6 Ways We Gave Up Our Privacy

By , CSO |  Security, privacy issues

Given all the debate about the evils of The Patriot Act and how it gave the government a ridiculous amount of power to spy on people, we often forget that citizens were perfectly comfortable giving away privacy in the immediate aftermath of 9-11, when people were consumed with the desire to stop the next terrorist attack from happening. [See also: Eight Years After 9-11: Better Security or Just Luck?] Many a security expert will argue that the law did indeed improve our safety and prevent more attacks. In other words, enacting it was the right thing to do. But it's also universally accepted that civil liberties were eroded under the law.

Notes Zurawski: "The Patriot Act granted broad powers to law enforcement to enter your home with 'probable cause' and no warrant."

5. GPS

GPS navigation used to be a luxury item. Now most of us use the technology. It's relatively inexpensive to buy a GPS device that's bolted to the dashboard. Higher-end cars come with built-in GPS. And there are plenty of free navigation apps available for the BlackBerry and iPhone. The flip side to fewer people getting lost is that the providers of those systems can track your whereabouts without breaking a sweat.

6. The Kindle

Here's one you may not have seen coming. The increasingly popular Kindle allows us to tear through books on the go. But the device also "keeps track of what you read, how quickly you read it, what you may have read over several times, and can delete content you've paid for without your knowledge should it become 'necessary,'" Zurawski said.

Getting back some privacy

The good news in all of this is that there are steps people can take to protect more of their privacy. Educating younger folks on what they are giving away is a good place to start, those polled said. Businesses should steer clear of something like Gmail if they have sensitive data to send someone. And consumers can demand that government agencies crack down on the privacy-stealing practices of private-sector companies.

"The FTC could take on Facebook, Myspace and other sites that target kids the same way they expanded HIPAA's scope and brought online health care databases under their purview," Goel said. "When my government grows up, I want them to be the FTC -- the only national agency that's done anything meaningful about consumer privacy and security in the past decade."

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