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Talking Privacy – Part Two

Posted by on Jul 11, 2011

A year and a half ago I asked the question Do We Deserve Privacy Online? I took on the issue after reading a news story that basically said privacy is gone and we should get over it.

mozilla privacy cupcakes! DSC_6407.JPG
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At the time I had mixed feelings about the issue, and I find myself 18 months later still having mixed feelings about it. I’m taking it on again after reading a post by a guy that called himself Blog Bloke titled Social Media Profiling: Is Our Privacy Under Siege? His gripe is with the new Google+ site and some of the information they’re requiring to participate in the process. In particular, he’s against their rule which says one can’t use avatars, instead saying people have to use pictures of themselves.

For those of you who aren’t going to go check out his post or his blog, Blog Bloke is definitely a throwback to the old days of not trusting anyone; I doubt he’d disagree with this. Privacy is a major thing with him, and he doesn’t want his image out on the internet in any way. This is a right everyone has by the way, and I’m certainly not going to beat him up for that. As a matter of fact, he’s pretty much made his avatar his trademark, and many people know exactly who he is once they see that; kind of like Dennis and his magic DE logo.

Do I understand his position on privacy? Yes. Do I fully support it? Mixed feelings. Do I have things I don’t want to share? Absolutely. Do I use those things that require information I don’t feel like sharing? Nope; I just go on about my business.

Why did I bring that stuff up? If you check his post you’ll see I commented on it and I said there’s no obligation for any of us to participate in social media services whose policies we don’t support; social media is a right, not a privilege. That’s why I don’t play many games on Facebook, and why I’ve downloaded very few apps onto my smartphone, because I don’t feel like giving up some of my information so it can be sold to someone else. His position is that it is pretty much a right and that these companies (Google, Facebook, etc) really don’t have a right to ask us for any of it.

I’ll attempt to make my position clear here and see where you fall into things. He has a blog and gets to set his rules. I have a blog and get to set my rules. We’re both part of social media; so are all of you. I’ve decided on my blog that if I don’t know you already I’m not accepting names I can’t identify; ergo, no keyword names. I could care less if the rest of the world knows you already, until I know you I’m not allowing it. My blog, I pay for it, my policy. I don’t know what his is, and I don’t know what yours is. However, based on responses I’ve received on some of my posts, it seems that a majority of you would support this kind of thing because you can relate to it.

There’s the big boys, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. They all have policies as well. Some of them end up being very invasive, others not so much. There’s absolutely no right any of us have to circumvent those policies. Well, that’s not totally accurate. We do have the right to boycott, fuss, stomp our feet, write about it in our blogs, on and on and on.

But none of them have to change a thing. They’re not obligated to us. They’re paying for it in some way, we’re not. I thought about it over the weekend as I got an invite and took some folks up on joining the Google+ community. Then I thought about following it on my smartphone and it turns out that one of their rules is that if you access the page on your smartphone you must allow them to track you to find out where you are.

I’m somewhat hinky about that type of thing. I already know Google’s tracking me because I have a HTC phone, and it’s their product. I know that even after shutting down the Google location service they somehow know where I am; sigh. However, once you sign up for location tracking on something like Google+ or Facebook, it then starts telling people where you are at the moment you’re writing, and I’m not up for that. So I declined the offer; I’ll have to wait until I’m on a regular computer or laptop and play that way instead. I know, you’re probably thinking “hey, it knows when you’re at home”; that I can handle since my home is also my business.

International Spy Museum Handbook of Practical SpyingÂ

I asked my friend Sunny, one of my younger friends (who really needs to list her blogs somewhere so people can find them all lol) what her thoughts were, and people around her age, on the privacy issue. She said she felt that we’re all being tracked to some degree but if people are at least thinking about what they’re putting out about themselves that they can protect themselves a little bit.

I had to think about that one some because I realize that for the most part the genie is out of the bottle for me. Anyone can find out where I live by looking it up online because it’s also my business address. They can probably find my phone number for the same reason. They can find my picture and pictures of my wife, who has her own website as well. In other words, privacy is totally gone; I didn’t even make the chase interesting.

The same can be said for my friend Blog Bloke in a way. He’s been around at least 14 years online. We can know where he lives, and we can get his phone number. We know where his business is. The only thing we don’t know is what he really looks like. Does that matter? To him it does; to me it doesn’t. What matters is that we each get to decide just how private we want to be, but we can’t hide. If you want to prove it look up any name and see how much it costs you to get a wealth of information about that person.

By the way, I do have this thing about how some people hide themselves from others. I really don’t like fake commenter names and images, and some of you know my position on news commentary as it appears on news stories in online newspapers. I feel all those people should have to register their names and addresses with the newspaper and should have to use at least their real first name if they have something to say so there’s some type of decorum on those sites. Privacy in that instance isn’t a right; if you feel you have something to say, be an adult about it or keep your stupid thoughts to yourself; yeah, I said it.

Will I take up the privacy cause? No, it’s not my fight; I have other things I think are much more important to my life. I’ll let Blog Bloke & our federal government work on some of those things on my behalf. What I will say, once again, is that you need to protect yourself, your information, and your reputation. Once you’re associated with something in a certain way based on your actions, it’ll be hard to overcome. Be smart in what you do, be honest, and be careful. That’s all I have.

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28 Comments »

You know how certain sites allow you to login with your Facebook credentials? I’ve still, after all these months and years, yet to take advantage of that anywhere on the ‘net, because I still have some privacy concerns about Facebook (and those other sites for that matter)…

July 11th, 2011 | 12:43 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

I’m the same, Sonny. I haven’t used that and I haven’t used Twitter. I want to do it the way I want to do it, and if I can’t then I just won’t comment and I’ll move on.

July 11th, 2011 | 2:26 PM
Val:

I’m more with you on this than with ‘BlogBloke’ (whose post you linked to I did read), though I understand – as you do – where he’s coming from.

Apropos the profile and avatar issue – as I understand it (and I may be wrong)nobody with a Google account needs to have a google profile at all if they don’t want to, so if the private one is going to become public and avatars have to be real faces – what’s wrong with just deleting the profile before that happens? I’ve got a google account and I don’t have a profile. I can’t see the need for one as I’m known on my blogs, on Flickr, on Redbubble and in a few other places online where I am able (so far) to choose how I display my details and avatar. And that’s how I’m happy for it to stay. (Though I must say that if these sites became more lax with their security, I would probably leave them. I’d probably even leave blogging if it went too far down that road.)

As you say – there’s no obligation for any of us to partake of social media services.

And you’re quite right in saying that the big guys aren’t going to change… however, I do think there will come a time in the future in which they will be superceded by other organisations and things will change in the sense of adapting. This is how it goes – things change, and the people who don’t change along with it just eventually die out. Currently I feel like a dinosaur. 😉

Oh and the GPS… I had the option of buying a camera that had better video on board with GPS or one with less good video and no GPS. I went for the one without the GPS. I don’t like the idea of people knowing where I live unless I tell them, but then my home is my home, not my workplace.

July 11th, 2011 | 12:48 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Thanks for your comment Val. There are things on Facebook I won’t participate with because I don’t want certain information going along with it; same with Google+ and probably some others. I also acknowledge that I do a lot of my business through social media so I’m not hesitant to share that stuff, and some personal stuff here and there, but very little. Sure, Facebook requires a birth date, and I understand that because they want to try to keep kids off (they’re not good at it though), but no one else knows when my birthday is because I hide it. So, there is security there for some things and some of that I avail myself of.

I’m feeling more like a dinosaur as well; not keeping up with technology as well as I used to.

July 11th, 2011 | 2:30 PM

Hi Mitch,

I’m probably too laid back about this subject, as there are real dangers associated with privacy issues. Some information should remain private, if possible, but I know that I’ve given up my anonymity long ago by simply being involved in social media.

I’ve never been comfortable with using a fake name or an avatar. To me, it would be like walking around with a bag on my head. I don’t hide my identity when I relate to people in real life, so why would I want to do so online?

Yes, there will always be those who try to exploit the slimmest of breaches in privacy. That’s unfortunate, so we should do what we can to safeguard against the worst while participating in our online activities.

Ray

July 11th, 2011 | 6:40 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

You know Ray, I did write on one of those “vanity” blogs for awhile and I used it to get some anger thoughts out of my mind. My identity was hidden, and it suited me for that short period of time. Then I realized I could do so much more on my own blog, as well as force myself to temper my thoughts and formulate them better because I now had to reveal myself and I think I’ve been better served in doing things that way.

Still, there will be a lot of things I won’t be sharing. Not that I have any pictures of me doing anything I’m ashamed of (not only do I not do things I’m ashamed of but I seem to escape having my picture taken often enough) but if I did, I certainly would never put them out into the open to embarrass myself like that.

July 11th, 2011 | 7:42 PM

I was watching something similar in the new last week, privacy and internet are not always going hand in hand. And you are right there is no obligation for anybody to join any social network or share personal thought and critical information. Honestly I think that privacy is gone long time ago, but I am not afraid of this. I am sure that the main problem is very similar to what happened to MySpace 10 years ago. Everybody was happy sharing photographs with friends and dating online, however so many spammers tried to create fake profiles and bombard with messages trying to sell something or asking you to sign up. This is the disturbing part, same apply for blog comments, there are people that read and comment and there are some which are saying “Great share” and want backlink.

July 11th, 2011 | 11:01 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Carl, it’s not that I don’t want privacy. What I know, however, is that there’s going to be those times when I have to decide what I’m willing to give up and what I’m not in order to participate. For instance, I have a program that can block where I am by randomizing my IP address. That’s neat, and for about a minute my paranoia had me running that sucker many years ago. Thing was, it used up a lot of resources, and my entire computer dragged. I had to decide which was more important, and I decided that being online and using this 15MBPS speed I have was more important than hiding myself from advertisers. And, truth be told, I was getting ads even after that, they just weren’t targeted ads anymore.

So, I pick some stuff and decide to ignore some stuff and that’s just life. I don’t always like it but sometimes I just deal with it and move on.

July 11th, 2011 | 11:48 PM

I also want privacy, actually my internet connection use hardware IP switch which is changing my IP every few minutes. If you look at my comments you will see that my IP is always different. Re-reading your post remind me of article in one of the biggest IT magazines published about 10 years ago. The title was “What if Big ‘G’ or Microsoft Become Evil”. They were discussion exactly this, however 10 years after it sounds even more scary as now internet rules almost everything, from personal life to bank accounts.

July 13th, 2011 | 12:28 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

I remember reading a lot of stories like that as well. Thing is, they sound alarmist when you read them, even if it’s possibly true, so you dismiss most of it. And I’m glad that program is working for you; if my computer ever stabilizes I might think about trying it again… might, that is. lol

July 13th, 2011 | 9:00 AM
James H:

Hey Mitch! Using the social media is certainly a right. Every business has a positive side and a negative side, since internet a a cheap medium, we will get all kinds of crowd here, some are serious, some are non-serious, some will spam, some wont.. Personally i love this scenario where i get to decide what i want to share and what i don’t.. I somehow don’t agree with Blog Blokes’s idea.

July 12th, 2011 | 3:04 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Thanks for your input, James. It can be frightening owning up to the new ways. I’m not particularly enamored with it all but I have to own up to the fact that I have shared information here and there.

July 12th, 2011 | 2:16 PM
Luke:

I have no FaceBook account – i think it useless, time wasting porn site. (a bit exaggerated but not much).

I dont understand the fact that people share their photos from holidays instead of making them a private object, something that you can use for bringing intimate memories back

Why the hell i would place them on the net so every perv and moron could see them ? Why would i want to spoil that moment captured on the photo with people i really don’t know ?

Am off this. To socialize there is one place – REAL LIFE.

And there i can share my things. Not on the net with bunch of kiddos.

Zuckerberg – your network is totally useless.

July 12th, 2011 | 2:53 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Interesting take, Luke; seems 700 million people disagree with you, and it’s ever growing. I do understand part of what you’re saying, though. I share a couple of images because it’s known that people respond well to seeing images but I don’t have anything up there that someone could look at and think of any thing salacious.

I’ve always said that social media isn’t for everyone, but for those who do participate or want to participate, be somewhat careful and cautious with what you’re divulging about yourself.

July 12th, 2011 | 3:27 PM
James H:

See Luke is certainly entitled to have this opinion on Social Media’s and like you said 700 million would disagree with him. Lets take an example of the general Internet habits (at least i have this habit) I use Gmail for email, Gtalk for chatting, G Analytics for traffic, Adsense for PPC, now G+ for interacting with friends, so i have my full information available with google, so the question of privacy doesnt arise! Yes, i agree that there is no alternative to real life contact, but what we want to share & give is certainly in our own hands

August 16th, 2011 | 12:50 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Thanks James, and that’s a great point. I hadn’t ever used Gmail until I got the smartphone and it automatically moved the mail that used to go to my business email address there. As you said, it all works well for some people and just because we meet people online doesn’t mean we don’t have lives. I like to think we extend our reach to impact more lives; I can live with that.

August 16th, 2011 | 1:17 AM

Privacy on social platforms like Facebook is a greater issue for me when it comes to kid usage. I’m not sure kids have the same sense of screening/filtering that it takes to release some info but not all information. And if you give away too much, as a kid, that can be or turn into a problem.

July 12th, 2011 | 4:17 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Jason, on that point I’m with you. What I’ve found is that parents don’t care how old their kids are and are allowing them to get on as young as 8 or 9. That’s just wrong, but if parents don’t shield their kids, what are the rest of us to do about it?

July 12th, 2011 | 6:02 PM
Andrea:

Maybe I’m a bit old school but I really don’t understand the need to share small and not very interesting thoughts on facebook and twitter. I only use facebook to find and connect with old friends.

We loss a our privacy the moment we connect to the internet. Our ip address tells where we are and who’s our internet provider.

July 12th, 2011 | 7:57 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Andrea, I think you are old school because I’m old school. A couple of things here and there, yes, but some of the things that I’ve seen people share are, well, just wild.

July 13th, 2011 | 8:58 AM
gege jhordan:

Hi Mitch, social media is very important in promoting your business. In the first place it is more cheap and a lot of people are always online.

July 13th, 2011 | 10:13 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

True Gege, but you really didn’t respond to anything in the post, since I didn’t talk about that.

July 13th, 2011 | 10:21 AM
danika:

This is one of the few things I can read about that will start to really get on my nerves. I think I belong to the same school of thought as blog bloke but I am even more extreme with it……. Examples:

I dont use direct debits because I dont like having other people able to take money from my account without my approval each time.

I have only just got a phone with the internet on it as I dont like the other stuff bundled with it.

I will not EVER use social media.

Ive opted out of the UKs medical “spine” system as I dont want my medical data centralised.

Now what I dont get is why people are so flippant about putting their information online? Whats wrong with everyone, I could go onto facebook now and steal someones identity and it will get worse. Facebook shops have just come about, I think one day you will be able to apply for a credit card from within your Facebook by replying to an advert with a click…..

Im not sure where I am going with this but when you can take care of your privacy or chose not to do so why would you chose not to!?!?

July 16th, 2011 | 10:45 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

It’s an interesting conversation, Danika. Anyone who thinks they’re totally protecting their privacy the first time they go online is kidding themselves. Just purchasing a domain name gives those of us who know how to get that information your address and phone number, even if it’s a business number, so the cat’s already out of the bag. So, it’s not privacy in general that people need to concern themselves about, but specific privacy.

For instance, I don’t allow direct deposit from my bank accounts either. I have a business phone number so that’s the one online, as well as my business email address and all my email addresses for all my blogs. My home phone isn’t online, so that’s taken care of. Because I have a business presence online I have to put certain things up about myself; I do want people to potentially call and hire me as a speaker and trainer after all, as well as other business things I do. But I don’t save any information on my browser that has anything to do with credit cards or payment accounts of any kind, and I don’t have location based things turned on.

As to the “why” some people don’t worry about it anymore? Overall I still think it’s a generational thing. We worried about Communists stealing our information when I was younger; communism is gone and young people today don’t have those fears, though they should. Sometimes folks have to learn for themselves the danger they might be in.

July 16th, 2011 | 11:47 PM
danika:

Thanks for the reply, what you say here makes sense and the last line about people learning dangers for themselves is probably true but when something is “out there” on the web you can never seem to remove it. There are google caches, way back machines and a whole world of things I wont know about that store copies of everything, plus no doubt some weirdo’s who save peoples stuff for no reason!

The worry about Communists in the past is a good analogy but when that worry was over it could be forgotten about, if something I placed on the web today by someone who is in their teens it could potentially still haunt them in the 60s – I think I am probably talking more about poeple uploading photos and the like now (a trend I cant understand) than bank data.

July 17th, 2011 | 12:03 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

People upload photos so they can share with their friends. I actually understand that, though I don’t do it all that often because I didn’t grow up with it. And you’re right, once information is on the net it can be hard to overcome, and it’s never gone. Still, people have to learn the lessons for themselves.

July 17th, 2011 | 7:38 AM

Hi Mitch. Yeah. Privacy is really important, yet people really like to stick their nose in everyone else’s privacy theses days. And I’m really disturbed by that.

July 27th, 2011 | 2:20 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Andrew, is there anything you won’t do or allow online to protect your privacy?

July 27th, 2011 | 10:09 AM