I believe so. (5, Interesting)

GmExtremacy (2579091) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242433)

Many people just don't seem to care about privacy any more. And indeed, with people accepting the Patriot Act (in the US) and adopting the "nothing to hide, nothing to fear" mentality, I think things will only get worse.

Some places are installing cameras everywhere in public places due to a criminal paranoia. Even if you don't technically have privacy in most public places, the cameras just make this even worse. They're not comparable at all to normal humans spotting you because these cameras are everywhere at once and can (and do) record everything they see (unlike a human's faulty memory, the cameras won't forget anything).

Then there's the whole problem of people willingly giving up all of their information to websites like Facebook. I personally have no doubt that there will come a time when privacy violations and spying are seen as normal and acceptable. In fact, that might already be largely true.

Re:I believe so. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39242531)

We spent thousands of years with no privacy whatsoever. The idea that we ever had some fanciful idea called "personal privacy" is largely a myth. Even with regard to government monitoring. I don't have to remind anyone about our various national histories.

But yes, now data collection, correlation and general connectivity have gone through the roof. So we make laws about, bargain over, even make and sell various products and services, all surrounding personal privacy.

Things ebb and flow.

Re:I believe so. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39242567)

We spent thousands of years with no privacy whatsoever.

Thankfully, we realized (and have forgotten, apparently) that privacy is not only preferable, but is important to keep the government in check. A government that can break into anyone's house, spy on anyone, and look for the slightest infraction is one that is most prone to abuse.

Re:I believe so. (5, Interesting)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242647)

Except, this isnt the government, it is the "private sector". You might find this a quandary, but consider that a company has your data and you must pay them to keep it away from the free press. Sure, it might be extortion now... but wouldnt that be blocking "free trade"?
You see... when corporations own the government, there is no stopping them to endeavor to make you their slave.
Even monetary systems can be manipulated into slavery. For example, Communism. But instead of the government controlling everything, companies do.
And well... since companies are people... it turns into the one thing everyone has hated and feared since the 1920s.

Re:I believe so. (5, Insightful)

epyT-R (613989) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242893)

the state and private enterprise routinely pass data back and forth between the barrier to get around the regs.. it's a hybrid situation so blaming just one of them is pointless..

To give away or not to give away our privacy (5, Insightful)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242687)

Privacy is a commodity - a private commodity

Each of us has our own privacy, and each of us interpret "Privacy" a little bit differently

As to whether we have given away our privacy to the corporations, I think it's too much of a blanket statement

You see, privacy is ours to begin with. The decision of whether not our privacy is handed over to the corporation largely falls into our own hand

If you decide to value your own privacy, then you won't reveal your own real identity online - and there are many ways to keep your real earth identity separate from your online identity

Plus, if you are so afraid that huge corporations like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook may be gathering your privacy, then you should take step to ensure that whatever they gather from your activities online would not reflect who you are, in real life

Do not blame the corporations if you reveal everything yourself

And one more very important thing - Your privacy is not only in danger on the Internet

There are other areas that your privacy might be revealed to others - like your medical history, your driving licence, your voting records, the secret files the government (governments ?) keeps on you, et cetera

Do not think that just because your online privacy is threatened that your off-line privacy is not

Re:To give away or not to give away our privacy (2)

GmExtremacy (2579091) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242737)

Do not blame the corporations if you reveal everything yourself

As someone else said, your relatives/friends could mindlessly give away your information on Facebook or something such as that. Even just a name may be enough for someone to learn something revealing about you with a quick search.

Re:To give away or not to give away our privacy (2)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242771)

Do not blame the corporations if you reveal everything yourself

As someone else said, your relatives/friends could mindlessly give away your information on Facebook or something such as that. Even just a name may be enough for someone to learn something revealing about you with a quick search

When you do not reveal everything to your friends, colleagues, and even to your own family members, how much do you think they can reveal to the world about you?

After all, the word "Privacy" came from "Private", and the most "Private" thing there is yourself - yes, your very own self

Re:To give away or not to give away our privacy (1)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242791)

I agree, living in a bubble is awesome! Steve Jobs did!
OH wait....
One other thing, these "other ways to protect your privacy" cost money. So, either way companies are still making money off of you.

Re:To give away or not to give away our privacy (5, Insightful)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242841)

I agree, living in a bubble is awesome! Steve Jobs did!

It's not "living in a bubble"

It's merely living your own life without having to tell the world everything about yourself

I've friends who are loud mouths and they will tell everything about everybody, including everything about themselves to the world

Hey, to those people, they are willingly revealing where they work, how much they earn, who their doctors are, what type of disease they have, what political inclination they belong to, and so on ...

For people like that, don't blame the corporations if one day they can't purchase health insurance no more because everyone know that they gonna have cancer to the liver/lung/whatever in the future

One other thing, these "other ways to protect your privacy" cost money. So, either way companies are still making money off of you.

Who says that you need to pay to protect your privacy?

All you need to do is to zip your mouth shut and to be extra careful of what you do online and off-line

If I do not want people to know where I shop, when I shop, how much I pay for milk a month, I don't shop in ONE store and I don't use my credit card when I do my shopping

If I do not want people to know the frequency of my travelling from Detroit to Chicago, then I change my mode of transportation often - fly some times, drive some other times

It all boils down to what you do with your own live

Re:To give away or not to give away our privacy (4, Interesting)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242967)

Your approach is way too randian.

For example - I recently sent a URL to a friend with gmail address.
I noticed from the logs that google spidered that website within minutes of me sending that email. Not much of a surprise that google would do it (although a bit chilling to see it in practice), but the problem with your approach is that not only do I need to know that Google will suck up everything I send to someone at a gmail address I also need to know what every other email host will do with email sent to their systems. That's not practical - especially when google does things like offer free email services for personal domains, then I have to do something like dig through MX records to find out who the real host is for every single person I ever send an email too and then figure out what their policies are and if they have changed since the last time I sent an email. That is beyond "not practical" and is now firmly in the territory of ridiculous.

The only alternative then is to live in a bubble of isolation, refusing to interact with anyone using modern means for fear of disclosing information to the wrong people.

Re:To give away or not to give away our privacy (3, Insightful)

ArundelCastle (1581543) | more than 2 years ago | (#39243127)

I noticed from the logs that google spidered that website within minutes of me sending that email. Not much of a surprise that google would do it (although a bit chilling to see it in practice), but the problem with your approach is that not only do I need to know that Google will suck up everything I send to

I'm not sure why it's chilling either. Spidering the link immediately delivers "relevant" ads to your Gmail window right away. That is how Gmail is meant to be.

Chilling would be if your robots.txt is set to turn down spiders and they do it anyway. Chilling is when they don't play by their own rules, not the rules themselves.

Re:To give away or not to give away our privacy (3, Interesting)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#39243129)

Your approach is way too randian

No, it's not randian, but instead, it's the most practical way to live one's own life in the world we are living in

It's the you-are-responsible-for-your-own-wellbeing way of living

In this world where everything could be archived somewhere, if you reveal things about yourselves, like the water that has splashed out of a cup, there's no way to get the genie back into the bottle

For example - I recently sent a URL to a friend with gmail address.

I noticed from the logs that google spidered that website within minutes of me sending that email. Not much of a surprise that google would do it (although a bit chilling to see it in practice), but the problem with your approach is that not only do I need to know that Google will suck up everything I send to someone at a gmail address I also need to know what every other email host will do with email sent to their systems

This world we live in is indeed very different from the world our forefathers lived

And the way we live in this world should also be very different from the way our forefathers lived in their world

We must change faster than the pace the world is changing, or we will be consumed by it all

That's not practical - especially when google does things like offer free email services for personal domains, then I have to do something like dig through MX records to find out who the real host is for every single person I ever send an email too and then figure out what their policies are and if they have changed since the last time I sent an email. That is beyond "not practical" and is now firmly in the territory of ridiculous

If you think that it's ridiculous, think of the world our offspring will inhibit

Their every-day-lives will be recoded somewhere

Their presence in every place will be noted, what they said and do will be archived, everything including their shoe-size will be known to people who wants to know

Re:To give away or not to give away our privacy (2)

RicktheBrick (588466) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242999)

I make comments on digg and soulpancake. I recently did a google search on my user name. I discovered that all of my comments on digg and soulpancake were listed there and they were on the first page. Not only was my username there but also my real name and a picture and my hometown. I did notice that slashdot was not listed so I am grateful for that. I do not know how they associated my real name with my user name. Even though it is possible to know my real name from this I doubt that anyone has taken the time to do so.

Re:To give away or not to give away our privacy (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#39243035)

I make comments on digg and soulpancake. I recently did a google search on my user name. I discovered that all of my comments on digg and soulpancake were listed there and they were on the first page. Not only was my username there but also my real name and a picture and my hometown. I did notice that slashdot was not listed so I am grateful for that. I do not know how they associated my real name with my user name. Even though it is possible to know my real name from this I doubt that anyone has taken the time to do so

It's not hard to associate one person's real name with his online name if that person reveals too much too often regarding his/her own real lives to the world

Do you know that it's possible to get the social security numbers of many people?

Many associations (plural) routinely put their membership list online, and yes, with their member's social-security-number listed as well

Re:To give away or not to give away our privacy (1)

GmExtremacy (2579091) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242849)

When you do not reveal everything to your friends, colleagues, and even to your own family members, how much do you think they can reveal to the world about you?

I really don't think I can keep my friends/relatives from knowing my name...

And if some of your information is already on the internet (address, etc), someone could use that name to find out even more.

Re:To give away or not to give away our privacy (2)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242871)

When you do not reveal everything to your friends, colleagues, and even to your own family members, how much do you think they can reveal to the world about you?

I really don't think I can keep my friends/relatives from knowing my name...

True, but do they all know your social security card number?

Do they know your credit card number?

That's the gist of it

There are things that we simply can NOT keep to ourselves, like our names

But there are _still_ many other things that we can keep under wrap

I know, it takes efforts, and sometimes it seems like it's unnecessarily troublesome to be so extraordinarily careful with our own lives

But that's the cost of living in this modern society, where we are no longer a "Human Being", we are merely a "Number", a "Blot" on the statistical charts somewhere

And if some of your information is already on the internet (address, etc), someone could use that name to find out even more.

Re:To give away or not to give away our privacy (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39242879)

This is the difference between the US and the EU. In the US privacy is perhaps a commodity. In the EU it's a fundamental human right protected by the constution.

Re:To give away or not to give away our privacy (2)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242921)

This is the difference between the US and the EU. In the US privacy is perhaps a commodity. In the EU it's a fundamental human right protected by the constution

In this world where data-mining is practised by almost everybody and their great-grand-mother, it does not matter if your privacy is protected by whatever "constitution", if you keep on revealing who you are to the world, then the world will know about you, and they will know something about you that you yourself haven't yet realized

Re:To give away or not to give away our privacy (1)

epyT-R (613989) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242941)

hahahahah.. riiight.. until your government lackies hand over your data to the US government (or its corporations) like the lapdogs they are..

Re:I believe so. (1)

epyT-R (613989) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242905)

that's not true. we had a lot more privacy because ubiquitous surveillance was expensive so it could only be applied to a few people at a time.. of course, we made up for that by spreading paranoia about the capabilities of 'dear leaders' to compensate.

Re:I believe so. (1)

dougisfunny (1200171) | more than 2 years ago | (#39243073)

I think the point he's trying to convey is that in a small town, everyone knows everyone's business. There was no privacy.
Sure, the data didn't get to the corporate overlords as they didn't exist, and the feudal overlords didn't care they just wanted their due. No one farther than two towns over even cares so the information doesn't spread, but there was no real privacy.

Re:I believe so. (1)

natefriedmn (2587227) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242541)

I think it is still a matter of choice. There are still a lot of people who value privacy.

Re:I believe so. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39242565)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Window_tax

The window tax was a property tax based on the number of windows in a house. It was a significant social, cultural, and architectural force in England, France and Scotland during the 18th and 19th centuries. To avoid the tax some houses from the period can be seen to have bricked-up window-spaces (ready to be glazed at a later date), as a result of the tax.

At that time, many people in Britain opposed income tax, on principle, because they believed that the disclosure of personal income represented an unacceptable governmental intrusion into private matters, and a potential threat to personal liberty.

The bigger the house, the more windows it was likely to have, and the more tax the occupants would pay. Nevertheless, the tax was unpopular, because it was seen by some as a tax on "light and air".

Re:I believe so. (2)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242633)

What choice do you have when someone else (friends, relatives) is posting stuff about you, photographs of you, etc? You can absolutely not participate in "social networking" and still have your data placed out there.

Re:I believe so. (5, Insightful)

Zaelath (2588189) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242543)

People seem confused in the differences between "I do nothing illegal" and "I have nothing to hide". If you like to cross dress you most certainly have something to hide from your biker mates, or the chaps at the tennis club, or your patients at the dental surgery, or pretty much anyone else that doesn't enjoy your subculture. Yet there's nothing illegal there.

Re:I believe so. (5, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242655)

People seem confused in the differences between "I do nothing illegal" and "I have nothing to hide".

Exactly. I suggest that all those who equate wanting privacy with being criminals be forced to carry out their personal necessities like bathing, grooming and using the restroom on national television. We can call it the "but you've got nothing to hide you dumb shit" show.

Re:I believe so. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39242577)

I personally have no doubt that there will come a time when privacy violations and spying are seen as normal and acceptable. In fact, that might already be largely true.

Used a credit card lately?

Re:I believe so. (2)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242643)

People care about privacy in the same way they always have, when it affects them. They don't want the world to know they were out walking with their mistress, but they don't care if people know they were walking with their wife.

It's hard for people to understand what is wrong with their browsing habits being collected automatically, especially when they don't see how it affects them. And a lot of people have no problem declaring to the world their strange fetishes [penny-arcade.com].

Re:I believe so. (1)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242699)

Some people just don't want the government wasting time and money spying on them. And they don't want that same government wasting their time and money using businesses like facebook and google and whatever to spy on them. And they don;t want businesses to spy on them because it's none of their d**** business.

Re:I believe so. (2, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242773)

And some people are tired of every story, and every political movement, and everything else trying to get us outraged over something or another.

Chill people, the world is a pretty good place.

Re:I believe so. (1)

epyT-R (613989) | more than 2 years ago | (#39243023)

Chill people, the world is a pretty good place.

applying your subjective experience to everyone else, in spite of differing experiences and environments, is arrogant to say the least..

Technological parallels to innate abilities (-1)

Aguazul (620868) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242847)

There is an idea that many recent technological developments are preparation for innate human abilities being re-enabled again on a wider scale. Telephone is preparation for direct psychic communication, TV is preparation for remote viewing, virtual reality and video gaming are preparation for *dreaming* journeys, and lack of privacy is what we've all had all along -- anyone with a little bit of ability can read all your most private thoughts (but why on earth would they want to, given the murk found in most people's minds???). So when we're all used to all this nonsense in our daily lives -- constantly online with our phones, TV, multi-player gaming, and with absolutely no privacy -- then maybe they'll turn these abilities back on again and we can throw away the machines. At least that is how the idea goes. Seems like an interesting viewpoint at least.

Re:I believe so. (1)

grantspassalan (2531078) | more than 2 years ago | (#39243139)

Technology changes, but human nature does not and will not, at least not in the foreseeable future. When people lived in small villages, the village gossips knew what you had for dinner, how many kids you have and their names, who your husband/wife were, whether you showed up in church last Sunday, that your wagon broke and you got a new horse last Wednesday and on and on and on and on. The biggest difference today is that the village has become global, thus multiplying the number of people that may have information about you. People today actually have more privacy, even on the Internet, than they ever had when they lived in small, tightly knit communities, where everyone knew everybody and knew what everybody was doing. In the days when people lived in small villages, it was much harder to hide things about yourself from your fellow villagers. Today you have a choice of whether to put information about yourself out into the global Internet village. Therefore, you have actually more privacy today in the global village, than people had in their tightly knit communities in days gone by.

Re:I believe so. (2)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 2 years ago | (#39243233)

People tend to confuse "anonymity" with "privacy". The US government and anyone else willing to invest the time has had the ability to gather data about an individual way before the Internet was even born. It just took longer to compile the information. Some readily accessible sources of information includes public utility bills, drivers license's, property titles, vehicle titles, credit history, marriage licenses, school registrations information at all levels, and of course tax related information. None of these sources require cameras or the Internet.

It is totally possible for someone to reduce their online footprint and preserve some privacy if they want to but most don't take the time to do so. People who post their life stories on Facebook or similar sites are voluntarily giving away information about themselves but then turn around and complain about their "privacy" being violated.

I live in the EU (0)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242445)

Not applicable.

Re:I live in the EU (4, Interesting)

x1r8a3k (1170111) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242569)

Do you really think that its not happening wherever you are too? Like Google, Facebook, etc. Europe isn't spying on you just as much as Google, Facebook, etc. in the US is?

As much as you like to poke fun at us Americans(often rightfully so), we're all in this together.

Re:I live in the EU (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39242573)

How is the internet different in the EU? I'd make an educated guess that facebook and google dont care where u are from...

Data Protection Act (2)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242455)

Not entirely sure about the reference to the UK, as we have some of the best data protection laws there are.

Re:Data Protection Act (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242649)

We do have these laws, but I have yet to see them enforced against a US-based company. Even one with a significant UK presence, such as Google.

ummmm......No shit, bro (0)

butilikethecookie (2566015) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242475)

ummmm......No shit, bro. I was thinking this in 2005. Mark my words: The next big outcry will be apple remotely recording you on your facetime and back camera. What a good time to apply duck tape over my ipod and tell my girlfriend to stop wearing low shirts. (aww...) Who the f*ck even uses facetime? They need to make a Windows client version of it.

Re:ummmm......No shit, bro (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39242593)

ummmm......No shit, bro. I was thinking this in 2005.

Mark my words: The next big outcry will be apple remotely recording you on your facetime and back camera. What a good time to apply duck tape over my ipod and tell my girlfriend to stop wearing low shirts. (aww...) Who the f*ck even uses facetime? They need to make a Windows client version of it.

Holy shit. Did you just prop up and drop-kick a strawman right in front of all our eyes?

Semantic Gripe, incoming! (5, Interesting)

PessimysticRaven (1864010) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242479)

I take serious issue with anything that implies a person's problem is because of "The Internet." Like the poster above (and many more to come, I bet), people simply don't care anymore. If the Internet can be held responsible for anything, anymore, it's enabling people that are so desperate for attention, they need to inform others of every minutiae of their life.

Or I could have simply interpreted the title incorrectly; it is a silly thing.

Re:Semantic Gripe, incoming! (0)

butilikethecookie (2566015) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242519)

ummm....bro. I don't have facebook twitter or any other BS. I don't BLAME the internet for anything. I am talking about apple and ipod/phones. I am a privacy FREAK. You sir, are a hater.

Re:Semantic Gripe, incoming! (1)

PessimysticRaven (1864010) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242611)

I'm sorry, at what point did I specify you, oh person I've never seen before?

I took issue with the title of the article. Reading comprehension. It's fun!

Re:Semantic Gripe, incoming! (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242777)

people simply don't care anymore

You shouldn't mistake the apathy at something that isn't seen to directly influence them with a proper agreement when it does come to bite them personally. Most people are so intoxicated with their own importance or so sheep-like that they do not see how many laws passed to protect them can be later misused against them. I do however find that many people, once informed properly do take umbrage to what is happening.

I think that we need to stop calling people out on their apathy while showing the same towards them in a if you don't care, why should I? approach, but rather inform, educate and bring them to our side of the fray.

Nothing published, nothing private lost (1)

hsmyers (142611) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242489)

I don't have a cell phone so in my case if I didn't type it in somewhere, then it isn't 'out there' hence nothing lost. But that aside, we are gradually losing a number of rights, privacy not the least...

Just try shutting down your facebook account (4, Insightful)

multiben (1916126) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242495)

Just try shutting down your facebook account and then answer this question. My fingerprints are smeared all over the internet mainly because of Facebook alone. The cat is out of the bag and no matter what I do I can't get it back in. I don't really have much to hide, but man I shudder for those that do.

Re:Just try shutting down your facebook account (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39242587)

you can permanently delete your facebook profile and all of your posts including posts to other user's walls will disappear. google it. of course, facebook still has a copy, and any one of your "friends" could have archived your profile to their hard drive at some point. Facebook is the AOL of social networking.

Re:Just try shutting down your facebook account (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39242621)

You have plenty to hide. You just don't know who it needs to be hidden from yet.

Re:Just try shutting down your facebook account (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39242843)

What facebook account? Not only that but I long ago realised the evils of their "like" button and blocked all their domains.

Do you think that when Zuckerburg famously called his users "dumb fucks", he had a point.? Only dull conformists are comfortable lounging around a panopticon. The pendulum will swing the other way when folks realise the results a single comment from a careless "friend" can have on their lives.

If you're going to do anything in life, you cannot do social networks. Those that use them well do so professionally and only after they have established themselves.

Re:Just try shutting down your facebook account (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39242943)

I'm afraid your fingerprints are smeared all over the internet because of your fingers.

What I find especially funny (-1, Troll)

gelfling (6534) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242499)

Is that these same companies use that information to turn right around and give it organizations like the MPAA/RIAA or the police who then use it to sue you or arrest you or worse. We here think of privacy as a convenience but in most of the world, it's a matter of life and death. Evident Wikileaks moral monster Julian Assange and his factotum Israel Shamir (not his real name, he's in reality a Swedish neo Nazi named Jöran Jermas) who freely shared names of political dissidents with the secret service of Belarus, commonly called Europe's last dictatorship, in order to 'disappear' people. BTW if you're not convinced that Julian Assange works for Russian FSB you're delusional.

Long live freedom.

The irony (5, Funny)

kakyoin01 (2040114) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242501)

Anyone else find it ironic that an anonymous reader submitted an article about losing privacy?

Re:The irony (5, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242683)

Anyone else find it ironic that an anonymous reader submitted an article about losing privacy?

Seems like the opposite of ironic to me. If you think leaving a permanent record of your actions on the internet is bad for you, then it stands to reason you would do as much as possible to remain anonymous in those actions.

Hell No (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39242503)

We do not really need anonymity. The business of the future can serve us more efficiently if they know us, and therefor what we might want. I say trust Google to do the right thing.

Re:Hell No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39242551)

>We do not really need anonymity. The business of the future can serve us more efficiently if they know us, and therefor what we might want. I say trust Google to do the right thing.

That's a beautifully sad description of hell.

I'm a little more concerned about governments... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39242521)

If you sign up for something like Facebook and make all your positions on all subjects known as well as who your family and friends are, wouldn't that be an amazing goldmine to a tyrant? An instant database of friend or foe; those to persecute or reward; those whose possessions can be looted and those to give them to. When it comes to privacy, you have to consider the worst-case scenario.

Cable for Free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39242527)

If all these corporations are making fortunes by
harvesting our personal data, why do we need to
pay for an internet connection?

Info about me (4, Funny)

Skapare (16644) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242529)

I am called Skapare. I've been called Skapare since I played text MUD games online. I do my best to annoy Slashdotters. My phone runs Android. So now I guess everyone knows everything there is to know about me.

Re:Info about me (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242739)

Is that your way of saying you don't care about privacy, or you do?

Re:Info about me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39243161)

It's his way of noticing that, quite unintentionally, everything there is to know about him can be discovered using only those easily acquired facts. Like knowing everything about a triangle just by knowing a few things.

Tinfoil hats aside (2)

Wolfling1 (1808594) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242533)

I quite like the notion that advertising companies are relatively smart about targetting ads for me. Actually, I'm looking forward to the opportunity to register my interests in a central database that helps me mould and shape my advertising experiences. To me, this seems to be a logical progression - and would put a lot of the control of my personal information back in my own hands.

The problem as I see it is about the value (or price) of privacy. There have not been sufficient legal precedents to put a dollar value on this stuff, and that is the only thing that large corporations will respect. I suspect that many people will stop being so high and mighty about their privacy when they discover that it is only worth 47 cents.

Re:Tinfoil hats aside (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242767)

I suspect that many people will stop being so high and mighty about their privacy when they discover that it is only worth 47 cents.

If only that were the case. I would GLADLY pay 47 cents a week to opt out of all the tracking databases. Not the "we still collect your data but just won't show you targetted ads" opt-out, but "log everything to /dev/null" opt-out.

Personally I don't see how facebook alone can be valued at $100B if an individuals' privacy is only worth 47 cents. Even at 47cents/week with a billion users that still works out to revenue of $25B/yr - that's before any costs and the comeptition from the other 100+ or so "lesser" trackers like Google, BlueKai, Axxiom, etc.

Re:Tinfoil hats aside (1)

Grave (8234) | more than 2 years ago | (#39243025)

The stock-based "value" of a company is not based on earnings in a single year. Most companies trade at anywhere from a 10x-50x Price/Earnings ratio. Stock value is purely perception, not tangible money.

If you really want to "opt out", you need to obfuscate instead. It doesn't matter how careful you are, if someone really wants to track you or learn about you, they will. So make it hard on them by posting random things, changing your habits, making contradictory claims in public forums, and moving around a lot. That can't be any more effort than what it takes to hide, and at least that way you're able to still take advantage of the positive things offered by the Internet, credit/debit cards, bank accounts, electronic communication, etc. Oh, you weren't avoiding using those? Then you didn't actually try to "opt out".

But really what are they collecting? (5, Interesting)

Apothem (1921856) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242537)

I don't think it'd bother us as much if we knew EXACTLY what data they were collecting. Perhaps a policy of some kind when a company is collecting information, they would have to show a sample of what the collected information would look like and how it would be protected. If you think about it, if there is physical proof that your information isn't as identifiable as everyone may think it is, it would probably put a lot of fear at ease. Especially if one knew that the stuff that would make anon data identifiable was missing as a whole.

Re:But really what are they collecting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39243195)

I don't think it'd bother us as much if we knew EXACTLY what data they were collecting.

https://www.google.com/dashboard

Other companies should do this, too.

Profit (4, Interesting)

Jazari (2006634) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242627)

While the corporations that use our data have profited much, so have users. I certainly have profited *hugely* from Google's free search engine, free email, free Docs service, free apps on iPhone and Android, etc. I guess some people also consider that they've profited from whatever benefits Facebook and Twitter offer as well.

The real problem is that the information that these companies accumulate can be captured by the government, and that the logs may go back years (or forever)...

Only if you signed up.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39242639)

Oh.. that is most of you.. oh well..

BTW I have: No Facebook account, no Twitter account, no Google account, no Apple account, no Slashdot account, No XYZ company account... I think you get the picture.

I don't own a smart phone, and my mobile is turned off until I want to use it.
What do I feel I am missing? Not much.

Still have my privacy, and wouldn't give it away for anything.

Straw man (2, Interesting)

mauriceh (3721) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242659)

Are we so stupid that we do not see Microsoft and Apple spread rubbish like this to attack Google?
They like the old order where they were kings.

If you are concerned and worried about your privacy, start at home with your government.

No, you gave it away (5, Insightful)

mindcandy (1252124) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242673)

It wasn't "lost" nor was it "taken" .. you traded it for better prizes (free search, free storage, whatever).

Mod up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39242809)

Parent is not the entire truth, but it's at least 40 percent of it right there.

Case in point - I order a lot of stuff from Amazon, where they are typically on sale for 20 percent or more off the list price. Yet sometimes I'll stop by Barnes and Noble and pay more. One of the reasons is that I don't want to get an email from Jeff Bezos down the road saying, "Hey Joe, we noticed you once ordered 'The White Album' by the Beatles. Right now save 40 percent on the Monkees T-Shirts and collectible items!".

I hate those.

Re:No, you gave it away (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242825)

It wasn't "lost" nor was it "taken" .. you traded it for better prizes (free search, free storage, whatever).

Since by far most people don't even realize that a trade is being made, or if they do, they have only a cursory understanding of the exchange, I'd say "swindled" is the appropriate term here.

Re:No, you gave it away (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39243143)

replying anon cause I had mod points and was using them

The fact that you or "they" did not read or understand the bargain does not mean a bargain was not made. Most sites that have been collecting data since the late 90s have spelled out, in legally clear terms (not common english terms), what data they collect and how it is used. I myself read, parse, and try to understand that. That you or others choose not to do so is not my concern, and it can not be the concern of the businesses that have traded you a service for the data you gave them.

Similarly, since /. likes car analogies, it is not Ford's duty to tell you that your driving habits might be better served by driving a certain model of Chevy instead. (Use a privacy respecting search engine instead of ours, they care more about that since it's important to you.) It is the buyer's duty to avail themselves of that information. If Ford, or Google, or facebook etc, hid their privacy statements, lied about them, and so on, then you would have a different case. But that some people just made decisions without recognizing all the details? Tough luck.

Me, I'll continue to use google and facebook. But my facebook page will continue to be filled with disinformation; and my google searchs will often be for sites that have information about what I am looking for; not always specific information.

Re:No, you gave it away (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242985)

No, it was "lost". There was no "trading", as there was (and is) no "informed consent" in any meaningful sense of the word.

What people often don't understand (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242753)

In the eyes of evil people, even the most innocent actions can be twisted into something nefarious or vile.

yours, not mine (1)

holophrastic (221104) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242805)

my e-mail is my own. I don't use google, nor facebook and that's why. in fact, the only place I give anything to is right here like this. oh, and my browser agent string is also generic -- not that I'm proxied or anything.

so my privacy, and my expectation of privacy, remains in tact, just as it did before the internet, when I was 8. though I can't say how many others have chosen to publish my information against my wishes, but I'm not legally responsible for that.

Re:yours, not mine (2)

multiben (1916126) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242835)

That's a very naive view. Your privacy remains intact until one day one of your friends or business contacts accidentally or deliberately forwards on a private email. Once that happens good luck getting it back. It happens every day.

Usual Grauniad hypocrisy... (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242811)

Ironic to have Guardian journalists complaining about privacy. Not only are they as guilty as most of the UK press in phone hacking, their paper is full of links to Facebook.

This article brought to you by the newspaper that condemns rich people avoiding tax, and hedge funds -- whilst being almost entirely funded by an hedge fund operating from the Caymans.

Name changes will become the new norm at 18. (3, Interesting)

WiiVault (1039946) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242833)

With the continued backlog of potentially negative data soon to be facing young-adults as they leave childhood and enter the job market, I expect Facebook will bring about an era where name changes upon adulthood become common place. Of course some people will go ahead and be stupid with their new identities too as many do now. But what other option will today's kids have to remove affiliations from their latest Beiber hate rant of drunken high school tweet?

Internet? (1)

tomhath (637240) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242897)

Here in the US the political season is already starting. Just as it has been for decades, we're getting robocalls from the various candidates. I also get many credit card offers every week with my name on the envelope and pleas from the alumni association to send money. Privacy? What's that?

as I understand it (1)

gtcodave (2581251) | more than 2 years ago | (#39242997)

if you are a normal man or woman like myself anything you put on the internet is esecially not private unless you encrypt the tits off it. do not expect the UK Data Protection Act to save you. howver if you are a corporation where generally a lot of law attempts to make you transparrent you have very little to worry abou because you can afford lawyers. that may sound cynical but in light of the recent DNS blocking in Denmark of google etc it seems that nothing makes sense at the moment. or maybe it never has and I'm finally grown up enough to see the world for what it is?

Not quite... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39243145)

Do you know who I am? No?

EoT.

We have. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39243231)

But not so much to voluntary disclosures as to the ever present police state, patriot act, NSA and the world court. Our privacy has been taken away by the very government our constitution warned us about. Interesting how our demise was presaged by over 200 years by a bunch of radicals, eh?

Too late now.

JJ

Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39243257)

Who made you sign up for facebook or buy an iphone?
It's our own fault.

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