Big Data: Privacy Concerns

I can say with confidence that this topic was the most eye-opening for me. I may have understood that our privacy was being invaded, but I really didn’t think it mattered to me. I was convinced by Glenn Greenwald, a reporter, who discussed the problems with thinking like I did. He mentioned that even if you think you have nothing to hide, if any one person attempted to take away your privacy, you would defend it with all you had (Greenwald, 2018). It seems hypocritical to say one thing and behave another but I believe there is a reason for this in most cases. In the case of tech CEOs it likely that they need to justify taking away that privacy from their users. In order to do so, they must pretend that privacy doesn’t matter to them or anyone else, but we know that’s not the case (Greenwald, 2018). For the users it’s likely that the impersonal nature of data collection is preventing them from caring about their loss of privacy. I also believe that if users knew what information these companies had they may also rethink their privacy.

Regardless of the reasons for our indifference to our privacy there may be some serious consequences in our present and our future. The idea of super corporations who have a tight grip on a government and it’s people seems more plausible if they have every bit of dirt they can find. Users being manipulated into buying items that take advantage of their insecurities is a real thing and seems more than unhealthy (Wallace, 2014). Finally a government that fully surveys it’s population has full control of it, and collecting our private information is one of many steps in that direction (Greenwald, 2018).

There has been some discussion on how this issue can be resolved before it gets the the points mentioned above. Marie Wallace (2014) argued that tech companies need to be honest and transparent about their data collection practices. Andy Yen (2014) argued the same and even started his own company, Proton Technologies, with the intent to create internet services like email and VPN that prioritize our privacy. While there may be many companies and government institutions who benefit heavily from deception regarding our data collection, there are many people who care about this issue and are willing to be transparent with their user base. There are also people out there trying to resolve these problems post induction, but they ask people to do far more than they are willing. Changing our views and using technology safely is too much work for the average American.

Greenwald, G. (Director). (2014, October). Why privacy matters [Video] https://www.ted.com/talks/glenn_greenwald_why_privacy_matters

Wallace, M. (Director). (2014, September). The ethics of collecting data [Video] https://www.ted.com/talks/marie_wallace_the_ethics_of_collecting_data

Yen, A. (Director). (2014, October). Think your email’s private? Think again [Video] https://www.ted.com/talks/andy_yen_think_your_email_s_private_think_again

WOU Student CS Ethics