As a society, we continue to be in a state of conflict when it comes to data. On the one hand, we’re often outraged over regular news around data breaches, while on the other hand we think nothing about trading our identities for a chocolate bar or less, often volunteering intimate data such as medical or financial information.
Said Raj Samani in a Computer Weekly article linked to Data Protection Day.
And you know what? I think he is completely correct.
While data breaches are bad news for everyone – the companies concerned, their employees, shareholders and, most of all, those whose data was compromised, the sad truth is that us humans have double standards when it comes to our own personal information, complaining that our Telco was hacked while taking to Twitter to announce where we are, who we’re with and what we’re likely to be doing for the next three weeks and with whom.
But then we’ve always had an uncomfortable relationship with privacy, haven’t we?
Or at least in evaluating its worth.
Those who give up their privacy for security deserve neither.
It’s not like the privacy debate is new – we’ve been here many times before and discussions about its worth certainly pre-date the internet but, with the advent of the web, the discussions have certainly become more frequent. Or more visible at least.
Such that we are at the point where every tiny technological advance is accompanied by questions about the effect it may have on that most valuable of worthless commodities we hold so dear, only to toss away when everyone is looking.
Take fitness trackers for example.
The world and his dog wrote about the privacy concerns surrounding such devices when they first appeared on the market, noting how valuable the accompanying data could be to insurers and how the consumer could ultimately end up paying a high price for sharing their heartbeat with a server they never bothered to check the location of.
Yet no-one tossed their bands in the bin.
They just upgraded to them to watches instead.
And we were all up late at night pulling our hair out (you wondered why everyone working in InfoSec was follicly challenged, right?) when Snowden told us all what we all secretly already knew about the NSA, GCHQ, etc.
But here we are on the internet still. Business as usual.
How many of you are using a VPN? PGP? Tor?
Yeah, that’s what I thought.
So, as Data Protection Day draws to a close, I say it’s time to think.
Why do you recognise these 24 hours as significant?
Is it because you were asked to write an article about it? Or did you think reading about it was the ‘cool’ thing to do today?
Or do you genuinely care about your privacy?
If you do, remember this isn’t January the first. You don’t get to make promises you have no intention of keeping tomorrow if you want to maintain the minimal amount of privacy you still have today.
And if you are loose with your own personal information you don’t get to throw a stone next time a big data breach hits the news.
That’s only fair, right?