After Apple iCloud security breach, Sony Pictures Entertainment hack, and finally “the new Facebook terms and conditions for 2015”; “Privacy” would be now considered as the biggest challenge for any user. If we combined that with PRISM Program, which is run by NSA, and what was mentioned in WikiLeaks; we would find that our life in now opened to – almost – anyone!
It is like when a friend of mine has once said:
“The privacy settings, now, in Facebook is like the following: Public – Friends & NSA – Only Me & NSA – Just NSA!” Anything you published on the Internet is now monitored, for many reasons, not by one party, or organization, but by almost a dozen, and even more!
Reasons are different, but our privacy is, either way, invoked. For Facebook, they want our information to sell it to other companies so they target us with “the right advertisements” (don’t you ever wonder how come you are seeing the exact type of products you were searching for recently whenever you open any website?). Others, like NSA & CIA, want to know if you are “a threat against the humanity” (in other words: a terrorist). As for the hackers, it is just “for fun”, and to prove “their ability to break any network and any security system”. We have also dictatorships who just want to know “any possible activists working against them” in order to arrest them in advance and “protect the nation”, like many Arab countries before the Arab Spring and even now! They all have their reasons, whether you agree with it or not, but in summary: your privacy is in danger and your information can be accessed by many people!
One might ask himself: why I should be worried about this? I am not posting anything bad and I am very good “citizen” and not an “activist” or a “terrorist” as well as I want to see ads that are similar to my interests. Moreover, my life is so normal that I have nothing to hide or to be afraid of it. So why I need to protect my information?
The answer would not be simple as we think! Actually, there is no simple answer for this at all. Some, simply, don’t care about their privacy, so they don’t care about “their information being acquired by others”, but we can discuss it in “a matter of principle”. No one is allowed to gather your information behind your back. Maybe you don’t care about yourself, but what about your little son or daughter? What about your weak father? Targeted ads could not be a problem, but what about “identity theft”? Stealing all your life savings in your bank account? Threatening you political future, or career, by some photos – or actions – you did when you are young and naïve and has no idea that you would become “an important person one day” and you don’t want anybody to know about them. What about stalking your children? Mentoring your house? Hacking your computer – or phone – and stealing very important, secret, or intimate information? If anybody has your secrets, he can basically order you to do whatever he wants, or otherwise just ruins your life.
Mentoring your privacy can be like a knife: you can peel a fruit with it, or you can slaughter a man!
How we can protect our privacy…
The answer is very complicated. There are things you can do and other you can’t, especially within this era where everything is run by technology. However, you can reduce the damage by doing some simple steps.
You can start first by monitoring the kind of information you are providing over the internet, don’t give “so much information” about you so it can be used one day against you. Other things you can do it using software and apps that can encrypt your information and protect your identity. Browsing internet can be, for example, much secure using Tor Browser where nobody, whatsoever, can track your surfing through the internet. For chatting, you can use Telegram, which provides an encrypted communications platform among the users on Android, iPhone, and Windows Phone. For emailing, you can use Protonmail, which is a service can be sued to provide 100% encrypted email that can only be accessed by the owner. And considering the fact that it is located in Switzerland, no government, even the Swiss, has the right to access your information (because of the law there). Those are just a few examples, and you can always search the internet to see more options. There are millions of volunteers and nonprofit organizations working, day and night, to find technologies that can protect the individual’s privacy because they believe in your freedom.
The Big Brother
Whenever a “privacy” comes to the mind, the famous George Orwell’s novel “1984” comes too. It is a writer’s prophecy about a society, existed in the future in 1984, that has a “Big Brother” who is monitoring all the citizens of that society, shaping and programming their minds, and punishing anyone who could dare to object against this. It is a world where the term “privacy” is no longer existed and that “Big Brother” is counting even your breaths!
Maybe one can say: “this novel is exaggerating! There is nothing like this in our modern world!” What if I said that there is! And not for a few people, for almost 20% of the human population, could you believe this?!
Besides “The Great Wall”, China is famous, at least among the IT people, with what is called: “the Great Firewall of China” Project, or “the Golden Shield Project”. Simply, it is a huge project, run by the Chinese Government, to monitor the internet in China. More than 1.2 billion persons’ mouse click, website visits, and internet surfing are monitored by this project. Even more, the Chinese Government has banned most famous websites and replaced them by “Chinese Versions”; so instead of Facebook, we have 51.com or renren.com. Instead of Twitter, we have Weibo and the list goes on. Another Big Brother Project is PRISM, run by the National Security Agency (NSA), which –till now – has no specific data about the number of targeted people (and you could be one of them). Many reports showed that some employees of NSA used this program to spy on “their lovers using eavesdropping programmer” according to the Telegraph Newspaper and others. So you can imagine the importance of the privacy and how you should work hard to protect it?
The bottom line is: “Privacy” is 2015 Challenge…. Even beyond!
The biggest challenge for this year, and maybe for the next years, is “privacy”: protecting your province from companies, secret agencies, hackers, and any curious eyes. It would be an important issue, and its importance is escalating day after day. It is not easy to protect your privacy, but being aware of this topic would be an amazing starting point to find the right path to reduce the damage of provoking it.
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