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Clearly, anything which is posted online should be assumed to be eternal, written in stone tablets, and admissible for all time. For the early adopter (Internet, blogger, Friendster, etc.) this also operates as a reminder of the ever-powerful TOS change: just because the terms of service (TOS) say that your content is private now never assume it will be that way forever. And once indexed your grandchildren will be able to read your glib partied-out posts/Twitters/phonecam shots.
Content really isn’t considered private if it’s indexed. After all, doing a quick cache check of the Google search results or eight other nifty tricks will always show me what I want.
In case you’ve ever wondered what happens to your Facebook account when you die, no longer! (hat tip to Parry Aftab for the lead). I unfortunately have had a friend perish whose Facebook still sends out reminders to reconnect to her grieving friends and family from beyond the grave.
Here’s another scary privacy trend which Red Tape Chronicles reports – two companies offering ‘work at home jobs’ indexing the license plates of your neighbors.
- One of the two, Dallas-based Narc Technologies Inc., offers a simple explanation. They want you to rat on your neighbors. The firm's Web site, NarcThatCar.com, is designed to collect license plate numbers and locations so lenders can more easily repossess cars when the owners default. In other words, the firm wants consumers to become the repo man's informant.
- Its chief competitor, Data Network Affiliates, says it has no intention of getting into the business of repossession. It says it plans to use its database of license plate numbers to help find missing children through Amber Alerts. It also hopes to sell the data to other information-hungry marketing firms, and to turn its user base into a kind of buyer's club.
The Founding Fathers didn’t choose the Sixth Amendment right to face your accusers lightly. Let’s throw that out the window in favor for yet another business model in favor of allowing your reputation to be trashed online without ever knowing who did it:
- As long as privacy isn't salient, and as long as these companies are allowed to forcibly change social norms by limiting options, people will increasingly get used to less and less privacy. There's no malice on anyone's part here; it's just market forces in action.
Bruce Schneier went on to say in his article that if we all value privacy in the traditional sense, it’s going to take continued legislation to keep the market forces at bay. His article’s worth reading. Yet my take is that by the time any legislature takes effect most of us now living will have our various virtual identities indexed already.
Securing Our eCity Contributing Writer
Author ESET Research, ESET