How important is privacy to you?

On the 25th of May the European world changes and all those organisations and companies that keep records or our personal detail will now have to ask our permission to keep them and to explain on what basis they are keeping them. You may, as I have, been inundated with emails asking if you want to stay connected.

This change is true from large international corporations through to the local gardening club. The issues raised this week, as we at Live In The Present prepared to send out our confirmation emails to all those on our mailing list, was just how private do we need to be. Ed seems to have a completely open door policy where as I am a bit less so.

In this wonderful age of digital technology very little is private. All our details, even those of us that don’t want it so, are right there for everyone to see. Just Google yourself and see what you get back. Try putting in your phone number, look at the electoral role or your workplace.

I have spoken with several people who have gone onto sites like Tinder or similar only to find a family member, friend, colleague or neighbour bearing all. Anonymity seems a difficult thing to achieve.

Once you get into using social media you begin to advertise your life, relationships and family for all to see. This can make you open to approaches from fraudsters and chancers, advertisers and conmen or women, they now know what you are up to, who or what is important in your life.

One clever scam at the moment is for companies to send out mass emails asking if you want to remain on their list. Actually you may have never been on their least at all but you just click ‘yes ok’ and now you definitely are on their list and you have agreed to their conditions of practice and service.

The one thing that I am careful of is how I spend on line. If you use a debit card that is connected to your bank account a clever hacker can trace you transactions back and harvest your details, including passwords and pins. I have worked with several people who have had their accounts emptied and then had to fight with the bank to get reimbursed. However, if you use a credit card, that is not connected to your bank account, you do have protection and misuses will be reimbursed much easier.

The listening ear now seems to be with us. If I say ‘Hey Siri’ the iPad come to life, if I say ‘Alexa’ the dot comes to life. Now, if they can respond to my voice then they must be listening. The new questions is, ‘what are the listening to’ and ‘can other people piggy back on that and listen in as well’. There was a big issue when smart TVs came out in that they could not only hear but also see all that was going on in front of then.

There was a case recently reported where a couple had installed internal security cameras that had wifi capability so they could record the footage. Sadly, someone hacked into their system and their live was being displayed on line for many day until someone twigged and it was taken down. I guess if the Russians can hack the White House and influence the US elections then none of our systems are, or could be secure.

The issue for me is in accepting that our privacy is pretty much gone. You could avoid all forms of social media, the internet and smart technology but you are still out there on the system.

Ed and I both noted that we have each other on ‘find my friends’ and we can both log in and see where we are and what each of us is up to. Rie used ‘find my phone’ so that she knew when I was coming back from a run and could have breakfast waiting.

Over all, we now live in a digital age. We may be Able to limit, in some ways, how much of us is out there but we are, in reality, now all out there.

Take care be happy and use a credit card online

Sean x