facebook privacy

Not necessarily trying to pick on Facebook here, but I just thought this grammar/privacy pun was too funny not to share.

Like any idea that’s good initially, data mining can turn into a slippery slope.

A business gets your information to stay in touch with you and anticipate your potential needs — and then they sell your information to make a quick buck.

The government is concerned about additional terrorist attacks in a post-9-11 world, so, nearly 13 years later, they’re looking at your cellphone data — who you’re calling and who you’re texting and where you’re doing it from. I realize the National Security Agency (NSA) is trying to protect everyone, but like the photo to the left says, there is a fine line.

A recent article in the Washington Post reports that not only can the NSA collect your communications, but also communications about you:

Still, some lawmakers are concerned that the potential for intrusions on Americans’ privacy has grown under the 2008 law because the government is intercepting not just communications of its targets but communications about its targets as well. The expansiveness of the foreign-powers certification increases that concern.

You’d like to think these scenarios are pretty far-fetched, but if you’ve been paying attention to news coverage on this issue, you know they’re not. I may sound like a paranoid fool (or right on the money) to some of you, but I’m worried this constant collection of data is going to bring us into an era where we’re on 24-7 surveillance. Almost every electronic device we have now has a front-facing camera (smartphones, Xbox Kinect and tablets/laptops), so how far out there is this idea really?

I’ve never been in charge of any large scale data collection at any of my workplaces, but here are a couple basic guidelines that I think entities should follow: Don’t sell someone’s data, don’t use someone’s data for something other than what is supposed to be used for and don’t be a creeper.

How about this: Collect the data, but keep that data disconnected from the individual to whom it belongs. I’m sure programs out there exist and they are probably already in use, but it would be great if companies and agencies could actually do this. The aforementioned article from the Washington Post echoes this idea:

In general, if Americans’ identities are not central to the import of a communication, they must be masked before being shared with another agency.

Really, we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t. So if we don’t want any data collection done at all, we’ll have to disappear into that rabbit hole that Dr. Selepak was talking about last semester.