I saw the article below in the NYT Thursday. It talks about the NSA having backdoors into all our online media and having broken into or received permission to penetrate virtually every major databank that holds all our information, including banking and medical data.
And, as I was closing out this topic, look what just arrived in my inbox from the Washington Post, late Friday:
This is not something I typically care about because frankly, we have all been giving away our personal information for years. In fact, all someone has to do is forward any email we send and our privacy is lost forever. Last month a client wrote to me and told me that she had inadvertently cc’d me on a patient’s email and that the patient’s account had been hacked, so, “…sorry, you are probably going to be hacked too, and oh, by the way, I am going on vacation for a month”. Great.
How about the people who work in banks and doctors’ offices, pharmacies, any store where we have opened accounts – it must be easy to access and cross-reference that data. How about Amazon? I buy hundreds of things from them every year. If someone wanted to, they could create a clear profile of me, right down to the minutiae.
And of course, we have a great deal of data on social media, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, LinkedIn, Geni, Ancestry, our blogs and websites. Is there anything left that people don’t know about us?
I gave up. My info is all right out there. The only thing I do is try to create a wall of privacy between the public and those associated with me who I don’t feel I have the right to expose, especially work-related.
Of course, I would not want my words taken out of context, cut and pasted to make me sound demonic or absurd. But, I own my unique personality with all its shortcomings. What was it Bror said in Out of Africa? “Fire away, I have surely done it”.
The public has my permission to take apart my writing as long as they quote me accurately and play fair. I stand by my ideas and beliefs (until I change them) – I am not about to back away or deny what I have said or done just because someone might not like it or could misinterpret it. Obviously ad personem animus (how’s that for my limited Latin?) isn’t cool and I try to scrupulously avoid doing anything that might hurt anyone, especially their sense of self and security.
For whatever reason, I have had pretty positive feedback all my life. Not that I have always done the right thing or been brilliant, but more that people seem to get that I am a sincere and well-meaning person and that once in a while an idea escapes from my brain that isn’t completely addled. I cannot think of anything I have ever said that the NSA would find intriguing.
Funny how coincidences go. I finally switched from my old insurance company to a new one. I have had the same company all my life but their crummy policies and rocketing fees finally got to me. I did a little study comparing companies and picked the best one. So today, I told a neighbor of mine, a physician who works with my new insurance company, that I made the change. Two minutes later I realized she can now access all my medical records (not that she would, just sayin’…). Then I had the further recognition that there is nothing there. But the very fact that it concerned me at all made me think that maybe I am not completely on board with having everything about me be public knowledge. If everyone had each other’s best interest at heart, we wouldn’t have to worry. So the fact that we do, shows we don’t trust each other.
Yet, I am sure there are others who do not agree with me and feel this is a gross intrusion on our fourth amendment rights. My biggest worry if the NSA were to literally breach my perimeters, LOL, is that they would not understand me and the things I do. For example, if they were to come to our house, they would see that we deliberately leave spider webs under the eaves in particular spots. Ah! Why is that, you no doubt are dying to know. Why …, to catch moths and prevent them from destroying any more of my beautiful wool clothing that I collect so carefully. Those are the things that I would feel compelled to justify.
My heterodox ramblings? Nah. Given what I hear and see these days, I am in good company.
As far as all the privacy protections that are in place that most good citizens respect and those with nefarious purposes can always find a way to defeat, that is probably true about all and any norms, proscriptions, laws, rules and practices. We have stop signs to make driving safe and predictable. If you run the stop sign, you break the law as well as risk harm. But there is nothing preventing you from ignoring that stop sign either. It is just good that most of us don’t.
And that is all we can expect when we share information and trust entities to guard it, whether they be services we use, people we consider friends and family, corporations with which we are associated or our government. There is just no place to hide, nor should we worry about or want to, either.
Images: Wikimedia Commons