Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Keeping your privates private

A property developer has recently bought the house across the road from me and has been attempting to build a second house on the plot of land that it sits on. Needless to say, I, along with most of the other neighbours, have vetoed this. There are a number of reasons. Firstly the plot is only big enough to fit a shoe in and would look ridiculous. Secondly, it would inevitably be rented out to a bunch of drug dealers or benefit cheats and, quite frankly, I don’t want the lovely quiet street I live in occupied by scumbags. Thirdly the building in question would look right into my bathroom and I don’t like the idea of a bunch of scumbags who are high on cocaine watching me getting all soapy and wet in the shower. No one wants to see that.

There is a reason I bought a house with four walls and a roof. It’s the same reason I lock the toilet door before emptying the contents of my stomach. It’s called privacy. I guard my privacy quite tightly and get really rather annoyed when people attempt to take it away from me. It’s why a lot of people are annoyed with Facebook and its ever-changing privacy policy that appears to be determined to make everyone’s details public.

Of course the internet industry is one where someone always has access to someone else’s personal information. Take my business: A lot of my customers run online shops so whenever someone buys something on that shop, their details are saved in a database that I have access to. Technically I have the power to see names and addresses of their customers. I also run a lot of my business off Google. I store most of my company documents on Google Drive, I use Gmail, Google Calendar and pretty much every other product. Technically, someone at Google could see all this information too. Does it bother me? No. Why? Because I chose to place my trust in Google in the same way that my customers chose to place their trust in me.

It’s all very well and good people complaining because Facebook violates their privacy but, I’m sorry, when you voluntarily sign up to a free service that is solely designed to share information with other people, you can’t really complain when the information that you voluntarily shared is shared with people. That’s a bit like breaking the speed limit in a car and complaining when you get stopped by the police. You chose to do it, therefore accept responsibility for your actions.

Of course transparency is they key to trust. I recently uninstalled an app for my Samsung Galaxy because of this:

Do you see the problem here? It wants to modify my calendar, send emails to people without my knowledge, read my confidential information, delete the contents of my memory card and know my exact location. Errrr no thanks. I just want to look at a map of the London Underground on my phone. I don’t want my phone being taken over by hackers.

Now, if I had accepted these terms, I couldn’t rightly complain when the developers of this app hijacked my phone and started sending photos of underage chickens to MI5 any more than I could complain if a drug addled pervert took photos of me showering and sold them to Big Boys in Boots magazine because I didn’t object to them building a house that looked into my bathroom. That is why the house isn’t being built.