Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Too Much Information-Not Enough Privacy and Freedom



A friend of mine made a post recently about how, in order to get a free service, he was asked to provide personal information, beyond just an email address.  (I'm sure many of us are used to signing up for free e-newsletters, where they need your email address in order to send it to you.)  What he encountered, as someone with limited options for making a phone call, was something far more invasive.  He encountered this on multiple websites.  He encountered it, in my opinion, for no good reason.

We are living in an age where we can get a lot of information, anywhere, and everywhere, all the time.  While this can be a good thing, it can also be very damaging, and information can be used as a weapon or as a means of preventing someone from accessing something they really need.  We even know it can be used as a means of keeping people from getting jobs.  There does not seem to be any right to privacy any more.

Where does it all end?  I'll tell you: It ends with us.  Everyday people, who refuse to give up our information unless absolutely necessary (and it's not absolutely necessary in most cases, if you ask me!)  Until we refuse to put up with invasive behaviors by different entities, they will keep asking for information they do not, in fact, need.

It is up to us to say "No."  I frequently do.  I don't feel I am missing out on anything, and I'm happy to do it.  I don't want my information just out there for any random person to see and potentially misuse.  I don't want people to know where I live, unless I tell them.  I don't want to receive junk mail, which I will just recycle anyway, adding to my locality's waste processing burden and killing more trees.  I don't want phone calls from people with whom I am not acquainted or already doing business.  I do not want more spam.

I want for all people to have the right to privacy, and I want for all people to have access to needed services without being harassed like my friend was.  In fact, in his case, I have to wonder if the organizations in question were violating the requirement for 508 Compliance ?

Is my photo for this post provocative? It should be.  By requiring people to frequently and freely give up personal information, our government and the corporations that run it are shredding our freedoms!

I try to keep this blog nice and gentle and friendly, but some things make me very angry, and this issue--for more than one reason--is one of those things.

Update:

My friend managed to get clarification for why this was being asked of him, and he was satisfied with the explanation, as was I; however, I stand by the spirit of this post.

Out of several companies offering this service, a few were satisfied with just name and address, while others insisted on being more invasive, requiring things like photo ID or a utility bill.  As my friend and I discussed the situation, I shared with him that, were I in his shoes, I would not do business with the organizations who wanted a photo ID, etc.  I still feel that is very invasive. 

In fact, this is the same reason I do not have a pool pass for my community.  They require you to have a photo ID, but your state ID or driver's license is not good enough:  They want you to let them take your picture and make an ID.  For a pool and tennis court pass!  Sorry.  Not going to happen!  There are still plenty of places to go swimming in my community.  I don't need to put up with that, nor will I.

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