Somebody wrote somewhere that we used to be private by default and public by effort. These days the reverse is the case. You cannot be able to use your smartphone or smart television without agreeing to so many privacy breaching terms and conditions you have no inkling what they are about. And your refusal to agree to these terms means you cannot be able to use that smartphone of yours, that television set you just bought, that app you are about to install in your phone, that software you just downloaded on your computer, or even that GPS system in either your car or your phone. Forced surrender of our rights to privacy by technology companies in order for us to use their products. Products which have become a necessity for our everyday human interaction. The new world order.
We used to be private by default.
Few days ago I was away at work when I got into one of my regular sensual thoughts for my wife. So I asked her to take and text me some sexy pictures to assuage the feelings pending my return to the house. My wife is raised in church. And as such she wouldn’t want anyone besides me to see any part of her body that’s not supposed to be public. Therefore because she could not guarantee that once she takes the picture, that Google+ would not typically pry on it and store it away wherever it stores away stuffs like that, she asked me to be patient and wait until I get home and get the whole package. I was disappointed kind of, but that was the price we have to pay to maintain some degree of privacy with our bodies in our marriage. But the most frustrating thing about it is that we purchased a phone with our money but we still have no control over it. Naturally once you purchase a product such as a phone with your money, you should be able to own it, and in the case of a smartphone, you should be able to uninstall any app in it, be it Google+ or otherwise that you think is snooping on you. Apps that store away any and every picture you take on your phone without your consent. But these tech companies built those spying apps into the phones such that you cannot uninstall them. I’ve tried without any success many times. Sometimes failure to even update them messes up the functionality of the whole phone. So they own our lives as far as we use their products. And the way life is being constructed these days, it have become a necessity for us depend on these products for our daily living. Suffice it to say that as long as we want to continue to be able to have human interactions with our fellow humans, as far as we want to continue to be able to buy and to sell, and as far as we want to continue to be able to enjoy a little bit of entertainment with these products, we have to use these products. And using them guarantees that we have given up our privacy and the tech companies now own us. Necessity now equals surrender of our privacy. They used to tell us those days in church that without the mark you will not be able to buy or to sell. The time will soon be upon us.
News about hacking and stealing of personal information of individuals by hackers, be them freelancers or government –sponsored, is no longer news. It’s a daily occurrence. What is news however is that those who pride themselves at guaranteeing the protection of your information and the mitigation of the chances of you becoming a victim of identity theft, once you are exposed, are now themselves susceptible also to hacking. Few days ago, we heard the news that Experian, one of the three credit reporting bureaus in the U.S., who I happen to use their services, and who charges me a substantial amount of money on a monthly basis to protect me from identity theft, have had its data breached. And hundreds of thousands of consumers are affected. When the protector cannot even protect itself, what further choice do we have at protecting ourselves?
In order to mitigate these data breach, for starters, most if not all the banks and credit card companies are phasing out your plain plastic debit or credit cards with the magnetic stripe on the back and are rolling in a new version of debit and credit cards, packed with an EMV microchip. Rather than storing all of the cardholder’s information on the magnetic stripe on the back of the card – which is easy to copy and steal –, these EMV chips will contain all of the sensitive data. The EMV technology makes it much harder, but not impossible to duplicate the valuable credit card information stored on it, as fraudsters would need tools to replicate an exact copy of the EMV chip. Up until this point, no breach has been reported. All my debit and credit cards now have the EMV chip. Ask your bank for such if they have not already done the replacement for you.
Nevertheless, the big money question still remains. Where is the world heading to with all these abuse of our privacy and the stealing of our identity by both corporations and individuals?
By the way Amazon Echo is another device that spies on you in the comfort of your home. It is a common knowledge which Amazon itself has owned up to. However they advised that before the device strays from the basics of taking commands from you to the dark world of spying on you, that the device makes a certain noise at which you can turn off its microphone with a physical switch on the device, like a high-tech version of commanding your kids to “earmuff it for me.” Be advised.
So where are we heading with these privacy issues?
The crux of the matter is that our privacy is going to be breached furthermore until we all are in the open. The regular people. Whatever is left of our privacy. Things are not going to be better in this regard. It will get worse. With the proliferation of technologies, with the advent of cyberterrorism, and with the evolving cyberwar between nations, our privacy will further become the casualty. However that will not deter governments from finding ways to prevent identity theft of its citizenry, if they possibly can. The EMV microchip technology up until this point has not suffered any breach. But there is no guarantee that it will not. Educated guess is that it will, given the sophistication and determination of hackers and cybercriminals.
But the EMV technology addresses only a strand of our privacy concerns. Besides credit card theft, there are multiple other ways through which our privacy, not only identity, can be breached. The hackers will keep digging in and the good guys will keep devising ways to counter them until the time comes when the only option left to protect people’s identity will be, rather than having a chip that stores their information engraved in a plastic, it will then be engraved on their forearm or on their forehead where no one, absolutely no one, can device a technological way of stealing it. And for every individual the chip will have a serial number that contains the consecutive numbers 666. Then the new world order will descend upon us.
Let the debate continue…