#ChoosePrivacy: Why Does Privacy Matter?

By Sydney Butler / May 8, 2018

At the end of Choose Privacy week 2018, we’d like to take some time to talk about why your privacy matters in the internet age. Many people don’t seem to care too much about the state of individual privacy these days. In fact, they might not even be aware that things have changed rapidly over the years. That’s the main reason Choose Privacy Week exists. Since there seems to a general apathy towards privacy among the public. Which is why we should take the time to remind ourselves and everyone else why exactly it is that privacy is so important.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind?

Child Hiding

Have you ever just click “agree” on the terms and conditions of something without reading it?  We’ve all done it at some point. Especially after you’ve gone through a hundred updates to an app or service and just don’t care anymore.

If you asked the average person just exactly the privacy policy was of any of the services they use every day, how many could answer? I’m not pointing this out to assign blame to the public. I think it’s reasonable to become blind to all the legal jargon and constant smokescreens companies put up. It’s one of the main reasons it’s so important that there’s a clear legal language movement.

Still, it’s a sign that we don’t care enough about our privacy that we’d make a legal agreement that signs away information without knowing what they’re taking. Even worse, these companies know we don’t care, so they gleefully make use agree to things that, stated in plain language, we would object to.

Having Nothing to Hide is Not an Excuse

The balance between privacy and ideas such as safety or convenience is a difficult one to achieve. A lot of people have the opinion that your privacy doesn’t matter if you have nothing to hide. In other words, the idea is that only objectionable people have anything to fear from those digging into our private information.

The first problem with this idea has to do with what’s “objectionable”? Just because you think you fall on the right side of current laws and morality doesn’t mean it will stay that way. Supporting privacy for everyone's the same as acting in your own interest.

The other big problem is the idea that privacy is only for undesirable people. Privacy is a part of human dignity. If you don’t have a private life, you can’t have a dignified human existence.

Protecting Your Identity

keyboard privacy button

Image Courtesy Of MySMN

The ability to be anonymous is a true privilege. It’s a privilege that’s becoming truly scarce too. We’re being tracking all the time. There’s now technology that can identify individual faces in a stadium crowd. Almost everything we do is either already digitized or will be soon. It’s becoming harder to do anything without a note being made somewhere in a government or corporate computer system.

The really concerning thing about this is that facts about you can be deduced from a small circumstantial bit of data that don’t mean much by themselves. Either they know who you are and use the data to manipulate your behavior or they can figure out your identity. Neither of these options is great for us.

Anonymity and Freedom of Speech

Guy Fawkes Anonymous Mask

While in most civilized countries you can say what you want without the government (legally) coming after you, true freedom of speech is actually not that easy to find. The internet used to be a place where you could say things behind a shield of anonymity. A true exchange of ideas, even though plenty of them weren't acceptable by the mainstream.

Now anonymity is dying on the internet and there are a million ways you can be outed if you try to put uncomfortable ideas into the world without making yourself a target for those who disagree with you.

So we shouldn’t give institutions and individuals that want your personal information an inch. Especially not for convenience.  

The Government and Big Business Don’t Care About You

Popular social media website logos printed on paper and hanging

Image Courtesy Of Softsonic

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that those organizations that are champing at the bit to learn all they can about you aren’t on your side. Whether it’s state-level control od pure profit, you are not their concern.

So if you think that the sorts of information that gets collected about you as you go about your business on the web mean nothing, think about that. Would you give something personal to another person you didn’t like? Someone who is apathetic about you at best and exploitative at worst?

There’s nothing wrong with doing business. However, the definition of a good trade is one where both parties are better off. In this transaction, are you really better off than those who have taken your private information? You get to look at funny cat pictures and they get to use your information to sell and manipulate for astronomical profit. That seems like a bad deal overall.

Taking Control of Your Image

You can’t stop progress, but there are always growing pains. We’ve just gone through the invention of several technologies such as social media and Big Data predictions about which type of peanut butter is going to appeal to you exactly.

Most of us have embraced these platforms, gleefully putting ourselves out there. The cost of doing that is only now becoming apparent. People lost their jobs for online comments and that’s just a short-term issue. The internet never truly forgets. Somewhere there’s a record of every regretful thing you’ve done or said. Don't you want control over that?

Privacy is Earned

While on paper we might have a right to privacy, the truth is that we have to actively defend our privacy on a continuous basis. If people stop caring about privacy it begins to erode. Simply because breaching our privacy has a lot of profitable applications.

Where do you even begin? Making a point of reading privacy-related news is a good start and we always recommend getting a good VPN as the basic starting point. ExpressVPN is a great all-round choice that will work perfectly for most people.

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