How would you like to live in a house of glass? Someone walks down the street and peers into your home while you are taking a shower, contributing to the sewer system or changing from sleep attire to the days activewear. I know there are some people out there that don't care by their lack of closed curtains at night while their lights are on. What if someone was saying that the door to the bank vault was too big and hard to open and that we needed to add an office door to the side so we can get into it easier. Would you deposit any valuables with that bank if they followed through with putting in that door? If you felt uneasy about anything I stated above, then this issue I am writing about today affects you.
A year or so ago I had the mentality that I don't really care if google tracks me and what I do. It makes their systems better at providing a better experience. I use google all the time for my job to find resources and documentation. Without personal customized results which are built and based on my search habits it is really hard to find information on the web. So my thoughts have always been, "Why impede that kind of progress?".
About a year ago I watched a video by Glenn Greenwald where he spoke at TED about "Why Privacy Matters".
He goes over the same mentality that I had a year or so ago. "Why should I care if I am not doing anything wrong? The bad guys should be scared, but I haven't done anything wrong, so I'm ok." Glenn pointed out that it is dangerous to think that way. In his example, he used the idea from an 18th- century philosopher Jeremy Bentham. Jeremy discovered that if you put a tower in the middle of an institution and also put on that tower glass windows that can see out but you cannot see into. Then the tower becomes an ultimate tool for controlling human behavior. The reasoning being that you never know when you are being watched, or if you are being watched thus keeping human behavior under control. (Glenn's TED talk is much better at explaining this and I would recommend watching it.)
With Glenn's talk in mind, look at the following articles that start to show what the government is trying to do.
On March 27th 2017, UK Government asked for a backdoor to WhatsApp security after London's attack. While the attack on London was terrible, giving a backdoor to any kind of security protocol would make it less secure. As soon as one backdoor exists, it now allows others to try to discover it and use it for their own malicious intent. (Russia, come on in!)
On February 19 2016, The US Feds demanded Apple should build a way for them to crack any iPhone's security encription in cases such as the San Bernardino shooting in December of 2015. While in this instance it might be a just cause, otherwise when the situation is more of a grey area, they might slip a peek without going through legal processes.
On March 28th 2017, congress reversed some of the internet privacy laws that made it so companies like, Comcast or Microsoft had to ask permission to sell your data. Data being, email address, search terms and other things tracked on the puddle of information we call the internet. Without it means they can sell your habits and personal information for monetary gain without your consent.
This is only a few times in the last 2 years.
So why does it matter and why should you care?
Privacy doesn't just make it harder for us to find the people who want to do evil. It protects you. In a practical sense, it protects the information traded between you and a 3rd party. It keeps things confidential rather than public knowledge. In a more philosophical stance, it protects your right to make choices free of influence. It gives you the option what you want public and private.
People don't care enough about privacy. Why? If you care about people peering into your home with uninvited eyes, why wouldn't you care if people are looking at your web history, web searches and general behaviors on the web? Beyond just your personal secrets, there is a lot of personal information that could be used to open up new credit cards or loans without your consent. So being secure and understanding how to be private on the internet is important. We shouldn't allow people to demand backdoors into our security practices.
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