Introduction as Alexa or Google Home are a

Introduction

 

We have come a long way from the Stone Age.  The era that we live right now is frequently
called the Digital Age.  Today “individuals en masse are moving
from personal, face-to-face interactions to ones in the digital space.”1  Smart TVs, smart
home systems, smart phones and computers are only a few technologies we cannot
imagine our lives without. To understand technology, one must know what
it provides in terms of advantages, but also disadvantages.”2

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Take for example, smart home systems that have become
increasingly popular.  Artificial
intelligence powered bots such as Alexa or Google Home are a convenient way to
tell your schedule, call anyone from your contact list or play your favourite
songs.  However, in order to process the
requests they need tremendous amount of information about you.  “Now, this very aspect is both good and
bad. Good because it can make things convenient and bad since companies (with
the help of bots) will have your personal information at disposal.3

 

 

The same can be said about our everyday activities involving
logging into to check emails, favourite social media accounts, banking sites to
pay the bills.  We all hear, read and are
aware that the information we give while registering on websites and
applications is collected somewhere, however either for the lack of evidence or
simple ignorance, we still choose to turn a blind eye on the actual
ramifications it could have on our lives. 
Revelations made by Edward Snowden and Wikileaks in 2013-2014 might have
been eye-opening to public at large.  The
most important disclosures or ‘leaks’ were the following:

 

·        
“With a top-secret court order, the NSA
collected the telephone records from millions of Verizon customers

·        
The NSA accessed and collected data
through back doors into US internet companies such as Google and Facebook with
a program called Prism.

·        
Britain’s GCHQ taps fiber-optic cables
to collect and store global email messages, Facebook posts, internet histories,
and calls, and then shares the data with the NSA.

·        
Until 2011, the Obama administration
permitted the NSA’s continued collection of vast amounts of Americans’ email
and internet metadata under a Bush-era program called Stellar Wind.

·        
The NSA spies on millions of phone
calls, emails, and text messages of ordinary German citizens.4

 

This demonstrates that “the technical
capabilities to collect, store and search large quantities of data concerning
telephone conversations, internet searches and electronic payment are now in
place and are routinely used by government agencies.”5 If the Snowden revelations involve
governments and their agencies in ‘spying’, ‘tracking and monitoring domestic
and foreign nationals, we, as simple internet users are also prone to malicious
cyber-attacks from hackers and tech-savvy criminals. A clear example is “an epic
and historic data breach at Yahoo in August 2013,” that “affected every single
customer account that existed at the time”6.  While they never found out who was behind the
attacks, “the
Department of Justice indicted four people in
connection with (another) the 2014 attack — two Russian spies and two
hackers.”7
4 people only!

 

The above examples are just the tip of the iceberg of how
modern technology can be used to infringe upon our privacy and violate our
right to ‘be left alone.’   Today, when we mention privacy, it is almost
always associated with technology. 

Fortune magazine
reports that “cybercrime cost the global economy more than $450 billion in
2016. Many industry advisors and insiders suggest privacy is the next big
commodity!8  Indeed, “genetics
and the extensive study of bio-markers, brain imaging, drones, wearable sensors
and sensor networks, social media, smart phones, closed circuit television, Big
Data, head-mounted displays and search engines” are all useful technologies on
one hand but on the other, they pose a great threat to our privacy by simply
collecting personal data on the uninformed clients and customers.  Some IT and R&D professionals argue that
“we have zero privacy in the digital age and that there is no way we can
protect it, so we should get used to the new world and get over it.” Others
consider “our privacy more important than ever and that we can and we must
attempt to protect it.9 

1 http://searchcio.techtarget.com/definition/ICT-information-and-communications-technology-or-technologies

2

The future of tech in healthcare

3
https://www.gizbot.com/internet/features/technology-boom-threat-consumer-privacy-037384.html

4
http://uk.businessinsider.com/snowden-leaks-timeline-2016-9

5
https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/it-privacy/

6
http://money.cnn.com/2017/10/03/technology/business/yahoo-breach-3-billion-accounts/index.html

7
http://money.cnn.com/2017/10/03/technology/business/yahoo-breach-3-billion-accounts/index.html

8
http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/new-technology-may-solve-many-of-todays-online-data-and-privacy-issues-otc-pink-wrfx-2225115.htm

9
https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/it-privacy/

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