Protect Your Privacy

There’s a lot of conversation about privacy going on right now. I’m seeing it all over multiple blogs I read and everyone has something to say about it. When the Google CEO (even jokingly) tells you to change your name if you want privacy, it’s time to evaluate what we are doing with ourselves.

Now I want to be clear, privacy is a big deal and there are things that I don’t want published about me on the internet – it’s part of the reason why I deleted my MySpace page (that and I’m not a 15 year old anymore). However, I am not perfect when it comes to keeping my privacy under lock and key, and I probably have too much trust in companies.

When was the last time I really examined those terms and conditions that needed me to “agree”? Do I even know what I am signing up for? What if there’s a clause about the FBI coming by and demanding a blood sample? Did I just “agree” to that? When it comes to the privacy debate – there are two things going on:

  1. Companies shouldn’t lie or be shady. Since it’s the most well known, let’s take a look at Facebook as a perfect example. We signed up for Facebook with a thought about our privacy, and then suddenly – BOOM. Everything was changed. Suddenly, privacy was an “option” and not a “default” setting on your Facebook page. When a user opts to give you their information, it is your responsibility to be sure that they know when you are going to change things, give them an “opt-out” choice, and provide them with information to manually change their settings. The problem with Facebook is that they didn’t give anyone a choice and said “we are going to share your info and you can’t stop us”.
  2. We are ultimately responsible for what we “agree” to. Think about the last time you signed up for a service or social media site – did you actually read the terms of use, or did you just say ‘oh, okay, I’m sure this is standard stuff’ and hit ok? Would you sign a credit card agreement without reading the fine print? No, you wouldn’t. So why treat your personal information any differently? In the end, it’s up to us to know what we sign and who our information is going to.

I think in the end, we should all be reading what we’re agreeing too. But when you have a company that you’ve been a member of or subscribed to for years that suddenly changes everything you’ve ever known about that company, it’s not right. Companies have a responsibility not to sell your information, not to share what you don’t want shared, without a proper and complete warning about the whole thing.

But remember – if you don’t like it, you can always delete or cancel.

Have you been sold out by a company trying to increase their bottom line, or do you admit to making mistakes and not reading what you were signing? When was the last time you read that new iTunes agreement?