As it finally dawns on many consumers and businesses that everything they do online creates a record of their activity...
And that a lot of companies– like ISPs, social media platforms, search engines, and smartphone companies (and even your desktop OS is watching you these days, something people could not have imagined years ago, but today don't even notice) have those records of all their personal or proprietary information...
This growing public awareness is reaching a critical mass, and it's a conversation that we should have been having a long time ago as our new digital civilization started booting up.
Well here are three things to keep your eye on– the three most egregious ways your privacy is being breached:
1. ISPs Like Comcast Tapping That Data Like Oil in Texas
Consumers pay for Internet and cable top boxes from ISPs, and most of them think the relationship is very simple: They pay the ISP money and the ISP provides them with an Internet connection.
But it's not that simple at all.
Massive ISPs like Comcast (the billion dollar behemoth with the seventh largest lobbying budget of any company or organization in the United States and multiple former U.S. congressmen employed as lobbyists) provide Internet service to their customers...
And then turn their customers into another product by selling the personal records their Internet activity generates to other companies to advertise to them more aggressively.
Too many users don't realize they are the product. And if a service is free, that's understandable, and consumers know that's how it works, but Internet service is not free.
In fact Americans pay the most in the world for it.
2. Electronic Health Records Leaving Patients Exposed
With the nationwide implementation of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) underway, your private medical records are more vulnerable than ever.
Because of the massive national database of digitized personal health records, James C. Pyles– author of the Health Information Privacy Bill of Rights– says that it’s now too easy to improperly or accidentally disclose personal electronic health information of literally millions of people almost instantly.
In recent years there have already been an unprecedented number of healthy privacy breaches, comprising the personal medical records of millions of Americans, according to The Financial Impact of Breached Protected Health Information: A Business Case for Enhanced PHI Security, a seminal report by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
3. The Behemoth National Security State Data Dragnet
Last, but certainly not least, we have the massive, ongoing, deliberate collection of your personal data (including your SMS text messages, meta data on your phone calls, and much, much more!) through the clandestine operations of the U.S. national security apparatus.
The revelations in 2013 of the extent of spying on millions of American civilians who were not under investigation for any crime by the National Security Agency dominated news headlines all year and sent shock waves through the world.
This massive breach of so many people's privacy by the U.S. federal government continues to this day despite the fact that any plain reading of the Fourth Amendment is enough to see how canvassing data on millions of people without a warrant is a violation of not only their privacy, but also their Constitutional rights.