This week we saw Facebook settle a long standing dispute with the Federal Trade Commission on privacy concerns, and Facebook must now be more transparent with its online consumer privacy practices, with third party oversight for the next 20 years.
Over the last ten to twelve years, privacy has changed, and the expectation of privacy and what it means has changed. Cybercrime is on the increase, a recent publication by the Home Office on "Future directions for organized crime research".
Has shown that Cybercrime costs the UK around £20-40 billion pounds per year. Hand in hand with Cybercrime comes identity theft, the loss or financial data, loss of personal information and ultimately a loss of privacy.
Many years ago, it appeared that it would be governments that would erode our privacy and civil liberties; in essence people envisage the "Big Brother" state. To a lesser degree this has happened with the threat of terrorist attacks, civil disobedience, and criminal activity. This justification has been used as a case for increased CCTV on every street corner, interception of communications and similar laws
While we thought that we would go dragging and screaming as we were forced by legislation, to give away our privacy. We have all quietly walked into doing it ourselves. The rise of social media, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Google+, has seen people tweet and status update about the most mundane things - where you are, who you are with, what your are eating, likes, dislikes, picture, etc.
So much of our personnel lives now goes into social media, that do we actually have a right to privacy? The answer is yes we do (or we like to think we do!), sometimes though these controls have the illusion of being private. In Facebook's case, among other things, this was sharing personal information with advertisers against user's wishes, linking to photos and content of deactivated accounts.
There is a wealth of private/personal information on social media sites; most of this is used for legitimate reasons with user consent. It is increasing becoming a tool for organized crime, and also for governments or existing/future employers to see what you are doing. Research has shown that half of employers reject potential workers after looking at their Facebook page.
The government is increasing its research into cybercrime in order to reduce the cost to the economy in times of austerity, but also to reduce the disruption you have in life due to ID theft and data loss. The only person truly responsible for your privacy, is not Facebook, not social media, not the government, it is you!