Privacy: Good, Bad, Indifferent?

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Jul 8, 2013 4:43:50 PM via Website

In the wake of the scandals surrounding the PRISM data-scanning program, the Facebook app sending user information to Facebook without the user's consent, and now the major cell phone networks in the US considering selling user data to advertisers, we thought it was time to see how savvy you are when it comes to your online privacy?

Do you use Incognito windows? Startpage? Is your Facebook profile more secure than Fort Knox? Refuse to post photos of yourself online at all? Or do you happily cast any and all details into the the ether with nary a care for what happens to them? Do you know what you agree to when you download apps and more to the point, do you even care? What level of sharing are you comfortable with and where do you see it all going?

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Jul 22, 2013 5:52:01 AM via Website

Good question! It does seem that our privacy is at risk more and more, and it's hard to know what measures to take to protect it. I'm not even on facebook, but there are alot of other areas that make me wonder about info vulnerability.
I must admit that I probably don't pay enough attention to app permissions. I'm not sure which permissions have the potential to create the most problems. I have wondered, with certain apps, why some of the permissions were necessary .(is there a tutorial about this somewhere?)

Jul 22, 2013 9:40:10 AM via Website

Hi Susan, that's a really good question: I have no idea if there's anything in the way of a tutorial on internet privacy out there. Perhaps I'll write one myself! A lot of my friends say I'm just paranoid about all the privacy stuff, but it always starts this way. Little things given away for free, then more, assumptions made and things taken for granted, faith in corporations to do the right thing (wtf!?) and then before we know it we're all scratching our heads wondering how it ever got to be the way it is. I read an article on The Guardian recently about governmental invasion of privacy (in the name of national security and so forth) that said we used to call this level of control authoritarian! I think the best thing to do is just to be aware of what companies are doing with the information you share and make sure you only share the things you are willing to have land in the hands of advertisers or governments!

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Jul 23, 2013 12:31:15 AM via Website

It makes me feel stabbity when my long, rambling, nearly finished post blips out before I can submit it (sigh). I'll try again in a bit (I think this is an important topic).

Jul 23, 2013 4:02:59 PM via Website

As I was saying (before I was so rudely interrupted by an "error" message):
" Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you..."
I don't remember where that quote came from, but it stuck with me (element of truth, and all). I very much agree that corporations (and governments) cannot be counted on to "do the right thing", and be the sole monitors/ regulators of info access.
I think we all need to try to become aware where the pitfalls are. It may be a fine line between being aware and careful, and becoming suspicious and cynical, but we can't afford to be completely oblivious. The intrusions are insidious, as you mentioned.
I admit to, for example, having blithely installed ("harmless little") apps, barely glancing at the permissions...but if I stop and pay more attention, I find permissions to access phone calls suspicious for a photo editing app...
My problem is that I don't recognize the "red flags", so I may feel uneasy over something harmless, or completely miss something over intrusive and risky. So it all makes me vaguely anxious.
It's kinda like my (former) fear of snakes: once I learned to tell the venomous from the non venomous I am generally less fearful: now I know when to back away slowly...

Jul 25, 2013 10:56:10 AM via Website

Did you know there's plans to include fingerprint scanners in Samsung and Apple devices? There's problems getting enough of them to make it viable yet but we could be looking at a new level of security in flagship devices before the end of the year. I think this could be a great idea for security purposes but again, gives me a wobbly feeling about handing over my fingerprints to companies now too!

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Oct 20, 2013 2:57:24 PM via Website

I fully agree with what you say about needing a tutorial because with the latest update of the app is incorporating the new algorithms which will lead to how you are "targeted" for companies. I hardly use it now but if I was bit younger (44) my level of use would be a lot higher and its this that worries me as seems there will be lot of young people (kids) being hit with deals etc which might not be able to afford but keeping up with friend's could be putting a lot of parent's or students into financial trouble especially in these times. I hope you do a tutorial because it is badly needed.
Something I keep coming up against is settings not syncing throughout devices,I'm pretty sure nowadays everybody has at least two devices tablet/phone phone/laptop etc but as your signed into the app I feel this alone must present you as more vulnerable whereas signing in each time would make you less vulnerable but at end of day it is generally the ease at which to use the app. I feel like setting up new profile and start from say "a" in the Argos catalogue or something and start picking product's to see the extent of how far are FB going to let you be bombarded with "target marketing".

Oct 21, 2013 6:12:36 PM via Website

Did you catch our tutorial on how to set up your Facebook privacy settings? I think I will write a introductory article about how to set up your phone to be at least vaguely encrypted and private. There's not much you can do about a lot of things (like if you're using Google apps with your Google account) but there's a lot of other clever tricks to keeping things closer to what you're comfortable with.

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