Internet Privacy

Lately, I’ve been reading and thinking a lot about the Internet and privacy. It started when I received an email from a relative warning about http://spokeo.com because it is aggregating information about you and putting it all online. My first reaction was, “Cool, I can use this to find people I’m looking for.” However, my relative was very concerned about this as an invasion of privacy.

Then as I was reading the Bible this past week, I came across this verse: “For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known” (Luke 12:2). And my first thought was, “Wow, that’s happening today!”

Then a recent headline caught my eye: Social Media Helps Catch Pub Thief. Social media: 1. Privacy: 0. At the end of this post you can find the video featured in the article … pretty funny!

But I’m wondering if my basic belief (no expectation of privacy – if you don’t want people to know, don’t do it), is off-base. Cory Doctorow, whom I deeply respect, obviously disagrees with it. Do I care if people are watching my every move? Does my answer to that question change the reality of what is and can be possible in terms of online privacy?

Clearly the technology is available to find people based on their anonymous Internet searches (see this NYT article). And with next-to-nothing a stranger might be able to identify books you have purchased (here). Is this going to be a fact of living in the Internet age? Should it be?

Tough questions that I don’t have the answers to. Have I not said something in public because I knew it would offend others? Yes. I have I not made a Facebook post because I was worried how some people would take it? Yes. Is that wrong?