The Price of Privacy

Recent generations are placing less and less value on privacy. Increasingly intimate social networking systems are coming into play. Where is the limit? Or will we simply stop having any limits at all? The chaos that comes with a lack of rules and social mores is a consequence I hope we can avert.

The first step is to begin teaching what is appropriate in social communication and what should be left to private messaging. With our current generation we have a group that cannot comprehend why they would not post every thought that occurs to them. They look at me wild eyed when I let them know they do not own the content they place on facebook and other sites. They have no comprehension of the impact their crude language could have when they apply for a job. They do not grasp the impact lewd pictures of themselves with various partners can have on their future spouse.

Communication is key. If we regularly speak with the teenagers in our circle of influence this can change. This is a possible life changing point of impact. You could be saving their marriage or helping them to protect their intellectual property. If you were ever looking for the perfect segway to meaningful conversation with a youth, here you have one. I cannot stress enough that they do not have any sense of these consequences. As I have seen with my own children, they also need regular reminders.

When you post on facebook, you give them rights to whatever you have posted. There is not a limit to how personal it is. In addition, even deleted information is retained and can be sold to future interested parties. If you write a song and post the lyrics and video to your facebook account do you still own it? At best it is an unanswered question that to my knowledge has not been played out in the courts system yet. Facebook is not the only one. Google and Microsoft track your browsing history. Apple, Google and wireless providers track your location. Netflix & Hulu track what you watch. Every aspect of your online activities are tracked and logged in enormous databases that companies hope to mine for profit in the future.


When we “give up” our information to these sites we are making a conscious decision. We feel the ease of communication is worth the price of our privacy. This choice applies to all of us and we should make it carefully. There is an argument that we are anonymous in the masses of people doing the same thing. This probably is true until the spotlight is on you and everything you have done is search-able and open to interpretation.

Privacy compromise is even in places we do not expect. When you sign on for wireless at a local coffee shop you are sharing that with many others. Your computer is then in direct communication with them in the same way your computers access each other at your home or work. There are applications that allow for the attack and compromise of computers. These are available in your favorite application marketplace and many more destructive applications are available on the web in general.

This is a complex problem and very few people are literate enough in technology to truly protect themselves. I do not believe it is the problem we need to solve. The issue we face is the devaluing of our private lives. We need to re-enforce this concept in our own lives and raise our children with a greater consciousness of their actions. We need to raise the price of privacy before it no longer exists

Published by

Michael McNeil

The management principal of Oasis Digital, Michael McNeil drives our organizational priorities and manages our software teams. Michael is also critical to the user experience and UI design at Oasis Digital. Michael writes extensively and is very active in education and local government.