Our online privacy is continuously compromised with the scanning, skimming and scraping of our emails and our browsing behavior.
A recent study concluded that 92% of the population believes “that collecting the content of emails is unacceptable”. How many consumers understand that virtually every email is scanned, skimmed and scraped for information and their privacy is breached every day? A recent article in The Economist describes how people do not protect their right to privacy and anonymity.
Google scans the content of all emails on its servers as well as all emails sent or received by a gmail account. Google considers that users have no ‘reasonable expectation’ of privacy. This stance flies in the face of the predominant and consistent research about consumers’ ‘privacy expectations’.
Rami Essaid recently wrote in TechCrunch that, “The truth is, people will never achieve true privacy and anonymity online.” He concludes that tracking is here to stay and that it is getting more pervasive and sophisticated. His main thesis is that our discussion should not be about absolute the right to privacy or anonymity but about transparency.
If Essaid is correct, the horse has left the barn in terms of protecting our privacy and anonymity. Instead, he proposes focusing on making it visible and transparent about how our online privacy will be accessed or ripped off. It is OK to to invade our privacy as long as it is transparent! Should consumers simply give up that they have any expectation for online privacy? This is almost Orwellian in concept – a dark road that we must not travel as this means that others have the right to observe us without our consent!
The Right to Privacy
In 1890, Warren and Brandeis wrote The Right to Privacy and their key argument was the “right to be let alone”. Here we are 100 years later. Do we really want to change the right to be left alone to the “the right to know when I am not left alone?” Transparency is an important need but we must not give up the fight for the right to privacy.