Episode 95: Is Privacy Dead?

In an age when we share so many personal experiences on social media, when data about what we buy and who we communicate with is stored, when we willing carrying a tracking device in the form of our smart phones everywhere we go… we should ask ourselves a very important question. Is privacy dead?

This week Clay and Sarah discuss the issue of privacy.


In this episode we discuss:

* What we choose to share about ourselves online (and what we don’t)

* The spread of surveillence

* Who owns our data and what kind of data is collected about us

* Privacy as freedom

* Protecting the privacy of others (sharing about friends and kids)
”Every single person we communicate with, that information is tracked and saved,” claims security expert Mikko Hyppönen in an interview for International Business Times.  “We have never had such a thing happen in the history of mankind and we don’t yet know what this level of tracking really means.”

Yet as Clay points out in the conversation, this isn’t necessarily anything new.  People have been worried about issues of privacy since well before Orwell wrote 1984 (published in 1949!).

Perhaps it is simply the immense volume of data available about us via the internet, coupled with increased technological abilities to store, search and process that data, that is making us increasing worried about issues of privacy.

After all, since the revelations of Edward Snowden and Wikileaks, we now know that not only are governments and private companies collecting metadata about what websites we visit, who we contact and what we search online, they are also investing in the creation of ‘backdoors’ to the encryption that protects the actual content about us including anything from emails to iMessage conversations etc.

It seems every few months we learn something new and slightly sinister about what private companies are doing with our data – the most recent being the Cambridge Analytica scandal.


But what is Privacy anyway?

A common response to all this concern over privacy is that most of us ‘have nothing to hide’.

But “Privacy isn’t about secrecy,” an article Privacy isn’t dead. Here’s why argues. “It’s about autonomy.  It’s about having the freedom to choose what information you share, and when, how and with whom you share it.”  Thus, invasion of privacy isn’t about revealing someone’s secrets, it is about taking that autonomy away from a person.

Privacy is also an issue of freedom.

For the younger generation, however, privacy has become a commodity which is traded for content online.  Security expert Mikko Hypponen reflects, “For this next generation, they have lived their whole lives where you pay for ‘content’ in the real world with money and you pay for ‘content’ in the online world with your privacy — and you assume that’s normal.”


What do you think? Is privacy truly dead? Or has it become more important that ever?