Keep private data private

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Staff Editorial

Security is something that is supposed to protect us in our daily lives. We walk through metal detectors before we get on a plane to ensure that there will be no weapons that will harm another person. Many schools have locker or backpack checks so they can confirm that no student has access to any kind of substance that could hurt themselves or others. We often have to give up our privacy in order to obtain a sense of security. The question is what are we willing to give up in the name of security? Are all companies really using our private data for our safety or their profit? 

One type of security we often don’t think about is cybersecurity. Cybersecurity is supposed to ensure that no hacker can access your private information. Sometimes, people even take cybersecurity a step further in order to monitor what their kids or students are doing on their devices. Oftentimes parents and schools want to protect their children from human traffickers, suicide, sexual content and any kind of violent crimes. Some kids find this kind of cybersecurity intrusive and wrong. Many schools are using  software in order to prevent these situations, the main one being school shootings. Freedom is currently using a software program called Bark that was recently installed into students’ computers. It will help to protect students, but also may infringe on privacy. Bark has prevented violence in many schools although many students do not even know about it being installed onto their computers. Students should receive more opportunities to learn where their data is going. 

Another way data is being collected is through social media apps. The fact that social media apps collect personal data is not a secret to most people. Facebook or Instagram ads can be targeted to someone’s personal demographic. This happens because the app collects data about an individual in order to market items specifically to their interests, which is called surveillance capitalism. According to The Harvard Gazette, companies like Google want to know what we are doing before, now and later. They figure this out by buying into behavioral data, then sell this data to business customers or advertisers. Two reasons surveillance capitalism has not been an issue in government is because in 2001, the government wanted to push for free enterprise. They wanted to allow companies to have total control over their business. When online privacy finally became a topic of discussion in the government, the 9/11 terrorist attack struck. This made our government rethink their decision and decide on more security and less privacy to ensure that nothing like 9/11 could happen again. Although the government says they use this data to keep us safe,  we do not know what they truly do with our data, and we should know exactly where our private information is going. 

Not only should we be careful about our phones, but we also need to be careful with other devices such as Alexa’s, Google Homes and Amazon Echos. They often can “wake up” when no one says a word. The devices are listening every second they are on in order to find out information about you to market to you. Not only is the data these devices collect, but they also are using these devices for law enforcement. This could be taken as a good or bad thing. On one side a person realizes how much data these smart devices are taking from you. On the other hand they can be used in a positive way in order to investigate crimes. Another scary thing about these kinds of smart devices is that they can be hacked. Although it is rare for your device to be hacked it’s something you should always be aware of.

The Ring-Doorbells are too much maintenance to ensure no one can get into your device. It has a microphone on it even though that is not exactly necessary for a security system. According to The New York Times, Ring’s apps contained hidden code, which had shared customer data with third-party marketers. This is problematic and scary, you may be making your home less safe rather than more safe you install a Ring-Doorbell. 

People should care about their data being collected because some companies sell your data, making it easy for hackers to steal information.  People are constantly being marketed to and treated more like a profit than humans.  However, people deserve rights to their information and to be treated like people. Although after all of this, some may still not care about their privacy because they have “nothing to hide,” they should still care for other people and their privacy. 

The best way to protect personal data and information is to stay informed. One can read privacy policies, research apps in order to make sure they are safe before downloading and be aware of where data is going. In order for there to be change, people need to speak up and voice their opinions. The significance of privacy is an important factor in everyday life.