Monday, August 19, 2013

We are data

Is there any privacy left? It's bad enough living on a boat in a marina and expecting some level of privacy when your neighbor is only 6 feet away, but then we read of some government agency tapping into all our electronic communications as well. So not only does the guy next door know about my recent colonoscopy exam, but the government knows as well. Unfortunately, so do you. Where do we draw the line?

When I started this blog it was an online journal of our families life of boating. We knew we would be cruising at some point, and I wanted to document our transition to that life. I have enjoyed doing that, and sometimes we all got a laugh out of it. Lately though, I have been concerned about how far we go with all this information. It hasn't happened yet, but I know at some point someone will approach us and tell us they read our blog, and either say they thought I was much taller, or that they disagree with me on a certain topic and think I'm a jackass. I really don't care that much either way, but I do tend to be concerned about people tracking our movements, knowing where I am all the time, what course I'll be taking to get somewhere, etc. I try to keep this stuff private for obvious reasons, but I'm getting a little careless in what applications I am using in addition to this blog.

Facebook. We all know that's a privacy concern. We are on it, but have privacy settings where we want them. We like FB, and we use it to connect with friends and relatives. Not strangers. S/V Kelly Nicole has her own FB page. Why? I don't know. Because everyone else had one? I thought it would be a good idea, but now I'm not so sure. I post project photos ( not too many of those) and short updates of things we did that particular day, but it's a time killer and quite frankly I have to ask myself why I'm posting all this info. It's not like I'm selling anything and need to generate an audience of customers. I think it's just a keep up with the Jones's type of thing. If S/V Disclosure has a facebook page, well by golly I'm going to have one too. Plenty of unknown people visiting there and watching. I'm not getting all paranoid on you, well maybe a little, but I am concerned that sometimes I put too much out there.

I recently signed up with an online boating social networking site. I checked it out, was not impressed, and decided I didn't need another site like this when Facebook could do the same thing. I mean really, how many of these things do we need? I decided to delete my account, but I could not. There is no way to delete an account on this site. You can kind of deactivate the account by deselecting all your sharing capability, but you are still in the database. I didn't like this. I emailed the owner of this site about this and it was confirmed that I could not delete myself from his database. I mentioned in the email that I did not like this, and would have to re-read his privacy policy. What I got back was an arrogant reply showing links to my presence on the web, and that he could find more to prove I really don't care about my privacy if he wanted to waste more time on me. WTF! This guy is managing a database of your personal info and he treats his customers this way?! That's when it hit me. We are not customers. We are data.

Data can be manipulated, marketed, sold, transferred, etc. We really don't know where or who it goes to, and for how long it exists. Should we be concerned? I don't know. Are there evil people in the world? This guy seems a tad angry and I wonder if after too many red-bull's in front of the computer he finally loses it and sells the whole thing to some knob who markets your personal info.

Do we really want everyone to know what we are doing every day, and where we are doing it? "Hey Deb, S/V Disclosure is anchored off Pine Island, let's drop the hook there. They have the best guacamole!" Doesn't anyone like surprises anymore? Isn't it cool when you pull into an anchorage and you are surprised to see old friends there? We will lose that if we are all too connected. Even running AIS will get you posted on a website so anyone can see where you are, and even if you turn it off, your last known location is still on there.

So, will I keep a Facebook page for Kelly Nicole? Not sure yet, but as it was pointed out to me in my recent email exchange with the 'chief programmer who forgot the delete accounts routine', I am already out there, so what's my problem if one more social networking site uses my data to make a buck. I guess you have to weigh the benefits versus the exposure.

SELECT country, boatname, crew, boattype, friends, groups, lastknownlocation  ;
   FROM uronlydata.eBoatData ;
   ORDER BY country, boatname, crew, boattype, friends, groups, lastknownlocation



  1. You got too much free time!
    (This message from the NSA, via hack into Mike's Google mail account)

  2. Living with Captain P is not always easy :)

  3. It was quite the series of emails last night, but maybe both of us were having a bad day. I know, I know, how could I have a bad day being retired. Hey, it happens.

  4. Ever since Benedict Arnold switched sides the US Government has been monitoring its' citizens. This isn't new just there are is so many more ways to do it. The hardest part is convincing the kids that once it is on the internet it is always there. When they don't believe me I quickly pull them up and then they are shocked and dismayed and quickly forget that lesson. But like you said the biggest thing about FB is it is a time killer and an attention deficit disorder generator. And by-the way, glad the exam went well, ;-)

  5. Ever since Benedict Arnold switched sides the Government has been monitoring their citizens. The problem is that there is now so many ways to do that. The kids today just can't realize that once it is in the Cloud it is there forever. When they doubt that I pull them up and then they are shocked and amazed when I can. Someone always asks "Can my parents see this?"
    But as you said the biggest thing is that FB is a time killer and an attention deficit generator. By-the-way glad the exams went well ;-)