Privacy is more dead than we think


The concept of privacy has shifted from the connoted right it once was to a fading dream. Where family discussions once never left the dinner table, what a person does and thinks are now plastered across social media in a way once deemed unthinkable because it simply “wasn’t anyone’s business” not that long ago. Now, everything is everyone’s business, and this change in culture has come about largely if not solely because of technology.

Sure, social media has played a large part in changing the way people share information, making what was once personal now more or less public domain. However, there are more subtle forces at work. One common instance many people overlook is the simple request of an app to access your phone’s contacts.

This one has brought up much debate in one way or another, largely revolving around why a certain app needs access to one’s contacts and what the company or service claims to do with it – as well as what they actually do with it – but while important, that’s only one angle of the polygon.

What’s more disturbing is the question of how many of your contacts are allowing access to their contact information. You can be exactingly privacy-conscious – not granting more permission than an app needs to function at a basic level, never allowing an app into your contacts or photos, and refusing to use services that require this access – but if a single person with you in their contacts does grant permission to an app or service, your information is out there forever. It’s no longer sufficient to reject an app from uploading your information to protect yourself, because someone else is altogether too likely to upload their information of you.

So what is the solution? That’s an excellent question, and I’m not sure there’s a solid answer. Any technologically well-rounded individual you know likely has you in their smartphone’s contacts, and without a second thought could send that data off through the Internet in under a second. The same idea applies to photos they have of you – even if you don’t store them in the cloud or share them to social media, someone else might. The only way to prevent this completely is to cut off contact with people and live under a rock, which, while admittedly tempting, isn’t a viable option for most.

Perhaps privacy is more dead than we realize…