Jan 28 2009

Data Privacy Day

Published by at 4:44 am under Privacy

Time for Captain Privacy to don his mask, cape and baggy sweat pants (no spandex for Captain Privacy)!  It’s Data Privacy Day 2009!

Mike Rothman dubbed me Captain Privacy after a particular string of posts that rabidly argued that a person’s right to privacy far outweighed most business needs and the government desire to know everything, except in specific cases.  That’s an opinion I still hold, but it’s been modified by the fact that most people are willing to give up even the illusion of privacy if you offer them a candy bar or a shiny new widget for their desktop.  I’ve come to realize that privacy is about the government and corporations keeping their nose out of our business, but we also have a responsibility to monitor what we’re making available for public consumption about ourselves.  This is the part of the equation most people forget to think about. 

Awareness and education are the primary goals of Data Privacy Day.  A whole generation is growing up with not only the interconnectivity of the Internet, but social media and all the disclosure that’s associated with it.  We’ve already seen a number of people who’ve either been denied or lost jobs due to what they’ve written or displayed on Facebook and MySpace.  This is only the tip of the iceberg compared to many of the more minor, day to day problems with posting to sites anyone can look at.  And it’s not because people are being stupid, it’s just because most people have no idea that a potential boss or date might be able to look them up at a later time.  People lack the education to understand the consequences their actions in their social networks can lead to.

Businesses and the government have a responsibility to play in privacy as well.  A few years ago AOL gave us a graphic example of how much information persists in search engine databases even once you’ve stripped out user names.  Credit card companies know everything you’ve ever purchased on a card, the phone company knows who you’ve talked to and the government wants access to it all just in case you or I might be a terrorist.  And lets not forget the bad guys who might want to gather some of that information as well so they can pretend to be you and open accounts and steal money and goods.  Information has value and many different entities want your information because of it.

Take a couple of minutes in honor of Data Privacy Day and reflect on what you’re putting out there for the public to see.  It’s a little ironic for someone like myself, who lives a large part of their life online, publishing his day to day thoughts, to tell other people to be careful what they post to the Internet.  But I think carefully before I post and think about the long term consequences of my postings.  You should too.

And yes, I really do have a mask and cape.  My wife gave them to me for Christmas.  And no, I don’t have tights or spandex.

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6 responses so far

6 Responses to “Data Privacy Day”

  1. Data Privacy Day « VPN Hauson 28 Jan 2009 at 6:32 am

    […] every day be data privacy day, however? Martin McKeay supports the day of observation, because it calls people (especially younger ones) to question […]

  2. Kateon 28 Jan 2009 at 9:09 am

    Great post, here is my suggestion for a helpful data security tool. It is called Brosix and it is an encrypted IM service. It could be useful for the telecommuters, who really have to take data security into their own hands.

  3. Frank Dillonon 28 Jan 2009 at 5:26 pm

    The right to privacy began as the fundamental right to be “left alone”.

    Sure, who wants to be nagged by marketing groups. So we all would like to be left alone free of marketing programs.

    But to place such emphasis on a “freedom of privacy” as you allude to government intervention into your personal life is just hot air.

    If you have nothing to hide, then what’s the problem. As long as your constitutional right is not being violated (and a amateur blog isn’t going to vett this discussion), then why so much hot air on the topic.

    It’s not like you aren’t being “left alone”

  4. Martinon 28 Jan 2009 at 5:35 pm

    The argument “if you have nothing to hide, you shouldn’t be worried” is completely without merit. It’s not whether or not I have something to hide, it’s whether or not someone in the government, be it local or federal or somewhere in between, is abusing their ability to look into information they have no valid reason or right to look at that’s my problem. After the last 8 years of NSA and FBI abuses, I don’t see how anyone can still bring up that line.

    Look at even the basic stuff that has leaked out so far on the secret room AT&T gave the NSA in San Francisco and you see a wide ranging abuse of power. I’m perfectly okay with the government being able to review my phone calls and records, I just want the executive branch to be reviewed by the judicial and have validation that the work they did was warranted. They have been violating our constitutional rights, that’s the point.

    Oh well, as you said, I’ll never convince someone like you, so why am I bothering.

  5. […] group, other than the good Captain himself, who did not forget Data Privacy Day was lifehacker.com. They published this article called […]

  6. Jackieon 03 Feb 2009 at 8:16 pm

    I really got a kick out of Data Privacy Day 2009 when I opened my RSS feed the other day. I even made a little note on it, here: http://blog.mylaptopgps.com/2009/01/29/yesterday-was-data-privacy-day/

    Even though I was a day late, I guess it’s never too late to protect your data. It’s like a New Year’s Resolution for your privacy. Somebody get the word out!

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