Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Private Follies

Privacy issues on the web are abundant; from credit card numbers to personal information to social security numbers, these issues are something to be concerned with. However, I believe that a lot of our privacy problems on the web are our own fault. When it comes to websites most people don't read any of the legal documents that they must agree to when registering for that site or its services; legal documents that pertain to many privacy issues that people might have. Another problem is privacy options that are provided by the website. Last year Facebook received a lot of criticism for making default privacy settings for users basically non-existent. They did not, however, remove those privacy options.

Regarding Eric Schmidt's statement about not doing what we don't want anyone to know, that's just silly. There are many instances that someone could think of that they might not want others to know about. I'm sure most people wouldn't want to have a colonoscopy performed in front of a large crowd of people. Regarding less socially acceptable practices on the Internet such as pornography, I believe that what's done in the privacy of your home is your own business until it becomes a public health issue (a meth lab spreading fumes to other rooms in an apartment building, for an extreme example).


  1. Don't forget to include a title on your post!

  2. I agree that a lot of problems could be solved by reading legal documentation up front. The problem, I think, is how impenetrable the language is. EULAs are famously long and difficult to read, and it's understandable that most people gloss over them. What I want to know is why can't the company/site provide a layperson's version of their privacy policy, with the understanding that the EULA is the legally binding and more detailed version?

  3. I agree that many people could increase their privacy by taking the time to read what they are signing up for, and also by taking the time to modify settings on accounts like Facebook for example, to make it as private as possible. Many people also keep their passwords stored on their computer and anyone who uses the computer could log into the sites - this also decreases security. Taking the small steps to protect your privacy may take some time, but the benefits are greater than the risk.