I’ve written a few times now about privacy and how it’s difficult to track (pun?!). For an issue that’s been a long term cause of concern for digital consumers, why does it remain unresolved? I say it’s because the distinction between between public and private has become less tangible in the digital age.
Back in the day a closed door was enough, but now privacy is measured on an entirely different scale; from tangible, such as a door, to intangible, such as allowing an app access to all those photos you share with family, friends, loved ones and lovers. Out of sight out of mind, right?
If asked, I’d certainly say no to a company if they requested to view my personal photo albums, or contacts, or notes, or whatever; if this were all in physical form. Now that these items are kept in digital storage, it seems like a minor speed bump to say okay, have access to all these, plus track my location etc. just to be sure I can use the digital product I’m consuming to its greatest potential.
There’s a trade off here that can’t be ignored. I can’t deny that it’s awesome we’re able to use all these applications free of charge up front, but remember, nothing’s free. In exchange for the use of these digital services we provide information. In turn, this is used in a variety of ways to create value and then profit through advertising, marketing, and research.
In this day and age, knowledge is still power and we’re handing it out for free. When I woke up this morning and checked my email, I noticed that several apps on my phone were updating automatically while I was under the impression this would be permission based- will have to check on that. I actually enjoy going through the updates and reading about the ‘bug fixes’ and what not to see what’s really going on each time an update ‘needs’ to be made.
While companies don’t facilitate the use of what little privacy is offered, there are still some options out there. While unhappy with the current situation, I don’t want to be a hypocrite and say stop using apps… or the internet for goodness sake!
With this post I want readers to think about all the information that is collected from their use of ‘free’ services, and then used to target them as a consumer. For instance I’ve read a few articles that discuss Facebook’s interest in using the front facing camera on your phone to track emotions. These articles from Digital Trends and Forbes describe this in more detail. My question to this: what happened to that good old shutter or lens cap? An easy solution here, but of course why would companies build devices in a way that hinders their reach?
Food for thought.