The reasons you cant be anonymous anymore

People browse internet articles the new version of Facebook in the popular West African language Peule.

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170529-the-reasons-you-can-never-be-anonymous-again

Imagine walking into a roomful of strangers. Perhaps you’ve travelled to a new city. You don’t know anyone, and no one knows you. You’re free to do anything or go anywhere or talk to anyone. How do you feel?

Perhaps you feel free of the judgment and scrutiny from acquaintances or associates. Perhaps you feel energised that you can use this opportunity to experience life on your terms, at your own speed. But whatever your feelings would be, you would at least safely assume that you can enter this isolated situation without being monitored or tracked by a far-flung company or individual – right?

Wrong. What you’re experiencing as you walk into that room is anonymity: a sociocultural phenomenon that’s afforded privacy and freedom. But in the year 2017, it’s pretty much all but dead. It’s emerging as one of the major challenges of our age: how should we go about both ensuring national security and enhancing our lives through technology, whilst also maintaining a basic right to privacy that feels like it has existed since the beginning of human history?”

Anonymity, which is Greek for “no name,” is a uniquely human psychological experience: it’s the idea that we all have identities to present to the world, but under certain circumstances, can switch the identity off and operate in total secrecy.

“We need a public self to navigate the social world of family, friends, peers and co-workers,” says John Suler, professor of psychology at Rider University in New Jersey, and author of The Psychology of Cyberspace. “But we also need a private self – an internal space where we can reflect on our own thoughts and feelings apart from outside influence, where we can just be with our own psyche. Our identity is formed by both. Without one or the other, our wellbeing can easily become disrupted.”

Being anonymous allows us to try new things or express ideas without being judged. In 2013, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania published a study in which they conducted in-depth interviews with dozens of internet users on four continents. One interviewee, for instance, created an anonymous online community for English learners to practise their language skills. Anonymity helped them better manage certain spheres of their lives. One participant said that he frequented message boards to help people solve technical problems, but sought to avoid unwanted commitments through the detached nature of the internet. Plus, being anonymous in an environment like the internet can help safeguard personal safety.

“Our results show that people from all walks of life had reason, at one time or another, to seek anonymity,” the researchers wrote of the 44 interviewees.

But according to a 2013 study from the Pew Research Center, while most internet users would like to remain anonymous, most don’t think it’s entirely possible. The study found that 59% of American internet users believe it is impossible to completely hide your identity online.

And while some people are taking basic steps to preserve anonymity, like deleting their browsing history, many users who say they value anonymity aren’t really walking the walk.

Earlier this year, a meta-analysis published in the Journal of Communication explored something called the “privacy paradox”: the idea that, while people value privacy, they do little in practice to preserve it. Think about it: when was the last time you actually read one of those many, lengthy privacy policy updates before clicking “I agree”? Our attitude toward privacy has become increasingly blasé.

One could even argue it’s even detrimental not to divulge at least some info. Career coaches worldwide trumpet the professional importance of having a fleshed-out public LinkedIn photo complete with full name, headshot, full work history and more.

Perhaps this is more of a cultural thawing toward previously uptight attitudes. I remember getting on the internet for the first time. It was the 1990s and on my father’s work computer. In those days, internet service providers went to great, paranoid lengths to discourage users from divulging even basic tidbits in their public profiles, like first name, city, even gender.

Today? Personal info flies freely and wildly across the web, often on our volition: Instagrammed selfies of ourselves and loved ones, complete with geotagged locations. Social media users engaging in political spats and horrible insults, despite the fact that the target of their harassment could click on their real names and real photos and see who they actually are.

People tend to think of cyberspace as some kind of imaginary space without true boundaries, a space not to be taken too seriously – John Suler

“People tend to think of cyberspace as some kind of imaginary space without true boundaries, a space not to be taken too seriously – not subject to the same rules and standards as the ‘real’ world,” says Suler. In just the span of a few short years, people’s comfort level with the internet has risen to the point where information-sharing can be careless or reckless.

Call it privacy fatigue, but our increased interdependence on our smart devices and social media has given some of us a largely lazy attitude toward staying totally anonymous.

But what if you’re one of those people who eschews Facebook, has no social media presence, and goes to great lengths to leave a fleeting digital footprint? Sorry – your anonymity is at risk too.

While skipping a Facebook profile is a good way to disconnect, there are still ways people can sleuth out your identity.

Paul Ohm, a law professor at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, says there’s “intentional anonymity” and “inferential anonymity”: the former being what we choose to keep close to the vest, and the latter referring to the data that a Google-savvy sleuth can “infer” from you online – that is, dig up loads of personal information about you using a single fact as a starting point.

“It’s become increasingly clear that it’s a losing game,” Ohm says on achieving total anonymity in 2017. “As long as someone knows something about you, they can probably find other things about you, and do it really successfully – more than they have in the past.”

If you’re a social media party pooper, that might mean old flames or long-lost classmates can’t track you down. But that doesn’t mean you’re anonymous from big entities, like corporations or the government.

“It’s much harder to be anonymous than it was 20 years ago, at least from the biggest companies and the government,” says Peter Swire, professor of law and ethics at Georgia Institute of Technology, and who served on US President Barack Obama’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology.

Advertisers track your internet habits across your devices – phone, tablet, laptop – to know where you habitually go, shop, and what kind of websites you visit, and there has been growing controversy about what internet companies should be allowed to track and sell to third parties.

Earlier this year, US President Donald Trump signed a law that repealed requirements for internet service providers to get permission from customers before gathering and sharing their personal data, like your web history and what apps you use.

Swire says we’re living in a “golden age of surveillance”: If you’re a person of interest in an investigation, looking up details like financial records, medical records, web history or call history is a breeze. And that hints at a larger, serious privacy concern in the age of cybersecurity breaches and digital services that keep your bank information and home addresses on record. It’s hard to go undetected these days.

What’s more? Ohm says we’re approaching the “next great frontier in advertising”: your location.

Sure, websites can tweak adverts to zero in on your interests based on the web searches you’ve made on the same device, or sites visited. But companies and advertisers are chasing technology and business deals that pinpoint your exact whereabouts in real-time for ‘personalised’ advertising. For example, an advert could flash on your mobile phone’s screen offering a coupon for a store you’re half a mile away from.

Unless you’re willing to live without the internet or without any smart device, it’s practically impossible to go completely off the grid.

“This is a bad time to be a spy,” Swire says. In other words, even for people whose job it is to be anonymous, it’s hard to be anonymous.

Still, there are plenty of instances in which anonymity is problematic, even dangerous. Is its demise actually a blessing for society?

———-

i remember a decade ago that nobody wanted to even put credit card details on the internet..now we rush to facebook to let the world know our every single move..

“It’s emerging as one of the major challenges of our age: how should we go about both ensuring national security and enhancing our lives through technology, whilst also maintaining a basic right to privacy that feels like it has existed since the beginning of human history?”

its over..

“Unless you’re willing to live without the internet or without any smart device, it’s practically impossible to go completely off the grid.“This is a bad time to be a spy,” Swire says. In other words, even for people whose job it is to be anonymous, it’s hard to be anonymous.”

indeed..

401

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~ by seeker401 on June 13, 2017.

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