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I see public people: If you want online privacy, there is a simple solution. Don’t use the internet.


Dear oh dear. The self-righteous babble about internet privacy that we’ve all had to endure over the last few weeks could force me to chase privacy of another kind (perhaps in a secluded cabin with draft paper).

Know-nothing politicians trying to tell pioneers of internet domination how to go about business. People crying about how a free service is treating them. Employment choices being won and lost on the results of search engine queries. And on it goes.

We’ve all heard the horror stories. Someone we know who has taken a photo of their privates, uploaded it to a web site to show their friends, only to be surprised when they become the darling of the Friday afternoon email set. A friend of a friend tweets about an evening’s indiscretion and wonders just how the hell their partners, friends and partners of friends found out.

Chucking a sicky just got a whole lot harder for those addicted to social media.

In my line of work, I have to put myself in the shoes of those among us who don’t know much about computers. The easy part is telling my customers that anything they put on the web can be found by someone else. The hard part is explaining why.

It is not about the privacy settings or what various entities say they will or won’t do with your information. It is about what happens when things go wrong. No matter what box you tick, when someone deliberately hacks into a database, accidentally releases passwords to a public website or the program controlling the effect of that tick box just doesn’t work, then your private information will get out.

Sooner or later through these, or any number of other potential SNAFUs, your privacy will be compromised.

Let me ask you this. Are you aware of how hard you are battling to keep the data on your computer private?

The computer in front of you right now?

You probably know you are running a firewall. You probably know you are running some sort of anti-malware product,. You probably know you are running some sort of anti-phishing product…or maybe not. My point is that you are battling to be master of your own domain, what chance do you have once your data is in the wild?

Despite all the rhetoric, the owners of the space where your data lives don’t actually care about you. They care about the majority of their customers. The customers they like and the customers who don’t complain about what they are getting free of charge. Often they don’t even care when you are paying for their services.

While there are benefits to be had by being “out there” for both your business and your social life, and I mean your actual get-off-your-arse-and-do-something social life, the value of this versus the risk of your privacy being compromised can only be judged by you.

Sometimes the path of least resistance is not only the best path but the only path.

Just this week it was claimed that 300,000 people closed their FaceBook accounts in protest at changes to privacy options.

Last time I checked FaceBook was not owned by those 300,000 people and it was free for them to use.

There’s been a lot of whinging but those folks did the right thing. If you don’t like it, get off.

If I owned Facebook and people where whinging to me about what I did with my company I’d tell them to piss-off. You can’t make everybody happy and you go mad if you try.

The first time I checked, and every time up until the present, there’s no such thing as privacy on the internet. I am not talking about security. I am talking about privacy. If you don’t want it seen, then don’t put it out there. This is not a new concept, the technology has changed.

That’s all.

David Moore has 25 years experience in the computer industry and is now Principle PC Hater at ihatemypc.com.au.