A few years ago, a privacy crusader and employee of the US government released documents that showed how the US systematically spied on its own citizens. This was on the premise that profiling internet and social media users could help stop the next big terrorist attack. Since this big revelation, the internet has been abuzz with commentators, researchers and technocrats, writing, analyzing and dissecting online privacy.
This period was also punctuated with high profile cyber security breaches and, somehow cybersecurity and privacy got mixed in the muddle to become a unified concept of all things bad with the internet and cyber space today.
It is time we delink privacy and cybersecurity and address them separately. A secure system may not ensure privacy but a system that is built to ensure privacy of its users will inherently be highly secure.
Are we giving too much away?
The ‘True caller’ app which is available for both android and iOS devices identifies unknown callers through crowd sourcing. Users accept terms that while installing the app they agree to share their contact list with True caller.
Now to look at why I find this system extremely unethical.
The person whose contact is being shared when the user installs the app, has absolutely no control over his contact being shared and then being reused by a completely unknown user to identify his number. There was a time a person’s phone number was considered highly private, but not anymore. There is an option to unlist any number but how many people are savvy enough to go through the internet to find this and unlist.
I’m very uncomfortable with this and I’m sure many feel the same way. On an average, users have close to 70 apps on their phone and accept numerous end user agreements that may or may not use private and user data. But how many read an agreement before pressing the “Agree” button?
We have reached a point where the onus is on the user to secure his privacy; companies now find ways to glean a user’s information in the name of improving user experience, personalizing experience or some other fanciful term that entices the user to part with their personal information.
What do you think? Is your personal information important to you? What are you doing to protect it?