Internet Invasion: Are Online Privacy Rights History?
posted at 12:33 pm on February 17, 2012 by Rovin
Alternate title: Welcome to the Internet: If you “opt-in”, you relinquish all expectations of privacy.
This morning I could not sign into my Facebook account without jumping through hoops that included resetting my password and confirming my information required to maintain the use of this popular social network site. With the explosion of the quest for online information and the advent of social networking—mostly free to the public—conglomerates like Facebook, Google, Yahoo, etc, are vying for the collection of consumer’s information in a multi-billion dollar industry of direct advertising. Personal Privacy settings and the “opt-out options” are becoming alarmingly non-existent with “policy changes” either the consumer does not understand or is not functionally capable of comprehending. Yet these “mega-networks” will tell you these changes are necessary to maintain the integrity of your privacy. Their favorite phrase/buzz-words are called “validating or confirming the user identity”.
Yesterday, Breitbart posted an AFP story titled “Facebook dabbles with validating user identity” which might explain my need to “re-confirm” my status with Facebook, (even though I don’t really “qualify” to be in any of these categories mentioned):
“Facebook on Thursday began testing a way for celebrities, journalists, athletes and others with massive followings to have their identities validated at the globally popular online social network.
“The new process enables people to verify their identities by submitting a government issued ID,” Facebook said in an email response to an AFP inquiry.” link
You can assume their motives for the “testing” at your own risk, but during my personal “re-confirmation” the site kept prompting me to insert my telephone number, (which was still listed in the original content of opening the account). The process also required that I receive a new email verification notice to reset my password, all under the auspices of “privacy protection“. Draw your own conclusions.
Google has also been drawing critical attention lately with their new tracking policies. Under their new guidelines/features, (according to this DailyMail article), there seems to be no more “opt-out” options available to the user:
“Google has been savaged by critics after revealing plans to link user data across its email, video, social-networking and other services.
In a move denounced by some as a massive invasion of privacy, the changes will piece together information from Gmail to YouTube to the Google Plus social network.” link
There’s more information at the link. The popular tech site Gizmodo didn’t appear to be pleased with Google’s new policies, calling it The End of “Don’t Be Evil“, and even today reported news from a WSJ report that Google is now tracking iPhones without permission:
“A report from the Wall Street Journal suggests that Google has been bypassing the privacy settings of millions of Safari users, by tracking the browsing habits of people, even if they thought they had blocked such monitoring.
The WSJ explains how Google has developed code that installs cookies on a users’ device—without their permission—from adverts contained in web pages. Once installed, however, those cookies have allowed Google to track browsing across the majority of websites.” link
In defense of Google, the Gizmodo link also includes an updated statement, (a must read), directly from Rachel Whetstone, Senior Vice President of Communications and Public Policy at Google, explaining what this “tech-savvy rookie” admittedly can barely understand. Please feel free to elaborate in the comments section.
Personally, my bottom line synopsis/opinion of this information and social networking explosion is: if you opt-in/sign up, (or even link or connect to these websites), you will be forgoing any expectation of explicit or implied privacy with the “options” becoming more and more limited. And it’s becoming an issue concerning millions of users.