DEV Community

loading...

What's the big deal with privacy?

mtbsickrider profile image Enrique Jose Padilla ・1 min read

Hopefully anyone reading this article is aware of the recent privacy news that have been blasting full on from the previous days. I wanted to have a healthy discussion regarding privacy.

From my perspective these matter to me:

  • My identity not being stolen
  • My incognito-mode browsing not being shared

These somewhat matter but aren't the end of the world:

  • Current employer knowing i'm searching for a new job

Besides the above, I'm having a hard time caring what companies can know about me and how they can target me for advertisements. If anything, I wished they knew more about me so I can get better advertisements/recommendations. I once had to hear a bed commercial on pandora 3 months after buying my bed.

I read this article Top 10 Reasons Privacy Matters but disagree with the majority of their points.Most of them tend to be regarding the reputation of someone, and sure we all make dubious decisions from time to time, but who really cares? And should everyone be so judgmental if everyone had their secrets shared?

So how does privacy matter to you?

Discussion (21)

Collapse
zeerorg profile image
Rishabh Gupta

For me, it's not just my privacy. Sure, we share a lot of our information everyday with others and it's not much of an issue. But what happens when information of a lot of people is collected together and used for the benefit of a single organization ? Consider casting a vote, a single vote doesn't carry much value but it matters when we have votes from a large population.
I think it's our right, and our duty to know what is done with our data.

Collapse
mtbsickrider profile image
Enrique Jose Padilla Author

"But what happens when information of a lot of people is collected together and used for the benefit of a single organization"

Thats my question as well, what benefit do you think they have that completely empowers them over you.

Please correct my if I'm wrong, but are you referring to how Cambridge Analytica was able to sway the correct people to vote for Trump and making him win?

In all honesty, they deserve it. They did an amazing job of data anlalytics and influenced the correct people to get them off their butts to go to the voting booth. I wished the democratic side had Cambridge Analytica on their side.

If the masses are so easily influenced that says something about where we are in terms of critical thinking. I'm hoping this raises awareness in terms of our lack of rational consumption of information.

Collapse
mortoray profile image
edA‑qa mort‑ora‑y

Referring to people as "the masses" hides a truth that we all belong to that mass. We must always believe that any of us can fall victim to this type of deceit.

The deceit is also at a level that is unprecendented. Imagine campaigns tailored directly at you. Any interest you show, will be used against you. Donated to a local animal shelter once, don't be surprised to see political messages talking about animal rights -- and they'll know precisely what side of the issues you are on.

They know your relatives, and how they think as well. If presented with an ad implying your family is disappointed with how you think, how would feel?

And it can all be lies! Given enough partial information a campaign can target you "well enough" to have you believing what is said. I don't have to paint a full picture to sway you, just know what issues to address. Pyscological biases are well known, and with a bit of processing easily manipulated.

Thread Thread
zeerorg profile image
Rishabh Gupta

Great point!

Collapse
zeerorg profile image
Rishabh Gupta

Masses are easily influced, we have seen examples of this throughout history. Now, when the role of masses is important we are handing it over to organizations, who have found a new way to influence us.

Also, a lot of people don't know that their decisions are influenced to an extent.
My point being, we should at least know how our data is being used, is it used to influence us, then what are their objectives in doing so. If it is being used in bringing advancements, then I would be glad it is being used that way.

Also, yes cambridge analytica did an amazing job, but is it ethical to use any resource like this ? That's what my question is.

Thread Thread
mtbsickrider profile image
Enrique Jose Padilla Author

Thank you for your response.

Some food for thought that your comment gives me is instead of trying to regulate and limit what all these organizations can do why dont we start focusing on making our masses less gullible? Masses have always been easily influenced, but they never had the access to information that they have today.

I agree its not ethical, but we have lobbying and super pacs and organizations being considered people. I'd argue those need to be handled first before this.

Thread Thread
zeerorg profile image
Rishabh Gupta

Educating everyone is definitely the best and a durable solution to this problem, instead of trying to fix organizations and their working

Collapse
dmerand profile image
Donald Merand

How do you feel about China making a decision to rank its citizens (using a non-open-source algorithm, natch) based on their social media and other internet profiles, and then disallow them from boarding trains + buses depending on what the algorithm spits out? Do you think that level of inference is a good thing? Would you feel differently if our current government proposed such a policy?

Collapse
mtbsickrider profile image
Enrique Jose Padilla Author

Do you mean discrimination?

I'm not sure why would someone be disallowed boarding unless the algorithm puts this person as a harm to others. In which case hopefully its used to get them help.

If the government is doing this and then prohibiting tax payed services then I would expect it to be open sourced.

That being said i love your comment and is giving me a lot of food for thought.

But what about algorithms that can decide who deserves scholarships, federal wage, government help, etc. I would argue i would want it to be open sourced, but honestly this level of transparency can make the government make so much better decisions.

Collapse
dmerand profile image
Donald Merand

Your level of trust is refreshing! I do not share it - not because I don't believe in the inherent goodness of people (I do!), but because I think that given access to great power, it's far too easy to wield it dangerously. Ultimately, giving away reams of data is giving power to those who own it.

Collapse
moopet profile image
Ben Sinclair

We don't share a government, and you don't share a government with your great-grandchildren. A mass of data which could be used for something horrific almost certainly will be, given time and space to move.

Collapse
andrewlucker profile image
Andrew Lucker

Your GitHub profile is giving a 404. Did you remove it or did you get banned?

Thread Thread
mtbsickrider profile image
Enrique Jose Padilla Author • Edited

Oh no banning on my end. I changed my username from mtbsickrider to enriquejosepadilla (thought it was time to grow up sadly :( )

That being said i thought github would do the redirect.

Collapse
whoisryosuke profile image
Ryosuke

It's all about the responsibility of data.

I don't care as much about websites using things like profile data or even browsing history to cater advertising. But I get upset when a company allows any amount of my credit card data to be leaked, because it becomes that much easier to impersonate me when you have the last four digits of a primary card, or my last name, or my address or phone number.

I understand the concern on the breach of things, particularly when most of the time the user isn't even aware they're being scraped of valuable data. I'd prefer transparency in data aggregation and collaboration with 3rd parties, since Tinder sharing my HIV status with other companies might not be cool in my book.

It's the same reason the government can't mail you medical information on the outside of an envelope. If anyone knows I'm a medical marijuana patient, my well-being is way more compromised than the average person because of prejudices in society.

Being able to draw a line as a user and secure your information is always important, since developers can't anticipate every edge case on privacy. It helps when regulatory bodies come in and draw lines like the FTC managing online credit card privacy.

Collapse
mortoray profile image
edA‑qa mort‑ora‑y

Your name, address, phone number, and a lot more personal information is within reach on public data sources without anybody needing to leak anything. We leak far more information over time than we tend to imagine. Everything we do reveals a bit of information.

A record of all your activities allows me to impersonate you. I don't need your credit card number. A charismatic person could probably convince your boss he's your best friend from Facebook history alone. Following you on Meetup would let one infiltrate your actual close friends. It'll start being possible to guess your passwords, if not chosen carefully, or convince a landlord to get into your home, install key loggers, etc.

Any history can be used against you if somebody is determined.

Collapse
mtbsickrider profile image
Enrique Jose Padilla Author

So the main points I understand regards to identity theft, and I 100% agree. There is no doubt that anything that gives people an advantage of doing this needs to be penalized and needs regulations.

The other points seem to me about reputation. But if all of those secrets were shared, do you think society would start being less judgemental? I feel like judging other is just because their secrets haven't been shared.

That being said, I could see how some lines could be drawn on consensus. Medical information seems like a good candidate, etc.I guess it would come down to being more transparent as a whole.

Collapse
ardennl profile image
Arden de Raaij

You never know what information might be used against you in the future. There are many countries right now where information you knowingly or unknowingly shared can get you in huge trouble, whether it's a statement you made like criticizing the government or making a joke about a head of state. Or personal information that could lead down to your religion or sexual orientation. In some of these countries, this was unthinkable a decade ago. Worse things have happened in history with personal details the people happily shared.

Collapse
kspeakman profile image
Kasey Speakman • Edited

All benefits provided with collected data are secondary to using you to make money. (And if often shows in the execution of those services.) It also encourages solicitations on your time. But then again, I despise advertising. Seeing web ads and TV commercials to me is like those door-to-door salespeople who come on saturday and sunday. I am angry that I wasted time to go to the door. If I decide I could use something, I will look it up and buy it on my own initiative. Leave me the heck alone. (And therefore, I block ads and only subscribe to entertainment without advertisements.)

Also, it is a potential risk to you. If your information is exposed, it becomes easier to target you with social engineering and phishing attempts. For example, if a data breach exposed a bunch of user preferences and emails, it wouldn't be difficult to write a script and send everyone a fake promo email (of something the preference data says they absolutely like) to infect them with ransomware on a mass scale. Or if you are a conspiracy theorist, it become easier for the government to frame you to cover up something the aliens actually did. Or for a political party to target people the data might indicate are swing votes.

So at the end of the day, the data isn't being used for "good", but for profit. I only get a few (usually unwanted) side effects from this usage. It being centrally collected also increases the risk to me along a number of attack vectors.

Ironically, I am not that private of a person in real life. To my friends I am an open book. But in digital services, I trust no one. (Which reminds me, I forgot to turn off Location Services since the last time I used the GPS. Fixing that now.)

Collapse
mortoray profile image
edA‑qa mort‑ora‑y

Forfeiting privacy is the same as forfeiting control of your own life.

Just look at the end-game scenario in China. Their government has succesfully setup a nationwide video scanning system, as well as compromising phone cameras. They've also introduced a social credit system, whereby doing unsavoury, but not illegal, things can have your daily privileges revoked, such as travel.

Now look at Facebook, not just the cambridge scandal, but before. They're once run an experiment to manipulate the emotions of people. The Cambridge scandal is an extension of this, manipulating the outcome of one or more elections by having excessive information and knowing what people respond to.

You mention incognito mode browsing. Are you comfortable sharing everything you do online with a third-party? Incognito mode does nothing to help.

Are you comfortable knowing your employer could purchase a service that monitors their employees searching for other jobs?

Stolen ID scares you? Well guess what, given access to telecom browsing logs I could probably do that. And well, well, those are for sale. Anonymity is also easy to break if they're sold as "anonymized".

Maybe the judicial system should worry you. Circumstantial evidence is not hard evidence, but without of it a negative picture can be painted for you. Given an individuals full life activity it's relatively easy to pick and choose a timeline that paints a negative picture. Think about that the next time you get pulled over for a minor infraction, if the cop doesn't like you, it becomes easy to build a case against you.

Collapse
xxalphamanxx profile image
xXAlphaManXx • Edited

Everyone care for their own privacy. If you say that it doesn't matter if big companies spy over you - you are WRONG! You care about your privacy without knowledge.

You have locks over your bedroom, you lock your door when using restroom, you lock your phone, you hate when someone opens the gallery without permission. You care for your privacy.

If you allow companies track you down, track you on every little niche things you do online, then I would ask you to write every passwords of every account you own, remove all the locks, prevent deleting history off browser, tell us the passwords of your bank accounts.

Everyone fail to do so. It's a basic human nature to value privacy. It's not that one should think about privacy if that person is doing something wrong. Everyone should value their privacy no matter what.

Collapse
mtbsickrider profile image
Enrique Jose Padilla Author

It's hard to have a healthy discussion when your first statement is telling that my opinion is wrong. But barring that:

  • Any door I lock is for the convenience of other people more than mine as I wouldn't like to scar anyone walking into something that they would want to erase from their memories.
  • I actually used to not lock my phone until I realized if someone stole it they literally had a free phone. But besides that anyone is welcome to view my gallery.
  • The issue with sharing my password would be identity theft, besides also i don't know why I would allow people to empty my bank accounts.

I respect your opinion on the importance of privacy and you gave great examples.

I do disagree with "It's a basic human nature to value privacy." Any scientific evidence to support that? I would argue we value more community and sharing than keeping being private.

Forem Open with the Forem app