I read an article or saw a news report on this topic the other day and it just sort of hung around in my brain, fermenting to generate an editorial elixir. That probably sounds more intoxicating than what you will read below.
The premise is that our expectation of privacy is becoming not only antiquated but increasing difficult to expect. The devices we own invite sharing at an unprecedented scale while criminals are intent on taking this information and using in ways we don’t want. The problem is that all of the conveniences we say we want invite the loss of privacy as well. Trying to have one without the other will continue to be a struggle. As hackers and device makers open up privacy, new security tools try to close the holes until these are broken as well. It is wack-a-mole game that appears to have no end at this point.
One of the news stories that added fuel to the fire last week was a report that Samsung TVs with voice control are capturing everything that is said near the TV and sending it over the Internet for “interpretation.” That may be acceptable for changing the channel or increasing the volume, but conversations about everything else are also being captured (if you mistakenly continue to hold the button on the remote). Do you really want the possibility that your private conversations could end up in the cloud?
Samsung has added a privacy supplement to deal with these issues with the usual assurances that the content will be protected and not available to anyone except authorized third party users. But recent hacks of Anthem, Sony Pictures, Target, Home Depot, and many others shows that this information is not secure.
Your medical records are no longer on paper documents in the office, but in a database that “only authorized” viewers can access. Voice commands solutions like Siri are stored in the cloud. Your GPS movements from phone data are in the cloud as well as any photos you have shared or uploaded. And don’t think your anti-virus or firewall software will protect someone from accessing every file in your home network. I recently heard a story of hackers locking every file on a person’s home network and demanding a $300 fee to unlock them or have them uploaded to the Internet. That means all your passwords, social security numbers, financial and medical info – your privacy – uploaded for all to see. He paid the ransom.
And, with the proliferation of cameras on nearly every device, vehicle, person, street corner, building, outer space and more, there are increasing few places and ways you can’t be seen.
The old notion that what goes on in your home is private is dead. We have opened the doors and the barbarians are racing in. For anyone under 20 or 30 years old, this will become the new normal. Welcome to our Brave New World.