The concept of privacy has different meanings. For a teen, it can mean, “Get out of my room.” For an adult, it can mean, “I need to see your Facebook to know you’re safe.” For each individual, privacy can be an elusive, changeable concept but there are two things to agree on: privacy is important, and it’s constantly eroding in our data-drenched society.
May 8-14 is Privacy Awareness Week, sponsored by Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities (APPA). The organization first launched international privacy week in 2006 but any week is the perfect time to assess your personal privacy and take steps to protect your identity.
In the past decade, we’ve seen a surge in privacy invasions. Start a conversation—with friends, co-workers, and family—to determine what matters most to you. These are just a few topics to get the ball rolling:
- Police are using license plate readers to track automobiles
- Smartphones can keep track of the all locations they visit
- Data breaches surged 40% in 2016 and are on track to increase even more in 2017
- Recycled devices can create serious data leaks
- The FBI is creating a huge biometric database called Next Generation Identification (NGI) packed with voice samples, iris scans, and fingerprints.
- Facial recognition is being used by retailers and other private businesses
- Smart TVs have been accused of improperly gathering user data without owner consent
- Keyless cars have been hacked and stolen
- Computer webcam risks prompted former FBI director James Comey to urge students to cover camera lenses with tape
Next month, the Federal Trade Commission US representative to APPA, will host a workshop on the interconnected car and privacy issues these innovations present.
As technology grows and touches more parts of our lives, the need to focus on how to protect your privacy will grow with it. Don’t let this week be the only time you ponder the risks of too much information shared. Consider this APPA slogan: “9 or 90, #PrivacyMatters.” They should add another: “Every week, #PrivacyMatters.”
Get more advice on privacy and next steps at FTC.gov. They offer details on how to secure everything from your rental car’s infotainment system to the Internet of Things.