The saying “go forth and prosper,” may be more familiar to us, but how might privacy enable us to thrive?
To prosper is “to flourish physically” and “grow strong and healthy.” It can also mean to “make successful.” We have never lived in a world with a complete lack of privacy, and it may very well be that the loss of privacy would cause us to languish and die – like the loss of sunlight to a plant. Privacy enables us to express ourselves freely. Without it, we lose control over what we share and who we share it with. The loss of these rights could profoundly stunt us in practical and emotional ways.
Consider the words of Cory Doctorow, author and founder of BoingBoing.net:
“For me privacy is the right to think ideas that aren’t fully formed, to say things aloud without having everybody know what I’ve said, to go to a place and try a thing without having to commit to it being part of my record forever.”
What does privacy mean to you? You may feel as Doctorow does. When you reflect on the question, does it inspire you to go forth and be private?
3 Ways to Go Forth and Be Private
Those who prosper often lead by example, and the health and well-being of privacy in our society depends upon each of us taking an active role in promoting a “privacy-positive ecosystem.”
1. Promote Mobile Privacy
If we are to thrive with our privacy intact, we should continue to let companies know privacy matters. There’s mounting evidence to suggest that our efforts in this regard do make a difference. Consider the new privacy settings due to roll out in Google’s Android operating system.
Responding in part to user demand, early reports suggest Android “M” may give users the option to pick and choose what an app can access and provide detailed control over personal data such as phone numbers, locations, names, and addresses. This move brings Android more in line with existing privacy settings available on Apple’s iOS platform.
2. Survey Social Media Settings
Facebook and other social media platforms often update privacy policies and settings without a great deal of fanfare, so if you’re engaged with Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, and other sharing sites, incorporating a routine review of your social media settings can help preserve your privacy.
You can find a practical example of this in a recent Inc.com article, “5 Facebook Hacks to Keep Your Data and Your Reputation Safe.” Recommendations include a monthly check of privacy settings, splitting friends into groups, protecting your password, limiting your Facebook time, and turning on “the grandma filter” when it comes to what you choose to share online.
3. Keep Cybersecurity in Mind
According to a Consumer Reports survey, more than 70 million American adults discovered that their personal information had been compromised in 2014. Given the continued likelihood of widespread security breaches, it’s a good idea to understand what you can do to fight identity theft.
If your data has been stolen and you receive notification, there are steps you can take, depending on the type breach.
Privacy and the sharing economy are not mutually exclusive. In fact, privacy is crucial to growth. Without a sense that we can maintain our privacy while exploring new technology, emerging businesses may never find the critical mass required to sustain them.
Let us go forth and be private.