Privacy is an issue?? And personal data, too??
Well, yeah, they seem to be. Read Google Privacy Inquiries Get Little Cooperation in today’s New York Times. The issue was that Google’s specially equipped Street View camera cars that are busily photographing all the city streets in the world, were caught scooping up “…e-mails, photographs, passwords, chat messages, postings on Web sites and social networks—all sorts of private Internet communications…” from private homes of wireless users as they drove up and down city streets in Germany.
This was in late 2010. Google denied it at first. Then the German regulators forced the company to admit that they were indeed collecting the data. But it was a mistake, Google said. American authorities got involved. Like Germany, they asked to see the data Google had collected, but Google refused. A long and involved legal tussle has been engaged and continues. As of now, “Google has yet to give a complete explanation of why the data was collected and who at the company knew about it. No regulator in the United States has ever seen the information that Google’s cars gathered from American citizens.”
Michael Copps, a former commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, said that “The industry has gotten more powerful, the technology has gotten more pervasive and it’s getting to the point where we can’t do too much about it.”
That has a lot of people rattled.
In the past couple of decades billions of people worldwide have increasingly and heedlessly, dumped mind-bending amounts of personal and private information onto the Internet in exchange for access to the awesome data information highway. The people who control the various platforms of the Internet structure have helped themselves to that data. They store it, sort it, package it and sell it to…well, anybody with enough money to buy it. And I mean ANYBODY. (Think about that just a second.)
This is a big and involved story, this business of our privacy and our personal data, who owns it, and who controls it. I’ll be writing more about it. The Google story mentioned above is only a part of this complicated and immensely important story. (And if you don’t think people are worried about this, read the comments attached at the end of the article online.) But the bottom line here is that in the past twenty years, during the ascendency of the Internet, and the public’s addiction to it, the privacy of individual citizens has deteriorated enormously. At the same time, the Internet giants, who now “own” our personal data that we used to keep private, have themselves become more and more secretive about their own businesses, and what they do with OUR business, that is, our personal information.
More about this in many blogs to come.
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