Remember how you were told that “no one can take your memories from you”? Well, today, what you thought was your own with no access to anyone else seems to have become a myth. It appears data is the most valuable commodity, along with so many mass-surveillance attempts proposed by governments from different countries.
Let’s take the U.S. DHS (Department of Homeland Security) policy that plans to make a thorough check of immigrants, including monitoring their social media activity. This method will help immigration officials decide who “deserves” to enter their country and who doesn’t.
Ok, your memories or personal information will not be erased, but knowing that other people can do whatever they want with that information is worrisome to say the least.
So, what was once a routine check in which immigration officers looked into nationality, country of residence, if your name is listed on a sanctions list and so on, now becomes a thorough monitoring of your online activities. Totally weird, right?
Farewell freedom of expression
What we used to know about the United States as the land of freedom doesn’t seem to be real anymore. At least not in terms of freedom of speech and expression. America’s core values referring to individual freedom, equality of opportunity and eternal optimism that once traveled around the world, are hard to believe these days.
Although the terms of this new policy (in terms of how the data will be collected and what is the criteria for collecting for some people instead of others), are not certain, the simple idea is extremely controversial. Just think that even though one person may be the target, DHS could easily see to whom that person often communicates to and where they hang out together and so on. Inevitably, you become a collateral victim of online spying and that’s not ok.
What’s the status of data protection in Europe?
In the UK, Transport for London (TfL) has admitted it collects traveler’s data as they connect to their Wi-Fi network with the purpose of better understanding customer behavior and improving their services. TfL has stated that user data is anonymized, but many security experts have serious doubts on this matter.
Most likely, Transport for London uses this data to sell it to third parties, such as advertisers. If you travel by London Underground network, the only way to avoid having your data collected is by turning off your Wi-Fi.
Sweden however, takes it to the next level, as people have been using microchips to pay for train travels. Here is how it works: the microchips – manufactured by a different Swedish company, not the Swedish train operator – are implanted in the hand.
Through a smartphone app, each passenger registers with a membership number added to the microchip. Then, once you get on a train, the conductor won’t validate a ticket, but your microchip. This is not a mandatory procedure, as train travelers in Sweden can choose to have microchips implanted or use the traditional paper tickets. However, it does raise some concerns regarding privacy issues because no one knows how the data generated through microchips is used.
What’s next for online privacy?
These are just a few examples that makes anyone wonder what the future holds for online privacy and privacy in general? With all these new laws that violate data protection, protecting our online identities seems to be a lost cause, but nevertheless, we could at least keep up to date with this useful information.
There are ways to keep your digital activities safe, as we suggested in previous posts.
Last but not least, using a VPN will add a level of security when you surf online. It may not protect you from the DHS monitoring your social media account, if you plan to migrate to the U.S., but it will keep you away from other snoopers.
Download CyberGhost VPN now and enjoy anonymous surfing, among other benefits.