RootsTech 2014

Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Chipping Away at What's Left of Privacy (ergo there is nothing left)

From a PC World post entitled "Gmail now lets you email Google+ users, even if you don't know their address:"
Google has deepened the integration between its Google+ social network and Gmail, adding a feature that auto-suggests Google+ contacts when Gmail users are typing in email recipients. In other words, you can email any of your Google+ contacts without knowing their email address, and they can email you as well.
Just when you thought that there might some small shred of privacy left in the world, we see Google+, Facebook and other social networking sites making sure that none of it is left to speak of. If you get into what Google+ is doing here, this means that anyone on Google+ in any of your circles can now send you email to your Gmail account without even knowing your email address. They do make a few concessions however, from the article again:
Google+ users are able to control who can contact them from Gmail in this way with four options. They can opt out entirely, so that they won’t appear in Gmail auto-suggest. They can limit the feature to include only people they have added to their own Circles. They can make the scope broader by extending it to people with a second degree of Circles separation, meaning people you’re not connected to but who are connected to someone in your Circles. The last option is to open up the feature to anyone on Google+.
Got that? What would be the point of being on Google+ if you didn't want the whole world to know everything you were saying and doing?

I recently posted about how all of my Facebook "Friends" who happened to be relatives, showed up in my Ancestry.com online Public Family Tree with photos etc. It seems that any last vestiges of electronic separation, i.e privacy, have now disappeared into the aether. Is this cause for another round of handwringing? Is it now time to turn off all the electronic devices and move to a cave in the mountains with an apple and a loin cloth (a real apple, not a computer).

Here is the reality. Privacy is an ephemera. If is something you were led to believe existed, but really never has since the dawn of the computer age. We gave up our privacy in exchange for unlimited access to all of the world's knowledge. From my standpoint, it was a pretty good deal. You may not think so because you care more about your privacy than you care about the world's knowledge, but you weren't the one making the deal.

If you think of privacy as something you own, then everything that is going on online makes perfect sense. To repeat, you trade what you own for the perceived benefits of the online community. I guess my perception of privacy was molded in the Army where there was literally nothing private. Just try living in an Army barracks for a while with a bunch of people you do not know and you will see exactly what I mean. Being online is not nearly as bad as an Army barracks experience.

Things could get worse and they probably will. 

No comments:

Post a Comment