The illusion of privacy

There is quite a ruckus about privacy problems in communities such as Facebook and Battle.Net lately. The problem is apparently that the provider made data available to a group of users that wasn’t supposed to see it.

My opinion: If you have something to hide, don’t entrust it to strangers. This is true for both Facebook and Battle.Net: You don’t have the slightest clue who has access to which part of your data under what circumstances. And even if you do, that could change any time – they could suddenly decide to show it to the government, companies or simply anyone. That happens frequently.

Out of these options, I certainly prefer the last one, merely because it is the only one that seems to make people aware of privacy issues. Some people might think that every Facebook employee or the government will always act in their best interest and never do them wrong (history certainly proves this wrong, but people love to believe in crap). However, if everyone can see what someone is hiding, that person suddenly becomes aware of that and tries to stop it.

For that reason, I’m quite thankful that Facebook does it the way they do: They’ve probably done more for privacy (by raising awareness) than they ever did against it.

The same goes for Google: They collected wifi data, so what? The people whose data was collected were broadcasting it. Instead of informing potential and actual victims of this problem, the media blamed Google for collecting the data – publicly available data. It gets worse: The German government wanted Google to hand the data over instead of deleting it – the same government that wants to secretly search personal computers.

I’ve got another one for this case: If you have something to hide, don’t broadcast it.

Bottom line: Trusting strangers with your data and trying to ignore it will not get you better privacy, it will effectively eliminate privacy. Everyone has to solve their own privacy issues.

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