Getting Inside Your Head

Albert BlaizeNews, Tech Talk

In Albert’s Corner this month, thoughts on the never-ending parade of new threats to your privacy.

A little privacy, please?

Consumers like us have to be wondering whether privacy even exists anymore, at least in the way we used to define it. We’ve long known that Google uses our browsing data to sell more stuff, but the trade-offs – free email, customized browsing experiences, any number of useful apps and gadgets – make most of us look the other way.  Facebook literally knows where we live … and our age, employment history and recreational interests, all cheerfully sold to advertisers.

Then came word that our smart TVs might be watching us instead of the other way around, at the behest of the NSA. And in the latest revelation, a lawsuit alleges that headphones from Bose are harvesting data on what we’re listening to via their smartphone app, data that is then sold to a company whose website promises to collect your information and “send it anywhere” (read the article here).

Why would we care if someone else knows that we’re a closet Katy Perry fan? Well, think for a moment not about music but about podcasts, and suddenly some third party has a pretty good handle on your business interests, your politics and maybe even your religion. It’s a slippery slope, and we seem to be halfway down it already.

So what do we do to protect ourselves? The advice varies wildly, and the best solution is a combination of actions. Avoiding Google and Facebook would be ideal, but probably not practical for most of us. There are browser plugins that will offer a degree of anonymity, a good start.

Take a good hard look at the privacy settings for your operating system, each browser you use and your Facebook account. Only you can decide where to strike the balance between privacy and ease of use, but a few minutes spent on this is a good investment of your time.

And here’s the part nobody does: when you get a new connected gadget or download a new app, actually read the Terms of Use to see if your privacy is being compromised.

Treat your personal information like it’s money, because in a way, it is. Others are willing to pay for it, so don’t give it away unthinkingly.

Albert Blaize is Vice President of Sales and Marketing for TRG Networking. Contact him at albert@trgnetworking.com.

Albert BlaizeGetting Inside Your Head