The Enemy of Privacy

"We have met the enemy and he is us." --Walt Kelly, Pogo

Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do? and the blog, BuzzMachine, said it best in his latest post, The True Threat to Privacy:

"The [Wall Street] Journal would have us believe that web sites, technology companies, advertisers, and retailers are the enemies of privacy. No, it was their own corporate colleagues, their fellow journalists." --Jeff Jarvis, BuzzMachine

The whole article is a discussion on the closure of The News of the World newspaper in Great Britain amid the phone hacking scandal that broke. I am, admittedly, taking one quote from the article and expounding on it in my own way.

The enemy of privacy is not technology regardless of what mainstream media wants the world to believe. Technology can be corrupt, but only if it is built that way, by humans. Technology does not seek out information about us, it does not steal our identities, it doesn't destroy our lives. Facebook, Twitter and Google+ don't share information about us, we share information through those networks and trust the people within the networks to keep it safe. It is not the network that shares a post that somebody shared only with four people, it's one of the four people that shared it with others. The tools were there to keep information from being made available publicly, it was a betrayal of trust by a person that let it out.

A couple days after the launch of Google+, it was reported that there was a major security issue on the network. According to the article, a post that was shared with a limited audience could be re-shared publicly by anyone who was able to read it. Google put into place tools to keep the post private including disabling sharing, but somebody could still copy and paste, take a screenshot or simply e-mail it to a friend who will post it. The same thing happens in real life, but we don't blame the air between the people for revealing our secrets.

Technology is the reason that we are able to live comfortably, talk anywhere, connect easily and use the Internet. There have been detractors for years, claiming that technology would be the end of us, that it would take over and enslave us. Some people become slaves to technology while others shun it altogether. It is not the decision of technology to do either of these, but the decisions of the people. We need to take responsibilty for our own actions and build our own trust amongst our circles of friends.