Privacy woes? It's us, not them

We do like to blame other people for our privacy problems, be it Facebook's neglectful privacy policies or Google watching your web searches. Simon Moore argues that in a world where we just can't stop sharing, we might be more to blame than we'd like to accept.

Privacy: what is it really, in the context of the digital age and how we now interact with each other? Social media now provides us with an ongoing reality show of anyone and everyone in this world. I can login and watch unemployed pseudointellectuals hosting their own nonsense webcam 24 hour streams on Justin TV or visit TMZ for an update on who Chris Brown hit today. In fact I can also print off the police report of the assault, and probably purchase a vial of blood from his latest victim. There are websites devoted to cats streaming live. Even our lowest bar has sunk to new depths.

Our gossip trash magazines used to provide a higher quality of news and intrigue than we have now. It feels like only yesterday that Variety Magazine was reporting the bust up of Heidi Fleiss and her prostitute ring. This spurned debates about the legalisation of prostitution in the United States and an ongoing discussion of a slide in morality away from “traditional American values”. Our gossip trash magazines were providing better, more direct violations of our privacy. We now enjoy a litany of: Lindsay’s Big Birthday Plans with her Lawyer, Ryan Seacrest Mystery Boat Ladies revealed, and Justin Bieber’s Neighbour complaining of car noise.

In this technology rich world two things have happened, we have let down our privacy curtains to more revealing levels than ever before and our content is becoming poorer for it. Our own conversations and self-produced content have become worse as our access and tools have improved. We are showing more and more of ourselves inside and out, and what we see is boring. The air of mystery has disappeared.

Yet how much of our privacy is really being violated? We love to yell in outrage as we hear of the government picking through our status updates. We groan with anguish as we realise that Facebook owns all of our instagram photos, and we act distraught when we come to the realisation that for the last four years our login data has been remembered by the computers in the public library.

However we are blaming opportunist governments and corporations when in actual fact it is our fault. If you didn’t want someone to know you were pregnant, sick of your boss and imbibing illegal narcotics on the weekend would you spray paint it on the front of your house? So why do we do it on our virtual wall? Would you use a megaphone to announce the litany of emotions you had felt today? Then stop tweeting them. If you wish for sole propriety ownership over your photos then don’t put them on Instagram.

There are real privacy violations we should be concerned about. In this digitised world we can be opening ourselves up without even realising it. A lot of us like to implement tools in order to browse anonymously. This is not to hide what we are doing, but more the result of a constant concern of big brother looking into our caches of porn and militant defamatory blogging of the current governing bodies and their respective agencies. Here is what should concern you: if you are using The Onion Router or any other anonymity networks to reroute your activities, you may have gained a modicum of privacy from certain sectors, but you have only opened yourself to a whole other realm of voyeurs. These aren’t your friends or their cats. These are hackers, generally creepyish people at the best of times who can remotely access your computer, use it to illegally transfer funds, chat to their underworld amigos and most weirdly operate your webcam.

Now this is not necessarily dangerous in itself, unless you have posted your bank details and identity in large letters on the back of your study, but it is enough to make you a little concerned. These individuals also engage in skimming acts of taking money from people’s accounts through remote access, especially through hijacking virtual funds in online games.

So while we spend our days outraged at governments flicking through emails, Instagram borrowing images for a promo campaign and friends of friends finding out those extra pounds are being caused by twins, we are actually facing an increasing and more serious privacy violation that could cost you money, security and that new character you just created World of Warcraft. It appears people are more concerned with the public loss of dignity through privacy changes and posts, but lets face it, you lost your dignity the day you first “selfied a duckface” and learnt how to upload from your iPhone, so lets stop complaining and start adapting.

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