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Privacy… February 23, 2009

Posted by handspiker in Uncategorized.
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My professor recently posted a video talking about our digital dossier/footprint and the amount of information out there about each and everyone of us. I realize that in this digital age, as it expands, more and more of who we are and what we are doing is being documented. It was really a scary thought. I had flashbacks to George Orwell’s “1984” and Mulder from “The X-Files” [the truth [of us] is out there.].

Simple daily tasks that we do without much thought leaves these footprints behind. Daily activities such as: logging on a computer at home/school, surfing the Internet, using debit/credit cards, or phoning people from home or a cell phone. It’s scary to think of what trail we leave behind and what people might do with that information.

This reflection caused me to think about two incidents that happened to me when I was younger. Firstly was joining “Dooly’s” a pool hall chain. When I applied for membership I was told, very harshly, that I needed to give them my SIN number. I flatly refused and told the bartender that it was illegal for him to ask that of me. I told him I would give him 24 hours to check with a lawyer about the legalities of it, but that he could not with hold membership in that hall due to me not providing him with a SIN number. At this point it was all about proving him wrong, due to his demeanor. I went back the next night and he very sheepishly apologized for his mistake and promptly signed me up. Would anything have been wrongly done with my SIN number, probably not, but who knows.

The second incident was in filing taxes one year. I for get to get something off of my previous tax form, from the year before, and went down to my local tax office for a copy of said form. I walked in, waited, was called and received a copy of my tax form. I began to walk away when it hit me, I was never asked for a piece of id. I turned around and asked the gentleman if he needed anything else. He looked at me confused and said no. I asked him if it was normal policy to ask for id when handing out personal information. He said nothing. I called over a supervisor and registered my concerns.

We have the ability to control what we put out there. I still refuse to give personal info out over a cordless phone. I have a shredder, cross-cut, for my documents/mailings at home. I limit what I post on social networks. But I know I cannot bury or hide everything. What about people like the above situations? Do they value my concern about my info as well? Look at banks, stores, governments, that have over the past few years had to deal with public info about peoples’ lives just sitting around in dumpsters, trash, missing hard drives, etc. Am I paranoid about this? Is this a huge concern? Is this just how our “new” lives and society are going to be?



1. Alec Couros - February 23, 2009

I think we are at a transition point in terms of privacy and especially how easy it still is to pull-off identity theft. And, unless there has been a huge security breach at an e-vendor, it is still more likely you be victim of Credit Card fraud if you leave something in the garbage, or the pizza guy writes down your information and uses it on Ebay (etc.). Tough questions ahead, new securities implemented all the time. These are interesting times.

2. Lori Sheldon - February 24, 2009

Perhaps I don’t spend enough time thinking about privacy. I have moved all of my bill paying online and prefer to shop online, but I use one card. I am aware that identity theft is a possibility and have even gotten those scam emails where some company needs me to verify my account information, but I choose to live cautiously but not in fear of such things happening. The video painted an incredible picture, one I had not thought of… our digital footprint starts before we are even born. Thanks for sharing.

3. shannonlibrarian - February 24, 2009

Just ran into first real digital identity hijacking: staff member @ school had malicious comments made about her on local paper blog and a fake Facebook profile created. Amazing how many people took the smear content seriously, despite how easy it was to prove it was fake. This young staff member will have these comments and content as part of her digital footprint. It’s not just we say and do online, but anything someone else posts as well. Where’s the ability to “untag” (disassociate) comments or content when you need it?

4. arvind s grover - February 24, 2009

Privacy is a bit of a myth these days. A nice ideal, but nearly impossible to make a reality. Networks (things literally connected to each other) with average security, non-vigilant guardians of our data, villains, and a growing movement to be more open about oneself (YouTube, Facebook, blogs, etc) are all anti-privacy.

That being said, some say we’ll be safer the more open everything is, but I’m still figuring out what all I want to share/not share, and what all is being shared without my explicit permission.

I’m fairly certain that just about anyone who tries hard can access anything they want to.

There’s too much data now in too many places. We need to be thinking differently about what privacy actually means in these times.

Scary, slightly uncomfortable, but probably will open as many door as it closes.

5. Kim - February 25, 2009

I had an experience in Saskatoon this weekend that made me stop and think of these same ideas. I had phoned a hotel to make a reservation. They still had my name and address on file and
“would [ I ] like the same room as last time?” Wow, how convenient! And then, “is you credit card number still…”. They still had my credit card number on file. I realize that my digital dossier reflects the tracks I make but unlike walking in the snow – I can’t always look back and see where I have been.

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