Friday, 3 June 2011

Who cares about online security

Online privacy and data security are increasingly in the spotlight. Whether it be the recent Sony Playstation Network hack or this week’s issues surrounding the Chinese hacking plot on Gmail. And of course, when you entrust your personal details to a commercial organisation in the hope that those details are securely stored then you absolutely, have the right to expect that those details are safe.

However a couple of instances have emerged this week in which online denizens appear to be willingly giving up their private details in a way that would have been unthinkable a decade ago. First was Intel’s quite brilliantly executed Museum of Me, which promised (and indeed delivered in spades) to ‘create and explore a visual archive of your social life’. The application fantastically visualises, photos, video, links, profile pictures and status updates from the day you signed up to Facebook and onwards and in order to do that they ask you to giveaway pretty much every Facebook access privilege you can, but hey it’s Intel they’re OK they’ll be responsible and indeed to date 224,000+ users have happily done so, but there are those that are warning against giving away so much willingly.

The second is maybe a little less blatant and involves Google Wallet. The mobile payments solution unveiled by Google last week promises the mobilisation of payments via your smartphone and an NFC chip. Potentially ending the need for cash and indeed of your card wallet. Fantastic, how convenient, but what is the price of using the technology. Well, potentially you give companies access to your purchasing behaviour. So far, so loyalty card, but on top you also open up your location, your predilections and therefore to some extent your soul. There’s definitely work that needs to be done around the privacy settings that are fixed to mobile payment solutions and before you blindly plough in, you need to make sure your privacy is protected.

Consumers have the right to expect companies they give their data to, to encrypt it, protect it and ensure that it can’t be hacked and stolen, however life on the internet comes with responsibility and before we give our lives away more and more freely we all need to be thinking about what it is we’re giving up.

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