Written and Media by Ethan Maurer.
Have you ever actually read the terms and conditions page on anything? I am going to go out on a limb and say you probably have not. And if you have, for some crazy reason, read the full document, did you understand any of it? Once again, probably not. There could very easily be a clause in there that sells our souls to the devil, and there would be no way for us to know. There is an increasing amount of conversation about privacy when it comes to new technology. Is it time we actually talk about the real issues at hand?
I sometimes have a hard time with managing my privacy when it comes to technology. I am just way too trusting sometimes. I am a complete tech-head, so it is very exciting to see how advanced technology is becoming. But, are the incredible perks of this technology enough to make us overlook the privacy issues that come along with it? I think there is a definite balance there that is worth discussing.
I recently bought an Amazon Echo, and I totally love it. I love being able to connect all of my equipment with a simple command. I can walk into my room and say, “Alexa, turn on my lights,” and just like that, my lights are on. I can ask her almost anything, and she will give me an answer. It’s amazing! It frees up a lot of time for me, so I do not have to pause what I am doing to Google some trivia; I can just ask Alexa. Alexa is connected to a ton of apps such as Spotify, Contacts, Phone, Weather, Location, you name it. This makes her incredibly smart, but it is almost scary sometimes when I notice that she knows basically my whole life. She knows everything about me, whether I like it or not. If I ask her, “Alexa, are you always listening to me?” she goes on to say that she only sends audio to Amazon when I say the wake word. She then tells me where I can find more information on Amazon’s Privacy Notice. Of course, I went to look at the Privacy Notice, and it is a crazy long document that confuses the heck out of me. But there are an insane amount of privacy issues that come with Alexa. I am well aware that she may be recording everything I say, even if I am not talking to her. But, like any other consumer, I am not going to do anything about it because ultimately, she makes my life easier. And that is the scariest part of it! I know there are issues at hand, but I cannot do anything about it. I would need an advanced law degree from Harvard simply to understand the terms of the technology I am using.
I also watched this Ted Talk about privacy issues when it comes to networks. Some of this information completely blew my mind. He talked about open Wifi Networks and how they cannot be trusted. Bram Bonné was incredibly persuading, and because of that, I will think twice before joining open networks. Basically, I could name my personal router “McDonald’s” and not give it a password, and people’s phones would connect to it without them even knowing. If they have used the real McDonald’s network before, their phones will recognize it and leak information to whoever controls the router. It is honestly a terrifying thought. So I hope you think twice about connecting to that open network.
We are presented with more security and privacy issues than any other generation has ever experienced. We are constantly being watched, listened to, or having our information shared with the world without anyone batting an eye. As scary as these privacy issues can be, we need to balance how much of our lives we are willingly sharing. And since a lot of these issues are well over my head, the best we can do is just be aware. Be aware of what you say and do, because someone may be watching or listening to you.
Here is a podcast about Privacy and Security that goes into some more detail about this issue.