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In a world shaped by digital convergence, it is no longer realistic to expect a high level of privacy. If you consider just how connected the world has become, you realise that the digital economy doesn’t support anonymity.
I remember standing in a foreign hotel and agreeing to draconian Wi-Fi conditions, more than willing to entirely forgo my privacy to avoid massive mobile charges. I’m not unique, we all do it.
Anonymity in a connected world is a façade. Older generations still battle with this new reality, but Millennials were born into this, not knowing otherwise. Privacy comes at a cost, and in a world where BYOD and enterprise mobility are par for the course, users need to understand the risks and realities.
A world of analytics
In the era of big data, people would be ill-informed to assume that their digital activity is not being stored by service providers and that analytics is not being applied to their online activity.
But analytics can be beneficial to online users. For example, a browser that analyses your searches can curate the advertising content you see in accordance with your interests. For an avid traveller with little interest in gambling, this would mean more links to exciting holiday destinations and less to online casinos.
We’re torn between wanting to share our lives on social media and at the same time wanting to protect our privacy. Take Facebook ‘check-ins’ for example, by utilising this location based feature you automatically give up your privacy and allow others to know your whereabouts, which in itself can also be a security risk.
Uber is a great example of an app-based service that is solely dependent on you sharing your location. The minute you set your pick-up location, this data is stored and can be used to tailor content specifically for you, based on your area.
What a hack!
There is no doubt that 2015 was a successful year for hackers. From government departments, dating sites and corporate enterprises, no one was safe. Does this mean that we must accept the facts and carry on? Or should we remove ourselves from this world entirely? Neither option is reasonable.
We all need to adjust our digital activities accordingly. Would you want to have a compromising email, dodgy web history or embarrassing picture displayed on a billboard? If the answer is no, you need to reconsider your online behaviour.
Big Brother is here. He has many faces. He could be in the form of analytics or security based algorithms. In this time of big data, we are all connected to the digital economy, whether consciously or unconsciously. We all need to be present, accountable and aware to keep ourselves safe.