Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Privacy Please!

This story is from a few years back when I was 19-20. There was a boy, let's call him Ass, I did not invent that, those are the initials of his name ;-). Ass sometimes blurted out things about me that I had never ever told him or anyone else for that matter. I had no clue where he was getting this information from.

One day it clicked me that all the information he knows about me was in my emails. I remembered that he had used my computer for some assignment. So now imagine someone reading all of the information about you - someone finding out that you are into pricking voodoo dolls or whatever you are into when you are 19 ;-) Trust me at that age people are least likely to be into something as simple as voodoo dolls!

There was no mal-intention on Ass's part I guess, he was just having fun with it but I found the whole thing weird and creepy. After my initial panic attack I decided to have fun with it too. I changed my email password to Bastard(Ass's full name) and on the same day I received an email from him which indicated that he was very upset with me, obviously he couldn't specify the reason.

I got my computer fixed after that episode, never interacted with Ass and I delete my emails after I read them!

My grandmother always told me to be nice as she thought there is someone out there who is watching everything that we do, the good, bad and the ugly. She called this someone 'God', well she was almost right except it is not God it is cookies, worms, viruses, malwares, trojans, horses, tigers and what not sitting on your computer and tracking you, or may be just sitting and waiting silently, to do something.

Imagine something gaining access to your webcam and is able to watch you! May be your phone is injected with something? It can see your messages, record your calls? People use computers and phones for everything these days, there is less of a personal interaction, so imagine the number of things that can be tracked.

Do you ever fear that someone or something is tracking everything that you do? May be right at this minute someone is watching you or your screen, that someone may be seven seas across or right under the same roof... may be your boss?

Why would someone want to read irrelevant information about people? Social media is similar, that is why I am not on FB, I do not want to read information that is not useful or making a difference in my life in any way. I do not care who is celebrating their dog's birthday! Don't get me wrong, I follow a lot of blogs (as trivial as style blogs) but they are not fed to me rather I chose them based on my liking.

Yes, I am a private person in the era when Privacy is a Myth.

P.S. Have you seen TV show Mr. Robot? I did not like its story but loved the concept.


The Shaolin said...

Multiple points you make... all very close to my heart... so it took me some time to gather my thoughts...
I'll weigh in with as much coherency as I can muster while sitting at work expected to provide a much-awaited bug-fix ;-)
Privacy: I wouldn't say it's a myth, but it's almost non-existent for a common man (and by common man I mean everyone except that 0.0001% of geeks who jump multiple hops to remain anonymous!).

Your private information has suddenly now become the currency. Companies offer you free services (email, (anti)social media, messengers, etc.) but take away your privacy as a payment in return and make profit on it (way-way more than what it costs to provide service, of course, otherwise they would be out of business).
Privacy (something as simple and obvious) is a very complex subject, esp. in today's always-ON always-connected world. What's shocking is that there is absolutely no regulation whatsoever that makes sure our privacy is not abused willy-nilly.

@Someone quietly tapping in on your webcam or phone... that *is* a very-very likely possibility. With companies being very lax about security, it's ever-so-easy to maliciously install stuff on your phone/pc/laptop/tablet that the Orwellian fear of being watched 24/7 is not a fiction anymore. Worse, the watcher is someone most likely with malicious intent not govt. agent making sure you don't go rouge!

At work... always assume you are being watched, not by your boss directly, but definitely someone is watching, if not watching, then recording your every move/action for later retrieval, if needed.

> Why would someone want to read irrelevant information about people
For the same reason I want to call a friend and check up what's going on in his/her life. But I do agree, you don't have to follow their EVERY move and that's why (anti)social media networks are a bag of mixed outcome.
In the world of (anti)social media... someone can stand outside and let it completely pass her, someone comes in and just observes the action while not sharing her thoughts and someone comes in and hijacks the whole network with (stupid) cat's pictures! And any many combinations in between!

As to wise words of your Grandmother, irrespective of whether God exists of not (btw, he does ;-) ), what goes around, comes around; almost in Newtonian way (every action has an opposite and equal reaction).

Overall, an interesting post with an interesting anecdote!
Keep writing!

Rasika Mahabal said...