The right (maybe) to privacy


Without a doubt, there is a need for additional privacy standards when it comes to big data, not just to guide industry but also to help individuals understand the scope of what they are at risk of divulging when they so easily give information about themselves away. As Designing the Personal Data Stream: Enabling Participatory Privacy in Mobile Personal Sensing pointed out, the Codes for Information Privacy are just inadequate for today’s mobile technology and the big data it generates. The authors’ proposition, that individuals need to be given the power to control which of their big data streams are collected and analyzed by using an intermediary “vault” is quite appealing to me. It’s a bit like having curtains on a window, depending who is looking in, I can decide how much to show them by drawing back the curtain a little or a lot. I wonder how balky such a system would be to use initially, but could see great marketability for such a system.

2012DNCI was a user of instagram. (Picture to left is one I posted at the Democratic National Convention last year when I was covering it…no idea if it was  Michelle Obama,  Barack Obama or Bill Clinton…). But late last year when the company’s announcement highlighted how my pictures might get used, I quickly stopped using the site for anything personal and am more cautious as well when it comes to Facebook. Still worth it for professional reasons, but on personal note, the price for these free services is privacy, and that’s a steep one. Personal Data Stream architecture is appealing. It is the first idea I’ve heard about in a long time that gives me some hope that there may be a way to restore some privacy to this system. I might be fine with letting OnStar know, for example, how much I drive, but I don’t necessarily want it to also be collecting my GPS coordinates. Sure, they may tell me they won’t store the GPS data, but can I trust them? Giving the power back to the individual to monitor the data collection is more inline with America’s right to privacy principle.

Finally, the story about medical data is not unique in the sense of there has always been tussles over who “owns” medical records — hence the recent fight in Tallahassee over how much doctors’ offices and/or medical record firms could charge you to get copies of your own medical files. But what is shocking now when it comes to medical devices is the quantity and quality of the data. Clearly, there needs to be new standards and/or laws pertaining to devices implanted in the body.

Homeland-ShowtimeI posit one other thought about medical devices. It’s not just access to the data but it’s also that the individual with the most to lose is not in control of who else has access to the data. That’s what former Vice President Dick Cheney’s doctor worried about — that in the wrong hands, information about the former vice president’s heart defibrillator and heart pump could be easily hijacked to cause a heart attack. And you may have seen the Homeland episode with the same premise.

1) How have privacy concerns impacted your use of social media? Are there things you don’t do as a result? How diligent are you in monitoring privacy settings?

2) On your smart phone, do you restrict applications from accessing your data? Why?

3) My employer has made it clear that what I do on social media is an extension of my professional life and I am expected to adhere to the same standards as if I was working — but never has asked for my password. What kind of expectations are there in your job about using social media?


5 thoughts on “The right (maybe) to privacy

  1. Privacy concerns have impacted my use of social media. I think I wrote in an old blog that I never wanted to use Facebook but it was a requirement for the imaginary class so I opened one account with all the privacy possible. Then I was thinking to close it at the end of the semester but it was again a requirement for the next semester…
    As you can read, for now I am trapped he he he but I am going to close the account as soon as I see I won’t need it anymore for my studies. I understand the effect of content published and how a hacker can get advantage of it. In the future I will use Facebook for my business but never with my name or personal information.
    When I first came to this country my credit card was hacked. The bank return the money and it was not a big purchase but it was scary… the feeling that at any moment anyone can just get your information and use it is horrible.

  2. 1) Privacy settings have impacted my use of social media. I have my profiles unsearchable for anything other than LinkedIn. I also don’t post a lot of personal information or anything I would be concerned about anyone seeing.

    2) I know that most apps collect a lot of data, so I just only download ones I really need. I also don’t download Google apps because they plan to track your location for marketing purposes through either Google apps or if you have an Android phone. Source:

    3) We had a corporate training webinar on social media etiquette and rights. They respect your privacy, but you can’t do anything that would jeopardize you or the client, anything negative related to work, or anything that makes the company look bad. So basically if you have common sense and limit and be selective with what you post online there won’t be any issues.

  3. I’m extremely careful about what content I post online because of privacy concerns. I don’t really post anything offensive, and stay away from publicly posting opinions about controversial topics because I feel like those inevitably get people into trouble. The only places that I post anything publicly are on Twitter and Instagram, and I’m not that active. My Facebook privacy settings allow friends and groups I’m in to see my content but not the general public.

    Yes. I only grant access to apps that I use extensively. The rest of them I turn off.

    I’ll share a story with you, Joni, and anyone else who wants to learn from my mistake. About 5 years ago, I was working for the company I’m at now, and was probably only working here for about 6 months. Anyway, I was having one of those days where things were not going according to plan. After work I made a joking, in-the-moment comment on my Facebook wall that said something along the lines of, “I need a raise.” My Facebook page was totally private and only visible to my close friends, and even with my privacy settings, that comment got back to my direct boss. He asked me not to post stuff like that on Facebook because it made our company look bad. Even though my comment wasn’t completely serious, it was easily taken out of context. That was my social media life lesson and I have never made a comment like that since. If I wouldn’t say it to you in person, I don’t post it online. I never post anything about our company unless it’s intended to be public knowledge. If I have a bad day at work, I don’t mention it anywhere publicly. I’m also really careful about posting stuff that could be misconstrued.

  4. Not having full control over how my photos are used on social media sites definitely encourages me to post only flattering images, both literally and figuratively. The last thing I want is a photograph of myself or friends at a late night bar and the shenanigans that come along with it, to end up in a PSA or advertisement. When it comes to apps, I am extremely hesitant to download ones that require access to GPS all of the time or want access to my Facebook account. I have been known to Google certain apps to learn more about why they need particular information and if anybody has had privacy issues or concerns.

  5. Catalina, Kim, Adam and Chelsea: Thanks for the great posts!
    Catalina: The same thing has happened to me. Someone living in a trailer park in North Dakota (Oh, the power of Google Earth!) used my credit card about two years ago to purchase nearly $1k worth of stuff from a sporting goods store in Nebraska. I imagine it was weapons, but don’t know for sure. The whole experience was eyeopening for me as well. I discovered it totally by accident in nearly realtime because I’d gone into my online account to print a receipt for something at work and saw the charge with 20 minutes of it posting so was able to stop it, get a lot of information from the vendor about where the goods were supposed to be shipped, get police involved, etc. Figured out they’d somehow gotten the number through a stalking program on my computer at work. Man, did I become more cautious after that, including paying for a credit monitoring service, etc.

    Adam: Man, what a lesson! Yours and Kim’s philosophy pretty much mimics mine for all the same reasons you mentioned. Every time I am tempted to comment, good or bad, on how my day is going on Facebook I think about how it would look to my superiors or my parents’ generation. It kills the impulse for many a snark. I’ve come to think of it more like an open newsletter to my “community.” Post the good, the interesting, and occasionally, the global revelation about life as I know it. As Chelsea suggests: Only the best image.

    I wonder if this isn’t the limit to ecommerce. Not in any earthshattering way, but for all the projections of growth online, there will be some natural curbing of its expansion and quality due to personal reservation. Through this class I’ve kind of come to think about it this way: We will give the Internet lots and lots of data about ourselves but a significant portion of the population will try to reserve some of our private selves. So big data will have an amazing amount of Quantitive data, but there will always be limits/reservations about the Qualitative aspect of the data. In most applications that won’t matter, but just like with the explosion of television via cable, quality will still matter. Not all TV shows are worth our time, in fact, most are not.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s