This post is also available in: Dutch
This discussion is no longer based on a single platform or service. By now it covers your whole digital life and not just on the Internet.
And you need to be vigilant.
We still have privacy.
You just can’t assume everything is just that.
Believing your email is private, or that your status updates can only be seen by your “friends” is naive.
This was made painfully clear when a US judge ordered a group of women to hand over their passwords for Facebook, email and other social media accounts.
And they were not the ones being suit. They were suing their employer for sexual harassment.
The article on Naked Security (no pun intended) goes on explaining that the defendant asked for, and received access. There will be a ‘moderator’ to make sure everything is on the up and up.., but still.., anything posted will be twist and turned to discredit the plaintiffs. Their own posts, photos and emails will be used against them
The lid is off the can. And the amount of worms inside is bottomless.
At the company I work for now, I wrote the Social Media Policy. The main goal was to make people aware of the pitfalls of Social Media. We aim to protect the online reputation of the company and through that the reputation of the individual.
Basically, the simplest rule is.., when in doubt, do not post.
The Interwebs are full of ‘mistakes’ made by folks who were not paying enough attention when posting something.., be it text or a photo.
For companies it can do serious financial damage, for individuals.., it can ruin your life.
So, do we have privacy or not?
Yes.., of course you have privacy.
Last year (2011), at TEDxBrussels I saw a talk from Hasan Elahi about privacy.
He was wrongfully put on the terrorist watch list by the FBI and was forced to give up his privacy (watch the talk at the bottom of this post for the whole story).
He actually build a website tracking him and letting the FBI know where he was and what he was doing.
But, at some point he talks about the more you share the more privacy you have.
I live an incredibly anonymous and private life. You know very little about my personal life in there.
Let me explain shortly my take on that.
At a meeting or a birthday you do not share every thought that pops up. You have instant accountability and most will think twice before voicing an opinion.
On the Net, that ‘instant accountability’ seems to be lost and people do post every thought that pops up. But the accountability is still there and sometimes it gets amplified in a very unpredictable and destructive manner.
Don’t spill the beans
Share what you want to share. Share only stuff you can defend when called upon to do so.
Be that in court, in a job interview or during Sunday evening diner with your spouse.
And if you want something to remain private.., do not share it.
And for the things that do get registered (like you credit card), make sure the trail doesn’t show anything you do not want shown.
If you assume everything is shared and accessible, you can act accordingly.