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Locks & Keys… Privacy Please

There is a reason that most bathrooms have locks on their doors. There is a reason that most houses have locks and garage doors have key codes. There is a reason that our laptops and phones have passwords and our banking websites have security questions. Clearly, us humans value privacy! Afterall, we don’t see dogs and cats care about when and where they go to the bathroom… Privacy and our innate need for it is so very mundane, that it makes sense that digital privacy can be seen as just as important as all other types of privacy. As technology gets smarter, society must also become more clever in protecting the privacy and personal information out there.

The internet and our personal privacy preferences grow and evolve, so do algorithms. One big question that is on everyone’s minds is whether or not the overall effects of algorithms will be positive for individuals and society or negatively impact individuals and society? I think, when thinking about this on a short term matter at least, that algorithms are beneficial for both individuals and society. In the moment, the spooky magic of algorithms can help companies and individuals interact and may mutually benefit each other. But over time, I think algorithms will become harmful to us all. As the spooky magic collects more and more information over time, the privacy of our lives will only open doors more widely into our lifestyles. The first time an algorithm goes to work, it is only collecting a small amount of information… but over time that information will accumulate without us being aware enough to stop or interfere with it. The more information that is gathered, the easier it will be to gather information at a faster and efficient rate.

An example of this that was documented about five years ago is the terrifying phenomena that ads on tv could send encrypted information to our cell phones and tablets. In this article, the author notes how “Privacy advocates warn feds about surreptitious cross-device tracking.” Not only is this type of information hard to process and understand, the fact that it was so easily transmitted makes it even more dangerous. For those in society who are more vulnerable than others, this type of information collecting and processing is even more problematic. This article was published in 2015, which means that since then, this sort of thing could have only become more persistent and efficient in doing so. As digital citizens, it has never been more important for us to understand our privacy rights and do everything we can to protect each other against companies who want to use our information to their advantage. If we can sufficiently put locks and keys on our bathrooms and doors to our households, then we must take the time to learn and understand what it means to live and strive for a safe, private, online world.