Is internet and data privacy a thing of the past?

Privacy has been in the news and on our minds of late. The NSA entered in the privacy debate when Edward Snowden exposed the fact that they were monitoring cell phone calls in order to uncover terror plots. If the government monitors private citizen’s records in the name of safety, is this ok? What about when Google or Facebook is required to hand over records to find criminals? If records are accessed by the government in order to protect and secure our citizens, is that ok? Many people would welcome this and feel more secure.

Where is the line drawn on privacy? How do organizations manage private and sensitive data? People constantly submit private data to websites when they buy goods or services. When you obtain a mortgage significant details of your life are delivered to trusted providers. Is this data secure? What happens when this content gets in the wrong hands? Have we become too trusting with our personal information?

What about those that grew up on Facebook? Facebook owns everything you post on their site. Does the average Facebook user understand the contract they accepted when they created an account? Can you accept that contract at 13? Is Facebook chipping away at privacy and making it more acceptable to share private details of our lives? Is the information shared only bad when it gets in the wrong hands? Are we relying on complexity and technology to hide personal data and hope no one will ever see it?

The recent dialog regarding the Enron data set shows how our community treats privacy. Many stated that it was common knowledge that private data, including personal tax records, was in the data set. The difference is here we didn’t have an Edward Snowdon to blow the whistle. Was privacy an issue in this case? I would think if it was your credit card or social security number it would be. If not, then you can make statement like – the value of the data set outweighed any issues related to privacy.

As technology provides more streamlined access to all data, that which was created today and content created many years ago, privacy must be front and center. Without privacy and control we harm people. The NSA is using private data for the protection of citizens. Others would like to use private data they can hack for evil and harm.