Food for thought (privacy)

If you are worried about privacy and the sheer volume of information that Google has on you, you should be!

Googling provides the googler with lots of information, but your cookies are being cooked.

The other day I watched this obscure video (below) on youtube – Woodie Guthrie’s ‘All you fascists bound to lose’ (I followed a link provided by someone else to get to the video).

And guess what happened next.

I got a recommendation from Amazon.com via email for this book:

“This Machine Kills Fascists” by Woody Guthrie

Coincidence! I don’t think so.

When a company has massive amounts of information on people than obviously they are going to try to use that information to make money (and direct advertising is the way of the future – apparently). If Google is selling information about googlers to companies like Amazon, then this process should be transparent to all involved (or am I missing something – they’re not the same company are they?).

I know a lot of people couldn’t care less about privacy, espcially young people, but I think it is something worth thinking about (and if you have something to hide – which I don’t – then you should be very concerned).

My blogging friend The Querulous Squirrel has raised some further issues, about Google, if you want to read more.

What do you think?

Do you care about privacy or is privacy old hat in this day and age?

Would you change your mind if you lost your job because of information obtained via internet logs?

Some food for thought.

26 thoughts on “Food for thought (privacy)

    • A bit scary slpmartin and the technology is changing all the time, so almost impossible to keep up with – they can even identify a person via photos using computer programs that measure facial features – amazing stuff. Spies don’t even have to leave their computer chair these days, we make it so easy for them.

  1. It is scary, very scary. However at the same time, part of me admires the very focussed advertising, because it can lead to serendipitous discoveries, for example that book could have been just the book you were looking for…. I use Everyclick for most of my internet searching (www.everyclick.com – they donate to charity for every internet search and I’m pretty sure they don’t sell information on to anyone…..

    Juliet
    Crafty Green Poet

    • Thanks Juliet – I think targeted advertising has its place (better than getting bombarded with everything) and I don’t mind book recommendations usually, as they are based on my interests. I’m so embedded with google I think it is too late for me to use a new search engiine, but thanks for telling us about everyclick.

  2. I think that there is so much information about us available, from cookies on the internet to mailimg lists which are sold to any and everybody, that we should be concerned – at least enough to be careful of what information we supply.

  3. Besides identity theft, which is a massive problem, I’m less concerned about privacy in the general sense such as cameras on the streets, my internet searchesbeing tracked etc – I do think one needs to be aware, though, of how the information is being used and keep that in mind (and many people have no idea) when putting anything in the public domain. What does concern me about these companies (Facebook and Google etc) is how difficult they make it for the average internet user to get their privacy settings set to the highest level – a particularly duplicitous practice. People really do need to be more aware – I made my Mum shut down her (very benign and innocent) Facebook page because she doesn’t really understand what a dangerous playing field it is and wouldn’t know what to do if she was targeted. Thought-provoking post, Gabrielle.

    • Thanks bluebee 🙂 I agree that they should make it much easier (or make it the default setting) to set your privacy to the highest settings. I think facebook is particularly prone to problems (especially if people aren’t computer savvy and don’t understand how complex the networks of ‘friends’ can be – eg., if you comment on someones wall then others can see the comments even if they are not part of the original network). I don’t use facebook anymore (my husband calls it facetool – haha, though sometimes I would like to use it just for the professional pages. But some people put some crazy stuff on facebook which could easily come back to burn them (esp, in custody cases and things like that).

  4. Thanks for the mention. In a moment of Vanity, I looked up the bareMinerals/Escentuals website for all-natural make-up. Ever since I did, an ad from that website is popping up on every search I do. By the way, I’m suspicious of those mineral make-ups. Just because they are made of minerals don’t mean they are healthy. They all involve shaking the dust off your brush so you breath in some of that “all natural mineral” in a little cloud. I haven’t been able to find a list of exactly what minerals they use and their effects on your lungs. Just meandering off into another paranoid direction ie, what exactly constitutes “all natural.” Plutonium is all natural, isn’t it?

    • Haha – the ‘all natural’ line used in advertising would have to be the biggest load of shite around squirrel – plutonium is natural, as is arsenic, influenza, opium, tobacco, sunlight, coal, oil etc., . I can’t imagine that minerals in a powder are much better 😉

  5. privacy and the right to it was sort of flushed down the drain here after the twin towers fell in nyc. and everyone was so frightened the change was not even ‘noticed’. but some people said ‘everything is gonna change now’ right off the bat. and no one complacently wanted to notice. but it has gone way past protective reaction now into insidious plundering of all privacy rights. and forget about other rights such as copyright protection etc.
    neighbors spying? yup. laws twisted? yup. stupidity in powerful positions? yup. right to be suspicious has more fans than the right to privacy. and of course if there is any dough to be made, yup, because
    the idol of material stuff parading sad people in fancy cars, etc.
    a primer can be found with the book The Right to Privacy by Ellen Alderman and Caroline Kennedy.
    very important post, thanks gabrielle

    • Thanks tipota for such a thoughtful response – I agree with everything you have said – the rules changed completed after that dreadful day. People will always ‘change the rules’ when they think they will be directly impacted themselves eg., ‘free market trade is great if we are the winners but if we are not than lets be protectionist.’ or people are innocent unless proven guilty (unless you might be a paedophile). I have a suspicion that people don’t give a toss about privacy because they believe it won’t affect them directly (and they may even want to have an un-private ‘celebrity’ life) but they would quickly change their tune if it did impact them directly – if they were falsely accused of terrorism and had the FBI on their front door and searching their computers. Of course, this will probably never happen to the majority of people but should we not care when this happens to other citizens (and it is happening all around the world right now) – or has the world become so individualistic that people don’t give a shit about rights anymore!

      I will have a look at that book.

  6. yup, i agree, tho i would ask the last question substituting “paramilitary” for “individualistic”
    because i think right at the core is some sort of fear of anything individualistic, as opposed to
    conformity

    • yes, I agree with that too tipota (but I was thinking more along the lines of todays obsession with the ‘me’ rather than the group or benefits to society as a whole – though there is much room for conformity within this line of thinking (the two are not mutually exclusive) – I think there is a great fear of people who are different, different ways of living and thinking – which again can relate to conformity – those groups in society who do not fit in because of cultural or religious beliefs (I may be getting a bit off track here but I have been reading a lot about islamophobia and prejudice in the last couple of days and it is really scary what mainstream people are saying and getting away with).

  7. Privacy is an illusion. It’s always been an illusion. When we lived in small villages socially, everyone knew everyone else’s business, usually via the town gossip. Now that we are more urban and have been breeding with abandon thus overpopulating the planet we have a new village gossip: Google. However, before there was google there was the taxation number, the car licence number, the health insurance number, the telephone number, the street address and all those numbers had/have information about you attached. I learned the hard way that privacy is a farce by having my face plastered on a wanted poster that decorated walls in stores, post offices, the internet and even Time’s Square at one point. Why? Because once one entity gets the info they share it gladly with everyone who wants to jump on the band wagon (much like that town gossip I mentioned above) no matter how wrong it is. It is out of your control so fast, and just like a match to dry grass it ignites in record time. In retrospect I’m glad this happened to me because I’m freer now, knowing it’s all a farce. There is a certain liberty to having your insides turned out and exposed. But of course one aspect of this that is frightening is identity theft. Not good, not good at all and obviously from a criminal standpoint it threatens the very security of our economic systems and if done en masse could collapse entire banking systems worldwide.

    Now, did I tell you the juicy stuff I heard about ______ on twitter? LOL Rock on Gabe hugs

    • Hahaha – thanks Val for your fulsome response 🙂 I agree and disagree and will have to think some more about it. Privacy is real but the invasion of privacy is endemic and a bit of a farce, of course. It is all a matter of degree (as are most things in life) and I just don’t want to make it to easy on people. It is a bit like if someone is out to get you – if they are motivated enough and have enough resources, they will get you – even if you are the President of the USA – but you don’t want to make it too easy for them. You were the victim of a horrific crime and what happened to you is exactly why a bit of privacy would have been good (but you were up against a whole system who had the resources that I was talking about earlier). I always assume that what I do will not be private – but I have nothing to hide – if I was a paedophile who use online kiddy porn I would be a nervous mess (and rightly so) and I think politicians should assume that what they do ‘in the line of duty’ will not be private (and shouldn’t be). The main thing, I think, is we need to educate young people on the pitfalls of the internet (even basic stuff like what you say on twitter stays there for decades and people will find it if they want to and might use it against you). I know your opinion of twitter Val but I have this to say – when your book is published you will be asked to use twitter by your publisher – just sayin’ – hahahahaha.

  8. think the better side of it. perhaps for us it is hard but for the kids of today privacy will be nothing they will be worried about. I am saying that as a person who cares a lot about his privacy and chooses (or at least think so) carefully with whom I share what and when.

    I noticed that in India there are millions of people without privacy (a bit as Val have said); shitting together, making love together, bathing, giving birth, dying – no way to hide. do we have anything to hide?
    I guess the problem is not the info (and yes it is – for me) but who has it and what they do with it. can we trust them? unfortunately i don’t believe we can.

    just my thoughts and as I can see they are not quit straight it,

    • Thanks Dhyan – very interesting comment – I think you are right to be very careful who you put your trust in – there are a hell of a lot of people out for themselves and who would think nothing of destroying another person for their own gain.

  9. Privacy needs a comeback, perhaps it happens through the agency of very nosey computer applications. Every generation needs to rediscover life’s qualities. In every generation life is brand new, and the internet savvy young have not yet savored fully the richness of a private life. So this nudges them into discovery perhaps?

  10. I agree with Bluebee in that I don’t worry about privacy too much but what I do think about is what people are going to do with the information they are so intent on gathering. I sometimes feel like everyone is watching everyone else. It’s weird and unsettling. My fervent hope is that someone doesn’t invent an iPhone App that can read our thoughts a la ‘1984’ –
    “The thought police would get him just the same. He had committed–would have committed, even if he had never set pen to paper–the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it. Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed forever. You might dodge successfully for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you.”
    Because if they do, I’m going to be banged up for good, probably in solitary. It’s a sobering thought 😮

  11. Pingback: call the police | Gabrielle Bryden's Blog

  12. Hi Gabrielle. I’m a bit late on this one but you’ve started a compelling discussion – we need more like it. Unfortunately, I think the exploitation of private data online is only going to increase, and, as companies discover new ways to use and obtain it, probably at an exponential rate.

    Your post reminded me of a great feature article by The Wall Street Journal from last year titled The Web’s New Gold Mine. Have a read here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703940904575395073512989404.html

    Of particular interest, especially for the writerly inclined, are the number of third party, data-capturing cookies that sites like Dictionary.com drop into one’s browser.

    • Thanks for joining in the discussion TF 🙂 and for the link (wow – amazing and scary article). I wonder what sort of profile I would get from a site like Dictionary.com – haha – the amount of words I look up for poetry – they’d be hardpressed to find a pattern there 🙂 At least wikipedia aren’t doing it (yet)!

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