A Look at the New York Times Privacy Project

It’s easy for us to forget a time when we weren’t so connected through technology. It used to be easier to determine if our privacy rights had been violated, and there were laws created to clarify these cherished rights such as the Fourth Amendment.

Those times are behind us.

Today, we provide personal information to access the internet, engage in social media, and carry around devices that track our whereabouts. Technology that is meant to connect us may be doing so at an expense. Not only do we open ourselves up to various entities and hordes of hackers, but we also freely give away personal information that can be exploited.

A Project for Privacy in a Connected World

At some point, we’ve all come across some news flash reporting another data breach and the thousands (if not millions) of people affected by it. There is a plethora of information about us – some of it extremely sensitive in nature – that can be used for nefarious purposes. A worst-case scenario, of course, is identity theft.

Beyond data breaches that expose personally identifiable information (PII), there is also the issue of what we tend to provide online. It could be the details we freely share in social media, the data gathered by forms, or even the tracking algorithms used by websites.

The New York Times wants “to explore the technology and where it’s taking us, and to convene debate about how it can best help realize human potential” through what it calls The Privacy Project.

The Privacy Project focuses on four general topics – with each consisting of numerous articles, penned by various authors:

  1. Does Privacy Matter?
  2. What Do They Know, and How Do They Know It?
  3. What Should Be Done About This?
  4. What Can I Do?

Why Privacy Matters

In this section, opinion pieces ask the overall (and perhaps rhetorical) question, “Does Privacy Matter?” The common theme centers around examples as to why we should be wary of those who gather and use our data.

Concerns include losing our Fourth Amendment rights (around data protection), questions about privacy in business, and how countries like China are using apps for surveillance.

What and How Information is Obtained About Us

As a society, we can be oblivious to how much information has – and continues to be – gathered about each of us. The articles in this section focus on the types of data (the what) being gathered and the tools (the how) used to do it.

Even with discretion, we might be surprised how much is known about us – even without intentionally supplying it. There are techniques, such as data inference, used for mining information.

What Needs to be Done About It

A common theme for this section is regulation. Some of the most recent articles discuss proposed legislation and fines for those who misuse our data. One article even delves into the subject of health data and how it might be used in the future. We are asked to consider how comfortable we are with such information being used without knowing what for.

What Can We Do?

Articles in this last grouping are focused more at us and what we can do as individuals. From controlling what we share on social media to, as employees, refusing to make tools that will jeopardize our privacy, the messages give us actionable steps to protect ourselves and our communities.

Some Final Thoughts on Privacy

The Privacy Project, if nothing else, sparks discussion around the subject of our personal data and how it’s used. It also takes a look at how allowing certain trends to continue can affect not just our privacy, but our very freedoms.
Though the focus has been on how technology has been used to exploit our privacy, it should also be mentioned that we can use technology to protect it as well.

Take Control of Messaging Privacy

We live in an age where everything we say and do online can linger around cyberspace – and potentially be exposed to those who weren’t supposed to be privy to it.

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Maintaining secure communication and collaboration is paramount. Visit us today to discover our solutions for keeping such communication private.