Privacy – are we just delusional?

For those that know me, this is no surprise at all.

I’m somewhat obsessed with privacy; however, I also recognize that I have traditionally been fairly contradictory in my opinion.  I’m not a huge fan of government intrusion into individual privacy, and yet I seemingly have no issues with companies like Google basically knowing everything about me. I want the internet to know my moods, inclinations, preferences, favorites, etc. because it allows the web to offer me tailored content, and yes, even tailored advertising. After all, as a white, american, 40-year-old (sigh), male living in Alexandria, VA, what am I more likely to click on – a link for Fantasy Football or a link for a push-up bra? Hmm… Ok, that might be a bad example, but you get my drift.

I tend to think that the government, however, has no business watching my activities without a warrant.

So this morning, I learned of two very interesting things.

Let’s start with the government. I like to think that I’m fairly independent in my political thinking, and today I find myself cheering for the heavily left leaning Hollywood elite.   Check out the Public Service Announcement that Oliver Stone and some other Hollywood folks put together in response to the recent NSA spying allegations.

I couldn’t agree more. With both of the past administrations (Bush AND Obama), I feel that our government has overstepped its bounds when it comes to spying on American citizens. This is flat-out wrong, and I applaud Oliver Stone and the rest for releasing this video.

On the private sector front, Firefox has also come out with something new that has me rethinking my stance on Internet privacy as well. Check out Lightbeam. Lightbeam is a Firefox add-on that enables you to visualize the sites that you have visited AND all of the third party sites that interact with you on the web based on your web path. As a test, I visited The Washington Post, Facebook, Drudge Report (yes, I admit I check out Drudge), The Independent, Google, Mozilla and CBS Sports. Seven sites. Check out the screenshot below. I’m now connected with 147 3rd party sites!



I wasn’t sure this was possible, but now I’m even more worried about our privacy!  Ironically, these two worlds (gov and private sector) collided a bit when the NSA met Twitter.  According to this news article, an Amtrak train passenger started tweeting, in real time, the conversation of Former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayde.

With all of the NSA controversy in the news right now, that may actually be the new definition of “irony”.

So are we completely delusional about our privacy expectations or am I just overreacting?

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