PRISM , Big Data and the Future of Privacy

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It’s been just over a month since The Guardian broke the story about the National Security Agency’s (NSA) massive data collection program known as PRISM. The fervor has not died down and additional revelations about how the program works and similar systems existing in other countries have only stoked the flames

That anger has culminated in both “Restore the Fourth” rallies across the U.S., outrange online and a great deal of mockery as people turn to humor to best express their feelings. The nation, and indeed the world, has also turned its attention to the flight of Edward Snowden, the NSA contractor who originally leaked information about the program to the media.

But in the midst of the anger, lawsuits and questions, a larger conversation is taking place, one that revolves around privacy online, how much information we put out about ourselves on the Web and who has access to it.

That is because, while the Internet has certainly made our lives more convenient, it has also made them more trackable. In our bid to communicate better and easier, we put out so much information about ourselves, both intentionally and unintentionally, that the discovery of the NSA’s program may be as much a moment of reevaluation of our own practices as well as our government.

After all, for the government to collect the information it does, someone else has to have it first and the government is not the only entity with a vested interest in tracking you and monitoring your activities. [Read more…]

Blogger Beware: Big Brother Is (Always) Watching

A new survey has turned up the following bone-chilling statistic: More than 40% of large companies read employee e-mails and are hunting for you on the major social networks.

Worried that you’re going to share corporate secrets (everyone already knows what happened under the stairwell last June!), big wigs are cracking down. And they have every right.

Responsible for the majority of these ‘leaks’ are blogs, message boards, social networking sites, peer-to-peer file-sharing services and multimedia sharing sites.

If you’re not aware of your company’s electronic snooping policy, now is great time to ask for it. I say you guys gather around the water cooler and let the short straw make the request.

Remember that everything you do on your work computer is probably tracked. Even if it might not be, tell yourself it is. Better safe than sorry.

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