Big Brother is Watching You

Please tell me you get my reference. I’m assuming kids still have to read that book. I honestly never had to read it for a class but decided to read it online on my own, but that’s beside the point.

With the obsession I see with the new app “Pokemon Go,” while I am a classic Pokemon fan, I have not downloaded the app, and I don’t plan to. Sure it looks fun, and I slightly feel like I’m missing out on a this huge trend, but my main concern here, as with many other apps and programs, is the location feature.

Let’s just say if I WAS playing the game, I’d definitely be Team Mystic. I was obsessed with Pokemon as a kid.

Call me paranoid all you want. I never have my location turned on my phone, nor do I have any of Windows 10 automatic features of data collection on, nor do I ever once use Siri and any other digital assistants knowing that Apple collects every exchange. When I use technology, I wish I didn’t have to feel like I’m figuratively always looking over my shoulder, wondering what information the media is taking from me. It’s not like I have anything bad to hide, but it still bothers me.

Especially if for some reason these systems of data collection are hacked into, which in today’s society could occur at any moment, think of everything they could discover. Some people save everything they have into cloud storage, always have location services on, use every feature available to them. With a few clicks, someone could know your entire life, from every place you’ve been to, every activity on your computer and phone

I enjoy my privacy. For everyday citizens, there is no valid reason to collect constant information detailing our lives. And technology has gotten much better with making disclaimers about their privacy policies, but let’s be honest: how many people actually read a page worth of legal information before agreeing? (“I have read the terms and conditions” is probably most common lie of them all).

So many different websites and apps require us to reveal private information just to use them properly. While some is completely understandable (it’s hard to find the nearest coffee shop without some general idea of location), but the notion of ethics comes into play when those collecting this information decide whether to use it properly or not. I just finished a class entirely focused on applying ethics to technology use, so this topic is fresh in my brain. When it comes to situations involving newer types of media, judging how to handle them is practically having to relearn modern morality.

How can people in this situation improve privacy and overall trust? Obviously for less paranoid people, always staying connected is no problem, but for those a little more hesitant, learn more about the technology you’re using. Learn what information programs and apps use and different security settings available, and stick to trustworthy places.Utilize privacy enhancing technology designed to give you peace of mind, whether that be encrypting passwords or hiding location services. Let the developers know your concerns: they’re designing new products with the customer’s needs and desires in mind, so if they see a large enough request, they have no choice but to fulfill it.

Also realize that technology is not going back to traditional standards. Instead, it’s become increasingly immersed into our lives. Methods that appear invasive is often simply be trying to personalize its interface to best serve consumers. If we expect technology to improve and become more user-friendly, sharing some information is necessary and unavoidable. Security measures and protection software are constantly evolving to fight against hackers, but hackers are simultaneously evolving and finding new ways to crack into the system. It’s finding that ideal balance of knowing where to let go and knowing where to hold firm in your intentions.

I’m not saying digital assistant software isn’t very interesting. People who use it find it extremely valuable, many not knowing how to live without it. I’m just holding off on using it until improvements are made for me to feel secure.

And even little ol’ me, trying to always be conscious of what I share with the public online, is still constantly using social media and technology despite my inner hesitations. I find little issues in my everyday life keeping certain aspects of my life private. While it’s fine to have concerns like mine, there’s no reason they should hinder you from enjoying the benefits technology offers. If you’re not willing to be flexible, however, modern society will leave you behind in the dust.

The world of technology is full of opportunities as we all become more connected with information, the world and each other. Awareness and logic are the keys to understanding reasonable actions and concerns the public should take when it comes to technology.

I guess that means I’ll have to watch the “Pokemon Go” craze from a distance. And Siri won’t know my thoughts any time soon. At some point I fear I’ll have no choice but to take a chance and comply with a program’s requests. For now I’m not missing out anything too drastic (we could always bring back the classic versions of Pokemon and call it a vintage throwback, right?)

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie



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