In the Post Privacy era, your digital footprint is your identity

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By Byron Aco­hi­do, ThirdCertainty

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Wel­come to the Post Pri­va­cy era. At some point over the next few years your iden­ti­ty will no longer be defined by mere­ly your name, address, Social Secu­ri­ty num­ber, finan­cial accounts and legal records.

Instead, your iden­ti­ty will con­sist of a “con­stel­la­tion of per­son­al infor­ma­tion” uploaded to the Inter­net, often with­out you real­iz­ing it, where it will be proac­tive­ly data mined by com­pa­nies, gov­ern­ment and criminals.

This includes geo-locat­ed and time-stamped data about your pets and hob­bies, your dai­ly com­mut­ing pat­tern, where and when you Tweet, where and when you shop, how late you stay up at night, and much, much more.

That chill­ing pre­dic­tion comes from Kevin Ash­ton, the tech­nol­o­gist who coined the phrase “The Inter­net of Things,” deliv­er­ing the open­ing keynote at IDT911’s 2014 Pri­va­cy XChange Forum.

More: A call for a data breach warn­ing label

Ash­ton, the Gen­er­al Man­ag­er of Con­serve, the clean-tech divi­sion of con­sumer elec­tron­ics giant Belkin, out­lined how social media, smart phones and ubiq­ui­tous sen­sors – in toll booths, hotel room keys, smart meters and much more – increas­ing­ly feed infor­ma­tion that can be tied to spe­cif­ic indi­vid­u­als into giant data bases.

Big shift underwsay

This is hap­pen­ing because com­put­ing pow­er con­tin­ues to get more pow­er­ful, in tiny devices that need very lit­tle pow­er, and because most peo­ple don’t care to under­stand the true price of using many pop­u­lar ser­vices, such as Twitter.

The imme­di­ate future isn’t hard to pre­dict, Ash­ton observed. The big shift is already under­way. Ubiq­ui­tous sen­sors, need­ing no bat­ter­ies, will upload more infor­ma­tion, about what each indi­vid­ual is doing moment-to-moment. And com­mer­cial inter­ests will cor­re­late the data each of us divulge about our­selves using Google, Face­book, Twit­ter and many oth­er “free” online ser­vices we use.

Pri­va­cy is nev­er the default,”  in the Post Pri­va­cy era, Ash­ton says. A free social media site or cloud app may be free of price, but the user pays by giv­ing up time-stamped behav­ioral data that often is also geo-located.

It’s incum­bent on indi­vid­u­als and com­pa­nies to under­stand this shift has arrived — and mak­ing an effort to become informed and make thought­ful deci­sions about pre­serv­ing privacy.

We have moved so far into a knowl­edge-based econ­o­my, to under­stand this, requires edu­ca­tion, a will­ing­ness to pay atten­tion,” Ash­ton says. “We’re not edu­cat­ing the major­i­ty of the pop­u­la­tion to do that work.”

More on emerg­ing pri­va­cy concerns

Mys­tery shrouds con­sumer pri­va­cy invasion

Cal­i­for­nia enacts stricter data loss dis­clo­sure rules

Posted in Data Privacy, Data Security, News & Analysis