Why We Must Protect Our Privacy
We have reached an inflection point in our use of technology and how we view our privacy. Privacy laws have receded in the States while becoming more stringent in the EU. This is a byproduct of culture, with Americans being more lax about privacy than our European counterparts. Security and privacy are often an afterthought of our users and employees, believing that companies are protecting their data while selling it to a cornucopia of vendors.
The root cause of the lack of concern for privacy is lack of user education. An average user cannot describe how data is stored, transported, or analyzed in the same way that an average driver cannot explain how an internal combustion engine operates. There is one major difference – we educate our drivers that oil changes, tire rotations, and other preventative maintenance needs to occur while privacy preventative maintenance remains silent.
This silence is due to a conflict built into the very applications we use. Companies that have built their business models on harvesting your private information are not going to educate on the need to be weary of what companies collect or what you are agreeing to in their vast EULAs. Further, these companies spend millions lobbying Congress to not update archaic legislation about privacy or the lack of.
The lack of legislation also arises from education, one cannot legislate what they cannot understand. Negative opinions towards regulation is another strong cause of the dearth of legislation. The recent moves by the FCC to repeal privacy regulations points back to when competing interests stifled FM radio. These moves ran counter to innovation and harmed consumers.
Average consumers of the internet do not realize that their privacy is not protected. This can impact enterprises as emails are abandoned after 180 days. One would argue that they do not abandon financial statements or private correspondence in their inbox.
Passing legislation supporting privacy can be an easy win for both sides of the aisle and consumers in general. Many examples exist in the EU that protect PII, corporate data, and children. We have adopted a defeatist attitude assuming that our data is breached and there is nothing we can do about it. If we as consumers demand stronger security and segregation of data, we can cut what is leaked.
We will lose a convenience factor, but we must insist that organizations become shepherds of our data. Using a platform, application, or service should not mean that we lose parts of our self with each click.