Privacy, please

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Privacy, please
Privacy, please

Just think of all the nifty gadgets that have been commoditized over the years. According to some figures, half of the homes in the United States had television sets by 1955. On the more silly-but-fun side, there were crazy decorative doodads that thrived around this time as well. Remember that 1960s-era Roulette Wheel-inspired cigarette dispenser that made an appearance on Mad Men some seasons back? 

These days, we have Google Glasses, iPads, JayBird BlueBuds and, oh, so much more. Satisfying the yearnings of generations salivating over the latest, hottest things, the corporate world has been at the ready to make doggone sure it's creating and marketing just the right goods and services to get a cut of that American dream, its share of the almighty dollar. 

Marketers can cull massive bits of data on you and me to make sure we get served up with whatever product-related links our search habits seem to reveal about our spending habits. Our interactions online can prove advantageous to retailers, telecommunications firms or government entities alike.

That's why bills, like the one introduced last month by Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., that would require mobile application developers to be more forthcoming with privacy policies and data collection practices, are getting more play. Called the Application Privacy, Protection and Security Act of 2013, and nicknamed the Apps Act, it strives to make national protections, already being enforced through the California Online Privacy Protection Act, by making developers, among other things, get consent from customers before collecting their personal and secure stored data. 

Yet, moves like these that endeavor to keep citizens' rights to privacy somewhat unbroken are not enough. It was only in April that we learned from the privacy rights organization EPIC that the U.S. federal government granted legal immunity from wiretapping laws to at least two internet service providers: AT&T and CenturyLink, which allowed them to monitor their internet traffic to share data with the government on cyber threats. 

This and other activities are taking place all in the name of protection from possible terrorist and other coordinated cyber attacks? Other countries, of course, engage in such pursuits as well. Just read SCMagazine.com's recent news on one of Saudi Arabia's telecommunications companies contacting security and privacy researcher Moxie Marlinspike for help spying on millions of its subscribers. Unsurprisingly, he declined. 

If only privacy was the hottest thing since the 1990s-era Sega Game Gear, we'd all be in much better shape. But it seems disclosure of private details will win whatever governmental/regulatory favors are needed to ensure for private companies that their version of the American dream is reached. It's our shout to let them know we're not buying.

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