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Nobody Cares About Your Privacy

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Governments want to know what you're doing and corporations want to know how to market to you.  If none of the big dogs cares about your privacy, who will champion online privacy for the masses?

The Snowden leaks revealed that government agencies, not just in America, have worked hard to get around encryption in order to spy on citizens and that they even had backdoors built into computers and internet services to help them gain access whenever they want.  Big online services like Google and Facebook want to track everything you do online so they can get more money from advertisers.  If the governments and big businesses don't care about your privacy, what recourse is there?

There are some efforts and ideas to help insure your digital privacy.

On the government front, the European Union has been planning to update the EU Data Protection Directive, which is 20 years old.  The directive would require companies, whether in Europe or outside of it, to have high privacy settings set on by default in software.  Any companies that violated it would be subject to a fine based on their global revenue.  Unfortunately, this has been on the table for about two years now and probably won't go into effect for another two or three.

The United Kingdom scrapped a Human Rights Act and considered doing a British Bill of Rights, which would give them the opportunity to come up with some privacy regulations, but the Conservative Party, which is currently in power, isn't likely to promote consumer protections.

Stepping down to the corporate level, Apple CEO Tim Cook has been critical of the way other companies have monetized user data.  Apple even touts the way they build privacy into their products.  That said, the the Snowden leaks revealed that the NSA has total access to iPhones.

How about private privacy advocates?  Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web and director of the W3C, promotes "a global constitution" for the internet.  The problem with his suggestions are that individual governments would have to adopt it, and we've already seen how loathe governments are to hamper their own efforts.

And so it is left to us, the consumers, if we want to bring about any change.  Make some noise, call your representatives and all that.  One really great idea that's been floated about has been to come up with a privacy standard that companies can adopt, and any company adhering to it can put a stamp or seal on their products, kind of like how energy efficient products do now.  Consumers would very likely buy such privacy-approved goods over those that are not, forcing more companies to have their products certified as well.  Giving companies financial incentive to ensure our privacy is likely the best and easiest way to make it happen.