Friday, June 7, 2013

Privacy? What Privacy?

Everybody's all atwitter about the latest revelations about the government collecting meta data ("meta" is getting so-o-o-o overworked, doncha think?) from everybody's phone records. Like it's new. (Not.) Or useful. (Not particularly.) Or such an invasion of our privacy. (What privacy?)

You worried about your privacy? Don't you think you're just a tad late with that? It's like swatting the mosquito after it's infected you with malaria. Interesting gesture, timing sucks.

Ask yourself this: Do you have a cell phone? It has a GPS, you know. It can be helpful if you're too panicked or too lost to give complete information when you call for help. The phone company and the cops can find you. The bill you get tells you every number you called or received and how many minutes they're charging you for.  Using that phone means you gave away that piece of your privacy long ago.

Do you use one of those discount cards from  your grocery store? You know, the one that keeps track of every single item you purchase so you can qualify for certain discounts, and incidentally lets the marketers know just what kind of deals and coupons to push on you. Somebody out there is keeping track of everything you eat. Some gas stations offer those as well.

Do you check your bank and credit card statements on line? Or access your own medical information on line? Pay bills on line? Every time you add another piece of your life to what you do on the internet, a trail is created that multiple somebodies can access. Some times they are identity thieves. Sometimes they are stalkers. That information never goes away. They keep telling us that.

Do you use social media? Facebook? Google +? Twitter? Blog? Think about all the information and pictures of yourself that get on those sites, all the personal stuff you put out to the world. Privacy? Not bloody likely, and some of these outfits keep changing their settings on you, deliberately or not. How about those sites where you say, "I'm here, which of my friends or potential friends are in the vicinity?" More like, "Hello stalkers!" if you open it up enough.

Speaking of being out in public, ever looked up at the ceiling and seen one of those black glass bubbles? You do know there's a camera inside, right? They're in casinos, stores, airports, pretty much everywhere. ATMs have cameras to get you and anybody passing while you use it. Gas stations get your license plates on film in case you might drive off without paying. Store fronts have cameras, freeways have cameras, satellites looking down have cameras. Get the picture? They did.

Even if you stay home, there is always some friend or family member with a cell phone camera, getting you at whatever moment they find interesting, then posting it and tagging you.

Speaking of your home, think of all the permits, applications, and other information you passed over to folks you never met just to live there, access electricity, gas and water, fix your roof. Google drove down your street and took pictures. MLS has aerial views for when you move. Utilities come with meters, and utility companies tell you how your energy usage compares with your neighbors. If your TV uses TIVO or a DVR, there's a record of what kind of programs get recorded and watched, maybe even who watched. Who needs Nielsen anymore?

So get over the idea that you have any privacy left to give away. You've been doling out your information for years now. So just how concerned are you that the big scary government is also getting a piece of what everybody else can have? I mean really?

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