The other day, I was talking to an acquaintance about how I was worried about the future of big data and privacy. You see, I can already envision a future that none of us would particularly care to live in, one where all of our data, all of our lives, down to the most minute event would be shared with anyone that might use that information to sell us something, regulate our behavior, or charge us a fine, fee, or tax. You may not see it. But we as free thinkers should see what is coming for us. According to me, the future is a scary place, and it’s happening so fast.
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No, I’m not one to run around like Chicken Little and tell you that “the sky is falling” but rather, I’m suggesting to you that we have a chance at this particular juncture in the information age to fix the problem before it occurs. Yes, we can still do it!
And this notion rises another important question, which is- If you can’t trust big data, then who can you trust? If those collecting the data are doing it without your permission, and using it for things other than it was originally intended, for example, Facebook, then you can’t trust the communication you use, the social networks you involve yourself in, or even the companies that provide searching for all the information you’d like to learn on the Internet.
It is not just the Internet, it’s all the people associated with it, all the people using the data. Many Americans are worried about their government spying on them, but I think the more unfortunate potential eventualities is when other governments are spying on our citizens and wish to curtail their free speech as it might make their regimes look bad overseas. If you can’t trust the purveyors and collectors of this information not to share it, then you can’t trust anyone.
You can’t trust your friends, or your family to share personal information with you online, over the phone, not now or in the future, not even in person, as there might be surveillance cameras tracking everyone’s face that came to meet with you, registering them by their name, and storing it away somewhere. A former NSA chief made a statement to Congress, and more people should have taken notice. He said that we are “this close” while holding his index finger and thumb together to becoming a totalitarian state. Well, he’d be the guy to know, he’s the one running the show.
Unfortunately, many of us may agree with him. Probably, we should see what he sees. Although we may not be privy to all of his information on how the data is used and collected, but we should know for a fact that there are people in the government, people in corporations, and others that want this information very badly, and they’re willing to do whatever it takes to get at it. Eventually they will, they will find a reason, excuse, or loophole in the law to use your data against you, or rather for something that you wish they wouldn’t use it for. With a hope that you will consider these things and put on your thinking cap. It could possibly be the most serious issue of our time.