As the battle for Internet privacy rolls on in Washington, privacy advocates are condemning the vote to repeal Internet privacy protections approved by the Federal Communications Commission in the final days of the Obama administration. The rules would have required Internet service providers to get your permission before collecting and sharing your data and to notify customers about the types of information they collected and shared.
Internet service providers have a lot of data about on your web browsing history, app usage and geo-location.
We give them that data for convenience. We allow them to have it so we can quicker find what we want when we shop, so we can be informed about great deals we might appreciate when shopping. We check in on social media, leave reviews of restaurants, car services, hair salons, and hotels.
We look to the internet for recommendations about where to shop, what car to get, for best deals on plane tickets, vacation spots, boutique stores, fashion advice, and school research.
We put an enormous amount of information about ourselves out there for people to see.
Facebook has become a definitive record of people’s lives. From birthdays to wedding anniversaries to pregnancies, religion, health issues, and family tragedies – it’s all out there for the world to see. I rely on Facebook to remind me of birthdays and anniversaries. We schedule parties, meetings, and other events on social media. We post photos of trips, children, and activities.
When we were looking at buying a new car six months ago, I did a lot of Internet research. Every ad I saw all of a sudden showed me vehicles for sale in our area.
I clicked on a real estate ad once, because I saw a neat house and wanted to explore the interior. I’m still seeing ads for realtor.com, Redfin, and other sites trying to entice me into buying a home.
I have an email account strictly for spam. Anytime a website requires an email login, that’s the one I use. I haven’t logged into that account in probably more than a year. I expect there will be more than 10,000 messages from various websites, trying to sell me a car, a house, a magazine subscription, or a candidate.
Netflix makes recommendations for shows and movies I might like, based on shows and movies I have already watched.
There’s nothing the Internet doesn’t know.
There’s nothing the world doesn’t want to know about us.
Things that were once private and personal are on full display for the world to see and judge. Employers are using the Internet, social media, and comment sections in news sites to find out more about applicants than ever before.
Reality shows are more popular than ever. When I was working for WINC in Winchester as a news anchor, I had to go out and get soundbites from people on the street about a new series that took the country by storm. The finale of the first season of “Survivor” was airing that night, and the feature story was about whom people wanted to win the million dollars.
Last night’s “Survivor” episode had a contestant desperate to remain in the game out an opponent as transgender. On national television. While the episode was filmed months ago, and Zeke Smith consulted with CBS about how to best air the revelation, the guy’s personal life was used as a tool in a reality show game and subsequently as a publicity stunt. What’s next? This guy will be claimed as a pawn by every special interest group out there. Exposing something so personal about a human being in order to garner ratings or win a game show… I’m sickened by it. Anyone who doesn’t see the pain and utter shock on Zeke’s face as an opponent uses something so personal to paint him as a liar in order to win some money is blind.
They took the most personal, the most painful, the most frightening secret a person could have and made it into a side show. And it got ratings. And it got outrage. And it got publicity because of the outrage.
Everything about us is out there for the world to see.
Our likes, our dislikes, our families, and our experiences are all out there for the taking.
So why are we upset to know that Internet providers are monetizing our lives – the very lives we put out there for others to examine, judge, and comment on?
This shouldn’t be a surprise. We expose everything about our lives for the world to Google. We put our every secret, every feeling, every emotion we feel every time we feel it out into the ether.
We brought this on ourselves.