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Today we are going to be taking a deep dive into online privacy. Privacy has been in the news a lot recently, and if you own an iPhone with the latest update from April 26, iOS 14.5 then, you’ve probably noticed a new pop up that shows up on your screen when you launch an app. Let’s take a look at what all this means and maybe help you make better decisions online.
Why you should care about your privacy?
I have nothing to hide. Most people that do not worry about online privacy usually make that statement. I mean, they technically are not wrong. With all the data breaches that have happened, social security numbers, addresses, credit cards, passports, and the like, what part about you hasn’t been shared with the internet? When you factor in all that we share on social media, pretty much anyone in the world can know almost every detail about lives if they tried. No big deal right? To be honest, I fall under a similar camp. I’m not out on the internet committing crimes and really do not have anything to hide since I’ve been impacted by almost every single data breach. But, if we take a page out of any celebrity’s playbook, then you might start to consider the value of privacy. Most celebrities have little privacy. There are always cameras following them around and the media loves to report on their every action. When you overshare on the internet, something similar happens. Maybe you are not directly impacted, but websites such as Google and Facebook make billions of dollars tracking your every move. Again, you probably do not see the direct cause and effect, but at some point, if trends continue, everyone might start living through the privacy invasion that celebrities have to endure.
Does your privacy matter?
Privacy is a fundamental human right. Everything you do on your digital devices should be kept private. At the very least, you should have the option to allow your privacy to be violated. Today, we really do not have that option. Every website we go to, every time we pick up our phones, almost every interaction is monitored. And if you’ve never stopped to think about what about you is being tracked online, then you are in for a surprise. Every place we look up on the internet, every location we visit, conversations we have, the browsing we do online, all of that is being monitored by companies that rely on their ability to snoop on us to make money. And those companies say that you want them to track you. They make your life easier. They make your life convenient. Everything sounds great until bad things happen. But, then there’s also the other side of the spectrum. Too much privacy and people can get away with murder. Afterall, this is why the Patriot Act was created. As a way to be able to spy on people to help stop crimes before they happened. It is also well known that criminals tend to take advantage of pro privacy platforms to coordinate and plan their attacks. So, after all of this, I think I’m still right where I was when I started creating this episode. How much privacy is enough and how much is too much? But most importantly, who gets to decide? Alright, enough of the theory, let’s talk about some real things happening in the world of online privacy today.
On April 26, Apple released this massive update on their iPhones. This version changes the game for online privacy. It will also change the way companies make money and entire business models will need to be reformed. With iOS 14.5, every app that wants to track you must ask for your permission. Before this update, every app was able to track you and every interaction you did with your phone. While this may not sound like a big deal, believe me it is. If you were ever messaging a friend about a new toy you want to buy and then go over to facebook and see an ad for that very same toy, then you have experienced app tracking. This basically goes away unless you opt in. Facebook and Google’s business models depend on being able to track your every move so that they can provide targeted ads. Now, Facebook and Google will be blind to your activities unless you intentionally let them in. I believe that while this is good for the public, it is going to drastically change the way Facebook and Google make money. They will need to rethink their strategy and perhaps in the future, services such as Google and Facebook will start charging for their services. In a future episode we’ll cover this topic in more detail and discuss social media tracking, browser tracking, Android tracking, and so much more.
For now, I’d like to give you a little homework assignment. Seriously consider how important your online privacy is. I know that I personally overshare a lot of my journey on building out multiple streams of income, but I do try to keep certain aspects of my life private. However, there are certain aspects of my private life that I want to share internally with my family. Many of the things that Apple is working on help you do just that. In the end, it’s your data and you should be able to control the choices as to how your data is used. But, know that the second you decide to favor extra privacy, many of the convenient things we have today for free will most likely go away. Know that criminals might be able to carry out crimes that they will be able to cover up. Privacy is a sensitive topic and I’d love to hear from you. What do you think about privacy?
There you have it. Your online privacy 101 guide. I hope you take my advice here and go protect yourself. Be mindful of what data is being collected from you while you browse the internet. Make sure that you adjust your permissions based on how much online privacy you want or do not want. Ultimately, as consumers, we are getting more power back with respect to how we are tracked and you should take advantage of that.