Must We Give Up All Sense Of Privacy?

Privacy is dead, right? I mean, that's all I've been hearing over the last year. From Edward Snowden to repeated hacks to claims that the US federal government is accessing personal information, we have nothing in the way of real privacy. No, according to all of the reports surrounding the Web, security, and privacy, the only thing we have going for us is, well, the realization that we're not actually anonymous at all – either online or in our lives.

One can say what they'd like about the anti-privacy efforts going on across the world. Some say that when we head to the Web, we should expect to lose all privacy and to believe that we have it is following a fool's errand. Others, however, argue that anonymity is a right and privacy is an expectation, and we should stop at nothing to get both.

Unfortunately, the pessimist in me believes that there's really no way to achieve that goal. While I'd like to see the governments around the world spend less time allegedly intruding our privacy, I'm a realist. I understand that we've come to a place where we can never go back. Like it or not, our privacy is dead. And to believe it's not is a mistake.

Look, I don't like to say that our Web (or personal) privacy is dead, but how can we ever undo something that has been going on for so long? It appears, based on the evidence made public over the last year, that we've been had.

We've had all of our personal communications collected, according to reports, and we've unknowingly been having her information kept on a server somewhere in the event governments need it, according to those reports. In other words, we've allegedly been spied upon for what some might say is no reason.

Similarly, we've had our data collected by companies across the globe. Today's world is all about data and how much is available to a company to capitalize on. We've always known there have been some privacy concerns related to data sharing with companies, but it's the piling-on effect that has made it worse and worse.

To be fair, the US government has specifically said that it's not collecting US information and has denied all claims that it's acting outside the scope of our freedoms. Companies have also made clear that any data that has been collected is encrypted, leaving it open to no one.

Still, we've left an indelible mark on the Internet and the future just by having a connection to the Web. And that's a little more than concerning.

Luckily, there are some organizations that care about this stuff and have been fighting for improved data security, most notably the Electronic Frontier Foundation. But we can't simply hope that we will be able to rely on those organizations to save us.

From this vantage point, it appears companies are incapable of saying "no" to governments around the world, and governments have no problem accessing data with impunity. Nothing can stop them unless we all collectively find issue with it and speak up.

But so far, it's been the readers of technology publications and privacy advocates that have spoken out about this. Everyone else seems blissfully unaware (or uncaring) about the dilemma we find ourselves in.

Until that changes, I can't see how we can possibly turn the privacy tide.