We Must Change The Discussion Of Privacy

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Every few months a group of researchers will publish something that makes industry experts say “duuu” while causing the public to remain generally unimpacted an unaware. This happens alongside major hacks, leaks, and government actions that should have us all concerned.

The Financial Times just added legitimacy to two such “research” papers about Smart TV’s sharing data with the manufactures and advertisers. Some of the data shared included *gasp* if the tv was turned on and *shocked face* the IP address of the device. Wow, I’m so startled.

The papers, one by Northeastern University and the Imperial College of London the other by Princeton University have some impressive names behind them. The academic pedigrees of the researchers are so impeccable I’m shocked Captain Obvious wasn’t part of the team. Because revelations like, Mixpanel, Google and Adobe analytics are being used on a smart TV or streaming device shouldn’t come as a shock. While users may not expect them, these these trackers are both common and generally disclosed in the devices privacy policies.

At one time Samsung TV had a terms of service that literally allowed them to record you and sell the recordings. Recently Apple and Microsoft have had to apologize for human review of voice assistants, because the companies didn’t give clear notice of the human review process. All of those are worth reporting about. All of those are practises that should be stopped.

Google should be called out by the ad industry, and by competitors. And when a privacy policy is way over reaching journalists should bring it up. When a period tracking app starts sharing womens health data with Facebook without permission, they should be mentioned publicly for that. If Facebook makes a tonedeff response about privacy, they should be flamed.

But the fake studies we are seeing, basically telling users that when companies gave themselves permission to use your data. They did. They are using your data, on devices that seem a topic for an episode of Black Mirror if not pulled from the pages of 1984. Maybe saying “they share basic analytics data” is a bad way of moving the discores forward.

The story of a boy who cried wolf is really a story of mass fatigue. Warn people about things often, those things become normal. People will tune out for more frightening things, that should be discussed, like a partnership between ICE and Cellebrite.

When you tell people the government can hack your phone, viewing and cloning your data without a warrant that seems far fetched. When you tell people, your TV is sharing data like when the device is on, most people already expect it. Say that, Youtube is selling ads targeting kids people may be upset but they are running out of outrage.

The Justice Department sues Edward Snowden over a memoir and no one cares, people think he’s a traitor. That should show you how little people understand privacy. The TV show last week tonight resorted to explain it as “the government has your dick pics” to explain the problem in a way average people in the U.S. would care about.

When you talk about a “study” most people already don’t care. When you publish a lot of studies revealing nothing people say things like “Why should I care if Spotify knows when I watch TV.” People can only have so much outrage and bade take studies aren’t helping. As one reporter put it, “Shockingly? Smart TV’s share data with advertisers.”

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