Question was asked: “Are we concerned with a decrease of privacy in the virtual space?”

While privacy is an individual’s main responsibility it has to also be driven by clear policy and governance (due care and due diligence) on the side of the companies that have the information. Let’s say I’m going to bank at ABC bank and they do not have to have policy on how to handle my private information and accounts is irrational at best.

They are driven by profits and realize they have to keep it private to stay in business. To do this they create policy and put practices in place to keep my data private or they risk me going to another bank. The bigger issue is the “virtual space” controlled by governments. We are living in a time where the government (in the US specifically) is talking about the power to shut down the networks in case of a “catastrophic cyber event”. They are pushing a government owned healthcare plan and now own a few car companies as well.

Why does this matter concerning privacy in the virtual space? They are not in it to make money and therefore do not have the same concerns to protect your information. If it doesn’t benefit them they won’t do it. They are political in nature so privacy is a hindrance to them.

It is even more critical for us to remain vigilant with our personal data and information but cannot be too ignorant not to share it. We get great discounts at stores, faster service at the doctor, and faster feedback from friends and family because of facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, and many other social networking sites.

Citizens have to hold our government accountable to the fourth amendment of the constitution.  To borrow from an article written by by Jim Harper titled “Kerr Defends the Third-Party Doctrine” and posted at (http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/2008/05/31/kerr-defends-the-third-party-doctrine) he makes some scary observations:

“Incredibly deep reservoirs of information are constantly collected by third-party service providers today. Cellular telephone networks pinpoint customers’ locations throughout the day through the movement of their phones. Internet service providers maintain copies of huge swaths of the information that crosses their networks, tied to customer identifiers. Search engines maintain logs of searches that can be correlated to specific computers and usually the individuals that use them. Payment systems record each instance of commerce, and the time and place it occurred. The third-party doctrine exempts law enforcement from the Fourth Amendment’s reasonableness and warrant requirements when it looks at these records.”

I’m amazed how people can state their privacy is solely the responsibility of the individual. It is, to a point, but it is also important to make sure it continues to be covered in our Constitution. Politicians need to protect our best interests and not theirs. The courts struggle with this as well but it is clear that third parties and especially the federal government should not invade our personal space and have our data regardless of where it sits. It is a loophole in the fourth amendment.

The fourth amendment was written in a time when technology was rudimentary at best. Our home was our personal space. It had everything personal to include our money (banks were not very popular), our schools (public school didn’t exist), and most importantly our family (everyone lived close or with family). Per the Constitution the government does not have the right to our information other than to process taxes. They get to your private data through a third party and this is legal but citizens should be speaking up on this and demand appropriate privacy protections. This is a great question but needs to differentiate between virtual spaces and “government” involved virtual space.

We need a “privacy” advocate in our federal government who will help establish policy and governance across the spectrum and help private industry with compliance so they can continue to make money and keep our data secure and as private as we want it to be. It is our information and we, the citizen, should have ultimate say in how it is used or who is using or viewing it. Privacy is so critical to the future of technology and how the world will only get smaller not bigger. Our data has gone global and is being used in scary ways by foreign government and corporate companies as well.

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