How Much Privacy is Too Little Privacy?

Big Brother is Watching You

If you’re my Facebook friend, it’s ridiculously easy to find out every book I read, every song I listen to, and many of the movies I watch. Having linked my Goodreads, Spotify and Netflix accounts to my Facebook page, it’s probably difficult to NOT see the media I’m consuming. Plus, if something I’m reading or watching is really great, I’ll tweet about it anyway.

I fully understand – and accept – that I have little to no privacy on the internet. Are you on Facebok, Twitter, LinkedIn, Gmail or anything similar? If so, you’ve given up your privacy, too. You just might not realize it.

That’s sort of the “cost of doing business” in the 21st century. Most sites let you log in with an existing Google or Facebook account. Sure, you could create a separate account, but why bother wasting 60 extra precious seconds? (Lewis Black has a great bit about this in his newest EPIX special, Old Yeller, and how the world now knows he listens to Adele.)

Again, I don’t have a problem with this. I know I’m making it easier for people to find out everything about my online persona – sort of like one-stop online shopping – but whatever. Googling the name of someone who spends a lot of time on the internet will tell you a whole lot about them. Anyone who’s “good at Google” will be able to uncover a lot of information about someone with relative ease.

But what I DON’T want is a forced, centralized “internet ID” – the sort of thing that Pennsylvania and Michigan are currently testing. The program revolves around governmental services, aiming to make sure the government provides the proper services to the proper people. It makes sense, but it could also be the first stepping stone on a slippery slope.

I don’t know if this type of program will expand to all corners of the internet, but the possibility is there… and it’s scary. I like being able to operate “outside the grid” and NOT link my Facebook history to a new account on another website. I like being able to create a new email address I’ll never check to sign up for accounts on sites I’ll never visit again and avoid spam emails altogether.

I also like having a relative sense of security. Sure, the internet is scary and there’s a new leak or hack or vulnerability every day, but having one compromised account (usually) doesn’t impact the rest of my online identity. If our online lives are linked, and someone breaks into THAT account, they’d have everything. Banking info, emails, Facebook posts – the whole kit ‘n’ caboodle. No thanks.

So please, government, do whatever you need to do to ensure the people who need your aid get the aid they signed up for. But please, keep it at that.

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Author:

Joey Lewandowski

Joey is the Manager of Content and Community at ShellyPalmer. With a journalism degree from Ramapo College of New Jersey, he's a die-hard Minnesota Vikings fan, enjoys watching movies and loves all most things tech. You can follow him on Twitter @soulpopped. He's also the co-host of the award-winning* podcast "Sports 4 Starters." (*Note*: No awards actually won.)

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