Do We Have Any Privacy?

My friend, Joe, recently wrote this blog post about privacy. I think I might be the tech savvy friend who couldn’t believe he was Foursquaring his home address. :)

And his post made me think. What IS private? Is there anything you can’t Google about someone? Does shredding everything matter?

When it comes to the internet, I’ve pretty much given up on the idea that I have anything to hide from Facebook, Google, or my internet service provider. In theory, and certainly between them, those people could know everything from my innermost thoughts to what I look for online to how much is in my bank accounts. They’d know where I live because I have to type it everywhere.

I remember in 1994, I knew a guy who worked at some ISP, so he was some techy admin guy I couldn’t make much sense out of. One day, he wanted to prove a point about privacy, and emailed me all the info that was on my driver’s license. In 1994. Didn’t need Foursquare, Facebook, or Google. He had found some way in to the Motor Vehicle database for our state, and easily found my info, which included home address and birthday. Probably Social Security Number. He never did anything with it, but he sure made his point. And I bet it’s even easier now.

I have a friend who works in the music biz. He has his AT&T-given email address on his Blackberry. He uses no social media or apps. Has no website. Owns no domain names. When I put him into Google, I get like 2 web pages on him, both blog posts from people saying they had recently met him. Nothing else. That’s amazing, so it “can be done.” Still, my friend, Joe, would be right. If his name is on a mortgage somewhere, that’s probably something people could find.

So he’s mostly off the grid, but the price of that is being off the grid. Most of us are looking for connection and interaction, so we want to be on the grid. All the time.

Let me know in comments your thoughts on privacy.


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