Americans Waking Up to Social Media Privacy

Friday, January 07, 2011

Robert Siciliano

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There have been thousands of privacy related news reports over the past year depicting social networks, Google, marketers and advertisers as evil privacy violators who are slowly sucking dry whatever privacy we have left.

Facebook has been raked over the coals by advocates and watchdogs who say their tactics violate their own policies. In response, numerous lawsuits have been filed and government agencies have put the pressure on everyone involved to come up with a serious solution.

It is evident that without some type of government oversight that the “self policing” done by all those who stand to gain financially by selling our data will continue to spin out of control to the point where privacy will be something of the past.

My stance as a security professional has always been on the “privacy is dead, get over it” side of the fence. I’ve always been of the belief that the data out there is as a result of the public’s own doing and if they don’t want the world to know their private thoughts they shouldn’t post it.  As they say, “the cat is out of the bag”.

However, my concern is not that the self exposed private data is out for the world to see is a violation of a person’s privacy, but what can be done with the data to affect ones security position.

Now as a result of all this attention to privacy, in a recent study published in the Wall Street Journal, about 36% of American adults said they were “very concerned” about their privacy on social-networking sites in 2010, compared with 30% who felt that way last year.

The shift was particularly noticeable among people over age 44; 50% of people age 54 to 64 described themselves as “very concerned,” compared with 32% who said that in 2009.

In response, the WSJ further reports The Obama administration is preparing a stepped-up approach to policing Internet privacy that calls for new laws and the creation of a new position to oversee the effort, according to people familiar with the situation.

This is definitely a good thing as the US significantly lags behind Canada and Europe among others in regards to privacy.

Certainly I care about privacy and wish there was more. But the fact remains that the fundamental issue that affects ones well being is security. Too much information leaked may damage ones social standing in some ways and if you don’t want it out there then don’t put it out there.

And considering marketers and advertisers have taken it up a notch, they definitely need to be watched by the watchdogs. But in the end, what’s most important is how that data can be used to hurt or harm you.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing Facebook Apps leaking data on Fox News.

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