Monthly Archives: February 2020

The Illusion of Privacy

As technology advances the sharing and storing of information the concern about privacy is being raised. We are constantly asking the question about who has the right to know about our private information. Then the problem arises. What is our private information?

Let us start with the basics. Our name. Our name is given to us in order to identify us to other people, first family, then friends and neighbors. Later to the whole open society. My name is the URL address of this blog. The Uniform or Universal (sic) Resource Locator – URL. Thus my name is not private, it is public. Then my birthdate, my address, my phone number, and other data is also public.

Our bank account number is know by my bank, and by those who I have given checks. Business like my “refuse” collector, utilities, retail stores, know my bank account number. What guarantee do we have that these bank account numbers can’t be used in a fraudulent way. Do we have a 2D or 3D security system for their use?

Our Social Security number is known by many people, organizations, and business. My bank knows it, my accountant knows it, my employer knows it, my health providers know it. So, what would happen if these numbers are shared or leaked to other players, some of whom might be undesirable. We know this happened before as we have seen the breach of the servers of big corporations some of them financial like Equifax that have reach settlements worth millions of dollars.

Our localization can be now shared through different applications both in our computers as in our smartphones. The Chinese government has recently used this information to keep citizens isolated and in curfew due to the Corona virus outbreak. It is not clear how these citizens feel about being watched and controlled by their government but it appears that the curfew has been effective, even though we do not know if the spread of the virus has been stopped. Citizens of some provinces in China have been indoors recluse in their own home for more than a week and only one member of the household is allowed to go out every couple of days to gather supplies. Meetings places like cinemas are closed. We don’t imagine something similar happening in the USA as we see the communist government in China having complete control over their population, but we really don’t know if our government has the same technological capability.

Then we move to our family and relatives, they carry a lot of our information too. How can we protect our privacy without intruding into their privacy?

Finally our browsing and purchase history is out there in the data cloud. We know that every time we click on a website, ask google, Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, or MSN’s Cortana for something, they store, analyze, and distribute this information. Every time we purchase something using our credit cards, the bank’s AI system will take note of our purchasing trends including amounts, localization, and items, so they know how to detect frauds and set alarms warning signals that can tell us if someone is using of credit cards without authorization.

With this thoughts in mind we know there is no real privacy, so what are we supposed to do? First is to be aware, to be conscious that we are observed in every move, every step we take is recorded (even if we are not moving as when we are sleeping, our “fit” app is keeping track of our sleep!) so we need to be aware. Second we have to learn how to use AI, as we understand how algorithms work we can feed the algorithm. You can use the credit cart to purchase things you want the algorithm to know, and you use cash when you don’t, as one example.

Please use the comments below to let me know if you have something