Online Privacy: Do We ‘Really’ Have It?
10-Nov-2017


few months ago, I had searched for a DVD on Google.  It was for an episode of an old TV series called ‘Twilight Zone’ that I’d wanted to watch again.

And within an hour or so, when I open my Facebook page, I see advertisements for ‘Twilight Zone’ DVDs, among the posts.

A few days ago, I met a man for some official discussion. And then saved his phone number and email address on my mobile phone.

And in a couple of days, Facebook is showing me his profile, and prompting me to add him as a friend, saying he may be among PYMK (people you may know).

There. That is today’s online privacy, for us!

But, here is something more shocking!

“Facebook wants to pre-emptively prevent revenge porn on its platform by gathering nude images and videos of its users, raising privacy concerns among its 2 billion users” according to an article “Why Does Facebook Want Your Nude Photos?” ( Newsweek, 8 Nov 2017).

The social networking giant is going for a trial with “this feature in Australia, asking users to send in naked photos of themselves via Messenger that could be uploaded by someone without the owner’s consent”.

“Facebook said it plans to use the images to build a database of specific photos it can then block from being uploaded to the site in future. If successful the trial will spread to the United States, as well as the U.K. and Canada”.

Is this not a crazy idea?  But, let us give it some thought anyway.

With mobile phone cameras in the hands of young people, foolishness can reign. And when foolishness is coupled with apps like Snapchat, which promise a false sense of security, inappropriate images may get transferred. And when such images get transferred, the sender becomes vulnerable.

And to protect the sender, Facebook is now asking for the original.

Apparently, “This works only if you’re in possession of the original file, but it would seem to bypass any attempts from a malicious third party to alter the metadata by analyzing and tagging the actual content of the image or video.” (Facebook Asks Australia For Nude Pics To Test ‘Revenge Porn’ Defense, Forbes, 7 Nov 2017).

So, how safe will this nude collection be kept? Haven’t we heard of the cloud being hacked? Celebrities’ private photos leaked onto cyberspace? Government data all out in the open?

I am not sure of the answers. But  I am sure of one thing. It is really an abnormal world we are speeding into.

We accept ‘terms and conditions’ without reading. We accept cookies, without thinking.  We click on some pop-up dialogue boxes without understanding. Then, what else can we expect?

With each passing day, we are being drawn into a world, where everything is being recorded. And, it could be used ‘against’ us.

But, it is being used ‘for’ us, they argue.

Google in its “Privacy Policy” says: “Our automated systems analyze your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results and tailored advertising.”

With geo-tagging, if our ‘location services’ are enabled, all our photos are saving our exact location too.

And Google knows every place we had been to and can give us our full travel history even if we have forgotten it ourselves.

The technological-networking noose around us is tightening. And there really seems to be no way out.

Orwell’s ubiquitous cameras, through which ‘Big Brother’ watched,  are already replaced. By the now omnipresent smart devices.


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