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“Data privacy” is one of those terms that feels free from emotion. It’s like baking soda. At least as far as America’s failure to build basic data privacy protection is concerned, it’s flesh and blood.
A senior member of the American Catholic Church hierarchy resigned this week after a news website said it had cell phone data showing the administrator was using the Grindr LGBTQ dating app ծանոթ regularly buying gay bars. For three years, reporters had access to his cell phone’s digital tracking data and were able to find where he was going.
I know people will have a hard time with this. Some of you may believe that it is acceptable to use any means necessary to find out when a public figure is breaking his promises, including when he is a priest who has broken his promise of celibacy.
For me, however, this is not about one person. This is a structural failure that allows real-time data on American movements to be used without our knowledge or real consent. This case illustrates the enormous implications of America’s largely unregulated data collection industry practice.
The reality in the United States is that there are few legal or other restrictions that prevent companies from compiling the sites where we roam in order to sell that information to anyone. This data is in the hands of the companies we deal with on a daily basis, such as Facebook և Google, as well as the rental information intermediaries with whom we never work directly.
This information is often largely packaged որեն theoretically anonymous, but it can often be found in individuals, as the story of a Catholic official shows. The availability of this data is so large, in fact all creates conditions for abuse that can affect the wicked և virtue.
The Internal Revenue Service has bought commercially accessible data from people’s cell phones to hunt down financial criminals (apparently ineffective). U.S. defense contractors and military agencies have obtained location data from applications that people use to pray or hang shelves. The Stalkers found targets by getting information about the whereabouts of people from cell phone companies. When Americans go to rallies or protests, political campaigns use information about those present to target them with messages.
I’m concerned that there are still no federal laws restricting the collection or use of site data. If I were to make a list of technical tasks for Congress, such restrictions would be the first part of my agenda. (I am encouraged by some of the congressional proposals վող the expected state legislation to limit the aspects of personal data collection or use).
Most Americans now realize that our phones are behind our movements, even if we do not necessarily know all the details. And I know how easy it can be to feel an angry resignation or just think. “What?” I want to resist those two reactions.
Despair does not help anyone, although I often do. Losing control of our data was not inevitable. It was a choice, or rather a failure by individuals, governments, and corporations over the years to think about the consequences of the digital age. Now we can choose another way.
And even if you believe that you բան have nothing to hide from your family, I suspect that many would feel uneasy if someone followed their teenager or husband everywhere. What we have now may be worse. Potentially thousands of times a day, our phones tell us where we are իրական we can’t really stop them. (Still, here are the steps we can take to alleviate hell.)
The editorial board of the New York Times wrote in 2019 that if the US government ordered Americans to provide permanent information about their whereabouts, the public ները members of Congress would most likely revolt. Slowly, however, over time, we collectively’s agreed to voluntarily submit this data.
We benefit from this on-site collection system, including real-time itineraries and nearby stores that send us coupons. But we do not have to accept the ever-increasingly invasive control of our movements in return.