Technology has never moved as fast as it has these past hundred years. The rapid escalation and dissemination of knowledge, science, and technology have moved so quickly that they accelerated right past critical thought. We jumped right into the digital pool without asking ourselves how that pool would affect our privacy. At this point, we’re neck-deep in, and the only way out may be to…go dark.
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Interestingly, digital privacy is now spoken about more widely than ever before. When the internet and technology like email first burst on the scene, we were all smitten by this new form of communication and information. The world was now a few (slow dial-up) clicks away, and it was invigorating, and curiosity is part of the human condition.
Companies like AOL, Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, IBM, and many more have worked feverishly to expand that digital pool to get as many users in their side of the pool as possible. Offering free email services, free internet, and other perks to entice you to join their side. These were the first nets cast to catch the internet age fish.
And we’ve all chosen a net, some of us multiple nets. We’ve become so entangled and dependent on these nets it’s hard to let go. I mean, we live in a digital age, and almost everything we do has a digital fingerprint. Everything from banking to getting paid involves some digital transaction.
We know that companies like Google and Facebook actively collect and use our data. Some are okay with that and chalk it up as the price to pay for “free” services. Others aren’t okay with that and are actively seeking alternatives. But even the so-called privacy-focused alternatives aren’t completely guaranteed to protect your digital privacy.
ProtonMail is a good example. The company says it is committed to its users’ digital privacy, yet recently, it was forced to turn over user data to authorities. Companies like Google, Apple, and Facebook regularly comply with government orders for digital information as well.
So why not just use a VPN? The use of VPN services has never been higher, with many believing that a VPN will protect their digital privacy. But the truth is, your VPN service can see your traffic, knows much of what you do, and does keep some logs of its own.
Digital Privacy is only as good as the companies that hold our digital profiles. We jumped into the digital pool with excitement to have fun, explore new things, and play, and we’ve discovered that the pool isn’t as nice as we thought it would be. The only way out at this point is to go dark. But is that even possible? Probably not. At least if you want to continue to live the comfortable life you’ve become accustomed to.
Honestly, I don’t have the answers on how best to protect your privacy. Do we even have any privacy in the digital world at all? The honest answer is probably not.
We’re all in the pool now, and the best we can do is find ways to mitigate the amount of data we give to any one company. But that takes a lot of concentrated effort and self-control, something many of us have trouble mastering. Even then, if we cut Google and Facebook out of our lives, they still can potentially follow us around the internet through other means.
So now the digital pool is filled with smaller nets in between the bigger nets designed to gather your information even if you choose to leave one side of the pool. This is the new world we live in, and I don’t see any way to have full digital privacy rights. Both companies and governments will always be interested in your digital profile; therefore, we’re stuck treading water.
I don’t mean to sound like a pessimist, but it is the truth. In some ways, the digital world is still the wild wild west, and hackers are continually breaching security walls like they recently did with T-Mobile. Governments, even the Swiss government, will always find reasons to need to search digital profiles. And companies know that you are the product. The more they know about you, the more they can sell to you.
So the only answer to full digital privacy is to go dark. But that’s really not an option for the majority of us. So here we are, treading water.
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Last Updated on September 6, 2021.