Cryptography

The History and Mathematics of Codes and Code Breaking

Tag: internet privacy

Our Version of Privacy

“Kids today. They have no sense of shame. They have no sense of privacy. They are show-offs, fame whores, pornographic little loons who post their diaries, their phone numbers, their stupid poetry—for  privacy God’s sake, their dirty photos!—online.” - Emily Nussbaum

I strongly disagree with this statement, as it makes a lot of assumptions about today's youth. Maybe the vocal minority do all of the things stated above, but the vast majority of us are very private about our lives. I, for one, have all of my social media behind a private wall, and even then I pay careful attention to what I post. The same goes for all of my friends. I don't know a single person who has posted a 'dirty photo' online, and I've only heard of those types of photos circulating a handful of times. Sure, some of us might post our diaries, but we're doing it behind closed doors, on private accounts, for very specific people to see. While older generations might not consider this private, it's more than enough for our generation. As teenagers, we present a very cultivated public online presence to the world, one which doe does not include rantings or poetry or 'dirty photos'. We post things that make us look good. Everything else (things that won't make us look 'good') is private, in a sense. So, yes, we do have a sense of privacy.

New Type of Privacy

"I just think that [technology is] redefining what’s acceptable for people to put out about themselves. I’ve grown up with technology so I don’t know how it was before this boom of social networking. But it just seems like instead of spending all of our time talking to other individual people and sharing things that would seem private we just spend all of our time putting it in one module of communication where people can go and access it if they want to. It’s just more convenient." This was said by Alicia in Boyd's study. She believes that just because we post stuff on social media does not mean teens dislike privacy. Instead of having to talk for hours on end about our lives we post what we want online and can reminisce about it later. It is also said that adults find social media to be an oxymoron to teens wanting privacy but I believe that it is not. What is posted on instagram or facebook is chosen by the person. They decide what parts of their lives they want private. The idea of privacy changes with every generation. Today, we believe that privacy is choosing what we don't want to share. I agree with this idea. Just because I want to post a picture of me and my friends having fun on the lake or at dinner does not mean I want to share my entire life with the world. Instead I am saying that those are moments that I am ok with people knowing about. They do not know what was said during those moments or anything that occurred before or after. Just small snippets of my life that give nothing close to the big story.

The Complex Interplay Between Privacy and Publicity

“There’s a big difference between being in public and being public.… At first blush, the desire to be in public and have privacy seems like a contradiction…. teens’ engagement with social media highlights the complex interplay between privacy and publicity in the networked world we all live in now.” (boyd 57)

In boyd’s book It’s Complicated, he discusses many theses related to privacy and publicity. To my surprise, “many journalists, parents and technologists seem to believe that a willingness to share in public… is incompatible with a desire for personal privacy” (boyd 56). While it is true that by posting photos on Facebook, teens give up the privacy, of these photos, it does not mean that teens forfeit all their privacy. Emerging social networks lead to teens’ increasing online engagement with not just their friends, but also the public. As a result, we post more and more texts and photos, but we also become more aware of what to post, and with whom we share. We actually care a lot about our privacy, since we usually post things that are insignificant to be publicized, and communicate information of much significance with our close friends via texting, the more private medium.

However, the social norms mentioned by boyd are indeed quite complex on social media. Most people follow these norms in real life; for instance, when two people sit next to each other, one does not stare at the other’s phone screen to see what he or she is texting. Nonetheless, there exist conflicts between social norms and the concept of public social media. We post things, giving everyone the permission to see them, yet on the other hand we may not expect strangers and other unwanted people to view parts of our life. What’s at stake is not whether someone can view but whether one should. The reconciliation of online social norms and the public nature of social media is a challenge in today’s networked world, and should be solved as social media becomes more widely used.

The Land of the Free and Home of the Brave

This weekend marked the start of NFL football season, and for an avid fan like me it's one of the most exciting weekends of the year. However, I want to talk about what happened before the games rather than what happened during them, specifically the national anthem. At the close of each rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner, the words "The land of the free, and the home of the brave" are sung." Those words, that I've heard dozens, if not hundreds of times, took on a different meaning when I thought about my recent reading of Cory Doctorow's Little Brother.

In the society of Little Brother, the "land of the free" simply is not that; rather it is a land of oppression, violations of rights and tyranny. Following the detainment of Marcus and his friends, Marcus is accused of being involved with the terrorist attack simply because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. As a result, many of his basic rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights are taken away. Marcus even says on page 55 "you're talking about defending my freedom by tearing up the Bill of Rights." These rights are fought for every day by men and women who risk their lives to keep this the "land of the free." Once we lose our freedom, we lose everything that America stands for.

On Page 56, Marcus says "The truth is I had everything to hide, and nothing," which immediately had me think about our discussion in class the other day. One of the arguments in favor of Vanderbilt surveilling our data was that "if he we had nothing to hide then why should we care." We should care because this is the United States of America. Because this is indeed the "land of the free" and certain freedoms are guaranteed to us by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. My counterargument to anyone who says we shouldn't care about our privacy being compromised if we have nothing to hide is to ask them whether or not they would be consent to the government searching their dorm, or their house every day; nearly everyone would object. I believe that our digital footprint should be treated the same way. After all, this is supposed to be the land of the free, and that freedom should extend to all aspects of our lives.

What Do I Have to Hide?

By focusing on what to keep private rather than what to publicize, teens often inadvertently play into another common rhetorical crutch - the notion that privacy is only necessary for those who have something to hide (boyd, 63).

When social media first began to crop up in my household, my parents weren't sure how to react. With crude interfaces such as Myspace, my parents banned their use completely (thought this was a much more relevant issue to my older sister than it was for me). However with the upswing of social media sights such as Facebook and LinkedIn, sights my parents could use and were therefore inherently more comfortable with, our family had to have our first conversations about internet safety.

As a kid my parents were very aware of not only everything I posted but also everything my friends were posting. I distinctly remember one post my friend made about being home alone that had my mother rushing to phone her parents. While I was little, this level of online privacy made sense to me. My parents were obviously worried about my safety, and I was not yet rebellious enough to want to defy them just for the sake of being defiant. As I aged, however, my opinions began to deviate from my parents.

There came a point in my online life when I began to believe that my security didn't matter too much: nothing I did was really all that interesting anyways, if someone wanted to read the FanFiction in my internet history they could be my guest. As Facebook privacy updated, I didn't keep up with my account privacy settings, and my wall became increasingly public. I definitely adhered to the ideology that boyd was describing. For the most part, my views have changed again, but to an extent, I still do agree with it.

As I have become more aware of the information that is being sent out online, or rather the information behind the information (such as location services we don't even realize we are posting), I have become increasingly more cautious about what I post and how I post it. Even if I have nothing illegal or secretive to hide, I would still like to keep the location of my house private to the internet. However, instead of changing my online visibility, I simply edited what I post in the first place. I still don't have very strong Facebook security settings, but I make sure that the posts themselves are not revealing any threatening information. The only things I have to hide are those things which affect my safety.

I always feel like somebody's watching me

"Like many of his peers, Christopher believes that there is a significant difference between having the ability to violate privacy and making the choice to do so." (Its Complicated, 74)

I love my mom. She is a great mother; however, her views on privacy line up pretty closely to that of the "intensive" parenting style described in the chapter which caused some tension growing up. Before my junior year of high school, it was not unordinary for her to read through my texts, track my location, or even search through my social media outlets, and this was not because of anything that I had done to warrant this, it was just her philosophy of what a loving parent should do.

I believe that, as a parent, it is important to have knowledge of your child's whereabouts when his safety is not ensured and general knowledge of what is going on his life. Because of this, parents should have access to this information of their child (e.g. location services and "friends" on social media); however, as the quote points out, there is a big difference between access to violating privacy and actually doing so. I think that parents too frequently make trust and privacy complementary properties, where the increase of one causes a decrease of the other, which I think misses the mark of what trust means completely.

There are plenty of ties that can be made to the security vs. privacy argument, but one obvious difference is the scale of operation. On the national scale, the government is far outnumbered by the people, while in the family, the child is typically outnumbered by other family members. A smaller scale makes bad behavior much more difficult to sneak by the involved parent. This makes invasions of privacy cause, usually, just negative feelings and no protection of the child. This being said there are plenty of examples in which this is not the case, including an ignorant child who does not know how to properly act online or a child who actually has had made poor decisions in the past.

 

Old Man Yells at Cloud

"In her New York Magazine article describing people’s willingness to express themselves publicly, Emily Nussbaum articulated a concern about youth that is widespread: “Kids today. They have no sense of shame. They have no sense of privacy. They are show-offs, fame whores, pornographic little loons who post their diaries, their phone numbers, their stupid poetry—for God’s sake, their dirty photos!—online.”" (pg. 55-56)

As it happens with every generation to the next, adults are constantly criticizing the younger generations and rejecting the advancements that come with them. Popular culture is constantly demonized in a way that can redistribute the blame for modern problems in our society - whether or not they are actually authentic. Regardless of why this is, perhaps because of a reluctance to change and to technology, or because of greater political implications, this attitude will always have real consequences in the ways youth navigate their daily lives. The privacy of teenagers is chronically under an inspective microscope while teenagers are simultaneously under fire for "not respecting privacy": a little hypocritical, isn't it? As the author discusses further into the chapter, what is shared on social media is selectively chosen by the user. And as intuitive as this concept should already be, it seems that people expect "privacy" to be a strict definition and expression for every individual. The value my privacy is not what someone else deems it to be, it is what I deem it to be. What I choose not to share with others - that is my "private" life. And because social media is a powerful medium for teenagers to choose who understands what, who reads what, who sees what, they are able to comfortably navigate the perhaps intricate stratification that exists within the very idea of privacy.

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Snooping- Socially Acceptable?

“When I opened up the issue of teachers looking at students’ Facebook profiles with fifteen-year-old Chantelle, she responded dismissively: “Why are they on my page? I wouldn’t go to my teacher’s page and look at their stuff, so why should they go on mine to look at my stuff?” She continued on to make it clear that she had nothing to hide while also reiterating the feeling that snooping teachers violated her sense of privacy. The issue for Chantelle—and many other teens—is more a matter of social norms and etiquette than technical access” (boyd, 58). This passage, taken from the book It’s Complicated, by danah boyd, describes an opinion common of many people of all ages- even if one has nothing to hide, privacy is still valued.

The idea that knowing that you’re being snooped on can make you feel like your privacy is being violated, even if you have absolutely nothing to hide, is a fundamental argument in the discussion of privacy matters, especially in modern society. This concept can be related to data mining, as it can be uncomfortable knowing that your data is being mined, even if you have done nothing wrong. Just because someone has nothing to hide does not mean that they will or should relinquish their privacy. Data mining focuses a lot on the ethics of the practice; this passage focused more on the social norms aspect of snooping.

I found it interesting how this passage introduced this idea of privacy invasion as a matter of social norms and etiquette. Even though information on the Internet may be easily accessible to the masses, it does not make it socially acceptable for others to search for and view this information. But do people actually take etiquette into consideration when they are inclined to snoop? In some respects, these social standards should reduce the amount of snooping that occurs. However, even though it may not be socially encouraged to conduct this type of intrusive behavior, it is still very prevalent. I think that social norms do not stop people from snooping, although they may promote the practice of private snooping: keeping the information that one finds to him or herself, in order to keep the fact that he or she was snooping private. The Internet is saturated with personal blogs, profiles, photos, etc.- does that make it acceptable for strangers to view this information and use it how they please?

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