In this day and age, where everything and everyone seem to be connected, some new constants have arisen that are affecting society. It seems like 90% of the time my cell phone rings it’s a spam recording urging me to – I usually hang up around there. Or someone is talking about some new feature of a social media platform that I don’t want to learn to use. Or some company just leaked the private information of millions of users, whether they signed up for the service voluntarily or not – I’m looking at you Equifax.
If I’m coming across as a grumpy old man, that’s because he’s my spirit animal. In reality, I’m in my early 30’s, which means I grew up in the golden era of cartoons and couldn’t use the internet if someone was on the phone until high school. But we aren’t here to talk about me, this is about our privacy and what seems to be an emerging trend of us giving it away.
According to an article published in the New York Times in August of 2018, the number of data breaches in 2017 is astounding. And these are just the criminal acts, it doesn’t even touch on the companies we “authorize” to use our personal information by agreeing to those 36-page usage agreements. What researchers are seeing is a wide-spread, almost fatalistic approach to our private information. Story after story of data breaches or a company’s abuse of given and collected information has created a new normal.
Now, when news hits of a data breach that may have affected me, instead of being plagued by fear and anxiety while I take every precaution I can to keep my information protected, I just shrug and keep going on with my life like it’s no big deal. Because I’m used to it. Somewhere along the way the question shifted from “will my information be stolen” to “when is the next time it will be stolen”.
As an experiment, I went to haveibeenpwned.com and typed in my email address and guess what, my information has been stolen and posted/sold a bunch of times. I’ve since changed my email, bank and social media passwords and done my best to not reuse them across the different platforms – as annoying as that is.
As students grow up in this ultra-connected world, it’s essential that teachers, parents, and mentors convey the importance of protecting their privacy. It’s easy to get jaded and assume that the theft of privacy is the new norm, but that can’t be the solution. We can train the next generation to respect their privacy and do their best to protect it.