Recently, I heard a piece on NPR stating that PayPal is moving to the smart phone in order to create a wallet free option for consumers.  You would no longer need your wallet or purse – simply use your smart phone, which has a photo that identifies you and a PIN to confirm your transaction.

In the name of convenience we have rapidly dove deeper into the digital abyss; however, there is a price to be paid for ease and speed. That price doesn’t always equate to a reduction in our bank balance or debt accrued but rather a compromise for our privacy. The smart phone option allows businesses to track your shopping habits. They know when we entered the store, what we look at and if we leave without purchasing anything.

Of course being tracked is nothing new. We can be physically tracked literally everywhere we go using the chip inside our cell phone whether we make a call or not.  Our IP address allows us to be tracked throughout the virtual world of the Internet. Yes, that infinite land of servers known as the World Wide Web tracks our every move. All of those Facebook users who choose to view Social Cam and play games are being tracked and now Facebook even tells their friends what videos they have viewed.  So what about our privacy? Should we be paranoid?

George Orwell may have gotten it pretty darn close, but Big Brother is Big Business rather than the all seeing eye of government.  In fact we may be dependent upon the government to try and protect our privacy at some point in the future, but don’t hold your breath.  The Internet is, at the moment, ungovernable space that can be used to exploit individuals, businesses, and even nation states. In the future the only certain protection could be unplugging from the network, but that might require therapy.

Don’t get me wrong there are many wonderful things on the Internet. Some have argued that Wikipedia is the single best cure for poverty man has ever created.  Knowledge has migrated to places where school was a dream two decades ago. We can share, inspire, learn and develop via the Internet, but there must be opposites in all things.  Where there is good evil also lurks.  We must be careful what we share and where we go.  We are sure to keep our kids out of the bad parts of town so we must be just as vigilant to protect them from the bad servers scammers and virtual thieves.  Find the good, avoid the bad, and be careful what you share.

Happy surfing.

One thought on “When Convenience Collides with Privacy

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