Big Brother Really Is Watching

Big Brother Watching 1It is an understatement to say that our world changed on September 11, 2001. Our feeling that we as Americans had impervious homeland security was shattered. In truth that was never really the case—we just thought so. From that day forward Americans understood that we needed (or were required) to give up some of our privacy to protect our national security. The Patriot Act, the creation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the increased visibility of the Department of Homeland Security were three of the many ways our lives have changes. While we as Americans do not live in pervasive fear of attack, we are no longer naïve to the threat.

But what’s also transpired in the past 13 years is that technology has invaded our privacy at the same time we recognize that our domestic security needed to be strengthened.

In our cyber world we live, our personal information, social security #, credit cards #s and other financial information are too easily revealed regardless of our desire to keep them private. And we are rightfully becoming increasingly concerned.

A recently released study from the Pew Research and Internet Project called Public Perception of Privacy and Security in the Post Snowden Era looked at American’s attitudes towards privacy. The results were very interesting. Quoting from the study:

–91% of adults in the survey “agree” or “strong agree” that consumers have lost control over how personal information is collected and used by companies.

–88% of adults “agree” or “strongly agree” that it would be very difficult to remove inaccurate information about them online.

–80% of those who use social networking sites say they are concerned about third parties like advertisers or businesses accessing the data they share on these sites.

–70% of social networking site users say that they are at least somewhat concerned about the government accessing some of the information they share on social networking sites without their knowledge.

PI_14.11.11_privacyPerceptions_260x260REV-copySocial media, not underservedly, gets the biggest black eye as the majority of Americans feel insecure when sharing private information via social media. In fact according to a new Harris Poll when asked which companies they trusted least to use their personal information in a way that benefits them, 50% of the consumers surveyed said social media companies were the lowest in terms of integrity.

Clearly the American public now feels that Big Brother is watching, snooping and abusing the information shared. Interestingly “advertising” often is the whipping boy. While clearly we are all being profiled for based on our “likes”, purchases and interests, and marketers can be invasive, the biggest threat (at least from my perspective) is having one’s financial identity heisted.

Technology, on balance, is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? But it comes at a cost to our privacy. Is this a price worth paying? What do you think?

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