Why You Should Care About and Defend Your Privacy

By Alan Henry, Lifehacker


Does Anyone Actually Care Anymore? Isn't Privacy Dead? Hardly. Rainey explained "People do care about privacy!" She directed me to a 2009 study by KnowPrivacy, a research group headed by Jason Schultz and Chris Hoofnagle of the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic at the University of California Berkeley, that shows that people are indeed concerned about what data is requested of them, how much of the requested information is required for the service they want to use, and how their data is eventually used. The survey notes that even young people are concerned about their privacy, the ones often written off as part of a generation that's willing to share everything online.

"These same people are comfortable telling their friends what they ate for breakfast," Rainey remarked, "but they're not comfortable telling their medical insurer, or having their medical insurer get access to their Facebook account because they clicked a Like button, for example." These results were reiterated in a 2010 USA Today/Gallup poll that uncovered similar results—people are still quite concerned with their privacy. The baseline for privacy has simply changed.

Rainey says that even those who dismiss privacy concerns become concerned when confronted with the depth of information they've revealed, and when shown how that information is used once they give it up. In the end, the argument isn't a zero-sum game: people don't want their services free and their privacy intact, Rainey reiterated. "They just want control over what information they give up, what they agree to, and what information is made public versus kept private in the databases and annals of the companies and organizations that get to see it." 4/25/2012